“What do you do when you’re down there?” John asks me, and it’s a valid question. Sometimes it seems like I spend more time in Pescadero, Baja California Sur, Mexico than I do anywhere else, and I never feel bored, but what exactly is it that I do in this sleepy little town on the Pacific coast? Ends up, a whole lot.
My favorite place to stay in Pescadero is with my friends Cambria and Dwight at their Surf Casitas, an intimate collection of rooms and outdoor living at its finest. “It’s rustic,” Cambria warned me the first time I visited. I can do rustic, I thought, conjuring up thoughts of cold outdoor showers. The warning was unnecessary, though, because Cambria’s definition of “rustic” just means it’s not the Ritz Carlton. I was pleasantly surprised by the spaciousness of my room with its palapa roof that softly sings in the wind, but especially by the awesome water pressure of my private hot shower. And waking in my cozy bed to the sound of the waves right outside my door is like heaven.
What I do more than anything down here is work. Surf Casitas has a little table overlooking the beach, and I make that my private office. Every morning after making my coffee in their outdoor kitchen I set up in my office and work until early afternoon. There’s nothing better for productivity than strong wifi and a killer view of the surfers at San Pedrito.
After working for hours, a good walk on the beach is just what I need. I head out to the point at San Pedrito where the hippies camp and the surfers gather. Exercise, interesting people and talented surfers make for a good combination. It’s no wonder I’m always so relaxed down here.
Usually by now I’m ready for some food, so I head into town for a taco. My favorite spots are Tacos de Poblano, where I can get enough delicious food for at least two leftover meals for under 100 pesos, or Carnitas de Machin, where one carnita for 15 pesos fills me up for the whole afternoon. And yet, for some reason, I always weigh less when I get home.
Some afternoons I just hang out on the lounge chair at Surf Casitas, but more often I’ll head to the beach 10 minutes away in Cerritos. Every once in a while I’ll treat myself to a 500 peso massage from my buddy Hector, but usually I just chill and chat with Martin, the waiter at Cerritos Surf Club or Romeo, one of the guys selling jewelry on the beach. The winter sun here is so gentle that I need no sunscreen, but it’s strong enough to give me my fill of vitamin D.
Beach time is really the only time I get to read books for pleasure, and I can easily go through three books in a week here. Hector usually comes by to see what I’m reading, and it always leads to an interesting conversation about what books he’s reading. Although I read in English, my conversations with Hector are a great way to practice my Spanish.
Around 5:00 I grab a beer and head to one of the lounge chairs on the beach at Surf Casitas to let the wind blow dry my hair while I watch the whales. I find they’re most active, or at least easiest to spot, in the hour before the sun goes down. One thing I’ve learned about sunsets here is that it’s a 360-degree show. As the sun gets lower, the rugged mountains to the east change to beautiful hues of purple, pink and orange. Then there’s a magical moment about 20 minutes before the sun sinks into the sea when the light shines through the top of the waves. Once the sun sets, the clouds transform into brilliant red patterns across the sky. This show never gets old.
Every once in a while I’ll take a road trip with my friend Curt in his cool Polaris Razor, an off-road vehicle that can handle anything the Baja desert throws at it. There are waterfalls hidden in the mountains and we love the challenge of trying to find them, but usually it’s the trip itself that’s most fun – especially when we get lost. More than once we sputter back into town after dark, covered in dust, just in time to quench our thirst at the Little Lebowski Lounge, Pescadero’s favorite watering hole.
Baja After Dark
Pescadero is a small community of only a thousand or so residents, and things quiet down early – around nine or ten o’clock at night – what the locals call Baja Midnight. But before then, gringos and locals alike gather at the Little Lebowski Lounge. The combination of killer margaritas and white Russians with good conversation in a beautifully decorated setting is irresistible. Depending on the crowd, sometimes there’s dancing, other times there’s games, like Twister or Cards Against Humanity or even a rowdy game of flip cup.
On Friday nights I usually head up the road to Chill ‘n Grill in Todos Santos, where I can work off their incredible fall-off-the-bone ribs by dancing to Jamarama, a local band of aging rockers who always draw a rambunctious grey-haired hippie crowd. Women well into their sixties shake their hips like there’s no bottle of Alleve in their future and men even older try to keep up like there’s no little blue Viagra pill burning a hole in their pocket. Behind the bar, Kerry pours himself a tequila shot and then slides another across the bar for me. It’s what I love best about small-town living: I’m known wherever I go, yet there’s always someone new for me to meet.
Even with all this fun, my favorite thing about Baja happens when I get back to the Surf Casitas. Cambria has left lights on for me, and one by one as I turn them off the sky becomes blacker and the stars brighter.
I bundle up against the wind, find my lounge chair on the beach and settle in for my favorite time of day. For hours I sit under the infinite Pescadero sky, watch the movement of the stars and try to identify constellations. This time of year Orion is overhead and I can pick out his belt, legs, head and sword. The wind picks up the heady scent of jasmine from the sprig that Alice at Chill ‘n Grill put in my hair, and all of the stresses of life leave me. I feel so small and insignificant against the backdrop of a billion stars, and I’m so grateful for this life. Just as I’m ready to head inside and fall asleep to the music of the ocean in my ears, a shooting star flies across the sky for me. “Thank you,” I whisper.
How to get there: Fly into San Jose del Cabo, then drive an hour north on the Pacific coast.