I've talked about El Santuario before. It's the little palapa bar where we had the Talk Like A Pirate Party and where we are now spending most afternoons. They've made Happy Hour two hours long so the beer is now cruiser-priced (rather than fancy hotel-priced) for a couple hours every afternoon and the least we can do is show our gratitude by pounding down a few.
I wish there were a string of Santuarios up and down the Baja coast. It's the kind of place that you expect to find everywhere when you're fantasizing about cruising but are actually fairly rare. There's a nice beach palapa bar/restaurant at Bahia Falsa way down almost to La Paz but it's not nearly as laid back at Santuario. There's also a palapa bar/restaurant in San Evaristo but it's so laid back that it never seems to really be open and, if it is, it's up in the air whether they'll have cold beer or not.
So what makes El Sauntario so special?
Well, the "No shoes, no shirt, no problem" attitude certainly doesn't hurt.
These guys (L-R: Alan, Roberto, David) make the place a true santuario. There is nothing they won't do for us to make us feel welcome. And everything they do, no matter how extracurricular it seems to us, is brushed off with a smile and a "Please, it is nothing."
Let's take yesterday for example.
The plan was developed on Sunday when Jack from s/v Miss Maude brought over some dorado to grill. Alan cooked up some vegetables to go with the fish, someone provided some tortillas, and then David went diving and brought back some clams to put on the grill (since we didn't have enough limons for ceviche). Everybody there shared an impromptu lunch. David, we're told, is quite a cook. He said that if we brought over some fish, tomatoes, onions, limons, etc, on Tuesday morning, he'd cook up some magic and we could all have a mini-feast when Happy Hour started at 2:00.
That sounded pretty good. Jay and Judy (s/v Wind Raven) went to the store for tomatoes and limons, Lulu and I went to the store for tortillas, onions, charcoal and charcoal starter, Mick (s/v Kashmir) contributed onions, tomatoes and tortillas, Lulu made a batch of cookies and I made a pot of beans. Jay and Jack spent Sunday evening, all day Monday, and most of the day on Tuesday fishing. Unfortunately, in spite of all their efforts, they came back fish-less.
Two o'clock rolled around and there we were with all the ingredients except fish. The BBQ grill had been put away and it was beginning to look like it was going to be a food-less afternoon. But David, undaunted, took one of the hotel guests, Michelle, and headed out into the bay on a kayak. They returned maybe 15 minutes later with a huge bounty of fresh chocolate clams (so-named for the color of their shell, not for the Hershey-ness of their flavor, thank goodness). He then got to work preparing them.
First he served up a platter of raw clams on the half shell. Squeeze a little limon on them, a dash of Maggi (sort of like soy sauce), and another dash of hot sauce. Absolutely delicious. I was too busy eating to even get a picture.
Next, he got busy making clam ceviche.
Four o'clock and the official end of Happy Hour was drawing near. However, Luis (aka "The Boss") had dropped by and, hearing it was Lulu's birthday, extended Happy Hour until 5:00. Outstanding!
That's the kind of thing that goes on here. We cruisers, being naturally
cheap frugal, have made this our regular afternoon hangout and now feel pretty much like family. But the occasional hotel guests who wander this far down the beach also seem to love the friendly funkiness of Santuario. It's not long until the staff and the cruisers have made them feel like they're home as well. I don't know if Santuario will still be the same place it is a year from now or whether success will ruin it. I hope that it remains the same but, if not, maybe for once I'll be in the right place at the right time to be able to say, "You think it's good now? You should have seen it back in 2011."