10 Awesome Things About Visiting Todos Santos with Kids

Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico.
The sunrises here do not suck. 
#1 Taco Stands
Feeding a family of four for under ten bucks is pretty darn cool. Don't be afraid to try all the taco stands in town. Each will have its own specialty (pescado, pastor, camarón, carnitas, carne asada, pollo) and a variety of condiments with which to spiffy up your meal. My seven-year-old is partial to pico de gallo, her sister likes them plain Jane, my husband piles on the jalapeños, and I love the pickled onions. Everybody's happy. 

If you're not moved by watching baby sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean, you have no soul. Attending a sea turtle release facilitated by this organization is free, but do the right thing and offer a donation.

So cute, it hurts.
#3 Beaches
Cerritos: The busiest beach around. You can rent boogie boards, take surf lessons, get a massage on the beach (an hour for $30), shop the vendors, and hit up the bar for a margarita or Dirty Monkey (a blended concoction of vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, a banana and chocolate syrup). If you’re taking your own cooler, park for free to the side of the big lot.

La Pastora: We don’t let our kids swim here, because it's a fairly steep entrance into the water and less safe to swim. That might seem like a drawback, but the structure of the beach allows you to sit high on the sand, close to the crashing waves, and with nothing in sight but miles of empty beach and ocean. Likely you’ll just find a handful of locals and serious surfers. No amenities and excellent whale watching.
Afternoon at La Pastora.

Run Away!
Palm Beach: A truly unique experience. You might have to get a local to point you in the right direction, as there aren’t any signs. You’ll drive down an unmarked, washboard dirt road and then hike through a palm grove before coming out to the beach, which is one of the area’s hidden gems. Giant rock cliffs flank each side of the beach, creating an enclosed little slice of paradise. Palm Beach is also known for strong currents, so either stay shallow or when facing the water, hug the left side of the beach.

The commute to Palm Beach.
Palm Beach from end to end. It's tough to manage the crowds.
#4 Adaptability
Is it a hassle when the power goes out? Sure. Does it suck when there's no water? Well, yes. Can life be really miserable when both happen at the same time? Affirmative. However, getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing, for both you and your kids. Embrace the bumps along the way, demonstrate adaptability to your children, and remind yourself of all we take for granted.

#5 Zumba
Okay, I don't actually like Zumba. I don't practice Zumba. I'm not good at Zumba. But my mother-in-law is locally known as Zumba Juanita and teaches Zumba classes twice a week. My kids have embraced it and do the whole class. They stand front and center, know all the moves, and gain confidence with every class they take. It's awesome to watch. I'm exercising vicariously through them to offset the tacos and margaritas.

Doesn't everybody do Zumba with their Grandmother?
Yes, that's my mother-in-law on the poster. Total bad ass.
#6 Spanish
It's not just about practicing Spanish and language learning (we use Duolingo). It's also about appreciating how welcoming and patient people are. I've heard far too many stories of Americans yelling at non-English speakers for using their native language. Not once while speaking English has a Mexican yelled at me and said, "Usted está en México! Habla español!" Actively witnessing the opposite of bigotry is an excellent and timely teaching lesson in humanity. We make the effort to speak Spanish, even when we know we probably sound pretty ridiculous, but we also appreciate the willingness of locals to speak English or meet us halfway when they can. The effort and general kindness go a long way. 

This has been a life changer for my family. By exchanging both homes and vehicles, we negate the expenses that would otherwise prohibit travel. And when you have laundry facilities and a full kitchen for preparing meals and snacks for hungry kids, you can travel for longer than if you were stuck in a hotel room. Interestingly, the President of Home Exchange has a place in Todos Santos. We’ve yet to meet in person, but I’m sure our paths will cross one day.

Our current digs. 
#8 Street Food
Check out the hot dog stand near La Esquina. It's a family business, manned by a husband, wife, and son. Order "The Special" and you’ll be presented with a hot dog wrapped in bacon in a steamed bun topped with steak, cheese, ketchup, mayo, mustard, tomato, lettuce, and avocado. Yes, it’s a ridiculous unruly mess, but we fed 7 people for a grand total of 9 dollars. Winning.

If street food scares you (it shouldn't) or you want an actual table and chair at which to eat, make a reservation at La Casita. If you're a sushi fan, be sure to order the Aury sashimi as an appetizer. Trust me! This is a lovely restaurant with great atmosphere and incredible food, suitable for date night or the whole family (one daughter orders the California roll, the other opts for Caesar salad). Big eaters should not be put off by the word tapas. The menu is extensive and the portions hearty.

Zumba Jan with her granddaughters at La Casita. 
There are MANY excellent restaurants in TS, this just happens to be my latest favorite. 
Why, yes, El Tecolote does have both Vagabonding with Kids and Vagabonding with Kids: Australia in stock. But this is so much more than a bookstore. You can also shop their excellent selection of gifts and souvenirs, grab an espresso or smoothie, rent movies, and adopt a dog. Kate, the owner, is an incorrigible dog lover and fosters animals until she can get unsuspecting tourists to fall in love with them and take them home.

Of course, there’s much more to Todos Santos that makes this “Pueblo Magico” worth visiting. These are just a few things that make it memorable for my family of four. Click HERE for highlights of a previous TS trip.

Inspirational Creatives

I had the pleasure of chatting with Rob Lawrence of the Inspirational Creatives podcast on the benefits of travel and the importance of breaking free from conventional thinking. If you like what you hear, you can give Rob a review on iTunes here.



The Waterbearers: Humanity in Action

​The Waterbearers was founded a few years ago by two women, Spryte Loriano and Jane Brinton who both share a deep passion for seeing everyone on the planet have access to clean water. ​I sat down with Ophelia, one of their impassioned volunteers, to learn more about the organization.

What is the mission of The Waterbearers?
Our mission statement is:  Inspiring women who have access to clean water​ - to get it to those who do not.

For many of us, clean water is as easy as walking to our sink and turning the faucet. This is so not the case with millions of people around the world. According to 2013 figures by the United Nations, 85% of the world's population live in the driest half of the planet. That means that 783 million people do not have access to clean, drinkable water. And those numbers are from 2013 so it's undoubtedly even greater now.

How do you go about accomplishing your goals?
​Our goal is to bring clean water to as many people as possible. Currently we are in a campaign to get clean water to 1 million people by March 22, 2017 which is World Water Day​. We accomplish this by raising funds to purchase water filters. Each filter costs $50 and will provide clean water for 100 people for up to 10 years!   

The Sawyer filters are certified for ABSOLUTE microns making it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which causes Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through. No pumping, no chemicals, no waiting, no worries! Incredible fast-flow rate, simple to use, and each filter can be backwashed to extend its life.
Each filter provides clean water for up to 100 people. Just $50 provides the distribution of one Micron Absolute Filter, Bucket Adapter, Bucket Hole Cutter, Filter Cleaner, Adapter Hose and Filter Hanger.
What is your biggest success story?
​We are so fortunate to have many success stories​. On our website you can see that in the short time since Spryte and Jane founded the organization, we have been able to take filters to Indians in the Amazon in Ecuador, Mayans in Mexico, two elementary schools, one in Tulum, Mexico and another in Reshikesh, India.  The Waterbearers were on the ground very soon after the earthquake in Ecuador. And in 2017, we will be going to Liberia, Africa in February, and later in the year to the Galapagos and Nicaragua.

Mayan woman drinking clean, filtered water.
In Tulum we were able to provide enough filters so that 3,000 people now have clean water to drink for a decade. In Ecuador after the earthquake, we were able to provide filters for almost 1,500 people. 

The Waterbearers in Tulum.
Every person to whom we can bring clean water is a success story!

What have been the most significant obstacles? 
​Well, as any non-profit knows, fundraising is ongoing. We have Waterbearers around the world and we have people who are ready to travel to deliver filters, but we need funds to purchase those filters. One hundred percent of all donated funds are used towards filters. We are largely a volunteer organization so fundraising is something we are always involved in. 

What do you hope for the future of the organization?
We plan to get access to clean water to as many people as possible!​

How can others get involved?
Go to our website and there you will find a Donate button. It's that easy to help get clean water to those who do not have it! We have Waterbearers around the world and four of us happen to live here in Boise!​ Here is our fundraising page.

If anyone would like to travel with us, our next stop is Liberia, Africa in February. Here is the link for more information on that trip.

Ophelia can be reached directly at ophelia@act-as-one.org.

Girl Around the World

When it comes to exploring the world, we want our children to get as much out of the experience as we do. It's not about taking vacations and dragging the kids along with us, it's about living and working in another culture, and learning about that culture as a family.

To that end, and drawing on her inquisitiveness and ability to engage with people, my daughter Emilia just launched her own website and podcast, Girl Around the World. She's nine, after all, so it's high time she did something with her life.

Helping Emilia create her podcast has been more than just a fun little venture. She now has ownership of something that showcases her strengths. It breeds confidence, which has unfortunately eluded her on the elementary school playground. Whether or not she garners listeners, the exercise has been hugely beneficial. It illustrates the potential that exists when we stop looking at our children's education as something that has to follow the traditional model. It opens up a world of possibilities, whether we're traveling or not.

To date she's interviewed people from locations around the globe - Alaska, Kenya, Germany, Australia, and Mexico to name a few. And she's adept at recording on the go, carrying her microphone with her and conducting interviews at campsites, in museums, and on ferry boats.

Episodes are posted at Girl Around the World and on iTunes. With the podcast up and running, we're now focused on finding the right project for her little sister. Nothing's been decided as of yet, but it's never too early to start fostering an entrepreneurial spirit.

For more on how and why we travel as a family, check out