Tuesday, April 16, 2013

La Paz, Mexico- The city of peace.

It's not that hard to fall in love with La Paz. It's the capital of Baja California. The cleanest, most tranquil, and down to earth Mexican city I've been to. Loved the beaches and the people. Walking on the streets of La Paz, it's "hola" and smiles everywhere. Made us felt safe and welcomed. Not commercially driven like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Ensenada, or Tijuana.
We had flown in to San Jose Del Cabo airport and rented a car there. Decided to stop by Hotel California in Todos Santos, a sleepy little town, for lunch on the way to La Paz. It took us 1 1/2 hours to get to Todos Santos and another 2 hours to reach our hotel in La Paz.

Hotel California- no relation to the Eagles' song. But, doing a brisk business with the name. Their restaurant food was fine with various selection of Mexican and pasta dishes.
Plaza Constitucion and La Paz Cathedral in central La Paz
Quiet and peaceful Malecon in the morning
One of the many pangas anchored at the La Paz Marina. Gone fishing with a similar one out of Costabaja.
 Sunset views from the Costabaja Resort and Spa- top notch service, very nice accomodations, beautiful grounds and marina. Felt at home at Costabaja.
Knitted underwears, anyone? 
Buying live bait for fishing. Not cheap- US$20 for a bucket of bait. After a day of hardwork, we managed to reel in 2 bonitos and 1 yellowtail which according to my husband was disappointing. To me, fresh sashimi for dinner, yay! Plus, I get to see manta rays doing double flips in the air out of the water quite a few times. What an unexpected treat. Unfortunately, no pictures of the flipping rays as I'm not that skillful of a photographer yet.

Bonito sashimi- pretty good with wasabi and soy sauce. Most people will not eat bonito but why waste fresh fish? We canned the rest of the bonito when we got back. Added salt and whole black peppercorns to the bonito in chicken broth then sterilized the mason jars in a pressure cooker.  Truth be told, after canning, the dark meat did not look appetizing at all and it was tasteless. I guess canning wasn't the way to go.

Complements to the chef at Azul Marino- she did a marvelous job with our fresh caught yellowtail. Tartare with a hint of hot sauce, topped with caviar and chutney on the side. 
                                  Yellowtail sashimi- sliced thinly, very fresh and apetizing
                                                Seared yellowtail- perfectly executed

                                            Mixed seafood ceviche- great with tortilla chips
 Grilled brandied shrimps- very good
                                      Creme brulee- best way to end a satisfying meal.
 Third day in La Paz, we went snorkelling with the sea lions at Isla Espiritu Santo. A must do activity in La paz. We went with Fun Baja and for lunch we're taken to this bay on the other side of the island where their campsite was. A nice dining area was set up under the tent on the beach. Outdoor showers and manual pumping toilets were provided. Yep, gotta pump your own waste away. Of course, running water was available, too. Best of all, we had the whole bay to ourselves. Crystal clear water, nice warm breeze and so clean. Great place to kayak, paddle board, wade in the water to see all sorts of little creatures or lounge under the many palapas. Life's good.
Sharing beer with swarms of wasps on the beach. Were told by our guide not to swat at the wasps. My friend didn't do any of that and she still got stung. The local remedy was to rub raw garlic on the spot. I guess it worked as she was ok, just a little itchy and smelled garlicky for the rest of the day.

We were fed yellowtail sashimi with onions and jalapeno. A little soy sauce or salsa verde and it's yum all the way.
Grilled fish with fresh salad and spanish rice. Fresh tortilla and various salsa made it a wholesome lunch.

 Many palapas to relax under.
After lunch, back to the loungers and cold beers under the palapas. No distractions whatsoever. Longing for these moments.
                                                            Unbelievable tranquility.
Ah, lovely Balandra Bay- soft white sand and shallow turquoise water. Many locals here but not crowded at all. Very clean beach with no facilities at all. We could walk for miles on the beach and never get tired of the beautiful scenery in this bay. Took us an hour to drive back to the Costabaja Resort from the bay even though the normal driving time should be 20 minutes. Must have missed a turn along the way between Pichilingue and Costabaja. Drove all the way to the other side of town before reaching  the Malecon and back to the resort.

We went to Balandra Bay just for this- the Mushroom Rock. We had to walk for 10 minutes from the parking lot to get to it. On the way there, a guy passing by kept saying to us, "Andele, andele!". We didn't take heed of him. Once we found the rock, we decided to stick around a bit to enjoy the scenery. Half an hour later, on the way back, we came across the same guy and again he said, " Andele, andele!" Well, this time, we saw what he meant as high tide had rolled in and the sandy beach earlier was now flooded. Good thing the water was still shallow enough for us to wade in. Otherwise, we'd have to crawl thru the rocky openings to reach the parking lot. Nonetheless, a dreamy place.
Rancho Viejo restaurant- condiments of pickled onions, pickled jalapeno (addictive- spicy eggplant like texture), shredded cabbage, limes, cucumbers and mole sauce. Complements their taco al pastor, arrachera, carne asada and gringas very well. 
Chicken mulcajetee- so tender with just the right spiciness. The chihuahua cheese (not from the dog's milk, like my friend thought)- grilled to perfection- couldn't get enough of the softness.

The most expensive fast food in Cabo San Lucas. Total bill was US$230 for 2 of this pre-cooked combination plates and water. I kid u not. We're pressed for time to catch our flight back home. Decided to stop at the Paraiso Mall in downtown Cabo for lunch and chose Lorenzillo's- big mistake. Wolfed down the food and was out of the place in 15 minutes. I'm sure the proprietors were laughing at us suckers as we left their restaurant. This made me appreciate La Paz even more. Cabo just cannot compare, in my opinion.



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