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9-year-old Mexican Artist/Mexican Architecture Without Architects/Sarah Palin and Drunken Gringos Last Week in San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur

Nine-year-old Painter: I found a great little no-gringos-present restaurant in San José, La Sirena, that had wonderful home cooking at reasonable prices. I had a fish dinner that was $5.50: mojo de ajo, with beans, rice and corn tortillas. The place had good fung shui, with a breeze blowing through. Moreover, it turns out that the considerable amount of art work on the walls is by the 9-year-old granddaughter of the cook. This is a true artist, rare these days. Her name is Frida (!) Gutierrez:

Mexican seat-of-the-pants architecture. Rusty rebar bent and wired together along with funky plywood and scraps of cloth to make shade. Built by workers in Pueblo La Playa ("Playita"), 2 miles east of San José del Cabo. Burning Man aficionados, take note.

Sarah Palin live in Baja. Thursday Chilón quit work at 1:00 and we took off for Pescadero, near Todos Santos, to visit his friend, artist Alfredo Ruiz at his thatched-roof art gallery/bar/restaurant. About 10 miles south of Pescadero, Chilón's car's motor blew up, and I mean blew up. An explosion and all oil blewn out onto the ground. After hitching a ride from three ranchers, and 3+ hours riding in a tow truck, we got back to San José in time for the V/P debates. We went to Zippers, a beach cafe with a view of the surf (which was up), got them to turn on the debates on one monitor, and what had already been a shitty day got shittier. Bizarre scene. As a big nearby tableful of gringos got increasingly drunk and really loud (they were watching a baseball game), we watched the unbelievably stupid, aggressive, and clueless VP candidate evade questions, spout pre-rehearsed sound bites, and look directly at the camera and WINK!! Oh, so cute! I could not believe it. How can people not see through this woman? She is dangerous! Is this a bad reality show? Am I in another universe? Bill Maher had one of his best shows ever last week with Alec Baldwin, Christiane Amanpour, Garry Shandling, and Bob Woodward. It was riveting.

Back to Baja

I first came to the southernmost part of Baja California in 1989 and fell in love with it. The place, the people, the desert, the waves, beaches - the same Pacific Ocean coast I've lived on all my life, just farther south. For about 12 years I came to Baja whenever I could. Some times I'd drive, but most of the time I kept a vehicle in San José del Cabo and would fly in. First a "Baja bug,"a VW bug modified for desert travel; then after it got ruined by being under water twice, a 1983 Toyota 4x4 pickup (the ultimate desert vehicle).

On my first trip there, I met Isidro "Chilon" Amora, who had an inquiring mind and a passion for adventure. We made trip after trip together, to remote arroyos, hidden ranchos, cave paintings, small towns, fiestas. old missions, as well as taco stands, bars, and night clubs. We had plans to do a local newspaper, and in fact did a 1st issue in 1999, but I couldn't find the time to do it on a regular basis. It was called El Correcaminos (The Roadrunner); portions of it are on our website.

I took about a 5-year hiatus from Baja in order to get some books done. When I finished my book on carpenters in Canada, I decided to take a break, and flew in for 5 days. Chilon had been telling me on the phone about the changes, the rapid growth in the Los Cabos area. Well, here's a real case of You Can't Go Home Again. If you're a southern Baja lover and haven't been there for several years, you'll be stunned. San José del Cabo has changed dramatically.. A huge increase in population, you wouldn't believe the traffic, waste disposal and water problems. Costco, WalMart, Home Depot, MacDonalds and the whole catastrophe of fast-food garbage mongers. Among other things, rich Americans have succeeded in blocking Mexicans and not-so-rich gringos from access to miles of beautiful beaches. I won't go on. Here are some photos from a place I still love, in spite of its flaws (I continue to collect way more "content" than I can get into print or electronic form):

Yuca (Rogelio López), proprietor of The Yuca Inn, points to a beautiful new gate at his hotel, built by his brother, artist and welder Jesús.

Posada lives!

Here are photos from the nicely-maintained old cemetery in San José del Cabo:

Giraffe sculptures made of rusty metal. Aren't these fabulous!

I stayed at the Delphin Blanco hotel, which is small, comfortable, and reasonably priced.

It's a block from the beach in Playita, the harbor town a few miles east of San José. Thatched roof cabaña rooms are $55-75 per night and there's a nice lawn, beach chairs, and the sound of waves at night. The owner is Osa Franzen, ably assisted by Romana Flores. Osa provides good guidance on the area for first-time visitors. You can read more about it at http://www.eldelfinblanco.net/, or contact Osa (from the US) at 011-52-624-142-1212.

More to follow on Baja in a few days.