Two weeks in Mexico, surfing, enjoying warm days and cool nights, and testing the versatility of my go-to OC sweater.
This spring I was driven by necessity to go to Baja Mexico for 2 weeks… the horror!
Oh, the depredations of getting my European girlfriend, Hette, through the ridiculous travel ban policies.
I’m not sure when the Cabo clubs will sound fun again, but at the time we weren’t really keen on partying. What we needed and wanted was a small town and a surf break nearby. Boy did we get it.
In lieu of giving a play by play or structured tour guide type post, I’ve elected to just share highlights, some thoughts on life, sweaters, tostadas, and where to get a mezcal cocktail.
If it seems like a bit of a ramble, well, then, welcome to my Mexico 2k21.
To set the stage, Baja Mexico is one of the driest regions in Mexico, receiving around 11 inches of rain per YEAR.
I wasn’t sure what to expect (let’s be honest: sweltering heat and piña coladas).
However, we got cold nights and crisp mornings. We had more than one dip in the pool that was slightly uncomfortable because it wasn’t quite warm enough; we really soldiered through the adversity though. As you do.
Yak Wool on the roof
Our first Airbnb was about a 3 minute walk from the beach and had an amazing rooftop.
When I wasn’t getting rocked out on the surf break, I was hanging on the roof drinking coffee or margaritas and keeping an eye on the surf break.
Having arrived directly from Europe my internal clock had me up on the roof before the sun rose.
Similar to many other moments this last year, I thanked the Oliver Charles sweater for the cozy khulu keeping me warm.
Those were some of the best coffees I’d had in months up in the fresh cool air, listening to the waves and waiting for the sun to peek up over the dusty looking mountains to the east.
At the end of our long days when the sun dipped behind the point, the temperature dropped too.
I put my lightweight OC sweater on and enjoyed life while our companions slowly added layer after layer to stay warm. Your Easy Go-To Layer
First beach day, first sun burns
We chose Los Cerritos (basically at random) from a list of surf breaks I Googled some months prior to our arrival.
Los Cerritos is about an hour north of Cabo and ended up being the perfect level of sleepy and touristy.
We had a few go-to taco and beer spots, but not all the glitz and glam of its neighbors to the south.
While Google reviews assured us of mellow beginner and novice waves, out on the proper break sets of overhead closeouts were ripping on many days.
I had more than one unpleasant washing machine experience (my best days ended up being the small days that the locals complained about).
There was a bit of a hustle going on about how dangerous the current on the right side of the beach–by the point–is, but intermediate paddlers should be fine and not buy into the “you have to get a lesson or you will die” hype.
The first week passed quickly and slowly. There was a rhythm to the day, early mornings, early evenings, sand in between our toes and pleasant meals up on the roof. Too hot, too cold, just perfect temperatures. Sweaters on and off just like our sandals.
At times, time seemed to disappear entirely. I’ve noticed over the years that sleepy surf towns have this esoteric quality. Instead of clocks and zoom meetings, you track the circadian rhythm of the tides.
You pass a full afternoon reading a book, you play a spur of the moment beach volleyball game, you fall asleep at 2 oclock for a while.
The sun becomes your alarm clock and the ocean lulls you into a kind of waking sleep. There’s nothing quite like the roar of a wave crashing into rocks and shore (and sometimes people!). This watery metronome ebbs and flows and becomes a trusted companion.
Days slide together and the mellow pace makes these days and weeks feel like both a long time and not long enough.
In the second week, we uprooted and moved into a new place to stay.
We relocated up a dirt road to a really stunning eco-home set gracefully into a desert-y hill. The modern and simple layout fit in naturally with the landscape. It even had its own pool on the property, what a treat!
The only caveat to the move to this beautiful house was a misadventure on the dirt road.
We had rented a small sedan and crammed all of our stuff in to relocate with one trip. This was basically the “carrying too many groceries inside” of car trips.
The cherry on top was the $99 foam surfboard (you know the one) we got from Costco. We made a deal with one of our hosts to take it off our hands upon our departure.
How better to transport it than to stick it out the side of the car through the window, right?
Well, as we are driving up this single lane dirt road, I hear a protest from the back seat, “Watch out!”
Being the experienced and somewhat arrogant driver I am, I saw the pothole in front and smirked at my clear understanding of the low stakes situation. “I got this,” I thought.
As I finished that thought, the surfboard sticking out the window smashed into a massive cactus on the side of the road.
This was some kook of the day level failure. The surfboard, while taking some not insignificant cosmetic damage, actually survived the abuse and caught some more waves!
The cactus, however, was also fine, it didn’t even have a mark. These cactus bois were huge!
LA PAZ TOUR
In the second week, we also roused ourselves from our beach-induced stupor and got a bit more active.
The most notable of these adventures was our trip to La Paz for a boat/sea lion adventure. We left Los Cerritos around 7 AM to drive across the peninsula to La Paz and the Sea of Cortez for our 9 am departure.
We set out for Isla Espirito Santo and the sea lion colony on its north end when the most magical thing happened.
Three or four tour boats were flocked together looking at something in the water. We sped to join them and to our utter amazement, we saw them: a pod of orcas!
There were maybe 10-15 of them and a few babies among them. They circled the boats for 15 or so minutes.
As they swam under our boat they would turn on their sides and stare up at us as we stared down at them. It really felt like they were stopping by to visit us and check things out.
The size and majesty of these creatures are near indescribable. And to see them in the wild no less!
After circling us for a short while there was some unseen signal (by us humans at least!) and the orcas, who had been swimming circles around us, just disappeared.
They had seen enough and simply jetted off. Our guide told us that it was one of the only times she had ever seen orcas in the years she had spent in La Paz.
We learned later on that planes, boats, and I assume a few kayaks set out to see the pod later that day, but they were unable to locate them.
We accidentally pulled a needle out of the sea-stack. Incredible.
A GO-TO SPOT TO WEAR OUR GO-TO SWEATER
I have to give credit to my sister, our week two companion, for finding a restaurant called “Green Room” in (well near*) Todos Santos about 25 minutes north of Cerritos.
This beachfront restaurant had that refined, laid-back, hippy vibe nailed. The two small buildings sat at the end of a sandy tree lined walkway.
You twist and turn through 8-10 foot trees before coming onto a whimsical little check in station. As you climb the last sandy hill the ocean opens in front of you and you see small tables and fire pits dotted along the beach.
The food was creative and fresh; they name their main offering of tostadas after the surf breaks up and down the coast of Baja.
We all enjoyed some of their specialty cocktails with fresh fruit juices and craft tequilas and mezcals.
Sunset Drinks Food and Sweaters
We went on a whim one night and were so blown away that we made a reservation to go again for our last night in Baja to celebrate the trip.
That second night at Green Room was really special. We decided to dress up and go early so we could watch the sunset from the beach.
To our left was a surf break with a handful of surfers and to the right was the sun sinking slowly, slowly into the ocean.
Once again we all had our Baja uniforms consisting of OC sweaters for the inevitable coolness of the night after the sun’s glorious exit.
I will always cherish the memory of being there on the beach with a small fire crackling away, with exquisite food and drink landing occasionally like meteors, and with the company of my loved ones sparking like the fire.
All season staple
All in all, it was a hell of a trip. Yes, it arose due to necessity, but there are moments and memories that will stick with all of us.
My go-to OC was never too far out of reach during this time – a true wardrobe essential for me. Yes, there’s heat down here. Yes, my OC was even more valuable because of it.
Nothing is sweet except by contrast. The heat makes the cold frigid and the cold makes the heat sweltering.
End to a magical trip
In the end, what we each took away with us form the experience in Baja may be slightly different.
For me, it was a connection again with the ocean and with friends and family. It’s having adventures and misadventures and looking back on both with equal levels of fondness.
It’s the reminder that a few weeks can completely reset, revive, and reconnect us–if we let it.
In this context and many others (and being utterly oblivious to the cliche); Life’s a beach, let’s go play in the sand.
Check out the original post on Oliver Charles’ #Repeat blog.