Hidden paradise in Mexico

Travel Destinations — By on July 2, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Everyone knows about the Cancuns and Cabos of coastal Mexico. But there are still a few small Mexican villages strung along the country’s coastline where in-the-know travelers go to find a quiet slice of paradise. One of these places is the Baja town of Mulege, which Meredith May recently visited. She wrote about her experiences for the San Francisco Chronicle.

About two-thirds the way down the Baja peninsula on the Sea of Cortez side, Mulegé (moo-luh-HAY) is an eight-street town with no stoplights, few tourists and dozens of empty beaches in stunning coves. It’s the kind of place where the car radio will scan fruitlessly for a station, where drivers on the two-lane Mexico Highway 1 into town must stop for donkeys and snakes, and where it’s still possible to find sun-bleached cow bones among the saguaro cactus.

Mulegé still feels authentic, but the same can’t be said for many of the sleepy mission towns that are transforming into mini-Cabo carnivals, as development inexorably creeps along virtually every stretch of Mexico’s coastline…Travelers trying to stay one step ahead can find their palapa paradise in Mulegé – but perhaps not forever…

Many visitors gather to swap fish tales at El Candil, a Canadian-owned restaurant that serves burgers and chili along with a full Mexican menu. They are often joined by Mulegé’s nouveau locals – Californians who kept visiting so many times they finally bought a place and settled in Mulegé.

“It’s the sweetest little town in the world,” said fisherman Larry Deakyne from the town of Cool, near Auburn (Placer County). “It’s how I imagine Hawaii was before it got overrun with tourists.”

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