Continuing on my journey south, I am getting within striking distance of “Land’s End,” Cabo San Lucas. But there is one stop I want to make along the way, about an hour north of Cabo to check out a “magic town.”
Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR) has a program called “Pueblos Magicos,” or “Magic Villages” to recognize certain towns for a their historic or cultural ambiance that lends itself to a “magical experience.” There are currently 83 towns in the program. I have had the good fortune to visit several of these towns; Patzcuaro, San Cristobal de las Casas, Calpulálpam de Mendez, El Fuerte, Angangueo, and Chipas de Corzo, with the intent to visit many more. So I wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to cross another “Pueblo Magico” off the bucket list, Todos Santos.
Todos Santos, a quiet, quaint little town on the western side of Baja, was designated as a “pueblos Magicos” in 2006. There is a rather large expat community living in town, but they are much more the aging hippie type rather than the more snooty San Miguel bonnet-wearing highbrows. People are very friendly here. While sitting in an outdoor taco stand, one woman even stopped to tell me about a concert taking place that night! This bohemian artist vibe thrives, particularly once the day-trippers have left town.
The historic side of town centers around the former location of the Misión de Santa Rosa de Todos Santos, founded in 1723. This location of the “vista” of the former mission (and current, more modern structure) forms the keystone of the main plaza, flanked by the Teatro Marquez de Leon, where an “off broadway-style” play takes place on weekends.
The town is best known for its handicraft shops and art galleries, many of which have lovingly restored and occupied historic 100-year old brick buildings. Though the shops are pricey, they are not as pretentious as one might think from a place billed as “Baja’s Santa Fe.”
I drop my bags off at the Hotel Guluarte, where the “hotel reception” is right in the middle of a laundromat in the courtyard which doubles as the hotel lobby. I wait in line to pay for my room, backpack on my back, behind people waiting to pick up their bags of folded laundry. I question having deviated from my typical plan of not choosing the absolute cheapest room available in town, but Todos Santos is a bit more pricey than the towns I have visited so far. She tells me there is wifi available, but only after I have unpacked do I discover it is “available” only on the laundromat level, not in my second floor room. Thankfully, wifi is consistently available in most restaurants and coffee shops.
Todos Santos offers a bit more innovative “fusion-style” dining, with lots of coffee shops and higher end restaurants. Things have been getting consistently more expensive the further south I go, as tastes become more sophisticated to match the prices. Thankfully, there are still plenty of “street food” options to fit within my budget. I had some of my best tacos in Todos Santos, both Baja’s famous fish tacos, as well as the “Vampiro,” my latest love; a fire toasted tortilla with Chihuahua cheese and carne asada on top, drizzled with any number of in-house made salsas.
I have been moving at a pretty fast clip down the peninsula. But I’ve been gone for two weeks already, and as often as Margie tells me “Stay as long as you like! The Winnie is fine,” I really don’t want to wear out my welcome, even if it is just “driveway surfing.” But I also know that I may get down to the end, all the way to Cabo San Lucas where I have allotted a bit of extra time, and wish I had spent that time somewhere along the way.
So I decide to stay two more nights in the magical Todos Santos…