Jack's House

There is much to recommend in the book "God and Mr. Gomez".  The book is based on a true story, and it is humorously and lovingly told.  The most fascinating thing for readers is the parallels the author draws between the Mexican and American temperaments.  Jack Smith wrote this book twenty six years ago, yet the important cultural differences have changed very little.  A highly-respected columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Jack and his wife found themselves becoming bewitched in Mexico, as they agreed to lease a plot of land in Baja California, and entrust the building of their retirement home to a charming, albeit exasperating gent by the name of Gomez.  Were the Smiths totally mad to try and build a house with their limited funds, on land that might not have actually belonged to Gomez, on property they could never own outright, in a country of many suspected hazards, all compounded by their extremely limited grasp of Spanish?

During the madcap construction process (which cost more than twice the original budget), the Smiths ran the gamut of emotions as they slowly came to either ignore, repress or forget much of what they had ever learned about the nature of logic. Especially logic, American-style.  But Mr. Gomez remained true to his Mexicanisrn.  It was the Smith's who changed, even to seeing God in a new light, as they came to appreciate, admire and even love the Mexican way of doing things. 

Smith soon realized that "Our visions and those of Gomez seemed opposed beyond reconciliation. Then later, "... it was the first of many decisions that seemed to be our own, but really belonged to Gomez."  Yet it was a slow and at times agonizing process. 

After the Smiths had carefully chosen their lot, they discovered that Gomez had abruptly changed their location, and was now constructing their house in the middle of a road. Why? Because, as Gomez pointed out, it had the more beautiful view. Dumbfounded, Smith could only gasp to his wife that the arrogance, of the man was astounding.  Still, halfway through the construction process, Smith realized that he had never liked or trusted a man more than he did Gomez. Yet the Mexican would remain mysterious and elusive.

The final result was that Gomez built them what he called a "mansion that will last for 500 years."   

I heartily recommend that you read this great book.

The only clues we had to locate Jack Smith's Baja home were extracted from the book "God and Mr. Gomez"...
  • It was South of Ensenada
  • It was West of Santo Tomas
  • It was located on the beach
  • Gomez was the owner of the property
  • The home had 2 arches


Please remember that for us......

"The focus is on the journey, not the destination. 

For us, the enjoyment is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it!"

The search begins......................................

We headed west out of Santo Tomas, on a dirt road, until we hit the Pacific Ocean.  

No homes were seen looking North or South.

On the beach bluff we decided to head South.

Beach bluffs were all that we found until......
We came across this deserted dirt landing strip.

Our guess is that it was an old remote landing strip for drug runners.

It appeared that the government has sabotaged the runway with mounds of dirt.

We travel south until we reached the end of the trail.

As we traveled North we had to cross the mouth of a river.

Hence the name of the area "La Bocana", which in Spanish means "Small Mouth"?

Sandy was unsure of the crossing.  The cable which she is holding onto was not secured, and swayed at least 2 to 3 feet as you hung on!

Apparently, Cal-Trans does not have the contract to maintain the roadways in this area!




But, I can sense that we are heading in the right direction!

Pay Dirt!

We locate a small market which had less than $200 in inventory!

I asked the gentleman behind the counter if he would know the location of Jack Smith's house or of a Mr. Gomez.

Much to our surprise, he states that he is Romulo Gomez!  This is the same name as the Gomez in the book.  I ask if he is the Gomez in "God and Mr. Gomez".

He stated "NO", that his father, the "Gomez" of the book, had died 8 years earlier.  

He is Gomez's oldest son, which is referenced in the book.

This is Sandy in front of the "Gomez" family market.

Now we have a hot lead......

We are told to "Head North 2 kilometers, to a home with 2 arches.  It will be the next to last house!"


This is the house of "God and Mr. Gomez"!  

In a house about 200 yards away, we found occupants of another home, which confirmed that we had located the correct home.

For you that do not enjoy the search, but want to directly go there, the coordinates are N 31'32.835, W 116'39.824.
The house did, indeed, have only two arches, as described in the book.  

It was much smaller than anticipated.  It had furnishings, but did not look as if it had been stayed in during the last year.

It's a Shame!

A beautiful spot to read a book.  

I would suggest this location to read "God and Mr. Gomez" or "Baja Feelings".

After  the visit to Jack Smith's home, we traveled North.  The road ended at the fishing village of Puerto Santo Tomas.

Roads End!  

The inflatable boat would be required to travel any farther North along the coast.

The boats in this picturesque bay confirm the fact that this is a fishing village.
People live in all types of dwellings.

My guess is that this trailer is from the forty's or fifty's.

Another view of the fishing village, which is located about 3 miles north of Jack Smith's home.  

Yes, the dirt trail down was very steep!

One last shot of Jack's place as we travel back to Estero Beach where the Bluebird was waiting.

When we got home we did a little additional research regarding the current ownership of Jack's house and found the attached:

Real Estate News

November 18, 1997

Baja home of late Times columnist on the market............

The 1,000 square-foot Baja home built in 1970 by the late Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith, his wife, Denny, and their friend, Romulo Gomez, has been placed on the market, furnished, for a modest asking price of $59,000. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home has been owned for the past nine years by two Santa Barbara couples. Co-owner Nancy Frasco says the home was placed on the market when the other couple decided to divorce. The home, located in the village of La Bocana near Puerto Santa Tomas, sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The house served as the subject of many of Smith's columns, as well as his 1974 book, "God and Mr. Gomez." Smith passed away in January 1996 at age 79.

Time to head on.....    Click on the "Next" button to complete this trip......

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