August 17, 2009

Todos Santos and La Paz

After 3 hot days in Cabo Pulmo we were ready to move on to Todos Santos where we had booked a room at Casa Bentley, a meandering stout-walled stone building set in a ‘tropical jungle’ that the owner, Bob Bentley, has carved out of old mango and avocado orchard. Bob has lived in Todos Santos since 1984, is a geologist by trade and became our instant friend and guide. He sent us to all the great restaurants in town and had lots of entertaining tales to tell. We had a delightful large cool room with private terrace, but we spent most of the hot afternoons lounging around his beautiful shaded gem of a swimming pool with his five dogs, all answering to the name of Heidi. His charming hotel manager, Beatrice, keeps everything humming along.

Todos Santos is all about the people, art galleries, places to eat and shops. We met a lot of really nice people; we were even invited to a cocktail party at a private home which was fantastic because we got to see the hostess’ lovely home and meet even more really cool Todos Santos residents. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a friendlier place, or had a more convivial time in just 3 short days.

Our first day, of course, had to check out the notorious Hotel California of Eagles fame, even though the Eagles never were really in Todos Santos. We had great margaritas there in the bar that evening, then wandered into the hotel lobby which looked like a gallery, and started talking to hotel manager Debbie Stewart whose husband (now deceased) was instrumental in putting Hotel California on the map—he created a really great hotel. According to Bob Bentley, local legend has it that on the night he died a major hurricane was about to make landfall there, and his spirit went out to sea and turned the hurricane away from Todos Santos.

Todos Santos has an old historic center but homes are scattered and sprawled up and down over hills, some homes have views of the ocean, some have none, most have really great gardens. Lots of funky, artistic and unique houses represent the efforts of the expatriate community. It kind of reminded us of a smaller Taos, New Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean, except it was hot and humid in a way Taos would never be. While we were there we encountered lots of Italian tourists, as well as several wonderful Italian restaurants: Tre Galline, a more upscale trendy and delicious place; and il Giardino Pizzeria Trattoria, an alfresco wood-fired pizza parlor also serving up pasta dishes. We had lunch at D’Alicias, a self-described Baja New Mexico restaurant featuring familiar-to-us New Mexico style enchiladas, something you will probably not encounter anywhere else in Baja California. This year many of the art galleries and restaurants have already shut down for the season due to the slow rate of tourism, so even in 3 days we still didn’t get to see it all. Before we got there several people told us that 4 hours of Todos Santos was sufficient to see and know the whole thing—obviously they REALLY missed the whole thing.

We bid a sad farewell to all our new found friends and drove to La Paz to see if our red enamel and stainless steel GE stove had been repaired and could come along with us to Santa Rosalia. Alas, it was still being worked on and they will call us when it is ready. I will not hold my breath.

No comments: