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May 2010

What Seems Lonesome Ain't So Lonesome After All...


One is never really alone in the Baja.

You can go hundreds of miles without seeing a soul down in Baja.  Not one single pair of eyes, not a single restaurant, nary a gas station.  Nothing but barren desert and complete stillness.  So, when you're hauling ass down Highway 1 and you happen upon a bright white shack like this one with the word burrito crudely painted in red across the front of it, well, you stop.  Cause heaven knows when you might see another living creature, much less a bit of grub, again.

We popped into Burritos Cafe on the way from Loreto to Todos Santos.  We'd torn out early, intent on making it back to the Pacific side of the peninsula for a late lunch...but in the meantime, we were starving.  And, we'd seen nada for hours and hours.  We were the only customers of the morning and the second we stepped out of our dusty, road-ragged car, we were bombarded by a small, frantic-with-happiness puppy.  He attacked my flip flop with a fury, intent on calling my Haviana his breakfast, lunch and dinner.

As we shuffled up to the front counter in the blistering heat, we had nothing but heuvos on the mind.  Not sure if they only served burritos, we inquired is easy Spanish about eggs, beans and tortillas.   If you know those 3 words in Spanish, you will never go hungry.  The wee lady operating the stand spoke not a lick of English but of course managed to plop out the VERY BEST huevos, frijoles and hand-slapped tortillas within moments.  They fry their eggs up in veg oil, not butter, and I'd have to say that they, along with the slightly smashed whole beans were truly divine.  Usually I just have a lone tortilla, but she kept peeping out from behind the tin wall and flipping us a few more, hot off the grill.  Ten tortillas & two gnawed up toes later, we were back on the road to Todos Santos.

Oddly enough, while sitting there, enjoying the shade and the perfect food, no less than five cars pulled up - simply for a steaming cup of coffee, a somehow freezing cold water, a bit of small talk or a quick to go sack of food before hopping back in their trucks and heading on.  Just a bustling little metropolis that Burritos Cafe.  I coulda sat all day and watched the minutes unfold.









Baja - It's Just a Short Plane Ride Away, Ya'll


Why does not a soul rave about Baja the way I do?  What are you fools seeing?

I almost jumped on a plane today to Baja.  I mean - I was seconds away from it.  Why not?  Errands and work be damned.  When do you get to live in all this insanity?  When does the TO DO list just stand the F down and this one life get a silly minute to breathe?  A moment to just regroup, pat yourself on the back and say job the holy hell well done, girl?  Not that often.

Heading to NJ for almost 5 months this week.  Daunting to think about.  Therefore, I am tossing my laptop into a carry-on and calling it a day.  I can buy my little $10 t-shirts from Whole Foods out there.  Who needs anything anyhow. It's all just stuff in the grand scheme.  Just ties that bind, weigh you down.  Keep your surroundings clean and light - attach to nothing.  I think that's the real secret to a life well lived.

When I am on the road, when I am just gone...well, things straighten out in my head and I have all the madcap joy in the world.  I find the best food; I lay eyes on the most beautiful people; I see the most stunning visions; I try all kinds of new things; life just makes complete sense.

Baja - good sweet pure INSANE Baja will just have to shift on over to the back-burner for a spell and then I will be back with a vengeance.  Ready to surf again.  Ready to play with all the puppies I befriended.  Ready to live the dream again.  In real time.

Give this song a listen and you will be in my shoes for a mere moment whilst pecking this entry out.  Just happier than ever, remembering all that was - and never was.  Per usual. 

Baja -- it's just 2 hrs away for the love.

Airplanes Make Me Happy












Baja Boating Season - Prime Time


On a day when nothing seems to be going right - think of sailboats.  Freedom & Pain in one big balmy swoop.

Once you hit the Sea of Cortez in Baja, really anywhere off Highway 1, life begins to take on a snail-like pace.  Boats swish by every now and again, others sitting idly at anchor in some magical cove.  The dreams one can conjure up with waters like these everywhere the eyes fall prey are just bananas.  They transport; they're the visions that life should be made up of, si?

I stumbled upon a sign for Puerto Escondido whilst on the way from Todos Santos to Loreto.  It's a master marina - tucked way down a dirt road in a beautiful hurricane hole.  It was literally packed with sailboats - all donning pimped out dinghies and harried owners loading up on booze, ice, snacks and toilet paper (all once really needs, yah?) at the tiny market onsite.  I met a few fellas who were running a massive fishing vessel and once they saw me snapping pix, they demanded I take some from their top deck.  Up I scampered. To the very top.  Nice.

The fishies in the water popped from that height and there were masts as far as they eye could see.  Is it enough in life to just cruise the Sea of Cortez?  Where are all these folks headed?  Are they liveaboards; are they just down to escape the final days of winter before headed back?  Maybe some are round-the-worlder's?  Those are the ones that absolutely fascinate me.  The brave souls who've really ditched the map of life and headed out to points further...OUT THERE. 

Makes my heart soar and swell on days like these - even though I'm staring out my upstairs office window at a tangle of masts.  It's not quite the same as witnessing 'em out in a massive body of water - on their mighty way. 













Cava - A Brave New Joint in Loreto


One needs a flash of class now and again - even if you are in the outlaw land of Baja.

There does indeed come a time when you want a bit of something besides Mexican food (good as it is) and in Loreto, that's somewhat easy to find.  There's Mediterranean, loads of fresh seafood, really good Italian and now - a funky little 5-table joint called Cava (mostly tapas).  It opened a few months back and became an instant hit.  Every day, I'd troll by there - gazing in, checking out the menu of the day (all dreamed up based on what's avail and fresh that day), waiting on them to open up.

Yah, it's pricey for Loreto - but in the grand scheme - not really.  I had vino and four or five dishes for maybe $40.   The highlights were a super-tasty, very citrusy octopus tostado that I'm still salivating over; a heaping pile of salmon carpaccio (total taste sensation); their version of a caprese salad - very tidy and precise; and a seared pear and brie salad (could be the only time ever that I've enjoyed brie). 

The pinot grigio was cold (enough beer already MST!), the Sirius radio was set on chill music, the vibe was incredibly low-key and I could absolutely see myself opening a place very, very similar to it.  Why not?  I'm sure they didn't spend that much coin getting it up and going.  Everything was a bit rough, lots of handmade stuff that somehow impressed.  Thing is, I'd have to find the perfect place in the world to create such a venture and it could really only be seasonal (there's so much to see in this life) - but that's all doable, no?  People do it down in Yelapa all the time (my other fave Mexican village).  Whatever it takes to make it work and lead a life that's just a wee bit different than the norm, that's all we should really be after in the short time we have on the planet.

Anyhow - very clever, these folks.  Cava is on the main street off highway 1 headed toward the beach.  And, it looked like they same owners were the ones opening the Italian bistro just a few doors down.  The best time to go is night, when all the candles are sparkling.  Matches the stars outside.  Just a lovely find.








What I'm Seeking Is 100% Isolation


I dare you to head somewhere far, far away and just try and disappear.

You'd think that isolation would come easy.  But, it is most def not as easy as it sounds.  Folks come out of the woodwork, hell, they come out of the woods.  And, I'm the type that has a giant find me/follow me/engage with me sign strapped across my entire being - and they come in droves.  Which can be cool - the stuff I learn/witness out there blows my mind every day.  Lucky girl. 

However...sometimes I just want dead silence.  And dead aloneness.  Not to go on and on about Prana del Mar, but in the off season (right this moment in Baja), there are no retreaters there - just the chef, the 2nd best masseuse in the world (the first is my girl Ayu over in Candidasa, Bali), the zen-like owner, Eric, and the super-cute couple that manages the place.  And - bliss - they are all spread out to do their said jobs and literally, the place is ALL YOUR OWN.  Nobody else.  Just a dirt trail to the sandy beach.  A boiling hot tub. A divine bed.  A billion stars.  A swimming sunset.  A couple of roosters crowing in the morning.  And for $45 extra, you get three organic (mostly grown on site) meals made for you by the chef.  I mean, WTF? 

You've never really had isolation so good.  Especially in a patch of desert within spitting distance of the mighty Pacific.
















Prana del Mar - Best Kept Secret in Baja


Once you spend the night in a well designed joint, every other place feels like a sheer and utter dump.

Someone said to me today - "And how was Baja, you know you could get killed down there..."  I just smile inside and think - mmmmmm, keep on believing that, and spread the word while you're at it.  Then I'll continue to have Prana del Mar all to myself to enjoy as if it's my own amazing, off-grid, all-solar, star-riddled haven meant for kings and queens - ($129/night) - near Todos Santos, if you're curious.

The 100% For Real State of Affairs in Loreto, Baja


I don't know man - is any place in the world ever, ever, ever what it's made out to be?  They say Baja is wild - and it is.  But, not wild like you think.  It's just simply the kind of place in the world that takes your breath away and makes you really dig deep to figure out what the holy F you are doing with your life. 

Ever which way you glance - if it ain't dead and dried up, it's got to be the most beautiful vista you've ever stumbled across.  If it ain't smiling, when then that usually happy Mexican must be having a rough one.   If the sea isn't calm, well - Mother Nature is just really messin' with ya.  If it's not delicious, well - you must be showing face at a place meant only for tourists and their Americanized bellies. 

Loreto is so pristine.  Clean, windy, balmy, eye-popping, homey, drifty, sassy.  All at once.  Inspiring beyond belief.  We saw 2 tall Mexicans working on the side of the path that led to the town square and the name of a damn fine beer was born - 2 Tall Mexicans.  I almost bought a giant yacht from some poor dude who JUST WANTED OUT.  He took people out on eco-tours - out camping on the islands.  Time to sell - biz is down and life is short.  But, hell no - he wasn't moving out of Loreto...just moving up and out of the tourism business!  Met a slew of BMW bikers who call themselves the Baja Brothers and troll the peninsula every year on their packed down bikes.  Broke bread (coco shrimp) with them, drank loads with them.  Was happy and delirious from a head cold all at once.  Had amazing gourmet food at a new tapas place in town; it rivaled all I've eaten in LA.  Who knew?

Loreto is at once home and foreign.  I love it beyond belief.  And, if you go - hit up the new hotel in town on the beach, La Mision.  Super chill, super special.  If you go, you will plot to find a way to stay.  It's just that life should be.




Best Huevos Rancheros in the World Found in Loreto


This man is responsible for what could quite possibly be the best huevos rancheros I've ever had.  We happened to be out walking one morning in Loreto, which by the way, is by far my fave town in Baja, and he was getting his tiny shoe-shine cart all set up.  Not much to tidy up, but he was puttering.  Of course, we mosey up behind him on the slink - so curious to see what was in this wee treasure box. 

He spoke not a lick of English but gestured for me to sit down...which of course I did.  We picked up the word "comida" and he pointed down the cobbles stoned side street toward a colorful shack and after lots of pictures, a 1000 giggles and promises to come back, we were off.  To El Capital.

The adorable shack/kitchen was being painted bright yellow and they'd spruced up the dining area with flowers, table clothes, flowers and the like.  Our waiter popped over with a steaming pot of coffee and the friendliest attitude ever.  Just like all the folks in Loreto.  They just seem happy.  Happy land.

I got the rancheros cause I was on a bender and I can't believe how perfect they were.  Just enough juice in the spicy sauce.  Eggs cooked perfect and laid atop half crunchy/half soft corn tortillas, cold cream, tart limes, homemade beans - I mean it was literally the perfect meal.  Swiped up with dense flour tortillas.  Washed down with cold fresh squeezed orange juice.  All for just a couple of bucks.

Meals like this - simple breakfasts especially - make me want to wake up every day in a place like Loreto.  Stroll the stunning malecon, grab a fierce cof, make the rounds if you will.  Take a sail later in the day, witness the sea creatures, play with the street puppies, smile and smile and smile and smile.  And mean it. 

That is happy life summed up.









Bringin' Back Baja Mojo ~


My God, where do I even begin? 

The magical boats?  The chummy motorcyclists?  The surprising food?  The daring dreamers?  The beautiful surfing?  The chipper puppies (yes, Cowgirl, the puppies!)?  The dreamy freedom?  The cold beer?  The happy people?  The one-shack villages?  The fierce tans?  The insane light?  I guess, just little by little, the good girl Baja will reveal itself on the Tooth. 

Good entries on the horizon...

Sail, RV, Flight - Extreme Mobility Is Right.


Truly free-range animals.  Wild stallions.  Brilliant blue waters.  Shining stars. Steaming hot Chiapas coffee.  Sailboat masts galore.  Bazillions of RV's.  Smiling, curious faces.  This is what I will see for the next week down in Baja. Can't wait to roll out in the AM.

Anyone interested in Baja should read this (start at the bottom)- it's a special blog I did ages ago for - lots of good pix and deets about a  month-long journey thru the Baja.  Some of the comments are rich, as well...people get so dang protective about that land.  Just like they do with San Miguel de Allende and Isla Mujeres and Yelapa.  Three of my other fave spots in Mexico.  

And what will I be eating...hmmm...that's gonna be a toughie.  I know I'm gonna want the coconut shrimp down on the Sea of Cortez (but, what about Eating Animals, you say?  Oh yah, I hear ya).  I am 100% certain tamales are in my future.  Margaritas are def. on the horizon.  I just want to swim and swim and swim away.  The water is like bath water right now. 

I can already tell you I'm going to be lured to haul my trailer over there, or even sell my little 14' one and upgrade to that 25' Airstream I've been talking about getting and moving it down to the Sea of Cortez.  Somewhere near a dusty airstrip cause you know I'm gonna want to get my pilots license.  If I did that, then I would have all three forms of extreme mobility under my belt - sail, RV (wheels) and flight.  Could you just imagine?  And, there is a perfect little strip that pilots use all the time just south of Mulege.  It will be interesting to see what tales (re: outlandish schemes) I return with.  Could just jump with joy at the very idea of it all.