(The Todos Santos annual childrens' trash can painting festival -- please see below for details)
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place else.” -- Yogi Berra
Phase 4 Living at OlaBrisa
While everyone will craft their own experience at OlaBrisa, many people have found it useful to consider descriptions of how other people have come to help create OlaBrisa, and also how they envision using it as a base camp for their lives.
Below are three compilations of these conversations.
Below are three compilations of these conversations.
The Decision to Join OlaBrisa Track 1
The fact that it is designed to enable phase 4 living made our joining OlaBrisa an easy decision.
We had discovered Todos Santos on previous trips to Cabo san Lucas. We loved the feel of the town -- the uncluttered beach and ocean with the high mountains at our back -- the galleries and amazingly wide range of restaurants -- the unique culture that combines Baja Sur Mexico with the artist and Buddhist communities that have been attracted to Todos Santos.
We had gotten our work and financial situation to a place where we could manage spending 3 to 6 Months in Baja Sur.
We had started our transition by first renting a house for several months in La Paz and then a year later by renting a house for three months in Todos Santos.
We enjoyed both of these experiences immensely and also learned a lot.
We learned, for example, that there is a big difference between a short one week stay and the experience of living in Baja Sur for a more extended time.
We found that ex-pat living can be quite lonely -- and that many ex-pats fall into a routine of filling this loneliness with a kind of intense socializing -- with a consequent risk of alcohol and other substance abuse.
We found that the amount of time, effort, and money required to maintain a stand-alone house in another country like Mexico is much more than we anticipated.
When we looked into existing condos, we found them to be based on (at least to us) an outmoded concept of retirement living -- a concept which felt to us like being stuck in an endless resort with people whose main purpose was to escape from the hassle and constraints of their previous lives.
In contrast, the philosophy and the design of OlaBrisa -- the idea of having a base camp -- a place where we recharge and re-connect and then explore from - fit how we plan to live the next phase of our lives.
While we are in good health now, we particularly liked OlaBrisa's anticipation of the ability to age in place. We liked that the people at OlaBrisa felt it was important to anticipate this possibility rather than ignoring it -- then having something happen and replicating the experience I went through with my mom -- where her health suddenly deteriorated and she had to move to a new living situation where she frankly is pretty miserable. That is clearly something that I don't want to experience or for my partner to experience.
We then began to meet some of the other people who were also interested in OlaBrisa – meeting and talking with them was like attending a family reunion, except this was a family of shared affinity with people whom we immediately liked and admired.
Meeting these people –enjoying some of our best conversations in years – made joining OlaBrisa an easy choice.
Reconnecting with Best Friends -- Envisioning OlaBrisa Track 2
When I think about how I intend OlaBrisa to enable our lives, I think about it in terms of how it will feel to return to our reference base.....
We have been getting organized for at least a month, emailing and talking with the friends who are also part of our set, deciding on the right mix of planned activities as well as free time once we arrive.
Before we board our flight to Cabo San Lucas, we know that the OlaBrisa van will pick us up at 4pm to take us to Todos Santos and OlaBrisa.
Since three of us arrive early in the afternoon on different flights, we have made arrangements for the van to pick us up at our favorite restaurant near the airport.
After a short non-stop flight, we land at Cabo San Lucas. As soon as we step through the cabin door of our airplane out onto the stairway down to the tarmac, the bright sun, the view of the Sierra LaGuna Mountains just to the West tells us that we are back in Baja.
We meet outside of customs and share a cab to the restaurant, where we relax, have a cerveza, and see if the fish tacos are still as good as we remembered.
Around 4pm, the OlaBrisa van arrives at the restaurant to take us the 40 minute drive to OlaBrisa.
We arrive at OlaBrisa and settle into a home that is freshly cleaned, that has our first several day's food (eggs, milk, whatever we ordered) already stocked in the fridge.
Around 7pm we gather at the OlaBrisa common house for a light evening meal of fresh fish, salad, and local vegetables -- enjoying the opportunity to sit down and re-connect with more of our returning friends.
The next morning (and for all our mornings during our 3 week stay), we can either make our own breakfast, or walk down the pedestrian walkway to Rudi's cafe where there is fresh coffee, breakfast tea, freshly squeezed juice, and fresh bolillos.
If we like, at either 7am or 8am, we can join the warm water exercise group, the yoga group, the tai chi group, or the meditation group -- or we can relax on our own or take a long walk along the beach, which is a two minute walk from OlaBrisa.
We decide to sign up for several of the three evening meals which are available at the common house each week. Each meal is simple but great, consisting of well-prepared fresh fish, chicken, or meat, an organic salad, and local organic vegetables (with of course chocolate for dessert).
We also sign up for the grill evening meal, where will select our own meat / vegetable kabob and grill it, complementing it with a fresh salad and vegetables.
The other evenings of the week we plan to either eat in restaurants in town or to cook our own meals at home, possibly sharing this with a small group of friends.
We decide to continue eating the wonderful fresh fish, and arrange at the common house for the local fish delivery person to leave us a kilogram of freshly caught, cleaned and filleted fish at the common house, where it is kept chilled until we pick it up. We also arrange for the local organic gardener to leave us a bag of freshly picked salad greens, which is also kept chilled at the common house for us.
Our days are open, and depending on how much work we have brought with us and whether there are specific projects we plan to work on during our stay, we either take the morning to work or relax or we join small groups of friends for a trip to La Paz, for a day of sea kayaking, for a hike in the Sierra Laguna, or for an excursion to see the whales.
Some of us are intent on improving our Spanish, and attend tutorials for this.
We attend a short orientation / update on our favorite ongoing OlaBrisa community projects and schedule time for our working group to meet with the local young people who are involved in the projects.
The small, interactive workshop on key Phase 4 relationship skills (while unlearning P3 skills that now are counter-productive) attracts our interest, and we participate in that session.
A number of days are just spent in the shade on the patio, relaxing, reading, catching up with friends.
In the early evening, if we feel like it, we gather at Rudi's cafe on the pedestrian walkway for smoothies, cerveza, or to sample some of the excellent Baja wines.
From there, we either join the evening meal at the common house, eat at home, or sample one of the restaurants in town.
After dinner, if we like, several nights a week we can attend a presentation at the common house on local ecology, local culture, etc. or enjoy a classic movie.
The pace, the feel, the connection is the Todos Santos / Baja Sur we love.
Reconnecting with Our Core -- Envisioning OlaBrisa Track 2
I think of OlaBrisa in terms of contrast -- as an island of relative "sanity" we return to......
It seems like our life keeps on getting crazier and crazier. Most nights, I barely have time to stop on my way home from work to pick up what we are having for supper. When I get home, John, my partner, texts me to say that his meetings have run late, and that he may not be home until 8pm. I fix dinner for Ann, our nine year old daughter, try to catch up with her day as best I can, see what homework still needs to be done, and then start to get her ready for bed.
Ann wants to see her dad before she goes to bed, and so I often let her stay up an extra half hour. John usually comes in just as I am tucking her in, and kisses her goodnight.
Most nights, John is tired from his day and just wants to be left alone. We often eat our warmed up meals in silence. After supper, we typically have some final emails to respond to, and spend our evening doing that while half-way watching tv.
I am worried what the intensity of our life style is doing to us -- especially to us as a family.
Frankly, one of the things holding both John and I together is the fact that we knew our time at OlaBrisa was coming up.
John and I get ourselves and Ann through security and onto the plane, settle back into our seats, and feel the pressure begin to drain away.
We arrive in Cabo, go through customs, walk outside into the sun and the breeze off the ocean, and see the OlaBrisa van waiting for us.
As we sit in the van, for the first time, I feel that John and I have time to just enjoy the moment, the sense of coming back to our core as a family.
We arrive at OlaBrisa and drop our bags at the entrance to our home.
Ann is eager to get to the common house to see if her close friend Sara has arrived yet. As before, she understands that she is free to roam throughout OlaBrisa but won't go outside without asking us. It is so nice to know that everyone -- both staff and also the other members of our set -- knows Ann, and so she is never alone while she is at OlaBrisa.
John and I grab an ice tea from the fridge, walk out onto the balcony and just sit -- taking in the view of the ocean -- starting to tap into the energy of coming back to people we know and trust who are actually living the kinds of balanced, meaningful lives we are working to achieve in our own life.
We laugh when we realize that we haven't checked our email for the past three hours -- and joke that we are already starting to feel withdrawal -- wondering who will "break" and sneak off to Rudi's cafe before the wifi at the homes comes on at 9pm.
Ann comes back, reporting that while Sara hasn't arrived yet, she did meet Peter, one of our friends, and that he treated her to a fresh juice. Peter and his son are planning a walk on the beach at sunset before supper, and have invited John and Ann to join them.
John gets up, puts on his sandals, and heads out with Ann, hand-in-hand.
I sit back, knowing that we have made it though another year, and that we will use our three weeks at OlaBrisa to re-connect with our core as a family -- re-building the sense of caring and trust that enables us to get through the intensity and distractions of our "normal" life -- re-confirming our plan to transition to the kind of long term life we both want.
Please click here for more description of P4 Living
Please click here for more information on how OlaBrisa is designed to enable P4 Living
More Details on The Todos Santos Trash Can Painting Festival
One of the special ways that the Todos Santos artist community has become involved with the local residents is through a children's trash can decorating project. Expats (including OlaBrisa) sponsor a 55 gallon plastic barrel which is painted by the local children and then placed on the street in Todos Santos. The picture shows the annual painting festival, held on the square in front of the Todos Santos municipal plaza.