When you don’t speak the native language, you miss out on a lot. One of those big things is getting to know the locals. Such was the case with my three extended stays in Todos Santos, Mexico. That, I regret.

It was just this spring that I learned about the book Treasures of Todos Santos (Mill City Press, 2007) by Jane Bellamy Hagus. After printing and shipping costs, the author intended proceeds to go to children in Todos Santos with special needs.

Undoubtedly, this book is going to have limited appeal. Still, I recommend it to a broader audience who wants to know a bit about this wonderful town in Baja California Sur before it became a tourist magnet. I would have loved to have heard their stories firsthand, to have even been the one asking the questions.

It’s a fast read, with each chapter written in English and Spanish. While the beginning gives some history about this town, most of the book is about the people—oral histories put into print.

My biggest complaint—and it’s a biggie—is the lack of depth about the people. Clearly, the author is not a journalist with skills at extracting a vast amount of detail from people. It’s like it’s a first draft with a lot of holes.

A good editor could have tightened up some of the writing, maybe even made it jump off the pages a bit more.

Still, I was left with a better appreciation for the people and the life they lived. Many were asked about what life was like prior to and after 1974 when the road was paved between Todos Santos and La Paz, as well as what paving the road in 1984 between Todos Santos and Cabo San Lucas meant.

I only know those paved roads. But there are plenty of dirt roads in Todos Santos—I lived on them.

For people with a connection to Todos Santos, I recommend the book. You are bound to get something out of it.

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