The Power of the Camera

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Is Like No Other.

Out of all the projects and developments we've got happening over in Indo at 4th World Love, one that shakes my soul all the time is the gift of teaching.  Learning a new trade, skill, habit, idea - all these things are so often discarded in my own life - it's like - who has time to learn?!  I'm trying to keep up with the dang day to day...but that is something that I have to really work on or things just get super stale.

My good friend over in Lombok, Hasan, is the mega learner.  He sent me these pictures recently because he wanted to see if his composition was any good (we play with photos a lot).  I have given him and the CDC several cameras and any time I'm there, he is my go to guy for hauling all my gear, taking camera notes, helping with shot lists, making sure all the batteries are charged and taking point on all off site photo shoots.  Over time, he has become a super duper photographer and peeps now ask him to shoot their weddings, to document their lives.  What a wonderful treasure to have done (teach him some photography skills) and to continue to see flourish.  He is so very proud of having taken a passion and really trying to work on it every day.  I'm so proud of him, too. 



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I did the same thing with my super good pal, Lalo, down at Casa de Mita.  He is already a wonderful photographer, but every time I go, I spend a little time with him - just sippin' a marg and discussing all things photography - taking pix, assessing them, exhanging lenses.  I don't know that much about picture taking besides what I taught myself, but what I do know is that whipping out the camera and documenting the tiny things that I come across makes me happy - and clearly it does other folks too.

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That very thing is one of the reasons we started 4WL.   To be a conduit to hope and inspiration for those less fortunate.  We try to accomplish that every day - even in the TV shows we make; and on this wanderlust blog,as well.   Will this TV show or toothie post entertain, make a difference, change someones life/day, be remembered, make someone wanna have a good meal or some fine drink? If not, man...why bother?

That is the thing I wanna keep striving for every day, every photo, every moment, hell - every decision in the day.  Because if I don't do it for me, who will?  Ain't nobody snappin' my pic - I gotta get out there and document it for me.  And, if I stick to what the me in this wacky ass world loves, well - I will always be proud and happy to share a tidbit of goodness.  Picture that:)

Oh Casa de Mita How I LOVE YOU


Last month, me and my bud Lis, took off for my #1 standby, Casa de Mita.  This amazing spot on earth has become my 100% guarantee refuge from all things CRAZY.  The minute I get there, a quick pitstop is made at the marina to grab a frozen marg.  Mind back on track - CHECK.

45 minutes after landing in Puerto Vallarta, I'm skipping through the front gate of a place that has come to feel like my home away from home.  Lalo and Memo are on the make - laughing a mile a minute and ready to whip me up another drink...pronto.  The smells bubbling out of the kitchen make me woozy with joy, and the very idea of seeing Thomas for a 90 minute massage is enough to drive one to tears.  A spy thriller is in hand immediately, clothes are yanked off, and a tan is on the happs.

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Memo looks super fly in my Ray Bans (I'm gonna have to procure something of the like for him and Lalo next trip down) and these boys just keep me laughing and truly happy all day long.

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Activity on the beach involves all makes and models - dog lovers, sand joggers, intent fisherman and oyster harvesters, couples strolling about, families enjoying the day - but mostly it's deserted. 

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The pool is heated - oh so gently.  Which brings me to the swim up bar.  I mean - what a dangerous place to find me and Lis (and me and Chez last time) at the top of the day.  It really sets the right tone for how life should be lived.

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A fresh bottle of champagne is popped at lunch or dinner, or breakfast if you want...just when you are ready for a beach stroll and a quick nap.  All chilled glasses, all top shelf.

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Now if I sell one of these shows I'm currently pitching, guess where I'm headed? :)


Casa de Mita - go now.

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Flora Farm - The Trip of a Lifetime for Foodies in Baja

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Here's the latest from this months issue of Baja Bound!  

Flora Farms - The Trip You Must Make in 2014

If there is one trip that should be on your radar in the upcoming months, it’s absolutely got to be to the magical estate that is Flora Farms. This dreamlike culinary institute is tucked way beyond the edge of a dirt road on the cusp of San Jose del Cabo and is truly a taste of the good life. Celebs and locals both rave about I can finally say, I know why.

It was my 40th birthday and you better believe I was hell bent on spending it somewhere unreal. I’ve been reading about Flora Farms for a spell now – in my farm-to-table quest that takes me all over the back roads of Baja - but to be able to spend my big 4-0 birthday there was a treat that was to become legend in my soul. How often have you ever said that about a restaurant experience? It makes me realize how far I’ve come in all the years I’ve spent traipsing the Baja. If I want it, I go find it. And, the Baja allows it and serves it straight up. Period.

We arrived for lunch – which was cool by me. Fresh off the road from Loreto via an overnight in Todos Santos, this was to be a meal fit for kings before hauling back up to Loreto that same day. My dog was welcomed with friendly coos and a big bowl of water, along with some mega hard playtime with the scads of rescue dogs that race around the front grounds greeting everyone with huge toothy smiles and can-you-believe-I-hit-this-jackpot energy.

I did the Cinderella swirl the minute I walked into the open air seating area, mimicking the dogs knowing ‘tudes. Holy moly! Talk about a way of life; let me put it this way, in these words to all foodies (and non-foodies alike) out there. There will be no other experience in your culinary searches the world over that overwhelms like Flora does. None. 

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From the lush gardens (they grow everything on site), to the farm bar (finally, true mixology drinks in the lower sphere of Baja), to the catch-all farmers market (all produce picked that morning), to the straight-out-of-a-magazine design of the culinary cottages, to the open grounds (my dog went nuts when she saw her first turtle), to the set up of the cooking workshop in the middle of the gardens (I would like to spend the rest of my life right there, or at least have my ashes spread) - Flora Farms enchants from every angle. The owners, Patrick and Gloria Greene, have concocted a fantasy world for anyone that has ever had a dream about opening their own restaurant or enjoying a good meal. The inspiration alone is shocking and dramatically different than anything one might think they know about food (or the serving and preparation of) before walking in.

We started with piles of just baked bread that made the taste buds quiver. As much as we tried to stop eating the nut and herb filled chunks of bread, it was impossible. We were stuffed before we even finished the basket, but that didn’t deter us. Out came a bowl of cucumber and almond gazpacho that holds strong in the top handful of dishes I’ve ever had...anywhere in the world. Poured tableside in a bowl smeared with smoked paprika, this chilled soup is nothing like the Spanish version you might be used to on a hot summer day. Instead, it’s as if a rural king broke bread with a world-renowned chef and they turned out this doozy after a leisurely day of poking about the garden with a bit of chilled Rosé in hand.

Next flew out a mountain of crispy French fries alongside a luscious croque madame, done right with the best ingredients found in all of Baja (shaved ham, gooey gruyere, olive and nut bread). This butter soaked sandwich with a fried egg up top could fill up two people, easy. In the same breath, a fat hill of housemade pasta appeared. The simplest of ingredients (flecks of parmesan and herbs, shaved carrots, a speck of cream) managed to equal a mess of moans from both of our mouths. Full as we were, oh well. Bring more drinks!

The final hit was a birthday carrot cake that we couldn’t possibly down in that seating. Our bellies were stuffed, we had a long ride back to Loreto and Minka (our dog) couldn’t stop drooling. But, don’t you know – ‘round about La Paz, we pulled over and wolfed that cream cheese frosted sweet treat in the span of about 30 seconds. A two-bite each whammy…after all, you only turn 40 once…and I’m a farm girl (read Baja gypsy) at heart.

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My Next Big Road Quest Will Be...

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to find the perfect Mexican village.

Why?  Cause I think about it every single day.  And sometimes, you just gotta go with the ongoing thought process. It will be a trip that happens later in the year, but an epic one.  Done by truck, with dog in tow.  Somewhere on the Pacific coast is the tiny village that haunts my mind. 

The places that come to mind are already too saturated...probably because I know about them so well.  I'm not saying I wont revisit them and give them a go, but I feel like the PERFECT place is one that I've not been to yet.  It would have the vibe of San Pancho (maybe it is San Pancho), a bit of the arts like San Miguel de Allende, the walkability of Yelapa, totally drivable from the USA and not on the expensive side like Isla Mujeres.  I dig the island flavor of Isla Mujeres but I'm not feeling the Caribbean these days, and Isla Holbox - though cute - just seems so far away. 

Maybe once I'm further down - Puerto Angel area - maybe things will start to click again.  But I think it's literally a border cross and a mosey all the way down the Pac side for a few months.  Why not?

I just went to Baja this past weekend for a weekend long Spanish class and I think I've quite possibly been handed the golden key to understanding how to finally master this language.  Can you imagine if that's the case?  

I've got to start planning it all now - but again, most likely, this wee spot on earth is a place I will happen upon randomly - like most good things...obvi, food is a priority - there must be super fresh seafood and warm balmy waters.  The ocean must be swimmable (unlike most of Todos Santos); it would be super if I could ride my bike most places; dog-friendly is a must; margs must always be on the happs; and it's got to have a tight-knit (but not unbreakable) community feel for things. 

Dang, if you go back all these years to my first Toothie posts, I was looking for the same thing way, way back then. soul has never stopped searching for a place to land south of the border.

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My New MST Tradition - Gift Myself

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With Mexico being the norm.

See, here's the thing.  Look how happy these pictures of Casa de Mita in Mexico make us.  Compared to the doldrums and horror of the snow and sludge and cold of winter in most of America at this moment.

I was just there at de Mita last month for my b-day (a big fat treat to myself) and listen, to me...there is pretty much no place on earth right now that rivals this magical little haven.   I have been multiple times, but this time - yet again - solidified that I not only am looking for a guarantee of happiness in my travels, but I'm also really super jazzed about being taken care of while out there.  

Lalo and Memo are sent from above as far as their social skills, drink making skills, and humorous attitude day & night.  Really, everyone there is a spectacular artform in their ability to make me feel at right at home and very far away all at the same time.  

I can practice my Spanish, I can walk the beach 24/7, I can eat incredible food, I can read book after book, I can work the killer tan, and I can play with the doggies while missing Minka - (I have a heartwrenching tale I will share sometime about their newest pup Madison some day, but I'm still too tender over it all to go into it - however, she is a rock start and doing great)!  

Thw owner, Marc, has created the perfect paradise in my fave place on earth (well, it ties with Indo) and I simply cannot wait to get back.  Again, the cold is here in these dark mountains and Mexico tends to be a place in my soul where the sun always shines, the smiles always burst, and the drinks are always frosty cold.  

Bless you, Casa de Mita.

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Where to Begin After 2 Months Out?

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Might as well start with

the best fish tacos EVER on the new road to La Bufadora. 

How do I backtrack?  I used to be able to begin...again...and then I just got caught up. Life.

Well, I'm in one of my fave places in the world in Baja - on hard lockdown - but having a drink now and thinking about how it's time to share a bit.  So, here goes.

Shot 2 sizzles (sort of like a sales tape for TV) this past month - 2 totally different shows I hope/think will sell.  Editing now - this sort of thing takes MAD commitment and thought and creativity. Not many can relate - but those who can...I hope to see you soon.

Realized yesterday that I have been to Mexico 8 times since December 2012 and YET my Spanish is no better.  SHAME.  Also, realized my dog has been to Mexico more than most of my friends.  Wow.  Her Spanish is rock solid.

Well, damn.  What else? 

Lot's, but nothing - as all me and my fats say.  I really promise that I will get back to toothin'.  It's so hard to lay into a moment to get a post done - but now that I'm in MEX and gonna establish a real life routine, maybe it can come to be. 

My mom sends me pix of the PERFECT cornbread and amazingly fluffy cakes made in an AGA.  It makes me so, so happy.  I daydream about Mel and his funny way's that I long to replicate (he's my g/dad).  I try to every day be a little bit more like him - simple and sweet and real and happy and cozy and realiable and just plain wonderful.  Next to impossible to live up to.  But, I try. 

I have a billion pix that are great and tell a tale, but I'm smelling like Minka right about now and need to rinse and truly, begin...again...


BTW - at this moment, I am nowhere near the pix in this post and they really have nothing to do with anything except the fact that I LOVE MEXICO.

Also - here's the Sept post for my Baja Bound article. 

Click here:)



Hartwood in Tulum, Mexico - Worth the Trip?

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I have so many things to say about this joint. 

I had been dying to go there for years - since it opened, really - and finally made it down a few months ago for a cooking workshop hosted by the little restaurant and Casa de Las Olas, an eco - friendly hotel on the beach in Tulum.  It all sounded so wonderful on paper, but I dunno.  Tulum felt like a tropical East Village.  Like barely a Mexican in sight. Don't get me wrong, what a pretty place.  Stunning, even.  But, just didn't feel like Mexico.

Hartwood was indeed AMAZING.  One of the best meals of my life (which I will get into in the next Toothie update)...but it was a literal shitstorm.  Like full on maniacs with their cameras taking pix of everyting and everyone.  For dinner, the lines were astounding (thank god we were part of the cooking class and got first dibs on a primo seat)...but jeez, what a pony show! Guess you could include me in that mix with the cam.

The poor Chef Eric - man, I'm sure he and his gal just wanted to head to Mexico and open a cute little seaside restaurant.  Live simple.  Cook well.  No way did he know it would turn into all this packed-to-the-gills madness every day.  I know because I asked him.  They were stunned.  But, the food is so so so worth it.  He cooks by fire and only fire.  It's like the blistered taste of a lakeside campfire every single bite that goes in the mouth. 

The vibe is great - just way too many people.  The secret is out.  Long out.  Good luck getting in...but man, if you can - it's worth it.   More on Tulum next time - which includes a sudden bolt, a trip to Isla Mujeres, a delish meal at a way more local spot, an explore and dismiss of an RV park that was once on the list and finally - why I will probably never be back that way!

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Minka Goes To Baja - For Baja Bound


Here is the latest article for Baja Bound - guess I loved writing in Minka's voice!

As a dog, there are a couple of things I will always know to be true when I hop in the truck with my mom and dad. There will always be a big adventure when we finally stop. There will always be lots of new friends to kiss. And, there will certainly always be blissful bits of road scraps to be wolfed down. My folks like to eat like kings and most times, I just follow their bellies, knowing that if I’m a real good girl, I’m gonna see and taste all sorts of new delicious things. Little did I know what was in store for me on my first few trips to Baja (grilled fish, creamy avocado, bones galore, big chunks of machaca) but I’m now an old pro at border crossings (four times in less than a year!). However, in the beginning of my puppy days – whew, what a whirlwind!

My first mega trip across the border into Baja (December 2012) involved all sorts of preparation. We visited my vet to get travel paperwork, we set up the back seat of the truck with lots of soft blankets (I actually called shot gun most of the trip), and we hit the pet food store so I could select a new toy (Mrs. Squirrel, whom I happily unstuffed just outside of Santa Rosalia). We made it across the border and lots of military checkpoints and nobody ever questioned me, or my wagging tail.

Minka Baja Dog

I know my folks were nervous about finding hotels that were dog friendly along Highway 1, especially with limited internet access to do research on the way, but my mom is a smartie – she used the website (vacation rentals by owners) for most of the trip and when we got into no mans land she’d just perkily enter a hotel (with me) to see if pets were allowed and once they saw my super cute face and cheery smile, they always said yes. I always noodle my whole body around peoples legs to make them comfy and usually they give me a little treat or at the very least a good scratch behind the ears. I’m a really big fan of the nice cool rooms at La Mision Hotel in Loreto. We always get bay scallop risotto there and so many new friends pet me in the lobby every day. The life in Loreto is just my speed – chilling in the town square while my mom sips a mango margarita and I touch noses with all the dogs off leash running around. They usually want me to come with them on their scouts through the village, but I know the best place in the world to be is right at the base of my mom and dads feet. Ever had nibbles of the scrambled egg and cheese burrito from Café Ole just off the square? Wow.

Now as for food along the way, the perk of being a road dog is the quantity of good girl treats I get. My mom always takes me to the funnest restaurants – all with outdoor seating, so I’m always invited. Tiny shacks on the beach where I get to jump in the water, practice my fetch skills and eat lots of grilled shrimp and fresh fish. One of my best Baja friends is a really pretty girl named Pele down on the beach in Bahia Concepcion – her parents run Ana’s Restaurant on Playa Santispac. We ran on the beach until we were delirious, but you gotta watch out cause those little pangas have anchor lines to shore that will clothesline dogs like me if you aren’t careful. Pele and me witnessed that travesty firsthand.

Baja Machaca 
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Mom enjoys tequila and there’s the most amazing place we trek to in La Bufadora where I have certain spots that I hide things and then rediscover on later trips. She raves about the housemade tequila to everyone, and I quote directly from mom’s mouth:

"Just south of Ensenada is La Bufadora, the world’s 2nd largest blowhole. It’s interesting to see it shoot 100 ft. into a cloudless sky, but what’s more enthralling is what’s tucked behind the bar at La Bufadora Tequila Grill, just up the hill from the blowhole. Literally – the best tequila you will ever taste. You’ve never sipped tequila like this before. Yes, you sip it. And ever so slowly. The recipe for this vanilla pod, herb tangled, orange peel, raisin infused thrill ride runs back triple generations and is like nothing else you’ve ever let tickle your tonsils. You can take in a few rounds onsite while watching the sun set over the Pacific or even better buy a bottle to go ($100 per) and you will be the kingpin among all the dis-believers when you bust it out at your next dinner party. This is a handcrafted batch of Gods’ tears and rumor has it that it’s good enough for Tiger Woods to chopper over for (he’s building a golf course nearby), consider it next level sippin’."

Minka Baja Dog

There is also one of my fave spots on earth – San Javier. Turns out this little village in the mountains above Loreto, is full of dogs. Only 140 people live there and there are at least 20 dogs running around! Oh, the joy. I’ve never played with a friendlier pack of pups in all my days. Little ones, big ones, sassy ones, and one real funny one who had a beer can tied to his tail. Guess everyone wanted to know when he was coming down the boulevard! Mom likes to drink skinny margaritas at the little café on the square and just recently we got an amazing tour of the huge farm behind the church. One of the oldest families in San Javier owns it and they have lots of old grape vines to make wine from and olives for fresh pressed olive oil. I can’t wait to go back for the harvest this fall. I’m definitely planning on a personal tour with Memo again. He’s the handsome cowboy that makes the homemade machaca I love so much at Palapa San Javier. He’s famous for it and was even in a book!

Anyhow – this roundup barely touches the life I lead down in Baja. Like my mom and dad, I dream of it often. But, as I say to the border guard at the Tecate crossing (we always use this one cause it’s shorter lines and a prettier drive) – Woof! Woof! And catch ya on the rebound! He just tosses me a smile and waves us right through.

Minka Baja Dog

Pet Traveling Tips

  • Pack your pet's travel paperwork with you just in case.
  • Let the hotel desk clerk meet the dog right away before they jump to conclusions.
  • Check out Baja Bound's Pet Friendly Hotel Guide for hotel ideas in Baja Norte.
  • Pack a chilled towel so when the fun is over you can rub your dog down, cleaning and cooling him/her at the same time.
  • It is recommended to give your pet bottled water.
  • Let your dog play with the local dogs – just keep yours on leash.
  • Bring an extra harness and leash in case for some reason yours snaps in the middle of Baja.
  • Coconut oil soothes hot, sore paws from long walks in the heat.
  • All restaurants are dog friendly if there is outdoor seating – and that’s what Mexico is all about.

T is for Twelve Minutes from LAX




Twelve minutes from LAX lies my little floating home that
someday soon I shall move back onto.  

Dear God, it's taken forever, I've lost my mind, but it's on the horizon...the hunkder down for spring in LA is on the make.  Cause lord knows I haven't dont jack what I wanted to down here in the desert.  I've been on the road for eons, how could I?   Takes all I've got to pay the bills, research the needs for FLO, plot a few new shows and try to make some good food.  Toss in Minka's daily pup needs and keeping up with the news, and the day is done. 

Now, once I get back on the FLO, pls do remember, I'm a scant 12 minutes from LAX, which if you have been a toothie long, you will recall one of my first posts ever was about what makes a perfect place to live?  Has to be close to an international airport.  And, for that reason alone - I can't imagine being anywhere else but the marina if I'm to reside in LA.  Means, in 12 minutes I can be at the 'port, ticket to elsewhere in hand and on my way to another land. Usually Mexico. Or Indo.
This past trip to Casa de Mita, I discovered the chill village of San Pancho and a sweet little organic restaurant down a side road tucked into a funky hotel.  Turns out the owner of the hotel and restaurant lives 1/2 mile from me in Venice.  In a place I walk past all the time.  Small, small world.
The food at Bistro Organico was simple fusion food.  A twist of Mexico, a sting of Tahiti, and a whole lotta freshness.  They're throwing Thai red basil into cocktails, whipping up their own tequila, and taking the vibe of the S. Pacific islands and making them come alive in charred mushroom pots and coconut shrimp curries. Super light and fresh.   

And, with LAX only 12 minutes away from me, just that much closer.  I do so love SoCAL.


S is for San Pancho, Mexico


S is for San Pancho, Mexico

Rarely does a super cool village come my way that is as special as the person waxing poetic about it claims it is. So, when I heard a whisper about the village of San Pancho, Mexico while I was staying at Casa de Mita in December, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't go - or would I?  I almost didn't head there - who can deal?  Like I said, most peeps talk of secret haunts and then you go and its like WTF?  They clearly have no clue what makes a great village.

I'm even on the fence sometimes.  I think it's a mix of several things that elevate typical towns and villages into a league worth raving about. Usually there's either a beach or mountains involved.  The word "organic" is starting to pop up (be in in regards to a bakery, a farm, a spa).  The people are super chillaxed and just living in the moment, not rushing to and fro, all frantic. There might be more than normal amounts of motor bikes, golf carts, scooters, or bicycles as a huge portion of the transport.  Reclaimed materials are seen inside restaurants - as bars, tables, wall art, or benches.  Everyone waves and says hello - abnormally friendly folks reside there.  Artists usually flock there either for the light, or the cheap living.   You've never really read about it in magazines - at least when you first discovered it.  There's at least one yoga class, if not that, then pilates.  Wi-fi is def to be found most places.  People return year after year cause they want the guarantee - you want to know it's gonna put you in your right mind at the end of a stay.  The food served is fresh, local and sustainable - and they don't have to preach's just the way that is always has been.

How many places can you name that have the above elements?  It's to impossible really.

Anyhow - San Pancho.  I was expecting another Sayulita - which I'm def not a fan of.  So many tourists, so much influx. I run from places like this.  San Pancho though (about 20 min from Sayulita) - was special upon entry.  It's tiny.  It's walkable.  It dead ends at the beach.  It's prob what Sayulita was 15 years ago.   There were games of dominos on the happs.  Some hippie looking surfer folks were prepping some kind of food on the beach, surrounded by adorable dogs all perched to get a treat if they were good boys and girls. Cold cans of beers were in the hands of the locals round about 3p, as chicken was being grilled up in a tiny alcove off the main street (I was offered a sample and it was the best street chix I've ever tasted - sweet and charred at once). The beach was relaxed and quiet.   Live music was floating in from one of the few beachside restaurants.  You know the margs were good (meaning I don't have to tell them no pre-mix, I want fresh lime proper-style).  Cute hotels. Organic restaurants.  The happiest street dogs in the world (seems San Pancho is known for their dogs - in a good way).  Local artists on the square, selling really cool stuff (not mass produced junk).  Candles being lit in bars and restaurants.  Daily special boards being set out.  I mean, I could go on and on.  Reminds me a little of when I first came upon Isla Mujeres years ago.  Or certain villages in Bali.  Old school SMA.  

It's just a certain vibe you get off places that makes you stay up late night, researching real estate and land and potential business prospects.  Thinking of ditching all and moving on down to do what is is people do in places such as these.  Live.  I need a little more of that.  Just livin.