By Laura Bly – USA Today
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, I was heading for the Baja California outpost of Todos Santos – and what I’d hoped would be a heavenly trade of Code Orange alerts and impending war for margaritas and tall tales at the Hotel California.
The former $2.50-a-night dive, said to be the inspiration for the Eagles hit of the same name, was set to reopen as a $225-a-night boutique hotel. No matter that the Eagles had denied ever setting foot in the drowsy Mexican town about an hour’s drive north of Cabo San Lucas. In the words of co-owner John Stewart, “There’s a place where legend becomes reality, and this one has taken on a life of its own.”
Home to a growing number of U.S. and Canadian expatriates, the town of 5,000 mixed high-end art galleries and focaccia with unpaved streets and beaches where pelicans often outnumber surfboards.
The sun was warm. The drinks were cold. And the tales, whether spun at the Hotel California bar or in Ohio refugee Michael Cope’s sun-dappled gallery, were tempting enough to spark my own sell-the-farm fantasies.
The dark desert highway leading to town, meanwhile, served as a gut-wrenching reminder that terror alerts come in many forms.
Because a delayed flight translated to a late departure from Cabo San Lucas, I was forced to chuck guidebook warnings against driving at night. Barreling up the two-lane road, my headlights barely piercing the gloom, I braked hard to avoid a posse of errant cows.
Heart pounding, I slowed to a more sedate pace – and realized, with a grateful jolt, that my worries about duct tape and dirty bombs had vanished into the magical Baja air.
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