Dean's List: Mexico: How we spent our fall vacation
We were in Mexico for about a week earlier this month, mostly soaking up the warm sunshine at poolside while sipping frozen margaritas, trying not to get too badly sunburned and making dinner plans.
Temperatures were near 90 in the daytime and in the 70s at night, cool enough for us to turn off the air conditioning and sleep with the sliders to the veranda open so we could hear the pounding surf.
We rose early enough to watch the spectacular sunrise from our veranda and in the evening observed equally beautiful sunsets.
It’s an indulgent lifestyle to which we quickly acclimated.
Our friend Gail Smith invited us last winter to join her at her place in Cabo San Lucas the following fall and, in the bleak depths of Schenectady winter, we couldn’t accept fast enough.
Cabo San Lucas — referred to by habitués as “Cabo” — is a resort community on the extreme southern end of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. You might have heard of its landmark El Arco de Cabo San Lucas, a dramatic rock formation where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific.
The place is noted for its beautiful palm trees and white sand beaches, its surfing and deep-sea fishing opportunities, its partying young people from the States and, if your timing is right, the occasional sight of a passing whale pod.
Beverly and I chose to view the trip as our belated honeymoon, having spent the actual first few days of our married life as evacuees from the Stockade neighborhood flooding. We packed as lightly as possible, taking mostly informal clothing like our bathing suits. There are several pools from which to choose at “our” resort, Pueblo Bonito at Sunset Beach. There is the sky pool with its breathtaking views of the ocean, and there’s our favorite, an “adult” pool, which doesn’t mean what I thought at first, but does mean that kids aren’t allowed and, therefore, it’s very quiet and civilized with its swim-up bar and its steamy hot tub and whirlpool.
The resort is a few miles outside of the town, and it’s self-sufficient as far as tourists are concerned. You don’t have to go into town at all if you don’t wish to.
There’s even a little church in the middle of the resort — smack between the spa and the jeweler’s — and on Sunday mornings a priest comes to say Mass. We attended the service, which was packed with tourists, and found the clergyman to be a charming guy who led us in singing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
We did go to town twice, once with our host and once on our own when we left the main streets and wandered through the bazaar-like back streets to drink in a little of the local color.
One of the more interesting areas for tourists is along the wharf where fishing excursion vessels and glass-bottom tour boats tie up alongside sleek yachts. After lunch right on the beach at a restaurant called “the Office,” and a few hours wandering in the warm sun, we decided to hire a boat for a trip out to El Arco. We negotiated with a young man who agreed to take us out to sea and then drop us on a nearby hotel beach for $25 plus tip. He had to charge at least that, he explained, because his wife was expecting and he needed money. The woman in question, who looked very young and very pregnant, came aboard for the ride, and we asked when the baby was due.
“December,” the father said. We asked when in December, and he answered, “the finish.”
We enjoyed the boat ride over the Sea of Cortez — the water between Baja and the Mexican mainland — saw lots of pelicans and indigenous fish, the “smelly” seals, as Gail calls them, and the great stone arch that appears on so many postcards from Cabo. At one point, our captain brought the boat close to shore and two Mexicans came aboard.
On the way to the hotel, the captain cranked up the radio, which was playing American pop music and, for a short time, we got lost in the music. I remember, though, wondering exactly how we were going to get from the boat to the beach because there are no docks on the stretch of sand where we were headed. I learned soon enough.
The boat nosed into the surf and one of the Mexicans guided Gail over the side and into the water.
Moments later, another Mexican yelled to Beverly, “Jump NOW, mama!”
She leapt into the surf as the boat lurched upward, and one of the guys helpfully kept her upright in the waves.
I was next, and I hesitated for a moment, waiting for my cue. I never got one, just a vigorous shove over the side and into the drink. Once we were on dry land and it was clear everyone was just fine, we broke into laughter.
We told the story with the “Jump NOW, mama” punchline so many times later that Gail finally reminded us that we hadn’t exactly dodged bullets on the beaches of Normandy. “You just jumped into a few feet of water and walked to shore.”
Perhaps, but it’s too good a story to let the facts get in the way. We’ll continue telling it. Just not within earshot of Gail.
Irv Dean is the Gazette's city editor. Reach him by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.