Just when it seems like all of the Mexican villages withing 20 miles of Baja's major resort cities have been overrun with Gringos, Santiago breaks the mold. This is even more amazing considering the fact that Santiago is less than a 30 minute drive (55 kilometers) from Los Cabos International Airport, one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet.


      But sure enough, as most Baja travelers drive like a bat out of Hell down Highway One headed for Cabo, and tourists who fly in hang a right when they leave the Cabo airport, the small green and white sign on the Baja highway that points to Santiago stands proud and tall on the side of the road, directing anyone willing to take the time for a short detour into a real Mexican village.

      The town of Santiago actually lies 2 Km. west of Baja Highway One, which might be part of the reason that it has not been discovered. As a matter of fact, unless you were actually looking for it from the main highway, you probably wouldn't see it. A very wide (usually dry) river wash separates Santiago from the Baja Blacktop. Only a small ribbon of two lane road connects Santiago with the Transpeninsular Highway.

      After crossing the dry wash and upon entering the town the first building one sees is one of three local markets, Tienda El Correo. Drinks, ice and basic staples can be purchased here, but two bigger markets lie just ahead near the town square.

      The narrow road leading through the entrance to town is beyond quaint, with a center medium of lush trees and shrubs welcoming visitors to town. Green and quiet dominate this entrance to town giving it a nice 'oasis' feel.

      This mostly agricultural town with a population of just over 1,000 people has a town square much like many other small villages in Baja and throughout Mexico. The town square idea originally came from Spain and is an important part of the layout of most Baja towns.

      Parking near the town square allows the visitor to walk around and soak in the peace and quiet of this special village. The town square area offers a small PEMEX station, a small market as well as a few other retail stores.

      Road signs past the town square lead the way to the local Zoological (zoo) and then further on the local hot springs. Along the way Mini-super Mija offers beer, ice and basic food items.

      Driving the dirt back streets of Santiago the focus of the local economy comes into view. Fields of corn, oranges and avocados are scattered throughout these shallow foohills, along with small houses and farms.

      Most visitors to the Cape never expereince the charming town of Santiago. They head right for downtown Cabo, order up their Cheeseburger in Paradise at the Hard Rock Cafe, and then go lay by the hotel pool and have a cocktail. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But for those who want to expereince a taste of the real Baja, Santiago is a short distance and light years away from the typical Cabo environment.



      Park near the town square and enjoy the walk around the town plaza. The market on the south end of the plaza is a good place to re-stock the cooler with cold drinks and ice, and maybe grab some Mexican cookies!



      Chances are good that you will be the only Gringo in town if you stop by Santiago. When Carlos Fiesta last stopped by he did spot a Nissan Pathfinder getting gas at the PEMEX station with kayaks on top, but that was it. Kind or refreshing!



      The zoo southwest of town is probably the largest collection of animals within a thousand miles, which isn't really saying much. But it's a great destination after driving through town and a nice place to picnic and stretch those driving legs.



      The hot springs are located near the end of the road several miles southwest of town. The locals sometimes visit on weekends but during the week it's a pretty quiet place. Skinny dip anyone?


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