by The Underground Milkmaid
When I asked Ruth how she would describe herself, without hesitation the free association response that flowed out of her was, “sophisticated, funny lady who loves life. Family is key, talented, creative, material things don’t matter to me, old hippie at heart”.
Sitting with Ruth in the home she has created, one can’t help but understand all that to be true. Ruth is definitely a woman who knows who she is and how she likes things. Her home is so comfortable and I was impressed by what she has accomplished in such a small space…only 700 square feet.
How long have you lived up here in La Poza?
Well, I bought the property 14 years ago, but have lived here full time for only the past 4 ½ years. When I first saw this property, I knew right away it was going to be mine, not even knowing how I was going to pay for it! There was nobody in La Poza 14 years ago. At that time very few homes were being built but La Poza was slated to be more “exclusive”, so I took my time trying to figure out how to build something tasteful and rich looking without spending a lot of money.
You certainly have accomplished that. So you did it all in stages?
Like a lot of people, I didn’t have a “master plan” and built it poco a poco, building the palapa first as was customary at that time. I wanted to spend more time here for vacations, and as there was no bathroom, built it next…put a bed in it, some solar for a little power, and a water heater. My nephew and a few of his friends came down to be with me for a little bit, and we started pacing out where to put the house. I must have made 3 trips within 2 years while trying to figure out the next step. It took 1,000’s of hours…years to figure it all out! I designed my home to blend into its surroundings. I didn’t want it to be that visible or obvious.
Did you have any inspiration to guide you?
I consumed books and magazines. It gets pretty cold and windy up here, and I was inspired by the South American wood panelled doors I’ve seen with glass half way up. You can see how they inspired the way I did my exterior walls.
After all that time, you only just moved into your home 4 ½ years ago. Why did it take so long?
Well, I spent my life working very hard, and I finally retired! For the previous 17 years I worked for Lockheed, Martin & Boeing as a Systems Analyst in Organization Development with the Department of Energy in their efforts towards nuclear clean-up. I started working in 1969 as the Production Manager for a merchandising company in San Franciso doing promotions for insurance companies and gas companies. I later married and was Business Manager of my husband’s engineering firm.
My goodness….what a gigantic leap you took from that world to this one! How did you come to Todos Santos?
I’d been coming to Baja for 22 years. I came to Todos Santos with a boyfriend the first time 17 years ago, and returned two years later on my own….and bought my property. I wanted warmth and an ocean and loved Todos Santos. On a single income, I knew I couldn’t afford this kind of climate, plus an ocean, in California or Florida.
And now…what keeps you here?
Pretty much the same things. It was an economic decision…along with the beauty and serenity. And let’s face it…I have a panoramic view to die for!
I’ll say! Is there anything you do to integrate into the local community?
I work with Manos Magicas…it’s a local women’s cooperative. We are teaching them skills and affording them learning opportunities to make an income.
Oh yes….that’s a wonderful group and they make beautiful things! I’ve bought a couple of fabulous tote bags and had drapery panels made by them. Very professional! Are there other activities you’re into?
I’m a Scrabble Lady! Our group plays Scrabble at Cerritos Beach every Sunday. It’s been 40 years since I’ve painted, and I recently started up again. I graduated college with an Art Degree in and promised myself I would not become a struggling artist, waiting until later on in life to paint. And that’s now! I also travel a lot. In the past 9 months I’ve been to Spain and Guatemala, and I just returned from France….oh and throw in trips to the US, of course, too.
Wow! You get around! Do you find it easy to travel from here?
Yes..you can leave your car at the airport in La Paz or Cabo. I should probably spend more time enjoying those places, too, because when I am there, I am always so focused on “attacking” my shopping list.
Tell me, Ruth, how might you define Baja style and how have you adopted it?
Oh my…living here has totally impacted my style. The original Baja style was a palapa roof and woven palo d’arco walls, with “barra”, a mud mixture…like a campy fishing village. Things are changing here, though…a lot more “modern rustico.” I’m currently converting my original palapa into a casita in that old ranchero style.
And the Baja influence on the way you dress?
I am much more casual….I don’t even have a real closet! It’s more just a place to put the clothes I have. I don’t need much. Probably 75% of my clothes I don’t wear and can get rid of.
So….in spite of no closet…..what does your home here provide you that you never had before?
I have a home for the first time! I never really owned a house before. I did have a barn and acreage in Eastern Washington State, but I don’t think of that as a home. I love being able to put my personal stamp on what’s around me….the design, and the gardens. And there are all the resources here in town to get whatever you need done.
What stands out the most to you, as far as something important you’ve learned from your experience living here?
Patience. I’m a perfectionist and have had to learn to accept the culture as it is….what it’s capable of and knowing its limitations. It’s a small price to pay for everything else. It’s a community, not just home. We are not so busy that we don’t have time for each other.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could?
My floor. I got the bottom of the barrel when it came to saltillo tiles. Never again….they are a maintenance nightmare. In hindsight, I would have preferred pulido. I should have taken more time making decisions.
Is there something you would like to see more of here?
A real super market like Soriana’s… it would be great to have that without the driving and inconvenience. Where can you buy a hairdryer? Or ice cube trays?
I hear you…. true, you do have hunt and peck through all the barrios to find things in different places. How’s your Spanish?
I still struggle, but get by. I learn a lot by watching Mexican TV and inter-action with the people of Todos Santos. I have found that effective but should probably consider taking a class.
What advice would you give to help new people coming to town?
Get involved! Find a worthy cause…that’s how you meet people.
Do you plan on becoming a Mexican citizen?
I understand it might be getting easier to become one..and I know the benefits are worth it….so yes.
No. I think the choices I’ve made have had things turn out just fine.
What brings you the most joy being here?
Just being. Being with friends, gardening, and the sunsets. Also knowing that everything you see here is a manifestation of many dreams.
Amen to that….Thank you…this was so much fun and it’s inspiring to be in your presence….someone who is truly living an authentic life.
Editor’s Note: You can reach Ruth Asercion by email,
and to learn more about Manos Magicas contact: