Escape from Paradise with Ingrid Lemme-Chalut

An Excursion to La Paz, Mexico

               As we sailed along the expansive 5,800-mile Mexican coastline, my husband and I stumbled upon the cultural haven of La Paz during our recent seafaring adventure. While the allure of Puerto Vallarta’s ritzy resorts and Ensenada’s famed margaritas captures many a traveler’s heart, it was the singular charm of La Paz that beckoned to us.
               Our journey began at Pichilingue harbor, where our majestic vessel, the Holland America ms Volendam, lay at anchor. A scenic half-hour bus ride, along beautiful cactus forests and rock formations, delivered our group into the welcoming embrace of La Paz.
               As the proud capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz revealed itself as more than a mere portal to Cabo San Lucas’s renowned sands. Here, we wandered the waterfront promenade, where artistic masterpieces framed the captivating marine ballet of the famous Grey Whales.
               The city’s name, La Paz, meaning ‘peace’ in Spanish, is a testament to its enduring spirit, having withstood the onslaught of Conquistadors for nearly two centuries. Today, it stands serene and inviting, cradling its visitors within the calm of the Sea of Cortez.
               Our sojourn through La Paz was akin to peeling back the layers of Mexico’s historical saga—of empires, invasions, and undying resolve. Remnants of eras past resonated around us, whispers of pearl divers, swashbuckling pirates, and the unyielding determination of its people.
               Once greeted with open arms by the indigenous Guaycura, the Spaniards’ insatiable lust for pearls led to an era of conquest and exploitation. It was La Paz’s mesmerizing allure that captured the imagination of John Steinbeck, prompting him to immortalize the city in his literary works ‘The Pearl’ and ‘The Log from the Sea of Cortez.’ Today, the legendary oysters of La Paz stand as proud emblems of its rich legacy.
               We ventured into the hallowed space of the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, a relic of La Paz’s missionary roots, and delved into the city’s transformative journey from its christening by Hernán Cortés in 1535 to its renaming by Admiral Sebastian Vizcaino in 1596. Our engagement with local culture continued as we marveled at the exquisite craftsmanship of La Paz’s artisans, their stories as captivating as their work. The seafront Malecón beckoned us with its unspoiled beaches, verdant parks, and vibrant art.
               At El Bizmarkcito, we refreshed our palates with tangy lemonade, sweet hibiscus iced tea, and chilled local brews, all the while indulging in a sumptuous spread of fish, shrimp, beef, and lobster tacos, the sea’s expanse providing the perfect backdrop. This delightful repast was part of Holland America’s “A Personal Journey with FOOD & WINE Magazine,” excursion, an experience we found utterly enchanting. Contented, we savored some ice cream at a nearby parlor.
               Eager to explore La Paz further and tempted by the prospect of shopping along the bustling 3.1-mile malecón, dotted with a kaleidoscope of bars, eateries, and stores, some of our more intrepid companions chose to remain behind. They planned to return to the comforting embrace of the ms Volendam later, via shuttle bus.
               Until next month from another exhilarating and captivating location.

— Yours in travel, Ingrid

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