If I could magically extract my sister from the vacation, it would have been maybe the best trip I've ever had. The weather, the landscape, the people, the food, the place we stayed, and the surf were all perfect
Let me start with the landscape. Baja Sur is a desert. We're talking arid, dusty, cacti, and prickly brush. There are rattlesnakes and scorpions running around. I didn't think that such a harsh environment could be beautiful, but it was. There was so much variety of plants and animals. I saw things that I had never seen before, including a real, live road runner. I also saw many jackrabbits, cotton tails, brown pelicans, frigate birds, quail, and a few tough looking chipmunks. Anyway, this harsh desert is right up against the Pacific Ocean, which provides glorious respite.
Thirty-some years ago, my uncle Pat, my dad, and a couple of their friends went in together to buy ten acres of this desert right on the beach near this small village called Todos Santos. Over the years they've slowly made some improvements. They started with a well and then a water tower. There are a couple of small concrete "houses," and I put this in quotes because they would never qualify as houses in the U.S. My uncle didn't want a house; he's a firm believer in keeping the property as un-molested and wild as possible. He poured a concrete slab as a floor, made a counter with a sink for an outdoor kitchen, and threw up a couple of walls for a small indoor storage/bathroom combination. Then he put a giant palapa over the whole thing. A palapa is a palm-thatched roof (think Tahitian postcard.) It's basically an open-air shelter with a concrete floor that is cool on your feet. Throw some hammocks up and you've got the Ritz!
Now sometime around 1980, my parents moved from Southern to Northern California and they needed some money. My dad decided to sell his share of the property. He got a couple thousand bucks if memory serves. For a piece of beach in Mexico! Then a bunch of Americans discovered this little spot and started buying up the land around it. There is a whole community of ex-patriots down there now, building beautiful haciendas, driving up land prices, and the combined property (that my dad bailed on) is worth millions! Todos Santos has grown as well, while still small in population, there is now several high-end art galleries and a couple of five-star hotels to entertain the tourists. But Pat keeps his little piece as a natural desert while the mansions go up on either side and the town creeps ever closer to his preserve.
For a week we had no electricity, no phones, no hot water, and no clocks. It was fantastic. We got up at first light, used candles at night, and pretty much went to bed soon after sunset. It felt so good. You just can't be worried about things in that space. Everything moves at its own pace, its own manner. You start to notice things that you weren't paying attention to before. Instead of being sucked into Facebook for an hour, you get sucked into watching the sunset for an hour.
Pat and his wife Barbara (my step-aunt?) made me feel very welcome. I enjoyed pitching in with maintenance chores and feeling like a contributor. They invited me to come back on my own next time. And I'm seriously considering doing it. I think it would be great to be in a foreign country on my own. First, there's the obvious advantage of going where I want, when I want, without having to get the whole group moving. Secondly, I think it would be empowering to travel somewhere where I don't speak much of the language. The little spanish I did use made me feel confident that I would be ok. I don't need to be afraid. Also, I got a lot of thinking/processing done in the moments when I was alone on this trip.
One morning I got up in the dark and walked along the beach as the sun rose. A couple of nights I climbed up to the platform on the roof and watched the sunset over the water. I had more than one epiphany during the week in these quiet times, soaking in the wonder of it all. The biggest one was that I need to stop searching for someone to experience these adventures with. I invite people and they don't want to go and then sometimes I sit out myself, rather than forge on alone. That is absurd. I have one life. If nobody wants to go with me, that is their loss. I need to start forging ahead and making these experiences happen for myself. It is better to have an amazing experience alone than to not have it at all.
Up next in Baja Part Tres: bonding with my children, taming the insect legion, and meeting a cage fighter!