Saturday, January 16, 2016

Baja Road Trip - Loreto through La Paz to Todo Santos

Thursday, January 7th, Loreto through La Paz to Todo Santos

We have breakfast burritos at a nearby restaurant and start off for the longish drive to La Paz. 
Breakfast in Loreto
The highway takes us along the Sea of Cortez and Isla Carmen where one day, before I am too old, I hope to kayak among this multitude of islands. It is late morning and the sun is magically blinding, the islands striking and starkly silhouetted.

Marty, Mar de Cortes Isla Carmen
Art, Mar de Cortes Isla Carmen
John, Mar de Cortes Isla Carmen

Mar de Cortes Isla Carmen

The road cuts inland and the desert unfolds and I notice Alien pods of vegetation clinging to the phone wires. I point these out to Will, our traveling botanist, and he tells me they are Tillandsia recurvata. It’s good to have a botanist and a marine biologist along on this road trip. We stop in the middle of nowhere, at an family owned woodworking shop and restaurant and have a truly authentic lunch of machac burritos, stuffed with a shredded beef. I take a delicious bite of the machaca burrito, but order a plain quesadilla for myself. 

Authentic Lunch on the way to La Paz

Authentic Restaurant

We power along the highway with plans to stop at La Paz for the night but there is still daylight and we decide to drive on to Todo Santos. John drives us into Todo Santos and we arrive just after 4:00 P.M. The town is crowded and I am worried that we won’t be able to find accommodations but we inquire in the bare bones hotel across from Hotel California. They have a room available with two queen beds for 500 pesos, about $30. It is less than charming but we take the room, moments before a backpacking couple takes the last available room.  

Todo Santos
Todo Santos Hotel

With our accommodations secured we wander along the main street popping into a few tourist arcades. Naturally, the all the salesmen do their best to entice us into their shop and when asked, I always tell them that I am looking for loose opals. Four years ago, I purchased a stunning Mexican Fire Opal here and look for the same shop. In one shop, I find some opals of interest but the very best one is in a gold pendant setting. I show Edwardo my card and he begins to take me seriously and offer me realistic prices instead of inflated tourist prices. Eventually we settle on a price for the opal without the gold setting and he leaves to go to the workshop and remove the stone from the mounting. In the meantime, another sales man enters the shop, not knowing that I have already purchased an opal and  assesses me as a good catch. He is fat and obnoxious and repeatedly calls me “My Queen” as he pulls inferior stones from the showcase. My salesman, Edwardo is gone nearly 30 minutes and I must suffer the other man’s offensive sales pressure. I want to tell him that I am definitely not “His Queen,” but do not.  Edwardo is my man!  The 7.5 carat opal is gorgeous and I leave with the golden treasure tucked securely in my bag.

Art, Todo Santos
Mexican Fire Opal, Ojo de Oro

Mexican Fire Opal, Ojo de Oro

The four of us wander the town, popping into a few shops and galleries. When the galleries close, we stop at Fonda El Zaguan, a recommended restaurant on the main street. We sip Mohito’s on a sidewalk table, walk back to our hotel briefly and return to Fonda El Zaguan for a very good fish dinner. I order a bottle of excellent Mexican Wine, Casa Madero 3V from the Valle De Parras. It’s a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Temparnillo. After dinner and a stop at the Zocalo, Art and I return to the hotel leaving the boys on their own in town. 

Casa Madero 3V
Zocalo, Todo Santos

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