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A Baja Morning Routine

by Heather Banks

Routines, they say, are things your days should not develop into because they prevent spontaneity and hamper creativity. When you ask me however, I’d say that it depends oh what kind of routines we are talking about. My daily routine at work, being a reporter for a San Diego magazine, means a lack of routine because I pretty much spend each day rather differently from the one it preceded.

My job entails that I should be always on my toes and that I should expect surprises, mishaps and changes of plans every other hour or so. And so, some sort of routine every now and then is actually something I look forward too because that means that I can cruise through my day without constant stress and tension nagging at the back of my head. A routine filled weekend would do me just right and has the effect of a routine-free weekend to those people who spend their weekdays in a very tight and minutely planned schedule.

I spend at least one weekend of every month in Tecate, Baja California with my fiancé who is currently living there and managing his own little retreat home and hotel. This business venture of his started out really small, a kind of on-the-side business of his which he used to manage from San Diego where he worked as an account executive for an advertising firm. These last three years however, the business in Tecate saw such a rapid increase in patrons and clients and was earning quite an amount that he finally decided to quit his job and spend his time further improving and managing his Tecate retreat home.

Considering that Tecate is not so far from San Diego even though they are in essence located in two different countries, the arrangement of my spending a weekend or two every month with him sounded both possible and practical. And it was during these weekends where we came up with a morning routine that would not have been possible and quite as enjoyable of we were still both living in San Diego.

Tecate as I found out several years ago when he first took me there for a vacation is a sleepy and majestic city that has an air of a small Mexican town. Instead of the noisy and rowdy vendors that would accost you in Tijuana, you would find shrunken and friendly old men tending to their small but clean restaurants and shops in Tecate. Fast food is not a very popular choice in this city since you have the option to dine in warm home cooked dishes served in restaurants, hotels and side street cafés.

Our favorite Baja breakfast however, involves some freshly baked bread from a nearby bakery found just beyond the open market. And so every morning whenever I am in Tecate, we would wake up early in order to be able to buy bread that was just taken fresh off the oven. Along with Mojo, his golden Labrador retriever, we would take a stroll past the open market on our way to the bakery. While passing the market, we would also pick up some other yummy things we planned to consume that morning or later on in the day. A fresh pineapple, a packet of salty dried squid, sweet milky papaya shakes, a bar of locally made chocolates and a left over bone for Mojo usually makes up our quick market shopping.

And when we finally reach the bakery, we would have our pick at crusty and warm loaves of bread, sweet little pastries, sticky cakes, a variety of cookies and several other kinds of breads. The bakery also sells a dozen or so kinds of empanadas, a kind of bread concoction that may have a filling of tuna, chicken, pesto, pork, ground beef, vegetables and many more.

After paying for the food, we would stop by a local coffee shop and buy milk and coffee. We would then take all our loot to the beach just across the street from his retreat home and finish them all off while sitting on a picnic blanket or a shady palapa. As simple a routine as this seems, nothing could be more relaxing and enjoyable for all three of us. And we have in fact been doing this for more than a year now and it still retains all the charms and novelty it possessed when we first tried it out.

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