I just returned from Cabo San Lucas where I spent a one-week vacation with my family, all nine of them.
Our rented four-bedroom condo was filled with laughter, many mango margaritas and the music of my granddaughter and son who sing and play guitar together.
One day we all decided to take a trip to the small coastal town of Todos Santos, or “pueblo magico,” as it is locally referred to and which in English means magical town.
Pueblo Magico is mostly known as an art colony. Local artists and artisans as well as world famous artists and American ex-pats have studios and homes there. I was eager to visit this little gem. It is about an hour’s ride up the coast through a small mountain range and a desert landscape.
The route to Todos Santos, originally a 45-mile dirt road, became a two-lane paved highway and now that the G20 conference will be held in Cabo San Lucas in 2012, the Mexican government has allocated funds to create a modern divided highway all the way from Cabo San Lucas.
Unfortunately the day we decided to go the highway was under major construction for about three quarters of the trip. Dust, corduroy ruts in the road and large machinery entering and leaving the highway made the trip there an experience I am hoping I don’t have to repeat any time soon.
Dusty and shell-shocked, we arrived in town about 11 a.m. and parked in the local church parking lot. At first I was a little disappointed. Where were all the shops and galleries I had heard so much about? But to our delight, after poking around a bit we found art and crafts everywhere. Restaurants, bars, hotels, 200-year-old colonial buildings, and a clutch of small galleries and shops are filled with original art, hand-made crafts and a riot of colors. Indian spiritual surrealist Charles Stewart makes his home here as well as plein air artist Sara Katz. We also found more work by Gabo.
Be warned though. Sometimes you do have to kind of hunt for the art. It can be hidden away in tiny shops or down shady alleys, in dusty corner stores, or right there displayed along a rock wall.
Writer C.M. Mayo, in her book detailing her visit to Todos Santos, quotes Michael Cope of Galeria de Todos Santos: “I’ve seen people stand in the middle of the street and say, where is it? They come up from Cabo for the day and all they see are a few old buildings and dirt streets.” But we found it. In spades.
There is truly something magical about that charming coastal town and I can see why so many artists have decided to make it their homes and studios. With a miles-long, unspoiled beach only a few blocks away, shade-dappled streets, cool dark alleyways, a lively bar and restaurant scene and a thriving art community, well ... for a few centavos, I might consider moving there myself. But only if they finish that highway work first.