The Saints of Todos Santos: Yoga Instructor Janice Kinne

In 1996 Janice Kinne moved to Todos Santos with her most precious possession in the world, her baby daughter. And not much else. Mexicans call Baja the Last Frontier, and Janice was the embodiment of pioneering spirit. She had been working 60-70 hours a week as Director of Information Systems for a large ad agency in the Twin Cities area, and – while she liked the work – decided that there had to be a better lifestyle for her somewhere. Maybe somewhere with less snow and more sun, maybe somewhere with less people and more palms, maybe somewhere with less mania and more magic, maybe, in short, somewhere like Todos Santos.

Yoga Instructor Janice Kinne

So she quit her job, sold her house, grabbed her daughter and came down to Todos Santos, where she moved into her house even though they were still constructing it around her, and bought a horse even though she hadn’t ridden much before. She looked around and found herself in a great community of artists who were giving gallery tours and organizing talks, and decided that a regular calendar of events was exactly what the community needed. Janice now lives in a beautiful house, is an expert horsewoman and her magazine – El Calendario de Todos Santos – is in its 13th year of production, has doubled in format size, and attracts advertisers from across Baja California Sur. Amazing what a little dreaming can do.

Janice (right) and Buddy Celia at La Paz Half Marathon

Back in her college days in Minnesota Janice worked as a health instructor and weight lifter in one of the local spas. Health spas being in short supply in Todos Santos, Janice turned to other channels for inspiration, namely the Yoga Zone TV channel.  Each morning she would get her daughter up, then do her yoga class with the Yoga Zone. She got hooked. She sought out yoga masters and studios and practiced. She bought tapes and books and practiced. She trained for marathons and saw what yoga could do to help her. She hung out with surfers in Todos Santos and saw what yoga could do to help them. She took instructor classes and started teaching. She worked out a yoga program for equestrians and started offering it to Kaia  – another Todos Santos Saint  – and her students. Janice has applied yoga across several sports disciplines and is now the yoga instructor for Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ Baja Surf Camp for Women.

“My style of yoga is Hatha flow. I appreciate yoga in a cross training program as I am an equestrian and runner. I’ve seen that yoga can aid all sports by increasing body awareness, proper breathing, flexibility and balance. Surfers of all levels of experience benefit from these attributes of yoga. Also, every discipline strengthens some areas more than others and causes an over-development of some muscles that needs to be countered. Specifically, surfers tend to really work their backs and arms, but this repetitive motion shortens the back and shoulder muscles. They need more work on forward bends, arm stretches and core muscles to counter this. In the morning yoga classes at the Baja Surf Camp for Women, we focus on loosening up/stretching out all the muscles for the surfing lesson ahead, then getting the mind and body focused on the balance and flexibility it will need for surfing. I like to send my students off to their surfing lesson feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and ready to master the waves! Of course, the place where we hold the yoga classes helps on the inspiration front – we look out over a palm oasis and 70 miles of undeveloped beach. Definitely beats most yoga studios!”

Janice couldn’t have chosen a better location for the lifestyle she was seeking. “I love the beautiful outdoors in Baja, and am very focused on the balanced lifestyle that I was able to create in Todos Santos – work, recreation, relaxation and nutrition. All come together so naturally for me here.”

Janice’s 1996 check list reviewed in 2011:

  • More sun? Check!
  • More palms? Check!
  • More magic? Triple check!

And that baby daughter? Thriving in high school, completely bilingual, and looking forward to college.  Check!

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

The Saints of Todos Santos: Chef Iker Algorri

Would it make you feel any better about vacationing in Mexico if you had a federal agent serving you all your meals? Then come on down to Todos Santos because Café Brown has the solution for you! Owner/Chef Iker Algorri worked as a federal agent for the state of Baja California Sur for 12 years before hanging up his badge and picking up a spatula to turn out some of the best home-cooked Mexican food you can find anywhere.

It was the agent’s instinct for survival that led him to cooking in the first place. “My mother hated to cook, so at our house we had the eternal picnic. Sandwiches, tuna salad, peanut butter. So I started cooking just to have something besides picnic food. The more sandwiches she made the more I applied myself in the kitchen. Seeing how serious I was, she finally relented and hired a cook. But not just any cook. She hired a Tlaxcaltecan woman – someone with absolutely no Spanish blood in her – who really knew how to make the great traditional dishes of Mexico. I learned an incredible amount from her, then later got the confidence to modify and create and really make things my own. It’s this blend of traditional Mexico and experimentation that I love to serve our guests at Café Brown.”

Iker grew up in Mexico City and moved to Baja in 1983 to start a career that took him all over the peninsula. In addition to his 12 years as a federal agent, Iker also worked as a translator for the court (like many Mexico City kids, he was fluent in English by the time he graduated from high school), an official with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, a Mexican ATF agent, and as a Customs officer. He even got a law degree and worked as a lawyer. In short, Iker served as all those people that you love to hate, which makes it all the more amazing that Iker and Café Brown together are two of the most-loved institutions in town.

While Iker’s mother indirectly got him interested in cooking, his father directly got him invested in Café Brown. When visiting Iker in La Paz in 2000, his dad took a side trip to Todos Santos and promptly announced, “Now I know where I’m going to die.” (Todos Santos often has that effect – ask all the residents who now have extended family living here!) Iker finished up 20 years with the government, took early retirement, and opened Café Brown with his dad in 2003. It was one of the first arts-oriented cafes in town, and has always featured live music/great recorded music, works by local artists, drumming circles, Spanish-language movies, lots of dancing and of course, cooking classes and the Cooking Adventures Week with Todos Santos Eco Adventures. That there is fabulous food is a given. Iker’s motto is “Happiness is only real when it’s shared” and sharing happiness is what the Café Brown experience is all about. And of course, it’s all perfectly safe with Federal Agent/Chef Iker running the show!

Chef Iker Algorri with Portrait at Cafe Brown

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