CSU alum Jennifer Thompson knew she wanted to study abroad while getting her undergraduate degree in agriculture business, but it had to be close by since she had two children at home. When Thompson saw the program at CSU Todos Santos Center, she knew it was the one for her, but she didn’t know how much it would a ect her future.
“I wanted a good education that would go towards my degree. But I also wanted to meet new people, try new food, and share agriculture information with people,” said Thompson. “When I heard about the one-week program in Todos Santos, it was perfect for me. It was the perfect location, length, and price. And I wasn’t going to be away from my family for a long time.”
Not only did Thompson learn a lot during her program, she acquired a new love of seafood. One day she went with a group down to the beach at Punta Lobos and they bought sh right from the shermen. At the Center, they learned how to make ceviche from the seafood and Thompson was blown away by how much she loved it. Despite growing up in Florida and living in Italy, Jennifer had never liked sh, but she loved how fresh it was in Todos Santos.
After returning from her one- week program in Todos Santos, Thompson convinced her husband to go on vacation there for the summer. Once they were in Todos Santos though, it became clear that they wanted more than a vacation. Instead of returning to the U.S., they decided to stay for a year and enrolled their children in a local school.
“You learn a lot about yourself when you are living in a developing country,” said Thompson. “You learn how far you can push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I really tried to get immersed in the culture and language. Mexico, for us, wasn’t just a vacation – we were actually living, working, and schooling there.”
While in Todos Santos, Thompson and her family participated in both daily life and special occasions like Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Christmas. She continued to enjoy the fresh seafood and learned how to prepare it with cooking classes. Throughout the year, she learned how to make dishes with sh, mole, a type of hibiscus tea called Jamaica, and tamales among other dishes.
“Mexicans love their families and friends and gathering in groups to enjoy each other’s company. This is celebration – music, food, laughter, conversation. This is how Mexicans show their love through food,” said Thompson. “The people in Mexico take pride in fresh delicious food, and take their time preparing it. It’s tied to culture and traditions. Food is made by love.”
Eventually, the COVID-19 pandemic and other life decisions prompted Thompson and her family to return to Colorado in June 2020. But Todos Santos will always be in her heart.
“You can’t nd any place like Todos Santos – and I’ve lived many years in di erent countries with a lot of travel,” said Thompson. “But there’s no place like the Baja. It’s unique and special. Todos Santos is a mind-blowing experience.”
Show your love for our Todos Santos Ramily
Thompson explored how much she connected to the food she learned to cook in Todos Santos and how she sees food as a way to nurture her daughters. As she says, “I show my love through the food I make, [with] the ingredients, the organic quality, and the time I spend to put love and heart and soul into preparing the food.”
Likewise, our Ramily in Todos Santos, Mexico, continue to show their love through food, even while this pandemic continues on. Many of our Ramily are missing the CSU students and staff who used to visit the Center regularly. Our Todos Santos Center staff have continued working and showing up while under similar uncertainty and upheaval we all experienced this year. To show our appreciation and love for our friends in Mexico during this tough time, please consider donating to support those who have been a ected by the pandemic.