I so needed a vacation and some real, real quality time with my girl and husband after the crazy, beautiful amazingness that was #WeAllGrow Summit.
My girl’s spring break was three weeks after #WeAllGrow, so I blocked off the whole week so we could take off as a family on a border-crossing roadtrip.
El Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada, in Baja California, had been on my radar for a while for a few reasons:
1. It’s only a 4-hour drive from L.A. That means we could essentially come and go with one tank of gas and our passports.
2. It’s MEXICO!! And only 4 hours away! And one tank of gas for the round trip!
3. There’s tons of beachfront property available at really great prizes on airbnb.com
4. The food is a foodie’s dream. Especially if you love fish and seafood.
5. El Valle has been coined the “Napa Valley of México” and has been getting quite a buzz as the next real “it” place for a culinary, hedonist and magical adventure. I think it already is.
See, we’re the type of travelers who prefer to spend a whole week in one place rather than hit many places in an attempt to say you’ve been there or check in at a few landmarks.
We like to linger, to explore the quaint places that make you feel at home, to have long days with no plans other than being there. This looked like the ideal plan to accomplish that. Oh, and it was also another chance to expose Camila to México, español y la vida loca y deliciosa de nuestros pueblos.
So many of you followed along on Instagram and Facebook and I got so many DMs and emails asking me about the house — if it was safe, if it really was that close to L.A., if my pictures were for real. I love to share details and I won’t spare any.
The Beach House
We found a beautiful, airy, full-of-light and really well-kept beach front house on airbnb with three bedrooms that comfortably fit 4 adults, 3 girls (we convinced our friends to join us for half the week!) and one Ginger (dog). At $250 a night, it’s the best bargain for what you get, especially if you split the cost with friends. It was super equipped with internet (I think it was better than the service I have in my house!), a Vonage phone for free calls to the U.S., a local line, directv, and all that stuff I was really trying to get away from anyway. The only thing I cared for was the sound of the crashing waves y tomarme mi cafecito mañanero con los pies en la arena. And we got so much more.
The house is on the La Joya beach, just 30 minutes south of downtown Ensenada and ten minutes to La Bufadora, a natural ocean geyser and a hot tourist spot. Just a few feet from our rental house there’s natural hot springs that burst out of the sand. Locals dig huge holes for their own private hot ocean mineral bath. Your feet burn when you walk over the sand. The first picture on this post shows you my girl jumping and shouting “Me quemo, me quemo!” while smoke is coming out of the sand all around us. Don’t worry, her feet are just fine. ;)
It’s also 2 minutes from the best aguachiles and freshest coctel de mariscos you can have…with your private ocean view on a long stretch of playa. Behold our dining arrangements on our beach patio.
But maybe what I cherished the most were those barefoot morning beach walks with Camila, Alan and Ginger. Every day should start with this view, counting dolphins, taking deep breaths of sea salt, and embracing la Madre Tierra with your feet and your little one with your hand.
El Valle de Guadalupe
Did you know that two out of the ten Mexican restaurants listed on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014 are in the Valle de Guadalupe, aka “el Valle”? Corazón de Tierra and Laja are both nestled off dirt roads in the middle of a gorgeous landscape that’s part red rock dessert, part Mediterranean. This fertile soil and breathtaking valley has attracted wine makers from across the globe to settle here, as well as unique boutique hotels and adventurous chefs that are creating an eclectic and vibrant environment. The new culinary movement here is known as Baja Med and it warmly embraces you the deeper you dive into discovering it.
Because this was a family trip with our seven-year-old, we had to come to terms that we couldn’t really do La Ruta del Vino (but we are going back solo to do it!) or a 5-course meal restaurant like Corazón de Tierra. I had to find a restaurant with a really good menu and that was family friendly. Thankfully, I found the Life and Food blog and I could immediately relate with its authors, Kristin and Antonio. She’s from San Diego, he’s from Tijuana and they have two little kids. But that hasn’t stopped them from figuring out how to continue their passion for traveling and eating good food. So they do it with the kids. Just like we do with our Camila. She had just published a post on visiting el Valle de Guadalupe with kids and that led our way!
We ate, drank (responsibly!) and enjoyed the views at Finca Altozano. This place is a must!
Even though we weren’t really hungry and couldn’t enjoy a wine tasting, we headed into dirt roads anyway to find Troika and Vena Cava Winery (made out of recycled boats!) because they seemed like our type of place.
Mi comadre Coral told me that a sunset viewing from Cuatro Cuatros was a must, and she never fails me.
So many people had raved about breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Estela, that we went back to el Valle with our friends on our way to LA and found it in a very off-the-beaten path lot deep in the Valley. It.was.worth.it. Pause to salivate. Those chilaquiles!!
We’re already planning a trip back next month, but the crew has grown because so many LA friends want to go with us after discovering this beauty through us. So many of have heard about Valle and Ensenada, but not enough have gone out to explore, and maybe that’s just fine.
Maybe, just maybe, I should have kept this little secret all to myself.