Monday, September 22, 2008

Beauty's Travel: Budget Baja

Americans are very pro-active in obtaining our relaxation. Vichy showers, body wraps, scrubs, and that doesn't even delve into the seedy spa underbelly of colon cleanses and fasting undertaken in the name of good health. On a recent trip I accompanied a friend, who happens to be a lonely planet writer, to her destination of choice, San Felipe Mexico. This quaint fishing village, recently featured in the LA times, is only a few hours drive from San Diego. The drive itself is stunning with the large expanses of sandy desert turning into great plain sized white sand beaches that lead to a distant Sea of Cortez.

Although I travelled internationally to much more dangerous locations in my younger years, I've mellowed with age and without some prodding wouldn't drive into Mexico to stay in an underpopulated coastal town on my own volition. It occurred to me that San Felipe now is the kind of place that seasoned ex-pats in the future will say, "You should have seen it before it got trendy." It is not yet trendy, although its population does swell for spring break and there are certainly hotels and tourist friendly restaurants dotting the shores of it's cove, carved out from Sea of Cortez. We were the only Americans I saw, minus a shirtless bearded man who has clearly made the sandy beach (note: I am not saying the "sandy beach town") his home.

San Felipe is unmistakeably beautiful. There are however, no spas. Relaxation here comes naturally from walking the white sand beach from mountain to mountain and lolling in the clear sun drenched water. My most peaceful moment came when I woke up with the sun rising over the sea. I walked down to the ocean and submerged myself up to my hips. With in minutes the tide had drained the water so that it only rose to my knees. I wondered if perhaps I hadn't woken up at all and was standing in the Sea of Cortez that exists in the dream world and has a bath tub drain. In fact, when my travelling partner woke up and joined me in the ocean I was informed that I was awake and in San Felipe the tides are extreme and swift. Every morning the cove is turned into a lovely wading pool balanced in between the rising sun and the setting moon. I waded for an hour or so and then we returned home. In 20 years I'll get to be one of those obnoxious travellers who get to say, "you should have seen it when," but in 20 years I'll also be saying it after paying for my mud wrap and vichy shower - most likely avoiding the free relaxation available on the beach due to the crowds.

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