DRIFT San Jose

I found out about this hidden away boutique hotel from my friend Linda, who has been coming to Baja for over 15 years.  She knows all the places to go, and I always know what she recommends, I will like.

My first visit to Drift was actually with Linda on a Thursday night.  Thursday night in old downtown San Jose is called ArtWalk.  All the shops, restaurants and galleries stay open late, and everyone walks from shop to shop while listening to street music over Mezcal and Tequila.   We stopped at Drift for a quick drink before heading to check out ArtWalk and grab a bite to eat.   I loved how they presented my drink – you can make it as strong as you like….

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Drift is actually a small  boutique hotel – I believe it has 6 rooms, and is located just steps from all the bars and shops of old town San Jose.   The decor is Mexican industrial and has a cool but not overly trendy vibe.   Reviews about the staff seem positive “friendly and helpful” and everyone seems to enjoy the daily continental breakfast (especially the coffee).   This might not be everyones taste to stay the night, but it’s a fun stop for a drink around the fire-pit.  Check out booking.com for the best photos and reviews.  Drift also has a website which I found to be very limited with information and photos.  “Drift”

They feature a Tequila and Mezcal bar (they do serve wine as well) and a food truck on Thursday night.  The courtyard, and nearby pool area is quaint, and seemed to be the gathering spot.  I have been on other nights of the week and it was empty.

 

 

 

 

 

Casa Calavera

We recently went to dinner at one of the many hotel restaurants here in Los Cabos.  The hotel is called Vidanta, which is located in San Jose del Cabo quite close to where we live.  Hotel Vidanta has several restaurants, and we dined at Casa Calavera, (website here “Calavera”) and is part of the Hakkasan Group.

The hotel itself is a very large scale-Vegas style hotel, and is architecturally very well done.  Here is a glimpse of the entry of the hotel.  While I am not actually writing about the hotel, this has given me thought to perhaps in the future write about about each of the different hotels here.  Obviously, my loyalty is with the Montage, but there are a lot of great hotels here.

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Casa Calavera is all about SKULLS (thus the name), and the decor of the restaurant is fabulous!  The menu is Mexican fare, and they did a great job with both flavors and presentation.  We had a variety of items on the menu  – the tortilla soup was delicious and so were the tempura shrimp tacos!  They have a great bar area and the both the bar and restaurant are located beachside.

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A little background on the Calavera

The Calavera (skull) is used for the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de Los Muertos) and All Souls Day.   For these celebrations the skulls are often made of sugar (which are edible), clay or any other artistic representation.

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If you are interested in learning more about Mexican traditions and Día de Los Muertos, I suggest watching the Pixar film called Coco.  We watched it and loved it, and actually both found ourselves crying over this computer-animated film.  Here is the trailer “COCO”

12 Grapes at Midnight

Happy New Year!  Xavier and I rang in our first new year in Mexico.  Of course, Xavier was working – the Montage did their first new year’s eve celebration, which was amazing! They had 3 dinners throughout the property.  One diner was in Mezal, the upscale Mexican restaurant, one dinner in Marea, a more local seafood fare, and one dinner in the ballroom which was featuring Xavier’s food.   I was lucky enough to attend the dinner prepared by Xavier – of course it was DELICIOUS!

Here is Xavier’s menu

Kaluga Caviar Parfait
Pomme Dauphine, Crème Fraiche, Red Beet Horseradish Root

Celery Root & Black Truffle Velouté

Wagyu Short Rib & King Crab
Baby Heirloom Carrots, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Purplette Onions,
Sauce Bordelaise

New Year Chocolate Surprise

After dinner there was a band called the Shadowboxers – so much fun, followed by an amazing display of fireworks.  There were fireworks all over Cabos – poor Krug was at home freaking out….the dramamine didn’t seem to help one bit 😦

I learned a New Year’s Eve Mexican tradition which is “12 grapes at midnight”  Instead of kissing at 12AM, the Mexicans are busy eating 12 grapes (usually with each chime of the clock’s bell).  The 12 grapes “Las doce uvas de la suerte” are to bring good luck in the new year.  I hope this Mexican tradition proves to be true in 2019!

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Mexican Otomi Linens

I am seriously obsessed with Mexican Otomi linens.  These gorgeous, hand embroidered Mexican textiles are truly incredible works of art.  Here in Cabos, you see them quite a bit.  Hotels use them for various forms of decorative enhancements, and they are sold in many stores.  I have been on the hunt for what will hopefully soon be in my home – a square tablecloth.  Since I have been looking around, I have found out that there are different qualities of these linens.  Yes, they are all made by hand, but some of the artisans use better materials, such as the quality of muslin for the backdrop of the article being made.  You will see napkins, tablecloths, placemats, pillow cases, bedspreads/duvet covers, coasters, runners….  Also, you will see that some artisans are more skilled in their embroidery work.  The stitching is more fine and less loopy.

There are several shops in San Jose that sell the Otomi textiles.  I have found that the prices fluctuates at lot for what seems to be the exact same item.  In fact, there is a shop that has more than one location in San Jose, and they are selling the same tablecloths, but quote different prices.  It pays to shop around if you care about both the quality and the price.   I think that when I finally do make my purchase, I will get my tablecloth at Las Ventanas Hotel in their home shop.  They have a wonderful selection, and their cloths are the finest quality.  If you don’t see the color you want, they will special order it for you.

A little bit on the traditions of this hand craft which I find really interesting.  The Mexicans have been creating these hand embroidered textiles for thousands of years, and originally these linens identified the maker’s village or ethnic group.

The Otomi people live in the Sierra Madré mountains in the central state of Hidalgo.  It is said that the prints’ figures, birds and animals were inspired by cave drawings.  These designs symbolize the harmony between humans and nature and contain symbols connecting to ancient Otomi myths stories and rituals.

Large pieces, like a bed spread or table cloth can table up to 3 months to make, and no design is exactly the same.  So imagine, each piece is a one of a kind hand made creation….who wouldn’t want that in their home?

 

 

 

Krug’s First CABO Grooming Appointment

Do dogs ever like going to get groomed?  I can say with most certainty, Krug does not like it.  Maybe afterwards when he’s feeling all fresh and clean, but he hates being dropped off.  Back in California I took him to PetSmart.  Over the years they did a fairly good job, with the exception of his last CABO Cut.  This was just a terrible disaster.  It’s finally grown out, and I knew I had to find someone who could handle a big dog, and a rare for Cabo breed like Krug.  Since I have already been to see the vet about 5 times in 4 months, they all have gotten to know and love Krug.  I found out they also do grooming, which is a great plus since he has so many skin issues.

I decided it was time.  It’s sooo dusty here, and Krug’s Cabo cut needed shaping and he just needed a good clean up.  Today was the day!

When I dropped him off, I got the usual jumping and struggles to not be left behind.  I really think I bring out the beast in him.  When I am not around, I have been told he is very well behaved.  He did really well today, and came out looking and smelling great.  I was so happy and relieved that I found a trustworthy place.  I wish it was a little closer to my house, but I like them a lot, so I will go the distance.   The place I take him is the Cabo Pet Hospital near downtown Cabo.  We see Karina when we are there for veterinary needs.  She is amazing and has already in a short time been so helpful.  Here is their website.  They all speak English and go above and beyond.   “Pets”

It’s so interesting that the cost for medicine, services and the grooming is so much cheaper than in the states.  I do pay the same for Krug’s food and monthly Apoquel prescription, but everything else is dramatically cheaper.  Today’s grooming was under $20 USD – back in CA, I would have paid over $110…and, quite frankly he looks much better!

 

Our “little” Mexican Christmas Tree

There’s nothing like the spirit of the holiday season!  Clearly, its such a busy time of year with so much to do and never enough time.  One thing is for sure, we always make time to put up a Christmas tree.  We have always gotten a fresh tree, and over the years have accumulated many beautiful ornaments.  Many of our ornaments have come from our travels.  It’s so much fun to put up the tree, and reflect on the memory of each ornament as I unwrap them.

Sadly, all of our ornaments are in storage in California so no memory lane Christmas tree this year.  I am actually not even going to be here for Christmas, but know how much Xavier loves having a tree up in the house.

This year, I decided on an all Mexican Christmas tree.  It’s funny, all of our neighbors, who are expats from mainly the US or Canada have their homes all decked out.  If we are here next year, I think I might do more to get into the Cabo Christmas spirit.  This year we just decided on a tree.

I got a small table top (artificial) tree and white lights from Walmart, and went on my  search for ornaments.  Many of the stores here have Christmas Decoration sections.  They carry the typical ball ornaments, strings of lights and general home holiday decor.  I really wanted to capture the Mexican spirit – not the traditional American tree.

I went to several places to find my ornaments, all of which were made by hand.   I knew right away I wanted the glass blown hearts that I see everywhere.  I honestly, have no idea why the heart?  I will have to ask some of our Mexican friends, because Google does not know.

There are many places that blow glass here (the main one is the Glass Factory), and the hearts come in many different sizes and colors.  They come in clear colored glass, as well as a mercury/metallic finish.  Since my tree is so small, I decided on a variety of colors in the two smallest sizes.  I think I bought about 30 different color/sized hearts for my tree.

Next, I saw these adorable mini piñatas that are so bright and colorful, I definitely needed some of these.  I found these at a shop in downtown San Jose.  Each of these are one-of-a kind, and are painted by hand.   Lastly, I added a colored pom-pom garland.  These are also handmade and just so darn adorable.  I love them!  I think I put 6 stands of the pom-pom’s on the tree to finish it off.

A funny side note….I forgot to buy the ornament hooks at Walmart (the ONLY place that sells them).  I found this out after I went to about 5 stores searching for the hooks.  I couldn’t figure out what all these stores were using to attach their ornaments.  I had to check for myself – They were using PAPER CLIPS!  Seriously!!  So, I actually found green colored paper clips, and that’s what I used to put the ornaments on my tree.  Ya gotta be resourceful here.  Another lesson learned.

 

 

Be Patient – 25 day tires….

The “25 day tire” story started late one night, on my second day here, driving alone on the Corridor.  The Corridor is a two-way road that goes North to South, and at night is basically pitch black dark.  There are a few portions of this road that are lit up, but for most of the road – darkness.  I am still confused every time I drive it at night, why the lights are not on….There are lights, but they just don’t turn them on???? HUH??? WHY?? Some parts of this road are very curvy, and don’t even have lane line indicators making it very, very dangerous – especially driving in total darkness.

Ironically, I had been to look for new tires earlier in the day, as I was concerned from the looks of the tire shops that my tires came from.  I went to Costco and they did not have the tires for my car.  A local friend then was kind enough to take my car to a tire shop and they had one tire in stock, which I had them replace, and a second tire was ordered.  Not that I need the most expensive tires, but when two tires cost $120 for a Mercedes, I was a bit skeptical.  The tire on order was going to take a week to arrive.

So, on day two of my arrival, I was still nervous about driving in the day time, let alone driving alone at night….and not totally sure my tires were in good shape.  I guess this post should also be the one that talks about driving in Cabos in general.  You might be thinking, it’s only a two-lane road, how difficult is that?  Let me count the reasons….

1. There are NO merging lanes.  You have to gun it, and move super fast to merge on to the corridor from basically any entry point. (Think Fred Flintstone)

2.  Many Mexican drivers either drive about 90-100 miles an hour, tailing you closer than the French do (Trust me, I know this), or they drive the extreme opposite, about 15-20 miles an hour.  So, you are driving around 60mph, and all of sudden the driver in front of you is crawling….You can’t be distracted for a single second, or your will ram right into the person in front of you.  I was told that Mexicans are required to have a drivers license, but do not have to pass a driving test – many don’t know how to drive.

3.  There are no turn around points.  Well, this is not technically true because here, they consider the underpass (bumpy, dirt, gravel pathway) the turn around point.   These “Retorno’s” or Turn-Around Points are actually ARROYO’s which means “Dry Creek” in Spanish.   This is where here in the Baja, the water flows out to the Sea of Cortez after a rain storm or hurricane.

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4.  The Bumps or TOPE’s – They are EVERYWHERE – and they come in many shapes and sizes.  Some are small diameter but mountainous, some are fatter and lower, and some are large sized dotted bumps in the road.  Another surprise is that sometimes there will be a sign alerting you that is a TOPE ahead, and sometimes there is no alerting sign and BANG!  Oh…and sometime the sign is right in front of the TOPE and BANG!  No wonder tires are such a big business here….and Tires are actually supposed to be the topic of this post.

Back to the “25 day Tire” story – So, day 2 of my arrival, I was driving North on the Corridor from the Montage Hotel back to my house.  It was night time, and like I said earlier, most of the drive is pretty dark.  As I was driving, all of a sudden my tire indicator lights go on, which has never happened to me before.  It was dark and I really didn’t know the landmarks here yet to know how far away I was from a gas station.  I fumbled around for my phone (got rid of the facial recognition after this night) and of course called Xavier.  He was not far behind me, and I was able to get to a gas station without incident.  Now, being that Xavier had just driven the 22 hour Cali to Cabo drive, and had 3 flat tires, he is now an expert tire changer.  He changed my tire in less than 10 minutes, put the spare on, and we were on our way.  Oh, this tire is one of the tires that got changed on the Cali to Cabo drive – obviously from the looks of it, it was VERY VERY used.

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Clearly, I needed a new tire ASAP – this was the other tire that was ordered earlier in the day.  I of course had NO IDEA I was driving around with a tire this bad.  After this incident, I told Xavier I wanted all my tires to be looked at, ,and wanted to take my car to the Mercedes Benz dealership (there are actually a lot of Mercedes here) right away!  I think he knew that this was the only way to move forward with handing this situation.  We drove up there the following morning and they were really nice and helpful.  They said that I actually, needed TWO new tires.  Ironically, the tire that was changed the day before, was not the right tire for my car so this one needed replaced again.  I felt better about ordering all the necessary tires from the dealership.  Not sure where the tires came from but it took over two weeks to arrive – so by the time I got new tires it took 25 days.

So after 25 days I was back on the road again.  Krug was super happy, as my car is low to the ground and he can hop in and out very easily.  The moral of this post is to “Be Patient” here in Mexico – sometimes you just have to wait it out…..

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