|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.|
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.
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.|
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.
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.
|Yes, that's my mother-in-law on the poster. Total bad ass.|
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.
#9 La Casita
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.