3 Perfect Days in Todos Santos: The Weekender’s Guide

by Todos Santos Eco Adventures

While most of the pleasures of Todos Santos are accessible throughout the entire week, the weekend does hold a few special treats that make it a great time to venture to town.

Weekender’s Friday: A Little Todos Santos Magic

Erick and Michael of Michael’s at the Gallery

Each weekend on the main street of Todos Santos a subtle transformation takes place. At the Galeria de Todos Santos long-time Todos Santos resident and artist Michael Cope calmly cleans his brushes, puts them away and pulls out his knives. His wife Pat coolly closes the gallery’s books, sets them aside, and lights a series of fires in the garden. His fellow artist Erick Ochoa collectedly covers up his latest canvas, dresses in black and prepares his mind for delivering to the people of Todos Santos exactly what they deserve. Which happily turns out to be mouthwateringly delicious Asian Fusion cuisine served in what that morning was the sculpture garden of Galeria de Todos Santos, but is now this evening one of the best restaurants in town, Michael’s at the Gallery. This transformation takes place only on Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday nights, and being a part of it is worth the trip to Todos Santos alone. Michael mans the open-air kitchen and what a great show it is. He cooks up Vietnamese crab cakes, tuna poke, seared tuna with wasabi butter, shrimp and scallops in Szechuan or red curry sauce, filet mignon, Mu Shu Pork, wok-tossed fish in Chinese black beans, and fish in teriyaki or wasabi sauce. Every dish is excellent, every time. Erick mans the bar and he and Pat work together to make sure guests always feel well attended and have what they want. Fire pits throughout the dining area add to the lovely ambiance of the garden and help ward off any chill night air. It’s a wonderful Todos Santos experience. Reservations strongly suggested. Tel: 612-145-0500

Weekender’s Saturday: Art & Theater
Last night you met Erick Ochoa in a supporting role but today you’ll meet him as the President of the The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, AC, a Mexican non-profit that benefits the children of Todos Santos. The Palapa Society has had a huge impact on the local community through Bridge-to-English, its after-school English language program that pairs local kids with native speakers of English. The Saturday morning art classes run by Erick and other artists such as Gloria V are not only an opportunity for the kids to gain some excellent instruction from established artists, but an extension of the opportunity for them to hear and speak English. Volunteering

Volunteering at the Palapa Society

with the art classes is a tremendous amount of fun, a great way to get involved with the local community and a nice path to being an active part of this artists colony for a while. Art classes are usually held at The Palapa Society, but the class often spearheads public art projects around town – you can see their handy work in many places, including their latest mural of the fisherman’s beach along the back wall of the Parque de Pinos. The Palapa Society is such an exciting thing to be a part of that Peter Buck of the rock band REM now organizes an annual Todos Santos Music Festival to raise money for it and help fund the numerous scholarships that it provides not only for the Bridge-to-English program, but for the high school and university education of Todos Santos students. For more information contact Donna Viglione:

After your volunteer session, mosey on over to one of the town’s many great food establishments for lunch, taking your pick of several charming cafes, killer local joints, and taco stands – Caffé Todos Santos, Cafélix, Ataxcon, Taco George’s and Miguel’s are all great options. But be sure to leave room for dinner this evening at El Teatro Luna Azul – Blue Moon Productions. Started by long-time Todos Santos residents Isabel Smyth and Raul Cavazos, El Teatro Luna Azul brings the idea of dinner and a movie to a whole new wonderful level. Once in a blue moon, i.e., whenever they feel like it (which tends to be most weekends during the season), Isabel and Raul invite the public to their huge, open air theater space where they show fascinating, hard-to find movies ranging from classic to controversial, musical to mystery, altered lives to the altered planet. Prior to some shows – but not all – they serve creative meals featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables fresh from their on-site garden, prepared in their open-air kitchen. The movies are great fun, but they are perhaps more famous for their live theatre productions in which they use local talent to bring comedies, musicals and the performing arts to the community. Isabel and Raul also host full moon drumming and music nights, and they’re known to get in hot bands for nights of salsa dancing. All-in-all it’s worth checking into their web site periodically to stay up-to-date: teatrolunaazul.com

Now if it happens that Isabel and Raul don’t have what you’re looking for on the Saturday night you’re in town, it’s always worthwhile to check in with the Hotel California and the Hotel Guaycura as they both regularly book fun bands in on the weekends. The Groovetrotters and Tim Lang are great additions to the music scene to be on the look-out for, and it’s worth noting that the Todos Santos Music Festival will be in January at the Hotel California.

Weekender’s Sunday: Bird Watching and Dharma Talk

Costa’s Hummingbird

After the excitement of Saturday night, a calming Sunday morning of reconnecting with nature and your inner serenity is just the ticket. The early morning quiet of Sunday morning is the perfect time to get out in the lovely surroundings and observe some of the 135 bird species that have been spotted around Todos Santos, including several endemic species such as Belding’s Yellowthroat, the Cape Pygmy Owl, Xantus’ Hummingbird, and the Mexican Thrasher. Todos Santos’ unique confluence of three different eco systems – desert, ocean and marsh – attracts a large diversity of birds and most visitors add to their lifetime birding lists during their stay.

Then head over to La A.R.C.A. in the historic district where ordained Buddhist priest, passionate poet, avid artist, renowned physician and somatic therapist Robert Hall gives a Dharma talk on a particular topic each Sunday morning, followed by a period of guided meditation. A founder of the Lomi School and member of the Spirit Rock Mediation Center’s Teacher’s Council, Robert has focused his long career on the integration of mind, body and spirit. He has taught thousands of students all over the world and served as a mentor to hundreds more. Now, in his so-called retirement in Todos Santos, residents and visitors alike can be inspired by his Dharma talks, and find calm in his guided meditations. http://www.eldharma.com/

Enjoy a nice lunch at one of the town’s enjoyable lunch spots such as as Bistro Magico, Compa Chava’s, El Pastorcito or Pura Vida before heading back to Cabo or La Paz in the afternoon.

The Nature Lover’s Guide

The Food Lover’s Guide

For more information please contact us at www.tosea.net or

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2013

The Saints of Todos Santos: Artist Erick Ochoa

Erick in front of Yandi Monardo’s “Angeles Protectores”

by Todos Santos Eco Adventures

This is the story about the son of a carpenter who goes on to become a teacher and inspire those around him. The one born in Mexico City.

At age 21 Erick Ochoa found himself working in his father’s carpentry shop in Todos Santos, wondering what the heck he was doing there. By his own standards he wasn’t a very good carpenter. Trouble was, he didn’t know if he was good at anything else either. He’d studied engineering and architecture in college, but had dropped out when the courses failed to excite him.  Erick was a young man seeking inspiration and, as Mick Jagger would say, sometimes you find you get what you need.

Which, with respect to Mick, is sometimes exactly what you want. One day a man named Jack Hall walked into the carpentry shop, and couldn’t help but notice that Erick seemed underwhelmed by his current circumstances. He asked Erick if he had any interest in art. As it happened, college had not inspired Erick but the local art museums certainly had. Jack therefore made the introductions and soon enough Erick found himself working for renowned artist and sculptor, Michael Cope, helping Michael and his wife Pat run Galería de Todos Santos. At that point Erick understood a fair bit of English, but spoke relatively little. This was the first of Erick’s skill sets that was to undergo a drastic transformation with the Copes.

The second skill set emerged shortly thereafter, when Michael (sometime in 2000) asked Erick to help him prepare some clay for sculpting. In lieu of payment, Erick asked Michael to teach him how to draw. He had no idea what he was in for. Michael demanded dedication and hard work, and Erick found himself spending hour upon hour sketching and drawing, drawing and sketching. It was a year before he was allowed to move on to colors and oils. Michael wanted Erick to prove – to both himself and Michael – that he truly wanted to learn, and that he had the talent to succeed. Neither of them was disappointed. In the process of finding his path in life, Erick also discovered the incredible power of a mentor and a teacher to change your life. He learned what it meant to have someone invest significant time, energy and talent in you. More than just another skill set, the Copes had helped him discover passion and purpose. This was something he wanted to pass on to others.

Erick and his painting, “Icono del tiempo”

Like many families, the Ochoas like to get together around the dinner table and solve the problems of the world. Just as Erick was contemplating how he might turn some of that talk into action, Donna Viglione came knocking on his door. Donna was the president of the Palapa Society, a non-profit whose mandate is to improve the lives of local Todos Santos children. She had built up the Bridge-to-English program (an after-school English-language class for local kids) and wanted to offer art classes in English to kids who excelled in the program. Erick – now fluent in English and an established artist in this artist’s colony town – was a natural choice for the job. His third skill set inspired by the Copes soon emerged: teaching, mentoring, passing it on. It’s been a great success for everyone involved. “We now have up to 20 kids between the ages of 4 and 12 in any given art class, and 8 of those are quite serious. Some of them have real potential, and one has already told me that he wants to be an artist. This is so exciting to me and I’m so happy to have this wonderful opportunity to pass on what Michael taught me.” Erick is perpetuating a great cycle. The Palapa Society now has 8 scholarship students who will graduate from university next year, and – inspired by Erick, Donna and other Palapa Society volunteers – they all want to return to Todos Santos as teachers themselves.

Erick is now the president of the Palapa Society – a job which pays him very well in satisfaction – and spends a great deal of time on the program during the school year, not only teaching but going to the local schools to work with the Palapa Society scholarship kids and their teachers. He only has time to paint two to three hours a day when school is in session. “But in the summertime I paint all day. Everything in Todos Santos inspires me. The days are beautiful, with light so unbelievably crisp and clear. Todos Santos is always a study in contrasts with the desert and ocean. But in the summertime it gets even wilder – we’ll often have a huge thundercloud formation over the mountains, at the same time that we have an incredible sunset over the ocean.” Same carpenter’s son, same home town, a different world entirely. The magic of our pueblo magico revealed.

© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2011