Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas in Los Cabos: Rethinking the Traditional

What’s a traditional Christmas? Skating, sledding and snowdrifts come to mind. Santa’s sleigh is pulled by reindeer native to arctic and mountain regions of the world. Making snowmen and drinking hot cocoa and eating decorated cookies are fitting activities during winter holidays, right? Or so I thought until I visited the sunny, desert and beach lands of Baja California Sur.

Resort Festivities
At the seaside resort of Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, Christmas music was being broadcast out by the pool and the reception area was anchored with a multi-story, professionally decorated Christmas tree. Glass hearts, a resort specialty, were hanging from the branches of desert trees. Warm climate flowers, especially the striking magenta bougainvillea, dotted the landscape.
Pueblo Bonito Christmas tree.

Glass hearts in the gardens at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica
are made from recycled glass from the resort.
As we drove to the resort, we saw the landscaping staff lining the gardens with deep red poinsettia plants. The plant is native to Mexico.

Go surf fishing at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica
and the chef will prepare your catch right on the beach.
Guests lazed on shaded beds on the beach or tried surf fishing. The world-class Quirvira Golf Course with stunning ocean views was busy as was the spa.  At night guests sat with margaritas around a fire pit on the beach.  Once you arrive at Pacifica, the only thing you have to worry about is where you want to dine.  Across the Pueblo Bonito resorts there are 25 restaurants. Wouldn’t a week at this all-inclusive adult resort be an ideal Christmas gift?

A Village Christmas
South of Cabo San Lucas is the resort town of San Jose del Cabo. While the beach is lined with resorts, a true Christmas gem is the historic district, a traditional Mexican “centro” or downtown.

Mission church on the plaza
at San Jose del Cabo
The first thing you will notice when you arrive are the decorations on the municipal square, or plaza. A large Christmas tree, a life-size nativity scene and a stage with holiday greetings… Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo 2017. Surrounding the stage area are temporary booths for the nightly Christmas market. On one side of the plaza you’ll see the Catholic church and hear softly ringing bells.

The plaza takes on a festive air drawing families to the
nightly events during Christmas.
Just off the plaza is the boutique hotel, Casa Natalia. Chef and co-owner Loic Tenoux has created a welcoming bar, oyster bar and patio dining setting. And the food is an amazing combination of continental and Mexican cuisine.

As you arrive at Casa Natalia, you’ll find a tree and Nativity figures. There are Christmas touches everywhere.

Nativity at Casa Natalia
Close to the plaza, the Gallery District begins. While the area is festive every Thursday night during Art Walk, Christmas brings an even more festive atmosphere. Christmas shopping can be done in a relaxed and elegant setting. There are small arts and crafts shops and impressive galleries. The streets are closed to traffic and musicians entertain through the evening.

Festive shop offers mosaic lights from Turkey.
Explore each street, enter the galleries and accept a glass of wine or appetizer. The atmosphere is welcoming and festive.

Galleries are open and welcoming during Art Walk
each Thursday evening.
On one corner you’ll find the elegant, yet traditional, El Encanto Inn. You are welcome to enter and explore the beautiful gardens and fountains. At Christmas time there are poinsettias and a beautiful tree in the lobby. At night the garden is magical with colored lights.

Explore the gardens of El Encanto Inn
Returning to the Plaza
The plaza is also lighted and bustling with activity during Art Walk.  On nights preceding Christmas arts and crafts and local people selling food can be found. Children entertain on the stage and the vibe is family oriented. It’s not a show for tourists… it is an authentic, local celebration.

Stroll the plaza in the warm night air.
You can attend mass at Misión de San José del Cabo Anuiti just off the plaza.

Christmas Eve is an important family gathering time in Mexico and on Christmas Day, you’ll find the town quiet. But if you want to experience a real Mexican Christmas, consider San Jose del Cabo.

Shop for a hand painted Christmas ornament.
Rethinking the Traditional
Baja California with its desert to sea landscapes is not all that different from the Holy Land, where Jesus was born. In the Los Cabos area the resort landscaping turns to natural desert as you drive along. You’ll spot palm trees, desert vegetation and light brown earth.

Desert terrain and gardens at Rosa Farms

Anything remind you of the first Christmas?
And, you’ll find you don’t miss the ice and snow all that much, anyway.