By Molly Costa
Spring break in Cabo is not just for college students… but you may need to get away from the beach party for a bit. We hopped in our jeep and drove up the Pacific Coast to Todos Santos. Having heard it is home to the one and only “Hotel California” increased our excitement for the adult getaway.
After a 45-minute drive along the arid, cactus-rich highway, the landscape changes abruptly to lush palm trees, Spanish structures, civilization. This oasis is fed by natural spring water that flows on the outskirts of town, creating a deep green contrast to the surrounding desert. Dirt roads, small markets, and walk-up taco stands lead you into the main part of town. It is as if one has stumbled upon a different age and time long ago. After a few blocks you are greeted with cobblestone sidewalks leading to old brick entrances of jewelry shops, art galleries, antique stores, and restaurants.
On one corner a friendly local will give you the hottest tips on shopping, where to get the freshest fish, and who serves up authentic Mexican food. The pace is relaxed so we take our time walking in the sun, inspecting silver necklaces, purses, an amazing selection of hats, and colorful sombreros. Bartering is tough here so we decide to keep our pesos and head to Hotel California. The facade is classic adobe with the unmistakable sign of the famous song. It is surprisingly quiet — peaceful, in fact — and very few tourists are milling about. As we order up a couple of margaritas we can’t help but imagine Don Henley and Glenn Fry hanging out in this very spot.
Our friend on the corner recommended Restarante El Zaguan for lunch, so we walk a few blocks down the street to check it out. On our way we pass cactuses, real estate offices, and street signs of all shapes and sizes. The restaurant is small and rustic and has sidewalk seating. Sitting outside we get to watch the day’s business come to life — cars, buses, people walking to work talking to each other on the sidewalk as they pass. The food arrives and is delicious: fresh yellowtail with pablano pepper sauce. We savor the time as minutes stretch lazily in this small town. No need to rush, no pending appointments, no one waiting anxiously for our table.
After lunch we take a walk to the Mission.
The Mission church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar stands in the town plaza. The modern adobe architecture is in contrast to many older missions; however, the bell tower juts above all other buildings as in traditional Mission style. The church serves as Todos Santos’s main parish and today the doors are wide open, welcoming its people to the sanctuary within. Walking through the high doors, we admire the colorful light cast from the stained glass windows. The shiny wooden pews sit empty but appear to be polished and ready to serve.
Todos Santos is a perfect retreat from commercial tourism, a Mexican town that makes you yearn for yesterday and simpler times.
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