It was a rare hiccup on an otherwise perfectly choreographed
trip to Mexico.
Due to no fault but my own, it was 3 a.m. when I finally arrived at Rancho Pescadero, located just outside Todos Santos, Mexico. I had
already missed the first day and evening at the resort, which has been called
one of the "Most Romantic and Relaxing Hotels in the World," and the dark night
kept me from seeing what was surrounding me except for a few of the sierra-hued
But I could hear the massive thrashing of the ocean. I didn't know
how far I was from the beach, but I knew the waves were big and close. I was
led up to my room by the night watchmen, where staff had left me a beautifully
wrapped dinner and bottle of wine. It was too late to eat, but I did manage to
step out on to the patio extending from my room and take a moment to see the
I slipped back into my room, opened a window to let in the cool breeze
from the raging sea, dropped the netting around my bed and fell into one of the
deepest sleeps I can remember.
The next morning when I woke up, it took me a moment to
register where I was. Concrete floors, soft, deep pillows surrounding me,
Mexican rugs and the soft light coming through the open window that had just
starting to illuminate the world. There is something magical about waking up in
a new location, not knowing what to expect. It's like Christmas morning, with
the surprise of your new reality making you as giddy as a child.
I lumbered out of bed and to the window, curious to see what
was before me. The fog was lifting and Baja's beauty, with its desert-meets-ocean
landscape, full of thick brush, violet flowers, plants and tall cactus,
mountains looming beyond, evolving into another world.
I took in the moment then grabbed my camera and headed for
the beach. If there is any downside to the two-mile, white sand beach at Rancho
Pescadero, it's that it is unsafe for swimming. The riptide in this part of
Baja is legendary, so while shore-casting is encouraged (fishing rods are
available for guests at any time), surfing and swimming are not.
I spent the rest of the early morning exploring the 15-acre
property, snapping photos and sitting by
the water on one of the curtained double beds painted in a friendly blue, before
returning to my room, where coffee and fresh fruit were waiting at my door.
"I'll come back for you again," he said in his broken English.
The day was mine to choose what I wanted. There was no
agenda, no schedules. I was on no one's time but my own. This is the mantra at Rancho
Pescadero—which opened in November 2009, by American business woman Lisa
Harper. Make it what you want it to be. There are dozens of activities from
which to choose, or you can do nothing at all.
Over the next couple of days, I
chose a little of both.
On my first morning, I enjoyed a breakfast of housemade granola, yogurt and local
berries, matched with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, followed by a
transformative yoga session in the resort's 2,000-square-foot pavilion, which
faces the beach. The instructor was powerful but gentle. You could feel the
breeze, smell and hear the ocean.
Afterwards I walked through the sand to the resort's spa, Tres
Hermanas, which is run by three sisters and is located in a stand-alone
building even closer to the ocean. There I was treated to an exceptional hour-long
massage that incorporated locally grown herbs. Even with the short night's rest, I already
felt more relaxed than I had in months.
For lunch, I ate locally caught halibut which was sliced
into sashimi and prepared with oil, chilies, garnished with avocado and tomato.
The garden also boasts an outdoor kitchen with wood-burning oven where he
cooked chicken and vegetables for our meal. Visitors, like me, can also work in
the on-site organic garden, learn sustainable growing techniques, and cook what
In a literally state of bliss, I took to the pool, where I
leafed through magazines, had a cocktail and several adult conversations. (Did
someone hear a child crying? No, me either.)
On a whim the next day, I went horseback riding
along the beach, led by an American expat guide who literally packed up her
horses five years ago, drove from California to Todos Santos and never left.
We trotted along the shore, where some local teenagers played in the waves. She
told me of the whales that visit this area every fall, breaching the shoreline
for hours during the day. The sun was just beginning to set, so we headed back
in time for sunset cocktails and another satisfying meal.
Rancho Pescadero has 27 luxury suites, all with ocean views. The resort only allows adults and
children over 14 years old. The mission here is to relax, reconnect or
disconnect if need be. There were a few solo travelers like me there, but the majority were couples.
After my time at Rancho Pescadero, a private driver named Armando returned me to the airport. He could see it in my face, I wasn't ready to go.