Trip to Los Cabos, Mexico (8/1/03)
It was a whirlwind trip summed up by the word 'duh'.
On Tuesday I was at my friends Scott and Katrina Rainey's house. They mentioned they had a chance to get a penthouse suite on the beach at Los Cabos. In answer to their question if I thought they should jump on the opportunity came the first duh of a long series. The next day Scott called to say they were going and that, by the way, there's an extra bedroom, would I like to go to? Duh...
But, of course there are details to work out: short notice plane ticket, time off work, replacement to run sound at church, and deciding if the cost was worth a short trip. Obstacle number one was easy, as Jeff from my church called to say he could get a soundman to replace me. Number two, took a lot more work, after enough whining and some wheeling and dealing, Bill, my boss, said I could take 4 days off, which would give me 6 days between traveling and Cabo. Lastly, after several ups and downs, I finally found a last minute ticket at a do-able price. As an added bonus, there was a 4 hour layover in SanDiego, home of my lovely friend Patti (Patricia to her friends).
So with much fear and trepidation at spending money I shouldn't and running off to a foreign country completely unprepared, I bought the ticket Thursday afternoon for a very early Friday morning flight. I fired off a quick e-mail to Patti and started packing (after work, of course).
4 am Friday came too soon. My roommate Trevor works at the airport so he'd give me a ride on the way in, a little early for my flight, but then I'd get to see Scott and Katrina at the airport before their flight left (We'd yet to make plans on when and where to meet up in Mexico due to my late decision, so this little time was important). I'd yet to hear back from Patti at midnight, but just for the heck of it, I decided to check one more time before leaving the house and sure enough, a note from her. No time to read it, a quick scan for the important parts, write down the cell phone number, and off to the airport before I made Trevor really late for work.
At the airport, after the Rainey's plane left, I headed for my gate where I was "randomly" selected for an extra search at security. And what to my surprise but the 'searcher' is Jacob, an old friend of mine from WPC (an ex-work study in my department). After a pat down (that forever changes our relationship) and search of my luggage, I'm off to the plane.
Flying out over Portland, we headed east over the Gorge and then south over Bend and the Cascade mountains. All the way I'm looking down and picking out all the spots I have memories with - hundred's of miles from the last few years. There's where we camped last weekend, the lake I swam in last fall, the roads I motorcycled last summer. Finally I quite looking and went to reading my book: Blue Like Jazz. It was written by Don Miller, a guy at my church who used to live in the house I now live in. He's writing about people I know, places I go, the house I live in now and some of my roommates. He also has many spiritual ideas that I identify with. All in all, the trip thus far had been very 'connected' for me. And I haven't even left the state yet...
Upon arriving at the gate in SanDiego, I was finally allowed to call Patti. A short while later, here she comes in her little "white hawk". On driving out of the airport I start telling her all the crazy story you've endured thus far until eventually she finally pulls over, waits for a break in my rambling, and asks where we're going and how long I have. Cabrillo, of course, where she works as a park ranger/educator.
Cabrillo is a fabulous over look of, well, everything, and it's an unusually clear, beautiful day. At her work I met Jeff the skeptical trash can protector, the vacation guy, the new lady, Ted the savage poet, and a number of others, and the formerly headless conquistador, his sword, and the record vinyl weapon? (actually, I forget what the last one here is, but it's what I have in my notes, so maybe Patti will jog my memory about what it is). On route to various vistas, we searched for the elusive lemonade berry. Eventually she found an old dried up one and taste tested it and somehow I escaped having to try it myself. After some more cool views and sites, we wrapped it up and rushed back to the airport. As always, a fun, entertaining and educational time with Patti, but stupid me, I didn't snap a single picture there. I haven't even left the states yet, and I already feel like I've had a full vacation.
A nice flight to Los Cabos airport, a quick check through customs, and there are the smiling faces of the Rainey's and off we go in our little Jetta. A quick note about Los Cabos: Los Cabos is the term for the southern tip of Baja California, Mexico. San Jose del Cabo is on the east side and Cabo San Lucas is on the west side. The majority of the area between the two (about 30 kilometers) is resorts. Our resort was on the west end of San Jose del Cabo. Six floors (out of six floors total) up a good looking, but extremely scary feeling elevator (a week long adventure every time we came or went) was our palatial abode.
My room had a bed that was considerably wider than it was long. We had a fully utensiled kitchen, a living room, dining room, and balcony with a large BBQ and patio table and chairs.
But wait, there's more, up a spiral staircase and out onto the roof was another large, private patio complete with another BBQ, chase lounges, sink and large hot tub. Oh, and the view. Directly below us, the X shaped pool with bridges and a bar in it, no kidding, submerged bar stools and all.
The open air restaurant (Mama Mia's) on the beach provided dinner the first night. Nice to have your toes in the sand while eating a BBQ dinner and listening to live
reggae music. Despite a waiter that either took a very quick disliking to us or possibly just couldn't keep his attention off the cute teenage girls at the next table over, dinner was delicious and the environment was unbelievable. After the sun went down the dancing started.
My one complaint about the trip was that this place was for the newly wed and nearly dead (and the middle aged couples with kids). No one to dance with... Eventually I left dinner and got some pool and hot tub time in before heading to bed early. What a first day...
The pool has four branches in it, one has the bar, one has a volleyball net, one a kids play area, and one a very shallow area perfect depth for laying down in with a slightly shallower ledge to rest your head on. It is absolutely perfect for star gazing. The 80 degree water is perfect temp to walk right in, but still feel refreshed.
A short novel written already and I haven't even mentioned the beach yet - the water is killer shades of blue, the waves are large, pounding shore breakers, the sky is perfect, the sea breeze feels and smells like heaven itself. From the grass lawn of the resort, the beach is flat for about 20 yards and then slopes down to the water. 10 yards out on the beach is a rope separating the public beach from the resort's private property. The vendors selling jewelry and serapes gather just on the public side of the rope. Just down the beach are the horses for beach rides. Looking further east on this south facing beach, several hills protrude out several miles down. To the west a mile or two down the beach the break moves off shore and the surfers congregate for a fairly long point break ride. Further down is a rocky point and then a few hills protrude out and somewhere behind that is Cabo San Lucas. While writing about the beach, an ultra light flew by close in, banked sharply and landed on the beach in front of me. You can rent just about anything around here.
So, Saturday, an early rising led me to the roof to read for a while watching the slightly post sunrise over the hills behind the hotel. I was really hoping it would pop up over the hills over the water, but apparently this hotel must be slightly westward in it's south facing. Some seagulls and frigates are flying around and the fish (actually, it kind of looks like the sting rays) are jumping, but the only people are a few hotel staff moving in the courtyard below.
After Scott and Katrina were up, we went down to Mama Mia's for breakfast on the beach. Huevos Rancheros... Mexicans certainly know how to do breakfast right. We had the same "doesn't like us" waiter as the night before. Katrina says he creeps her out, I think he just doesn't like tourists unless they're wearing a short skirt.
After breakfast we went to the grocery store to load up on food and get one each of every local beer for Scott and I. Eating out could get real expensive as Los Cabo's prices are more like Hawaii than the rest of Mexico.
Next was the drive over to Cabo San Lucas about 30 km away. The barren desert on one side of the highway, the blue ocean with occasional patches of unreal colors on the other make it a beautiful drive.
Cabo San Lucas is a cool little town, like a nice version of Tijuana on a marina. We drove through to the marina and saw a nice little beach so we stopped, put on our swimsuits and took an afternoon dip. The water was calm and warm, probably in the high 70's. We shortly found that the small beach connected to a larger beach by swimming around a building that hung out over the water. Amazingly both beaches were all locals, not a gringo in sight. It was Kat's first time in the ocean so it was fun to watch her nervous excitement and her experience of salt water buoyancy for the first time. Occasionally a 1 ft boat wake would roll in and she wanted to try body surfing, sorry Kat, that's not quite enough wave. Going further down the beach would have led out around a rocky point and eventually over to the Pacific side. I would have liked to swim out that way a bit, but none of the locals were doing it, so I wondered if there might be a reason for that and I refrained.
Back to Cabo for some shopping in fairly deserted streets and then to Hardrock for a late lunch. Upon returning to our resort, Scott and Kat went for a nap while I went for a swim and a walk down the beach. The waves had grown to 8-10 faces in the sets but were still almost shore breaking and exploded on the beach after standing up and showing a dark teal wall - quite a show. Mostly locals on the beach. There were lots of resorts to the east of ours, but a large number were burned out, broken down, unfinished, or simply lots ready to develop - very strange.
Returning home I found Kat and Scott still napping after hours. When they did wake up we all adjourned to the roof to relax and take in the stars. End of day 2.
Sunday was simply a relaxation day. All watches and other time keeping devices had been lost or forgotten by now. I took the car to go explore San Jose del Cabo. Pretty laid back town, some shopping and a central plaza and church where the city started.
After a brief look around the city, I went on to the estuary where the river hits the sea and creates a large marshland. I walked the beach until I hit the river where the land came to a point creating very nice shape to the already large waves. Lots of surfers, so I watched for a while.
Then back in the car to continue on to something playita, a very small dirt road, fishing village. The beach was littered with small wooden boats and shore fishermen.
I returned to the resort to cook up a good breakfast and then up to the roof for dining, reading and writing. I had found my favorite spot was on the ledge running around the roof. The hot tub on one side to drop a leg in and straight down to the courtyard below on the other and a spectactular view of the beach and coast in both directions.
Later a swim and my first trip to the pool bar. The bartender was very friendly and seemed to know everyone there. I finally met the few single people there, but they were all heading back to the US within an hour. I also met a family from Puyallup.
Then another walk on the beach to the west this time. At the end of how far I could make it on the beach there was another nice surf spot, so I watched for a bit more.
Then back to the resort for a BBQ with the Rainey's on our balcony. After some more pool time, of course.
After dinner I couldn't talk anyone in too joining me, so off to Cabo Sab Lucas solo. The streets were starting to come alive and the air was still quite warm. During the night the town looks a lot less like TJ and more like a party town. There are some cool nightlife walkways around the marina with some cool architecture, and lots of restaurants and clubs spilling out onto every sidewalk.
Cabo Wabo is said to be the place to be. It is VanHalen's club, very cool with probably the best sound system I've ever heard. I was very surprised to find it nearly deserted, but then noticed it was 9pm on a Sunday night. I walked around the city some more and came back at 10 for the live music. Just a cover band, but they were pretty good, the club was slowly picking up steam, but I'll bet it's better on different nights and perhaps later. I left around 11:30 and headed back to the resort for bed. End of day 3.
Monday we set off to Cabo San Lucas in search of wave runners and scuba diving. I'm never disappointed going to the local dive shop. As always, the girl running the shop was extremely friendly and helpful with everything. She's from Portland taking a year off to learn the language better and play. She signed me up for a dive the next day, so we ran off to rent waverunner's.
Dive shop girl (I can't remember her name anymore) told me everything is expensive here, no kidding, everyplace was $45 per half hour for wave runners. Ouch! Kayaks were cheaper, but the sea was pretty rough for beginners. We ended up just taking a walk down the main Cabo beaches. Scott and Cat stopped at a large beach club for rest and drinks while I walked o and attempted to get the photos to later assemble a panoramic shot 360 degrees around. Then back to the car and the resort. Not quite the day I had been hoping for, but scenery like this makes any day a good day...
We cooked up a nice spaghetti dinner, then down to the pool, then back up to our patio hottub for good conversation in a beautiful place with my first cigar ever... it was a Cuban, of course. End of day 4.
Tuesday started bright and early... scuba day!!! Scott dropped me off in Cabo San Lucas and off I went. I got to the dive shop early and talked to what's her name for a while and picked out my rental gear. Rental gear sucks as always... No computer, not even a compass, hope I don't get separated from the divemaster. The others started arriving, a French guy and his son, dad's diving, son's snorkeling, a senior from UC Berkley who says she hasn't been in the water since her orientation dives a few years ago so she's nervous, and a mom and daughter and daughter's boyfriend, mom's diving, kids are snorkeling. The mom is paired up with me as dive buddies. Talking to her it turns out she lives in Salmon Creek, 20 minutes from where I live and was certified at the same dive shop I was shortly after me. The dive boat was little more than a small water taxi. 5 minute ride and we arrived at Pelican Rock to dive among many other boats occasionally bumping into one.
The divers got in the water and descended to 20'. Lots of fish life of every shape and color, but very little plant life. 5 minutes into the dive, headed down a steep slope passing 40', the divemaster stops and points. I'm looking for what he's pointing at when a 6-8' white tip reef shark slowly comes into view 30' away. We all stared for a while, I was excited by seeing it but was happy with it keeping it's distance, which it did. We continued on down the slope to a wall and descended to around 70' on the wall. Still lots of fish around. My buddy had a problem and was signing to the dive master for a minute. We finally continued so I signed "what's up?". She successfully communicated back that a jelly fish tentacle wrapped around her mask and stung her. On the way back up we came to the sand falls. The sand on the steep slope, if disturbed at all, flows down the slope and off the rocks into a cascade like reverse waterfall thing. Beautiful. On the way back up we had another encounter with the shark, although I thought it was a bigger one, probably because it was only about 10' away from me this time. My heart pounding sounded louder than a boat going overhead... Before reaching the boat I hit some jellyfish tentacles on my wrists and ankles. It feels like a whole bunch of bees stinging you in a nice neat row all at once, not pleasant. By the end, everyone, including the snorkelers, had been stung. The divemaster did a lap around the boat with a bottle of vinegar to ease the stings.
The dive shop had given me a 3mm full suit, though I had been hoping the water would be warm enough for a spring or no suit. I froze myself half to death even with the full suit as water temp at 60' was probably mid 60's. For Cabo, conditions were pretty bad, but compared to the Puget Sound where I normally dive, I was pretty happy.
The second dive was pretty uneventful, just lots more of the same stuff for the most part. The one highlight was my buddy pointing out a 4' Morey eel swimming in open water near us. I pursued it and was about 5' from it when it gave me a look I didn't like and let it continue on it's own. More freezing, but no more jellyfish, and crossing a thermocline into warm water on a slow ascent was such a great feeling, it almost made the freezing worth it. To finish it off we did our final ascent on the wrong boat anchor line and gave a group of snorkelers a little surprise.
After saying good byes to the divers, I headed out to shop a little while I waited to meet up with Scott and Kat. After we met up, we shopped a little more, outrageous prices, and then I thought they should see what I saw, so we hired a boat to take us out to Pelican rock and tour us around a bit. I found out enroot, they had already done the same thing that morning, but it turned out for the best as we had a crazy (perhaps suicidal or maybe just really good) boat driver who took us to places neither of us had been that morning. The water was getting pretty rough and I was hoping he new how far he could push the little boat into some small nooks. He did. He gave us a beautiful ride past La Ventana al Pacifico, a cave running through the rocky point where you can sea out from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific on the other side of the point. Lovers beach, a nice beach, accessible only by boat that runs through the cape and has another beach on the Pacific side that is a lot rougher, known as divorce beach. El Arco, a large rock arch at the tip of the point. Land's end, just past El Arco where the Sea of Cortez and he Pacific meet. And several rocks shaped like people or animals.
Back at Pelican Rock, another tour boat threw some food into the water and the tropical fish flocked. A guy in another boat put a snorkel mask on and stuck his face into the mobbing fish, he was having way too much fun.
Back to the resort... A little pool time and then a decision about dinner, let's find some little restaurant on the beach. After a walk on the beach with no luck finding a place, we walked through a resort and found on the other side the Rusty Putter bar and grill. We're hungry, let's eat. What a great place... great atmosphere, although nearly empty, great view, best service we've had yet, nice waiters, good food, and even a friendly little cat roaming around at our feet.
After dinner more pool time, and, surprise, it's fiesta night. We showed up just in time for the after dinner show with Native American and Mexican dancing in traditional garb. Piņatas for the kids, and some dance contests for the resort guests hosted by the bartender who was very funny. He was offering tequila shots to the people getting ready to dance, one girl was already so liquored, the mc offered the shot to the girl's embarrassed husband in the back. Finally the dancing was opened up to everyone and free tequila. It's not a trip to Mexico without at least one shot...
Back to the pool where Scott and I talked to some SanPedro people (near where he and I grew up, and we had several common friends in SanPedro). Scott and I had one last hang out in the patio hot tub with beers, cigars, and good conversation and that ended my last day in Los Cabos. The next morning I had my last breakfast on the roof and jumped on a plane back to reality.
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