Behind the Wall
From MT Rainey in Mexico
I’m leaving Todos Santos again, or at least I’m checking out. The first time I came here was around 28 years ago and I knew I’d be back. Just south of the Tropic of Cancer in Baja, it’s a beautiful small town perched on a bluff above the Pacific Coast at the edge of a vast desert filled with giant Cardon cacti. A gently hilly grid of streets, only the main drags paved, reveals a mix of colonial brick and adobe architecture and more contemporary painted cement houses roofed with palm leaves. Colour blocking may have been invented here. There are beautiful haciendas, gorgeous shaded artisanal shops and cool artists studios that open out to sunny palapas and delightfully terraced bars and restaurants. There’s a lovely old mission church, a fantastic theatre, and a small local sports stadium where schoolkids play basketball every evening. The narrow sidewalks are decorated with tamed flowering cacti. In ‘90 I stayed in a beautiful old place in town called The Todos Santos Inn. I stayed there again this time and was delighted that it hadn’t changed at all. Some other things in town have though. It’s more commercial now, and seems to have spread both up and down the hills. The Hotel California remains the tourist trap, without The Eagles’ blessing, and there are more of them around than before. Tourists, not Eagles. Though there are plenty of turkey vultures – “los zopilotes”. But it’s been nicely made over by the current owners and still draws a committed rock n’ roll crowd, albeit of a certain age. On Friday night better music was to be found down the street at La Morena where local band Herederos played a fantastic Latin tinged world music set to a footloose younger crowd. Ever in denial, that’s of course where I ended up. I think that Todos Santos may perhaps be saved from being spoiled by the fact that it isn’t strictly a beach town. You could theoretically “do it in an afternoon” from Cabo. But that would be missing the point of this “pueblo magico”. It has a certain pull if you succumb to its rhythms and patterns. Then you can never leave.
Words and pictures by Dumbarton woman MT Rainey OBE in Mexico