You Can Check Out but You Can Never Leave

I guess the Eagles meant what they said about this alluring little town. I don’t think they were just talking about the Hotel California.

Ah Todos Santos, you have drawn us back in to your simple, easy groove, but you really didn’t need to use a hurricane to do it.  All right we’ll stay a few more days! Calm down.

We were scheduled to move out of our comfortable little casita on Monday, head to the mechanic, sleep on the beach and then hit the road for La Paz, where we were going to hop on the ferry for the mainland.  However, as some know, you can’t always count on things going your way on the road and when we woke up to rain on Monday morning we knew we weren’t going to make the Wednesday ferry.

Rainy, Rainy days

After checking the weather we found out that there was a hurricane heading straight for Baja. We had already survived one tropical storm here in Todos Santos, that storm was caused by Hurricane Mariam, which was well off the coast of Baja.  This one, Hurricane Paul, was on its way to Southern Baja and was supposed to touch down just North of Todos Santos.

After more research we came to the decision that we loved our lives too much to try and head for the hills. So we sent an email to our property manager to see if we could stay another week. Before we got an email back, Jamie decided to walk to Rhoda’s house and ask her personally if we could stay.

While he was gone we got the email from Rhoda, unfortunately our little casita was booked and we would have to be out by 10:45am. However, Rhoda did have another little studio available that we could move into and she said she could send the cleaning lady over right then.  We discussed our options and decided to move into the little studio that day.

Before moving in we headed into town for the necessities, food, water and gas.  We were halfway to the new house when we realized we never got gas.  We will never forget to get gas again.

Our new little casita

Our little kitchen, complete with hot plate and mini fridge.

We sleep on the couch in the living room. Head to head of course!

Our move in was pretty comical.  It featured Jamie and myself timing our car to house runs according to the wind and rain.  Our conversations went a little something like this.

J: “I think the winds dying”

K: “Yeah. GO! No wait, wait, wait!

J: “What!?”

K: “ Okay go!

Then Jamie would come back soaked and the rain would let up.

The wind and rain did let up that night but started back up again in the early morning and didn’t stop all day on Tuesday.

On Tuesday we decided to brave the storm to get gas and use the Internet at La Esquina, our absolute favorite spot in Todos Santos.  I think we’ve almost tried everything on the menu, good for our bellies, bad for our wallets.

The palapa at La Esquina kept us nice and dry.

Hiding from the storm at La Esquina

On the way into town it slowly dawned on us that we may not be able to get into town, let alone get our errands done.  It was crazy what a day of rain can do to dirt roads.  We had to drive through three water crossings before we even made it to La Esquina.  Once there we were told we could only grab coffee to go, so we continued into town for gas.

The town was a mess.  Streets were now rivers, uprooted trees were blocking roads, and the gas station had no power.  No power = no gas and we really needed gas.  Luckily there was another gas station just at the entrance to Todos Santos and according to the attendant we could fill up there.  We took our chances on what little gas we had left and made our way over there.

This tree was up rooted and fell across the street. We could barely squeeze past it.

Water rushing down the street

Just one of many streets that were flooded during the storm


As we got closer to the gas station Jamie noticed that every car that was coming from the other direction had their emergency lights on.  This usually means there is an accident or something, such as a cow, in the middle of the road.  Optimistically I mentioned that every (maybe not every) car driving through town had their emergency lights on and that it could just be the way they do it when it’s raining so hard.  We both knew that that wasn’t true but you do what you can!

When we rounded the next bend we saw what all the emergency lights were about and it was not pretty.  We were looking straight at a rushing, roaring river flowing across the street with the gas station in plane sight right on the other side.

Just on the other side of the river is the gas station… we didn’t risk it. Neither did the guy across the street.

There comes a time in every travelers journey when your faced with the question, do I do it and risk everything or do I quit while I’m ahead and turn around? Whether you’re a coed on spring break in Cancun being offered a drink from a sexy Latin stranger or a vagabond facing a ford crossing that seems just a little too deep, this question goes through your head.  Is it worth it?

Well after much debate and although we watched car after car drive through, we decided that it wasn’t worth it. The 4runner is our home and we just weren’t willing to risk losing it just yet.

On the way back home we stopped at the grocery store and stocked up for a few days.  Once we got home we learned that the power was out so we made lunch using most of what was in the fridge and bunkered down for the long day ahead.

At around noon boredom started to hit us hard and Jamie decided to make water catchment systems while I worked out.  As Jamie’s luck goes it stopped raining right after he was done. J But the power was yet to come on so he moved on to building a fridge. He always needs a project.

Down here when the power goes out the water usually goes with it.  Now depending on where your pump and water tank are you may have water pressure until the power comes back or you may be in serious trouble if the power doesn’t come back soon.  We thought we were in the clear on that one because our tank was on the roof and that means that gravity will do the work that the pump can’t.  So I hopped in the shower after my workout.  We still do military showers here to limit waste and I was in the middle of my rinse when the water pressure suddenly stopped.  Thinking that I had used the last of our water I frantically turned it off and yelled to Jamie.  He calmly reassured me that there was no way the water was out and made his way to the roof.  He checked the water and we had plenty but for some reason the water pipe went from the pump into the tank and back through the pump again.  It turns out that gravity did not come into play with this set up and the sudden decrease in pressure was not us running out of water, it was simply a loss in pressure.  Whew!

Finally, at around 3pm the rain let up and we were able to take Reina on a walk.  We walked down the street and up over the dunes to take a look at the ocean.  The wind was still blowing so hard that I could barely stand and the ocean was alive.  The air was full of so much energy I felt I could grab it.

The wind was so strong that it blew this palm tree over.

Reina seeking shelter from the wind behind Jamie

One of my favorite things to do is go to the beach on a stormy day.  There is something about a stormy ocean and deserted beach that is magical.  You feel as though you are the only person alive.  It’s just you and those monstrous waves crashing on shore.  Truly breath-taking.

Soon after we got back from our walk the power came back and we rejoiced by having a glass of wine and turning the fan on. Ah luxuries!

The calm after the storm. Storm clouds make beautiful sunsets

As I’m writing this we are holed up at La Esquina using the Internet and enjoying the nice sunny day.  If it weren’t for the bumpy potholed roads and destroyed outdoor furniture you wouldn’t even know there had been a storm. We get it Todos Santos, but we must continue on our journey.  Don’t worry we promise to return someday.

PS As it turns out Hurricane Paul only brushed Baja before heading northeast back out to sea.  Close call!

4 thoughts on “You Can Check Out but You Can Never Leave

  1. Buddy! That storm looks so scary, I’m glad you guys made it out ok. Love the pics of the beach during and after the storm. Keep the pictures coming, I’m loving this blog:) xoxoWhit

  2. So great to hear you guys spent all that time in baja! …… Next up, Mainland!!!! I love the food and the real change in landscape!! …… Love the updates and photos!! Safe travels across the channel.

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