Saturday, September 17, 2005
Peace and Quiet in La Paz
The city of La Paz, Baja California Sur in Mexico has a population of about 200,000 people, but the adjective "sleepy" hardly does the slow-moving place justice.
100 miles to the south, at the very tip of California, is "Los Cabos," a 40-mile stretch of real-estate development, timeshares, Jack Nicklaus golf courses, Home Depot and Costco, overpriced restaurants, an environmentally stressed ocean and an air of American ambitious desperation that is uneasily blended with Mexican fatalism and entropy.
I came to to La Paz about 25 years ago on a trip with my mother, and what's astonishing is how little the place has changed, at least on the surface.
There are few places one can make that statement about in California, in either the U.S. or Mexico. The waterfront walkway was blown away in La Paz a couple of years ago in a hurricane, but the replacement was a perfectly graceful job that didn't increase hype or tourism.
Other than a few flights from Los Angeles, there is no way to get to La Paz directly by plane from the United States, so you have to rent a car in Los Cabos or jump on a Mexican bus for a three-hour ride through the desert.
My friend David Barnard spends two or three weeks here in the winter every year walking, swimming and painting, and he probably puts it best. "The secret to La Paz is that there is NOTHING to do." It's been a tonic.