A Taste of Freedom

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in Cabo for a month now. With each sunrise we feel more at home and it becomes more difficult to pull ourselves away. Aron grew up in Cabo and has been coming back his entire life so this is really like a second home. We’ve always talked about living here and this is the first time in my life that school or a job are not holding me back. It will be difficult to abandon the comforts of home and all of our friends here in exchange for living in a van, but the excitement of the adventure ahead of us on mainland Mexico will pull us onward. If you look at the view from Aron’s dad’s house below, you’ll understand why it’s hard for us to leave.

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Aron’s dad, Eric, bought a dirt lot on an empty hill in 1980 when there was nothing around except cactuses and perfect waves. Over the years, the community on the hill grew as many Americans and Canadians were drawn south by the perfect weather and waves. The hill is now officially Rancho Costa Azul but is lovingly referred to as “Gringo Hill” by everyone down here. The beach out front is lined with condos and hotels and both the cities of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas have ballooned to encompass a population of more than 68,000 people each. Eric’s house is in San Jose, a tranquil, artsy town about 20 minutes along the coast from the wilder Cabo San Lucas.

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We’ve been spending the beautifully warm days at the beach and the cool evenings hanging out with friends or watching movies at the house. It has been a little windy most days but whenever the wind dies down we go stand up paddling or snorkeling. From the beach and even while driving along the highway we have seen gray whales swimming along the coast, flapping their flukes and breaching out of the water. Each winter gray whales migrate south from their summer feeding grounds in Canada and Alaska down the coast to give birth in the warm waters of Baja California. See my national geographic photo below for an up close look at a magnificent whale breach.

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During the winter, there aren’t many waves on the Sea of Cortez side of Baja where we are staying so we have been going out to Cerritos and Pescadero on the Pacific side for Aron to surf. Cerritos is a beautiful, wide beach with great waves for surfing and swimming and a gorgeous Mexican hacienda on the cliffs that I would love to stay in one day. Instead of spending a quarter of our monthly budget in one night, we camped on the beach and then explored the hacienda and enjoyed a few drinks by the pool.

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We have been doing a pretty good job of cooking at the house or bbqing with friends rather than eating out too often, although we have visited our favorite restaurant, Taqueria Mexico, a few times and indulged on fresh margaritas, tacos, amazingly rich stuffed potatoes loaded with veggies, cheese, butter, and your choice of seafood or meat, and my favorite- pescado al mojo de ajo (fish with garlic and butter, below). Our other favorite restaurant, Taqueria Rossy, delivers which has been dangerously convenient. They have the most delicious battered fish and shrimp tacos I have ever had, all delivered by a nice man on a scooter.

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While we’re on the subject of food, last week Aron and our friend Toby made some delicious sushi with tuna, crab, shrimp, and veggies (sushi chefs in action below) before a night on the town. It was lovely.

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After our sushi dinner, we went into San Jose for the weekly art walk. San Jose is a really cool, colorful town filled with lots of art, cute shops, and great restaurants. Every Thursday evening all of the art galleries open their doors and the streets are filled with people walking around sipping wine. We perused some beautiful artwork and I dreamed about having a house one day that I would fill with beautiful Mexican ceramics. In the town plaza we bought some steaming hot tamales, elotes (corn slathered with mayonnaise, hot sauce, and cheese), and some delicious fresh, hot, crispy churros.

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One of the highlights of our stay in Cabo has been “the farm”. The farm is a magical place. I swoon every time I think about the mango muffins we had for breakfast or the lavender martini I had at dinner. Flora’s Farm is nestled into the hills outside of town and consists of a beautiful open air restaurant surrounded by a lush, green farm bordered by palm trees and cactuses.

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The restaurant cooks with all of the fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables grown on the surrounding land and there is also a little market where produce, herbs, and freshly baked bread are sold.

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It’s a pretty pricey place and is apparently very popular with “A-listers” including Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba, Luke Wilson, and Quentin Tarantino who all dined there since we’ve been in town. Luckily, our lovely friend Vanessa manages the farm and is always kind enough to get us a nice table or help us out with some extra food and drinks, making the farm more accessible to us ordinary folks. Our friend’s band, The Shamans, plays on Tuesdays and Saturdays so we have spent a few magical nights indulging on gourmet food and drinks outdoors next to a row of sunflowers while grooving to some sweet tunes.

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On January 6 we celebrated Dia de los Reyes (day of the kings), a holiday commemorating the three kings that brought gifts to baby Jesus by following a star in the sky. This is like a second Christmas for children where they place their shoes by the door before they go to bed and wake up to presents in their shoes in the morning. Friends and families celebrate with a Rosca de Reyes, a buttery oval shaped cake covered in sugar and candied fruits. A little white plastic replica of baby Jesus is baked into the cake and whoever gets the slice of cake with baby Jesus has to host a fiesta on February 2 and provide tamales for everyone.

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We conveniently found a giant Rosca de Reyes at Costco and it was surprisingly delicious (even the candied fruit!). After a few moments of suspense, Aron’s sister Mary found the little baby Jesus in her slice of cake. Too bad none of us know how to make tamales. Either way, we managed to take down the entire cake in honor of Dia de los Reyes and found that there were more little white plastic surprises, seemingly representing each of the three kings and maybe Mary and the shepard.

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Next up is a quick trip back up to my hometown of Irvine, California where my best friend Megan and her husband Jeff are expecting a baby girl at any moment now. I decided that this is a moment I don’t want to miss and at the rate we are moving, putting our trip off for another week or two is no big deal. We’ve come to embrace our laid back attitude in regards to our schedule. We’ve lingered longer than we planned but we have had a wonderful time that we wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s liberating to not have a strict schedule for once, to have a taste of freedom. We can indulge ourselves and savor our time in each place without worrying too much about what’s next. We are learning to live moment to moment and make decisions as we go- to live, let go, and be free.

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