OUR THANKSGIVING ON MEXICO’S BAJA PENINSULA
We passed on turkey this year in favor of margaritas and some much needed sun. We started our trip in one of Cabo’s largest all-inclusive resorts, which turned out to be quite a revelation. EVERYTHING is included--bring on the pina coladas--and free entertainment for the kiddies! Willow loved dancing on stage with the other tots and eating pretty much whenever (and whatever) she wanted. But after two days, the adults were feeling a little over-indulged. A bit like a weekend in Vegas--2 days is plenty. Before we left, we took a ride in a glass bottom ponga to Los Arcos and Land’s End, which includes two beautiful beaches, one mostly calm on the Sea of Cortez side and one very rough on the Pacific side. After that, we headed north to La Paz along Mexico 19, Baja Sur’s major highway renovation project. Unlike in the U.S where road construction is done in bite-sized chunks to keep inconvenience and dust to a minimum, Mexico seemed to take a whole enchilada approach. The old 19 was torn down and reduced to a dirt road for miles and miles. We stopped in the small town of El Pescadero to search for Jen’s grade school friend, Becky and her family. Not surprisingly it didn’t take us long to get directions to her place. We just asked the first two gringos we saw, one of whom was at a very cute little seaside hotel with a fantastic restaurant--Rancho Pescaderos. We ended up stopping there for a lunch of fish tacos, ceviche and a “burger-cheese” for Willow. After leaving a note for Becky (unfortunately, we missed them), we got back on the road to try to make La Paz before dark; that’s when the cows like to move onto the road to capture the last heat of the day and we were told that’s also when the borrachos are more likely to be out. In La Paz, we met up with the folks from Seascape Charters (Aurelian and Mike) who got us situated on our charter boat and helped us provision. The weather in La Paz was quite windy that evening. None of us slept well with the boat rocking and rolling and creaking against the dock. In the morning, Aurelian told us that the weather forecasters and the fishermen were predicting high winds and rough seas, not the sort of weather that you go out in unless you need to fish for a living or you’ve made a non-refundable payment on a charter. We decided that spending the last few days of our vacation rolling around in the Sea of Cortez was not ideal and made plans to come back in April. Instead, the next day we headed for a local beach Playa Balendro--one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen; and we’ve seen some pretty good ones. Unfortunately, the wind made us feel a bit sand-blasted. Willow solved the problem by putting on her obi wan kenobe outfit. After Balendro, we parked ourselves at small Hotel El Moro at the end of La Paz’s malecon and cooked up some of our charter provisions--oddly the burgers we bought turned purple when cooked, not even Willow wanted to eat them. After dinner we took a walk along the Malecon and bought Willow a blow-up caballito with shaker balls for wheels that spent the drive back to Cabo rattling our nerves. She loved it, of course and insisted on pulling it along for the rest of our walk. The next morning we got an early start for a Rancho La Venta off of Highway 1 that Aurelian’s travel agent wife suggested would be a fun stop for Willow because of all the animals. It turned out it was run by two former Cordova, AK residents with some interesting stories about the the late 70s drug trade, drug addiction, embezzlement and corruption in the travel business that included some dirt on a local TV anchor’s husband. We had a lunch of fresh bread, canned copper river smoked salmon, salmon roe, pickles, carrots, dates and their own mango wine, which actually wasn’t half bad. Then, we pushed on for Los Cabos. We arrived at the Hilton in plenty of time to head down to the pool and the enormous hot tub. The accommodations, including our ocean view room, were far superior to the Riu, but we were back in the land of $7 poolside apple juice. For our last night, we got a babysitter and went in to San Jose Del Cabo for an excellent dinner of ahi, gazpacho, butterfish and whole red snapper in La Ponga’s courtyard. The next morning, we got up and made the most of our remaining hours in Mexico by relaxing in ocean view loungers by the pool, playing on the beach (also far superior to Riu’s) and in the waves, swimming in the somewhat chilly pool and warming up in the hot tub. Fantastico!