How to Travel and Decorate Simultaneously

My best friend Alma got married in La Paz, Mexico in February. 

Destination weddings are always great because it’s a wedding and a vacation all wrapped up in one.  Plus, Alma is a natural born tour guide so I knew each moment would be packed with adventure and fun.  The entire time though I was on a mission with my own ulterior motives for this trip in mind.  I was in the final stages of decorating my apartment and was on the hunt for home décor to put in some empty wall spaces needing to be filled. 

I was traveling with our friend Britta with an arrival time into the Los Cabos area late into the night.  Britta and I got to Mexico a few days before the wedding so we could enjoy some time with Alma before the groom and rest of the wedding guests were set to arrive.  Alma flew in earlier that day from California and Britta and I flew in from New York.  The plan was to stay in the Los Cabos area for a couple of days, which includes Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo located at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, then later drive to La Paz where the wedding was being held.

After a long trip Britta and I finally arrived in Mexico where I was thinking we would get a cab from the airport and head into town, which was less than an hour away.  Alma had arrived earlier that day and was waiting for us at a hotel in San Jose del Cabo.  Upon our arrival though we both realized neither one of us knew the name of the hotel we were supposed to be going to.  We each thought the other knew and couldn’t believe this major piece of information was overlooked.  We tried calling Alma but soon realized her phone must be off because we were in a foreign country and who wants to deal with crazy roaming costs?  We made calls, left messages, used WhatsApp, emailed and tried everything we could think of to get the name of the hotel.  Finally we just decided to stay at the hotel right across the street from the airport and hope for a response from Alma by the morning.

Well we got the email response with the hotel information the following morning from the pissed off, because she was waiting up for us half the night, bride to be.  So off we went to start our day bright and early not sure of the wrath we would get from Alma once we all met up.  We took a bus from the airport to San Jose del Cabo. After about a 45 minute ride we arrived into town, made nice with Alma who got over the entire hotel debacle in a matter of minutes, and then set off to tour and explore. 

El Encanto Inn   in the authentic Mexican town of San Jose del Cabo with cobble stone streets and many art galleries and boutiques surrounding the town square.

El Encanto Inn in the authentic Mexican town of San Jose del Cabo with cobble stone streets and many art galleries and boutiques surrounding the town square.


There were so many cool things to see and places to shop.  I saw some items I was definitely interested in buying and made a mental note to return to those same places on the return leg of our trip back home to New York in about a week.   

After a few days of fun in the sun we set off for our drive to La Paz but first stopped in for a quick tour and lunch in Cabo San Lucas.  We ate right on the beach just a few feet away from the ocean.  There were tons of venders walking around and up to tourists hawking their wares as we ate.  Alma was annoyed at the vendors coming up to us every minute, I on the other hand enjoyed seeing everything for sale.

The neighboring party town of Cabo San Lucas popular with many tourists and students on spring break.

The neighboring party town of Cabo San Lucas popular with many tourists and students on spring break.


Just a side note;  I have a cabinet in my living room that I use to hold books as well as items I've bought during my travels, gifts I've received from people or mementos.  It holds various things that I like, love or are near and dear to me.  I call this important piece of furniture my tchotchke (chach-ki) cabinet.  Some of the items I bought during this trip are now in there.

I couldn't pass up this fish bottle opener made out of shells purchased during our lunch on the beach.  I love the curve of its body as he stands on his tail, plus the colors are beautiful and his mouth is a bottle opener!

I couldn't pass up this fish bottle opener made out of shells purchased during our lunch on the beach.  I love the curve of its body as he stands on his tail, plus the colors are beautiful and his mouth is a bottle opener!


After lunch we hopped into the car ready for a 2-3 hour drive to La Paz where the wedding was taking place.  Of course like I said before, Alma is a natural born tour guide so the entire drive was a lesson on the area and information about everything we were seeing.  We even stopped at the famous Hotel California (yes, the same one that inspired the Eagles song) for a quick walk through the hotel and town.  I bought these while perusing the many tourist shops around...

I was looking for something exactly like this to hold some water I collected from the Jordan River during a previous trip...but that is a whole other story.  Maybe I'll tell it in another blog post.  They turned out being great handles for my tchotchke cabinet.

I was looking for something exactly like this to hold some water I collected from the Jordan River during a previous trip...but that is a whole other story.  Maybe I'll tell it in another blog post.  They turned out being great handles for my tchotchke cabinet.


We arrived in La Paz a couple of days before Ash Wednesday so there was a Mardi Gras party atmosphere in town.  There was also a fair and street vendors all along the beachfront until the wee hours of the morning.  The first night in La Paz I bought this wrestling mask.  (I secretly wanted to buy one from the moment I first saw them being sold from the vendors during our lunch on the beach in Cabo.)

I couldn't resist this wrestling mask which believe it or not I like the way it looks in my cabinet.  Not all design has to be serious.  Many of the items I have are whimsical and shows off my quirky side.

I couldn't resist this wrestling mask which believe it or not I like the way it looks in my cabinet.  Not all design has to be serious.  Many of the items I have are whimsical and shows off my quirky side.


The next few days in La Paz was an amazing time filled with fun and adventure, friends both old and new, and of course the main event… the perfect wedding to top it all off.

Top Left:  We went on a day excursion of whale watching and snorkeling with sea lions.  Yes, we dived in the water right next to these sea lions to snorkel as they swam around us!  Top Right:  This rock formation looks like a mask.  Bottom Left:  A relaxing day at the beach.  Bottom Right:  Twilight in La Paz.

Top Left:  We went on a day excursion of whale watching and snorkeling with sea lions.  Yes, we dived in the water right next to these sea lions to snorkel as they swam around us!  Top Right:  This rock formation looks like a mask.  Bottom Left:  A relaxing day at the beach.  Bottom Right:  Twilight in La Paz.

Left:    El Angel Azul   in La Paz... a really nice and homey place to stay and they have an amazing consignment shop where I bought so many things for myself... two dresses, three purses, and a bracelet, all for under $100!  Right:  The happy couple, Alma and Quan aka Qualma. 

Left:  El Angel Azul in La Paz... a really nice and homey place to stay and they have an amazing consignment shop where I bought so many things for myself... two dresses, three purses, and a bracelet, all for under $100!  Right:  The happy couple, Alma and Quan aka Qualma. 


A couple of days after the wedding it was time for Britta and I to head back to San Jose del Cabo where we would have a full day to do whatever we wanted before our plane left that evening.  Thankfully we were able to leave all of our luggage and belongings at the hotel across the street from the airport where we stayed the first night.  Then we took the bus into town like a couple of old pros to enjoy the day.  Of course I’m sure you can figure out what I was planning on doing.  I went straight back to those cute shops I saw a week earlier to get the items that had been on my mind all week.

Bottom Right:  Aztec calendar made of fish bone.  Top Right:  I'm not exactly sure what this metal piece is but I liked it to place above the peek-a-boo window in the kitchen.

Bottom Right:  Aztec calendar made of fish bone.  Top Right:  I'm not exactly sure what this metal piece is but I liked it to place above the peek-a-boo window in the kitchen.


After a day of speed shopping we hopped aboard our plane and headed for Mexico City where we would have a five hour lay over.  I didn’t mind much though because Britta told me about a store she wanted to go to at the airport named Pineda Covalin.  Come to find out these are famous Mexican designers best known for their beautiful scarves and much more.  I knew I would easily be able to fill some of our long lay over time with more shopping!  I bought this beautiful Day Of The Dead scarf that was displayed on the wall in the store.   As soon as I saw it I knew I had to have it to frame and hang in my apartment.

Pineda Covalin ,  Day Of The Dead silk scarf which I framed once I returned to New York.  Bottom Right:  Love how you can see the reflection of the skull in the entryway mirror.

Pineda CovalinDay Of The Dead silk scarf which I framed once I returned to New York.  Bottom Right:  Love how you can see the reflection of the skull in the entryway mirror.


The design lesson for you all to take away from this story is that a vacation is a great way and the perfect opportunity to find items for your interior.  And not just any old thing from your favorite home décor store (not that you can’t get great finds from there too) but rather items that will have a special meaning to you because they will trigger fond memories of your trip each and every time you look at them hanging on the wall or displayed on your shelves.  There’s a story behind almost everything I have in my home and I love it that way.   It makes my space 100% me.  And even if you work with an interior designer to decorate your home, that designer should at least be able to capture the essence of who you are and the things you love as well as showcase the items that have a special meaning to you. 

Left:  Some of the flowers from my Maid of Honor bouquet.  Right:  My place card from the wedding and a gift from Alma. 

Left:  Some of the flowers from my Maid of Honor bouquet.  Right:  My place card from the wedding and a gift from Alma. 


 This trip was an overall huge success in so many ways.  First and foremost seeing my best friend get married then of course scoring all of the cool items I found for my apartment along the way.  I think I can comfortably say and you’d probably agree that I truly made out like a bandit! 

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