Carrera de Todos Santos 2017

Palapa Society Carrera de Todos Santos, Baja, Mexicoby Kathy Wernert

Crunch! Crunch! Inhale. Crunch! Crunch! Exhale. That’s the sound of this year’s Carrera de Todos Santos, the 5K Palapa Society benefit walk/run through the streets of this magical town scheduled for Saturday, December 30th.

The roots for this year’s Carrera de Todos Santos were planted in 2009, when a group of Todos Santos’ locals wanted to stage a 5K run to promote fitness while creating a fun event for the community. A course was selected using the streets of the pueblo and businesses got involved to provide vital sponsorship resources. A race for younger children was also staged as part of the event. The initial race was such a success that it became an annual community event. Each year, racers came from throughout Baja, the mainland, and as far away as the US and Canada to run in the event.

A past runner, Lisa Welsch had this to say. “The Palapa Society’s Todos Santos 5K was fun. The course was challenging with some hills. Running through our beautiful pueblo and seeing the well-wishers along the way made my run so special. With some dirt roads and some paved, it wasn’t hard on the knees. It was well managed with water stations and guides along the way. I’ll do it again. It’s a wonderful cause.”

The race took a break after Hurricane Odile and the major street improvement project in the historical centro. With the community recovered and streets improved, the event was enlarged to include a 10K along with the 5K last year. Once again, local businesses provided much of the financial resources needed to stage a quality event. With their help, an investment was made in sophisticated “chip” timing equipment allowing the Palapa Society to provide accurate timing for each runner. “This is how the major running events do it,” commented Dennis Naigle, chair of the race and Palapa board member.

This year’s race returns to its traditional schedule of December 30th. “December weather in Todos Santos is usually perfect and with the crowds of visitors who flock to the pueblo magico for the holidays, as well as motivated locals, we anticipate a large turnout,” adds Naigle.

The focus this year will be on only a 5K race, using a popular course last run in 2013. The chip timing will be used again to track the runners and have multiple racer categories with trophies and medals for runners of all ages and experience levels.

Staging the Carrera de Todos Santos is truly a community event and couldn’t take place without the support of the Delegado, police force, local business community, a lot of volunteers, and the people of Todos Santos.

Celia Devault, a frequent runner in the 60-something category, crossed the finish line first in her category last year. “This 5k is a great community event that gets people out on the street to walk or run and have some fun. I am looking forward to it again this year.”

All proceeds go to the Palapa Society of Todos Santos whose mission is to provide educational opportunities in the Todos Santos greater area. The recent opening of the new Palapa Learning Center includes the new Palapa School, offering a SEP-certified curriculum to middle students, the bilingual community library recently named Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska, and the Bridge to English program providing English to over 200 students ages five to adult.

Early signup takes place Thursday, December 28, at the La Esquina Farmer’s Market, 9 am – 3 pm and on Friday, December 29, from 10 am to 2 pm in front of Cafélix. Or, entrants can register for the race in the Plaza from 7 – 8:30 am. on Saturday, December 30 to receive a race bib and timing chip. Entry fee is 200 pesos for adults and 150 pesos for students. Race time begins promptly at 9 am.

To register online, or for more information on the Carrera and the Palapa Society, visit:

The Palapa Learning Center Grand Opening


Elena Poniatowska

Elena Poniatowska

A Dream Becoming a Reality

by Kathy Warnert

November 9 – 11, 2017, marks an historic moment for the Palapa Society of Todos Santos. The Grand Opening for the completed three-building Palapa Learning Center (PLC) campus and a special Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Elena Poniatowska Community Library is the culmination of years of effort by and for many people in this magical community.


  • November 9 Conference and Q & A with Elena Poniatowska
  • November 10 Dinner with Elena Poniatowska
  • November 11 PLC Grand Opening and Library Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Please visit for details of each event.

The dream began taking shape in 2014, when local couple David and Cindy Higgins offered a gift to build, staff, and outfit a new school and create a new home for the Palapa’s existing programs. “The opening of the PLC marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the amazing story of the Palapa Society,” say the Higgins. “We are honored to be a part of that story. The PLC will provide an exceptional environment for the education of young and old alike in Todos Santos. Regarding the Palapa School, it gives us great satisfaction to know the school will create new opportunities for its students and will prepare them to lead meaningful, choice-filled lives.”

The Palapa School is situated on the southeast corner of the property and opened in August 2017 to 7th and 8th graders. An additional grade will be added each year through grade 12. According to Director Juan Diego Gonzalez, “Knowledge is the greatest adventure of the human being. It’s a joy to watch students walk in with smiles on their faces and head off to their classrooms. These are our future leaders. Annual cost per student is $2,400 USD. We are hoping to have donations for scholarships so no worthy student is turned away.”

The Bridge to English (Puente) building is the second structure on campus, located on the northwest part of the property, and opened in October 2017. It houses four spacious classrooms for the Puente program serving over 120 students and 60 adults acquiring English. An inviting children and teen library is also found in the Puente building. Donations of books and videos in English, and especially Spanish, are always welcome for this now larger space. Children’s art classes also take place in this building. Jayna Schweitzer, director of the Puente programs observes, “The new Puente building allows more children and adults the opportunity to learn English in a larger, more spacious setting. We are thrilled to be in our new permanent home!”

The Biblioteca Elena Poniatowska is the third building on campus and opens in November 2017. This bilingual community library houses over 9,000 books, videos and periodicals. The opening of this airy, light-filled library will mark its modernization with a scanning system. Head librarian, Donna Schultz says, “Though we are moving to digital checkout and tracking, we will continue to maintain the warm, friendly atmosphere the library brings to the community.”

The library will be formally named for literary legend, Elena Poniatowska, considered the Grande Dame of Mexican literature. Elena Poniatowska graciously accepted saying, “It is a great honor to have my name on the library of the Palapa Learning Center. It is a distinction that deeply honors me, and I welcome that it promotes and supports education in Mexico.” The entire community is encouraged to attend, meet, and honor this amazing woman during the opening.

Elena Poniatowska, of Mexican-French descent, began writing professionally at age 18. Her most famous book, La Noche de Tlatelolco (Massacre in Mexico) was published in 1971 and describes the 1968 murders of up to 300 college students and civilians in Mexico City. This book earned her the prestigious Villaurrutia Award, a prize given in Mexico to a Latin American writer published in Mexico.

In 2013, she was awarded Spain’s El Premio Cervantes, the highest literary award for lifetime achievement. Only the fourth woman to receive this honor, Elena is arguably the most significant living author in all of Mexico, if not the entire Spanish-speaking world.

Palapa President Erick Ochoa says, “Our dream is becoming a reality. We thank Dave and Cindy Higgins for envisioning and supporting this effort. Now that the Palapa Learning Center is up and running, it’s up to the Palapa Society and private donations to fund these programs and keep them moving forward.”

For more information about the grand opening events, to DONATE, volunteer, or enroll a student in the Palapa School, please visit or email: