Chris at the 300 year old church at Todos Santos
For months now, we've been hearing glowing reviews of the
beach town Todos Santos, on the western coast of southern Baja.
People say it's an artsy, sophisticated beach town.
Todos Santos is about halfway between Cabo and
La Paz via highway on the Pacific coast
Our friend Bill once again offered us use of his black Mercedes convertible
for the day, so off to Todos Santos we went!
It's about an hours drive through stark but beautiful Baja
desert to the beach town of Todos Santos
Nature called about halfway through our journey, so Chris pulled over and I tiptoed out into the desert and picked a nice spot in the shade of a big tumbleweed to take care of business.
Crouched down with my undies around my ankles, I saw this on the ground inches away:
A rattler had very recently shed his skin!
Yikes. Cool but kinda scary, considering my vulnerable state of affairs at that exact moment. I frantically looked around for the rattler, newly freed of his encumbrance, but fortunately he had already slithered away.
More than a year in Baja and we still haven't had a (live) rattler sighting yet.
We hopped back in the car for the second half of the drive through isolated,
desolate desert. Suddenly, after miles and miles of nothing but cacti
and sagebrush, we found ourselves here:
This is the giant desert oasis where the Indians, and later the Spanish settlers,
chose to build their little town of Todos Santos. Here in Baja, it's all about the water, baby!
A Todos Santos courtyard
Inside the church at Todos Santos there's a very Catholic Jesus pointing
to his barbed wire-ensconced exposed heart.
It's a graphic, but poignant and powerful image. I confess, though,
that these days I can't help but think of Robert Downey Jr's Ironman character
when I see this style of Jesus statue.
An online artist evokes Jesus imagery in his portrayal
of Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman
Hey, don't blame me for making that connection. It's my husband's fault --
he makes me watch the original Ironman
movie about once a year. OK, I'll admit it -- I really don't mind. It's the
greatest superhero movie ever, IMHO.
I guess you could take the leap and say that Jesus and Tony Stark's character may
have a trait or two in common, like sacrificing personal comfort for the
common good of mankind. Anyway, no doubt this Catholic image of Jesus
with the exposed heart probably influenced the creative juices of Stan Lee when
he penned the first Ironman comic strip.
Also inside the church is the Virgin Mary (on the right, missing her right hand)
and, on the left, Little Bo Peep? Not sure what she has to do with anything...
Nonetheless, I'm always moved by the simple statues and artwork inside these
Mexican Catholic churches. Their decoration is clearly a labor of love,
usually by the Mexican women of the village.
After visiting the church, it was lunchtime.
More Catholic-inspired artwork greeted us at the little local taco stand where we ate lunch.
This Baja-style version of The Last Supper was painted directly onto the wall of the eatery.
Catholic culture is such a giant part of daily
life here in Mexico. I'm kinda gonna miss it when we're back in the states.
After lunch, Chris enjoys a freshly prepared ice cream, made daily here
in Mexico with fresh fruit and real cream.
We explored Todos Santos on foot. It's a neat, clean little Colonial town
with many art galleries and nice restaurants.
Two minor complaints, though:
Todos Santos complaint #1: GRINGOS.
Gringos with fanny packs covered every inch of pretty Todos Santos.
I know, I know. I'm a gringo. We're gringos! That's the irony -- get it? Yes, it's
ridiculous, and all fingers point back to me, the tall blonde gringo taking
pictures all over town (hey, at least I'm not wearing a fanny pack!).
It just bugs me seeing gringos taking over the most beautiful real estate in Mexico.
Somehow, it just doesn't seem right. Anyway, I'll just go ahead and
let that contradiction lie there... :-)
Todos Santos complaint #2: Where's the beach?
We were led to believe that this is a beach town -- a surf town -- but Todos Santos is a good couple of miles off the coast and away from the beach. Clearly the original village was built at the site of the inland oasis for the water supply. After exploring the town, we followed the bumpy dirt road that led a couple of miles down to the beach.
At the shore was a tiny fishing camp and estuary
We parked the car, took off our shoes and explored on foot
We climbed the tall dunes which we hoped might finally lead to the beach
And finally, there it was -- our first sighting of the open Pacific Ocean in more than a year:
The beautiful Todos Santos beach, almost completely devoid of real estate
No surfers. No homes. OK, OK, the beach wasn't completely empty.
Our only company was this tightly packed flock of
seagulls sunning themselves on the shore.
Me, all alone on the beach at Todos Santos
And once again, Mexico surprised us. Todos Santos was not what we expected. That's the
beauty of this country -- every day, another beautiful surprise.
We're back at anchor in La Paz. Enjoying our final weeks here in Baja
before we slowly start bashing up the coast back to SoCal...