House of the Day: Another Spectacular View on Culebra

Saved by the bell! Casa Cima del Mundo rented for our week probably around the time that I was writing the last blog post. Now I don’t need to go through all of that agita about spending too much on a place to sleep and can get on with the usual task of finding cool places for $100 a night or less.

Next up, Seastar. It seems pretty basic, but man what a view:

punta aloe

One of the things I’m loving about Culebra research is that there are so many places in our price range with absolutely incredible, million dollar views. More to come!

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House of the Day: Casa Cima del Mundo, Culebra

I am in the midst of an ethical dilemma. Well, that may be putting it too strongly. A quandary? It’s my word of the day.

Here’s the question: if you pride yourself on only staying in the most reasonably priced accommodations everywhere you go, what do you do when you find the perfect place and it’s over your self-imposed budget? ‘Cause I found the place and it’s way more than we usually spend (and way less than many people spend).

It’s Casa Cima del Mundo on Culebra.

cimadelmundo

Cima del Mundo means Top of the World. Yep.

There are a bunch of reasons that I’m considering it.

  1. The views, duh.
  2. It’s a dodecahedron! I’m a fool for round (or round-ish) houses.
  3. Dishwasher!
  4. Nice little office area, already equipped.
  5. Maybe the best reviews I’ve ever read that I haven’t written myself.
  6. Puerto Rico’s relatively reasonable anyway, so we have a little room to splurge. (Not the best reason.)

It’s actually quite reasonable at $150 a night and it’s just my foolish pride that makes me even think twice. I’ve got more from Culebra to post soon.

For the Eccentric Millionaire: Rainforest Lodge for Sale

I really, really want to go to Dominica. What a crazy island! So volcanic that it has a boiling lake (which requires a very strenuous hike, guide recommended). So volcanic that you can snorkel in the ocean over volcanic vents that make it feel like champagne. Plus there’s a cottage industry that I can really get behind: roadside rum shops that sell homemade medicinal booze infusions for almost any ailment you can name (especially sobriety).

There’s so much rainforest-y fun—soaking in natural hot springs, hiking to waterfalls, swimming through river gorges. You’d almost be selling yourself short if you had a sea view.

I highly recommend this site to research places to stay. The only thing that makes me sad is that some of the best places are closed…including this crazy place that’s for sale near the village of Wotten Waven, which is known for its natural hot springs. I can’t embed their images to show it off, but you really should click through while the listing is up. Here’s a description:

….over 17 acres of partly forested land at a cool altitude of around 1,500 feet, bordering the sparkling River Blanc.

This spa features seven stone tubs that are fed by natural, healing, hot water. Three are on the situated along the clear, clean, rushing River Blanc. There are also large reception lobby with bamboo facade, which includes a restaurant with lovely polished hardwood floors which can seat up to 30 guests, kitchen and washroom.

The property also includes three double cabins, two deluxe cabins, a massage cabana, large open pavilion for aerobics….

This community is quite unique with its geothermal qualities. This location has several natural features – bubbling mud geysers, hot springs, crystal sulphur cavern and a 100ft waterfall.

The only problem? At US$773,000 it’s hard to see how you’d ever be able break even, let alone make a profit. One of the many cool things about Dominica is that it’s hard to find accommodation over $100 a night.

But if you’re an eccentric millionaire who wants your very own bubbling mud geyser, I’ve found your place!

More on Dominica to follow…

Stuff That Works: The Grand Trunk Parasheet

A new topic, since this blog is service-y and all that: gear that actually does what it’s supposed to do and is worth the money.

For a long time our primary beach was Cape May, New Jersey. And during that time, we usually plopped ourselves down on an old quilt from my bed.

Now that was fine in many ways. It was pretty, for one thing. The patchwork really looked good in Cape May, which takes old-timey-ness to its ultimate, borderline kitschy extension. It was soft and comfortable, since it had been on my bed for years.

But it doesn’t work if you’re taking a plane to the beach! We’d need an entire suitcase at $50 roundtrip just to bring the blanket. So we reverted to beach towels.

Beach towels are great…for fluffing up a big, wet, hairy dog. They’re bulky and they stay wet and sand sticks to them and never lets go. The loopy side is pretty much velcro, after all.

Prompted by a recommendation on an online forum I found a good deal on a Grand Trunk Parasheet and it is one of the best things I’ve purchased in a lifetime of excessive consumption.

On my laptop, for scale

On my laptop, for scale

Smaller than a towel, sand shakes right off, stuffs into its own pocket, weighs a few ounces, handy for sheltering fragile stuff in your suitcase, dries almost instantly, and easy to throw in the wash. If you load the corner pockets up with sand it stays put in a brisk wind. In a little over a year it’s been to the Turks & Caicos, Mexico, the Jersey Shore, St. Croix, Vieques, and Virgin Gorda. It’s been shat upon by birds more than once. We’ve slept on it, snacked on it, read books on it, and sat drying in the sun gazing at the water. It works.

House of the Day: Folichon, Treasure Beach

I’ve already talked about loving Jamaica, although spending four days on the Negril cliffs drinking Red Stripe doesn’t really count as knowing the country. But those four days were truly spectacular, and not just for the scenery (beautiful), the water temperature (absolutely perfect), or the food (wow).

I hate to generalize about people and places. Jamaica is in some ways a very sad place that makes you realize exactly how unfair the world can be and exactly how much middle-class Americans are some of the luckiest people to have ever lived. While you’re complaining about the price of gasoline for your larger-than-necessary vehicle, there are people living in garden sheds in a hurricane zone.

That being said, Jamaica was amazing for its truly unique, distinct local culture. We weren’t in a big resort, but I’m sure if we were we wouldn’t mistake it for a big resort somewhere like Punta Cana or Mexico. For one thing, those places don’t have weird reggae muzak wafting over your beach loungers. But really, it was the people. We didn’t feel like everyone was just tolerating the gringos because they were getting paid. They were happy to just hang out. It’s a culture of chatting and dominoes. Even the many hustlers would chat a bit as they tried to sell you something (usually weed).

One night in Negril we walked down the cliff road and grabbed some grilled chicken at the side of the road and ate it at a picnic table while looking through the window of a local bar where everyone was watching the high school soccer championships on television. They were all acting like Western Pennsylvania football fans, who will watch the game on any level, pee wee to pro, and scream at the field or TV. There was just something about it that made me happy.

So, leaving aside the inherent moral difficulties of generalizing about entire cultures, I want to go back to Jamaica.

This time, we want to go a little farther off the beaten path, to Treasure Beach. It’s a series of bays on the south coast, about two and a half hours from Montego Bay. It’s where you catch boats for the Pelican Bar. There are some small uber-chic small hotels, lots of inexpensive guesthouses, and a nice selection of rental villas.

For a large group, Folichon may offer the best value: beachfront, two wings, and crazy vintage architecture.

They're big on faux-Moorish architecture in Treasure Beach, which is fine by me.

They’re big on faux-Moorish architecture in Treasure Beach, which is fine by me.

There’s one thing that weirds me out about it: a cook/housekeeper is included in the cost. All you have to do is pay for the food (and tip generously). This is a common arrangement in Jamaican villas and I’m sure most people love it. My first big objection: I love the food in Jamaica and I’d probably prefer exploring every single restaurant in the area. Second big thing: would we have to be sociable and dressed first thing in the morning? Third: would we have to decide what and when to eat 24 hours in advance?

Maybe we’re just so used to bare bones travel that we wouldn’t know how to act when luxury is included in the budget cost!

I have a couple more small places picked out in Treasure Beach, and last week I found airfare for $355 in November. If Buck didn’t have a big work thing at exactly that time, we’d be there in a heartbeat.

Weird Creatures and Strange Times: Virgin Gorda Trip Report, Part II

Things we have seen in the water that have not freaked us out: a good-sized reef shark. Any number of barracudas, some at close quarters. An enormous pure white ray in Mexico, around four feet across (and maybe seven feet long?), that matched its background so perfectly that the only way I saw it was the little puffs of sand that it stirred up as it hunted.

Things that drove us from the water fairly quickly? This.

Glowy!

Moon Jelly at Mountain Trunk Bay

And, strangely enough, this:

Mostly Virgin Gorda 268

Ginormous Lobster at Mahoe Bay

Yeah, I know moons are not a particularly dangerous jelly, but they do have a sting and there were quite a few out there. They’re incredibly photogenic but I really prefer to use the zoom! That lobster was a monster, king of the crustaceans, and it seemed to be in a big hurry to get somewhere that was right behind us.

Savannah Bay

On our first day we made a big circle of the island to get our bearings, stopping at Hog Heaven for barbecue, rum swizzles, and the view, then planted ourselves on Savannah Bay for a snorkel and a nap. The nap was a little tough because there were plenty of people partying on Sunday Funday, but it’s a big, beautiful beach and wasn’t even close to crowded.

It’s far from the best snorkeling on Virgin Gorda, but it was better than the best snorkeling in some other places…a really big reef, very close to shore, and very shallow. It makes for some good photography:

Baby Bar Jacks

Baby Bar Jacks

Mostly Virgin Gorda 053

Sea Fan ready for its closeup

One notable thing about Savannah Bay: it’s maybe the only place I’ve ever seen a lot of healthy staghorn coral. I came to snorkeling late, after the horrible mass-bleaching event of 2005, and the staghorns were hit hard. But look at this beauty! And it wasn’t the only one!

Hope those white tips aren't a bad sign

Hope those white tips aren’t a bad sign

And here’s a question for any fish expert reading this. What is this? Maybe 10 – 12 inches long, swam more by wriggling than flapping its pectoral fins, colors pretty accurate. I’ve been looking through the reef fish book and haven’t found it yet. Leave a comment and let me know.

Mystery fish

Mystery fish

I’m sure it’s not particularly rare, but it was a cool one.

Mahoe Bay

We absolutely loved this bay. If we were wealthy we’d have a tough time resisting a fancy villa there…it might be best to avoid staying there if you like to explore, because it’s a really special place. It’s a double reef, kind of a big horseshoe, and everything is at an oddly perfect depth. It’s deep enough not to worry about scraping yourself and damaging the coral, but it’s shallow enough to see everything clearly.

It’s also where we saw our first porcupinefish ever. I heard Buck yelling, “Kate! Come over here! There’s a fish that looks like a bulldog!” And sure enough, it was hanging out where we could see it and it didn’t run away.

Mostly Virgin Gorda 148

He was a pretty relaxed fish, maybe two feet?

Maybe the same guy, maybe not, a couple of days later

Maybe the same guy, maybe not, a couple of days later

And because we’re weird that way, it’s not really a vacation without sea turtles.

A very zippy little loggerhead

A very zippy little loggerhead

So yeah, Mahoe Bay’s amazing, but don’t stay there if you like to go adventuring, because you’ll never leave. Unless you’re afraid of 30-inch spiny lobsters:

Enough lobster for a family of four

Enough lobster to feed a family of four

Mountain Trunk Bay

The entire Nail Bay area, both Nail Bay itself and Mountain Trunk, kind of pissed us off. There’s a ton of construction on Nail Bay where they’re grading a hillside and building a new house. It was incredibly loud and it made me wonder whether the runoff is going to damage the reef. Mountain Trunk Bay had enough jellies to make us uncomfortable. In addition to the big moon jelly at the beginning of the post, there were a lot of little clear ones. I didn’t get stung. In fact, I never have had a real jellyfish sting—just the agua mala, but in Jamaica instead of Mexico. But that’s because I steer clear.

To top it all off, Mountain Trunk has dark sand that’s incredibly hot underfoot, which means that you have to wear your sandals to almost the edge of the water then kick them off and hop over the sand yelling ouch ouch ouch ouch.

That being said, it’s a beautiful bay and here’s what we saw before fleeing in terror: a fish wall.

Mostly Virgin Gorda 360 Mostly Virgin Gorda 361

It was absolutely immense—maybe 40 or 50 feet long and 20 feet high. From the shore it looked like a reef!

Spring Bay

Spring Bay is one up from The Baths and is similarly full of huge granite boulders that form calm pools. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place to bask in the water and float around. In the main part of the bay heading toward The Baths the snorkeling’s pretty good; it’s full of the huge boulders and there are lots of fish and some nice elkhorn coral.

What can I say? There aren't many things that make me happier than a big school of blue tang.

What can I say? There aren’t many things that make me happier than a big school of blue tang.

We don’t have lots of underwater pictures from Spring Bay because I made a long video while tailing that school of blue tang up toward the point. This is part of my personal theory of snorkeling…I try not to be a snob about it, looking for rare fish and making lists. My two favorite things are big schools of blue tang and parrotfish, just because they make me happy. Virgin Gorda had lots of parrotfish so I could float around watching them peck away at the reef to my heart’s content. Seeing something a little bit more rare or exotic is really cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not necessary for my complete enjoyment.

Weird Creatures!

Devil’s Bay…aaah. So very lovely. Not a snorkeling beach, just placid turquoise water, perfect for basking. But also the place where we had an unpleasant experience with the weirdest creature we’ve ever encountered.

We walked down the trail rather than tangling with the Baths—plenty of rocks, but much more navigable. It’s lined with huge cacti and a really fun walk in general. Then, as we were basking away happily, like so…

Mostly Virgin Gorda 407

…something sharp poked me in the butt. “There’s something prickly in my bathing suit,” I told Buck. “I think you brushed against a cactus,” he said. And we bickered a little about it, because even though I’m clumsy I tend to avoid cacti after an unpleasant encounter with a prickly pear in New Mexico.

Finally I managed to pull this poky thing out of my bathing suit. It looked like a quarter-inch tube of glass…weird. And then I started to feel more of them. And then Buck started feeling them, too. We started to look suspiciously at the buoys and the boats off in the distance, wondering if it’s possible for boats to start shedding their fiberglass.

After spending some time on shore picking this stuff out of our rashguards and bathing suits (and wondering how the other people in the bay could stand being there, even if they did have a six-pack with them) we made our way back and had a drink at Top of the Baths, floating in the pool and picking bits of glass out of our suits. Devil’s Bay, indeed!

It would have remained a mystery except that I kept thinking about it and through the magic of Google found out what they were: sea butterflies! From Wikipedia:

They are rather difficult to observe, since the shell (when present) is mostly colorless, very fragile and usually less than 1 cm in length. Although their shell may be so fine as to be transparent, it is nevertheless calcareous;[4] their shells are bilaterally symmetric and can vary widely in shape: coiled, needle-like, triangular, globulous.

These were so fine as to be transparent, and they were definitely needle-like. Here’s what they look like picked out of your rashguard weeks later and put on a black background for contrast:

They were clear when we were there, but turned white after going through the laundry.

They were clear when we were there, but turned white after going through the laundry.

Sea butterflies! So now you know!

Strange Times

We’d been monitoring the weather, since even a low-key hurricane season bears watching when you’re in the Caribbean in July. And sure enough, Tropical Storm Bertha made its way up through the islands and arrived the day we were supposed to leave.

We checked in with Speedy’s and they said they would still be running. We thought of leaving for St. Thomas a day early and getting a room there, but we were enjoying Virgin Gorda too much so we just decided to go with the original plan.

Then, after one last day on Mahoe Bay, we got back to Bayview and found out that St. Thomas had closed the port as of 5:00 p.m. We weren’t getting there that way, no matter what. Luckily, our apartment had two more free nights and American Airlines provided free changes due to the weather, so we just decided to stay. As my mom wrote when we e-mailed to line up an extra day of dog sitting, “Well, it’s a new experience and at least you can say you’ve been through it.”

And it was the laziest day of our lives. We charged everything up, bought some extra groceries, beer, and mixers, and just spent the day on the porch watching the storm.

It wasn't that violent, but it was incredibly wet

It wasn’t that violent, but it was incredibly wet

Honestly, we’re just now getting over it, a month later. It turns out that spending a day doing nothing, while it sounds appealing, really isn’t good for you. It makes you foggy and the fogginess lasts like a nagging cold.

And Finally…

We loved this island. We will be back, and next time we will do more than just sit on the beach and go snorkeling. We’ll rent a dinghy and go snorkeling!

 

 

Virgin Gorda Trip Report: Wow

Wow. Yowza. Ooo-ee. OMFG. Holy s&%t.

That’s Virgin Gorda.

Yep, you just gaze and gaze

Hog Heaven: Decent BBQ, Strong Drinks, and this View

There are some places in the world that are literally stunning. Big chunks of the American Southwest, for example—it’s hard to even drive in Southern Utah without running off the road because you’re gaping at every turn. St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is that way; the first time we went we spent all of our time with our mouths hanging open, gazing and gazing, and even though it’s a big wide world we had to return to actually experience it instead of just looking at it.

When I found cheap airfare to St. Thomas for my 50th birthday week I figured we might go to St. John again, but I’ve always had Virgin Gorda in the back of my mind. The second time we went to St. John we took a day trip over to see The Baths and it was pretty great, although climbing on rocks barefoot isn’t really my jam. We’d also gone over a year without using our passports, which is just unacceptable.

So Virgin Gorda it was, and it was a very good decision.

How We Got There

It’s a serious pain to get to from our fair city, involving either two flights and a looong ferry ride (which we did) or two big flights and a tiny plane for the last leg (which we may do the next time). All of our flights tend to leave at some ridiculous time like 5:30 but this one was at the luxurious hour of 7:00 a.m. Sounds good, but we went to a lovely wedding the night before and it felt more like 4:30. And even with a short layover and easy flights, 13 hours of travel is a lot of travel. But it does cut down on the number of gringos you run into when you’re there!

When we arrived at the ferry in downtown Charlotte Amalie they said it was going to be leaving at 4:30 instead of 4:00. There were no cruise ships in town so we walked along the harbor, stopping to look at the fishermen’s stand, and into town a bit. There were some food vendors set up as a fundraiser for a local elementary school so we had some nice fish, rice & peas, and johnnycakes while looking at the water then headed back and had our first Carib of many while waiting to board.

The ferry ride was amazing and beautiful. It passes by many of the gorgeous places in both the USVI and BVI. All along the North Shore of St. John I was saying, “There’s Salomon Bay. And hey, that’s Jumbie Bay, remember that? Oh, Cinnamon Bay and Whistling Cay, I always wanted to take a boat out there to snorkel. And Waterlemon Cay! We were there!”

I’m interested in Tortola cause it’s so incredibly hilly and so surrounded by sailboats, but I couldn’t find decent lodging in our budget. I’m pretty sure this is the marina at Nanny Cay.

So many boats!

So many boats! Or I guess they’re yachts, buncha fancypants

Customs was really easy. For some trips we’ve gone to a local Italian market the week before and bought seriously good salami and capicola and cheese for our beach sandwiches (freeze them and put them in a small cooler in a checked bag) and they just let us right through, no problem.

Where We Stayed

I have officially outdone myself. Bayview Vacation Apartments is the best value in lodging that I’ve ever found, and I’ve found many. It’s hard to even know where to begin…it’s huge, for one thing. They’re not apartments, they’re townhouses, with a full kitchen open to a real dining room, a sunken living room, a powder room, two big bedrooms, two renovated bathrooms. There are FOUR porches, two upstairs and two down. The bedrooms have air conditioning, which you absolutely need in July. And the housekeeper comes in three times a week!

Jimnaaay!

Our Jimny in our own private parking space

So, my thinking on vacation housing. This blog is largely about how to go to the same places as rich people without being rich. Since transport costs are pretty much fixed, there are only a couple of ways to make that happen: sleeping and eating. Despite our middle-aged spread we are not people who have any particular interest in eating three huge meals every day, so eating is really not such a big deal. Lodging, however, can be outlandishly expensive.

We paid $570 for a week in our two bedroom, two-and-a-half bath townhouse. For that money we could have had one night at Little Dix Bay (a very lovely, ultra-luxurious resort). We could have had one night and maybe a few extra hours at my dream villa on Mahoe Bay, which has an outdoor ping pong table with wet bar (yes!!), a four-hole putting green, and a Zen garden. We could have even made it to 3.5 days at Guavaberry Spring Bay.

But here’s the thing about these gorgeous ocean-view properties: you just sleep in them. Well, you also fix breakfast and maybe hang out drinking rum punch after you get back from the beach. And the way you get an ocean view is to build on a hillside and keep the trees cut back, so the 90 degree sun is just beating down on you. In many ways the Bayview approach, with this amazingly beautiful garden, is more comfortable. Shade feels good.

IMG_1038

It was also impeccably clean, newly renovated with fancy bathrooms, and within walking distance of the yacht harbor (which has restaurants, shops, and a supermarket). The owner was kind, friendly, and helpful. Absolutely highly recommended, and a peek at her reservations board showed that she probably doesn’t need to spend a lot of time marketing these days…pretty much no vacancy in peak season.

What We Did

What we thought we’d do:  rent a dinghy and boat around. Take the ferry to Anegada and try to see pink flamingos.

What we did: go to the beach. Snorkel. Repeat.

Here’s why:

 

That's Buck snorkeling

Savannah Bay, where we were pestered by beach chickens

 

Sorry, bad panorama

Mahoe Bay, the best overall

Shallow and floaty

Between Spring Bay and Little Trunk Bay, absolutely amazing

We spied on a fisherman

Mountain Trunk Bay

Pretty but deadly

Devils Bay

We are still wimps about rock climbing

The Baths

I think I’m going to have to break this up into two parts, it’s getting so long. I’ll try to get to it fairly quickly while it’s still top of mind, because it’s going to be time to start thinking about our next trip soon. But just as a preview, the next post will be titled “Weird Creatures and Strange Times.” Oh yes.

The List

I’m turning into my Dad.

It’s been coming on for some time. I get up at the crack of dawn regardless of the day of the week. I’m fidgety and nervous if there are dishes in the sink. I make really, really good hamburgers.

But one of the most Dadlike things of all is the lists. While we were growing up he’d sit down at the table and say, “Let’s make a list.” It might have things like Buy screws – Vacuum pool – Cut grass. Or it might be something like Bait – Dog food – Practice. No occasion, large or small, went without a list.

Whether it’s nature or nurture, I do exactly the same thing. Groceries, chores, work deliverables: list, list, list. Even a really lazy weekend usually has a little list consisting of “Rock out. Have fun.” There are scraps of paper everywhere I go with my awful scrawl and things laboriously crossed out.

So you can just imagine what it’s like when we travel! Here’s my best packing list of all time:

I am nuts

This was for a really great trip: we flew to Vegas (Southwest, for the free checked bags), rented a car, stopped at Whole Foods right by the airport for food, and drove to Zion National Park for two nights of camping. We also hit Bryce Canyon, then spent two nights on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Back to a suite at Caesar’s Palace for a night, then a whole day at the outlandish pool before heading home.

Camping by plane is a little tough: even with four free checked bags you can’t really go as hog wild with the gear as you can when you’re loading up the back of the station wagon. This list was so amazingly good that I’ve kept it on the refrigerator and referred to it for every camping trip since, even the ones that are less than an hour away.

We’re not camping next week, but I’ve got a really good list anyway.

 

House of the Day: Maybe Our All-Time Favorite

We went to St. Croix this spring for our longest vacation ever: eight whole days! I am incredibly intrigued by this island, even more so after staying there. It’s not tiny and glamorous. The beaches for the most part aren’t soft and blinding white. It’s not all spruced up and ship-shape. It closes down well before dark.

But it’s kind of…comfortable. There are big supermarkets and farmer’s markets (and farms in general! local agriculture! as a gardener I’m envious). There’s even a Home Depot. It’s the kind of island that makes you go, “Hmm. We really could live here.”

Everywhere we go I manage to come up with a business idea. Vieques? They really could use a good ice cream shop. Salt Cay? It could turn into a paradise if they would just compost and create some actual topsoil. And on and on. But the best business ever is the compound of cottages that was our home-base in St. Croix.

Yes, I had to work

Taking care of business

Three cottages (with another on the way), plus owner’s residence, pool, and garage, in a handy spot but tucked away in the forest. It was just beautiful there, incredibly quiet and peaceful. Lots of dogs, friendly landlady, well equipped, well maintained. Cool and breezy. Outdoor shower. I could have lived there for years instead of eight days.

So, now I want to buy a place with some rentals in St. Croix. Having seen what goes into it (constant work, lots of money) I’m not sure I’d be able to pull it off, but it’s good to dream. If I could just get truly reliable Internet and keep my current job and salary there’s a place available that would be perfect…

The House of the Day is a Hotel: Hotel Yeneka, La Paz, Mexico

I’d be fine with never staying in a conventional hotel again. Even the nicer ones give you very little more than a bed, a dresser, and maybe a little working or relaxing space. If you’re really lucky you’ll have a little coffee maker. For me, personal travel only becomes truly relaxing when I can get up and throw on a caftan, grab a cup of coffee, and head outside to ease into the day.

But conventional hotels are one thing and the Hotel Yeneka is a different beast entirely.

Now that's a place to chill!

They also call themselves the Hotel Arte Museo Yeneka—that crazy garden full of art is where you go for your complimentary continental breakfast and your two free shots of tequila each night. All of the rooms have wacky themed decor. And you negotiate your own price! (From what I understand it’s probably around USD$40 – $60.)

I’ve been thinking about a big swing through Baja California Sur for a while now…Cabo Pulmo, La Paz, and Todos los Santos. If I couldn’t stay here in La Paz I’d be so bummed.