This blog was originally posted on Travelblog.org in March 2008, and has been viewed a whopping 1,539 times to date. As I explain in the blog, this was not my ideal journey – my free spirit was too bound by corporate obligations. But, I tasted enough to know that there are parts of Cabo I could wander to that would definitely fulfill my spirit…
Cabo San Lucas 2008
The entire family was bound for Cabo San Lucas to attend my husband’s company’s annual recognition conference. I have a love-hate relationship with business trips. Of course, I am ecstatic to see a part of the world on someone else’s dime, but I detest being bound by the strings of business obligations. We are “forced” to stay at the most corporate of hotels and there are various events to attend, which detracts from a fully free-spirited experience.
I got my first (and, hopefully, last) kooky comment from a stranger about this blog, which prompted me to add this…I have no doubt we would have had our usual fully positive travel experiences if I would have been completely in charge of planning. (I envision a small hacienda off the beaten path with a view of the sea and gracious locals sharing their culture with us in unique ways.) Alas, I was not in charge, so we got what we got. I write these blogs to record personal memories and help fellow wanderers. They are always honest….if I don’t like something, I say it. I am not a politician, so if you’re looking for politically correct, you won’t find it here…
I didn’t conduct my usual investigation for this trip because of the business slant. My quick Google search didn’t turn up much in the way of “undiscovered” or
The beach side of Riu Palace
“quiet”, however, there were lots of warnings to steer clear of the aggressive timeshare hawkers that bombard you as you step off the plane. As we were leaving the house to catch our plane, I learned just how much I have spoiled my husband. He showed up at the front door fully dressed with his suitcase in hand. When I asked him for our hotel info, I was met with a vacant stare…
The flight from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas couldn’t be easier…less than two hours after take-off, we landed, grabbed our bags, passed through immigration and customs, and ran smack into…who else? The timeshare folks. Even though I had been fairly warned, they camouflaged themselves as hotel shuttle operators. We hesitated…and, they snared us. We were offered a free ride to our hotel, which the man insisted was much safer than relying on the “taxi mafia” (his words, not mine) outside the front door. Having ridden in Tijuana taxis many times in my pre-drinking age days, we readily agreed. The offers kept coming – free breakfast the next morning at Cabo’s newest resort, a free glass bottom boat tour and a sunset whale watching cruise for all four of us, as well as half off all other activities we booked through him. We quickly informed him that we
The usually un-swimmable Riu beach…
already owned the same timeshare he was trying to sell us and were not interested in buying a duplicate. “Perfect!”, the salesman exuberantly declared. “You won’t have to sit through the 4-hour presentation! You can just show up, eat breakfast, and take a quick tour! You are so very lucky!” Since we were mildly interested in exchanging into this resort, this was starting to sound like a reasonable deal. Our son, Spencer, looked at us as if we had lost our minds. Stay tuned to see who was right…
Thankfully, en route to the airport, Lance managed to find out that we were staying at Riu Palace. We were dropped at the entrance by the timeshare shuttle with instructions on how to surreptitiously meet our representative the next morning far outside the hotel gates (ahem). We hopped out of the bus into the luxurious and eclectic lobby of the “palace”…part Egyptian, part plantation, part Mexican, all interesting.
We went in search of lunch while our room was being finished and ended up at a covered patio overlooking the pool and ocean where a huge buffet was crammed with every kind of food imaginable. I’m seeing big prices and tiny (very picky) appetites…two things that don’t mix well for me as I absolutely deplore waste. My head snapped around when I heard Lance mention a magical word…“all-inclusive.” Of course, he didn’t know for certain, so I went in search of someone who did. Sure enough…every snack, drink (even alcoholic ones), and meal (in every restaurant and through room service) was FREE! My first thought…woo hoo! Second…my
Stronger than they look…
waistline was going to pay.
Our room was very nice, although the sleeping arrangements were going to be interesting…two double beds pushed together and a tiny couch that didn’t fold out. Spencer and Sophie immediately started vying for the couch…until two miniscule bugs were seen crawling on the floor. The couch was no longer the preferred option and they both attempted to convince me that it would be very comfortable with all four of us on the double-double bed. Lance was going to be disgruntled when he came out of the bathroom.
The pool and ocean were beckoning, so we quickly changed into our suits and left our pretty room. Unfortunately, the ocean directly in front of the resort was not swimmable as indicated by the red flag posted at the edge of the sand. We quickly saw why…the waves were huge and literally slammed the shore. I envisioned kids being sucked out to sea. They still had a blast running from the waves, digging in the sand, and searching for shells. As Lance and I sat there watching them cavort around the beach like the littler kids they used to be, we looked up…WHALES! They were only about 30 feet offshore, swimming in the swells of the newly forming waves. What a treat! Looking the other way, we saw Cabo’s picturesque cove filled with two massive (not-so-beautiful) cruise ships, lots of smaller boats (some pulling parasailers), and jet skis. The massive rock formations encircling the sea were stunning…
Spencer & Sophie keeping a healthy distance…
After a brief schmooze at the beachfront bar with fellow corporate employees, we headed to dinner. It was yet another experience in gluttony…there seemed to be enough food to feed a small nation. Back in the room, the kids and I watched a comedic performance by Lance entitled “I Was Robbed!” (Loudly Subtitled: “Don’t Doubt Me!”). After I calmed my husband down, I threw logic at him…if he was truly robbed, why would our passports, cell phones, laptops, all of my money and $33 of his money still be here??? No, Honey, it does not make sense that a thief would leave those particular valuables as decoys. And, by the way, didn’t you just drop a wad at the airport for the timeshare deposit??? He pondered this, looked sheepish, and apologized to us (and the front desk clerk) and we resumed our vacation.
We did end up cramming into the two double beds, occasionally awakened by Spencer’s animated conversations and Sophie’s spasmodic elbows and knees. Even so, it was kind of fun…after all, we sure won’t be able to do this for much longer!
We followed our instructions to the ‘T’ and ran to meet our shuttle toCasa Dorada, Cabo’s newest timeshare project situated in the center of the cove. It was a sophisticated resort facing the statuesque guardian rocks. I was mildly concerned when the girl who checked us in didn’t mention
The (very “Macarena”-ish) Riu pool
that we were already owners and would be taken on the abbreviated tour. I became very concerned when a suave salesman swept us down to the beach and casually started the spiel. Lance and I were immediately transported back to Belize when Mally, the slick barefooted gay Irish man, sold us our Captain Morgan’s timeshare. We quickly got the picture. By this point, Spencer was dancing around us whispering “Suckers!” and “I TOLD you so!” Lance spent the next 15 minutes fighting to get our transportation deposit returned. An hour later, we were back at Riu Palace eating an incredible breakfast and returning to our real purpose for being in Cabo…relaxing (with mini bursts of work).
After raising my body temperature high enough, I actually got into the lukewarm pool for several minutes. The kids were stunned and now understood why we got FOUR towels instead of just THREE (such smart alecks…I taught them well. ) Lance left us to join some co-workers for some scuba instruction, which was especially perfect since we would be wandering to Belize next week and he had high hopes of diving the Blue Hole. While he was gone, the kids and I emulated pinballs and bounced from the beach to the pool to the dining area to our room to the 24 hour ice cream machine. The highlights of Spence’s day were dodging the huge waves, burying himself in the sand, and playing beach volleyball with some college kids (and holding his own quite well). Sophie was happy to suffer through some temporary discomfort to get corn rows in her hair, shriek at the waves, search for seashells, and help bury her brother. I oversaw all the fun while reading, soaking up the view, and politely dodging the incessant trinket peddlers working the sand.
Sophie having a moment
We had a very average dinner – with painfully slow service – in one of the hotel restaurants. Although we enjoyed spending some time with Lance’s co-workers during the hour-long wait for our meal, we made a pact that we would be sticking to the no-wait gluttonous buffets for all future dinners.
Lance and Spencer almost went on an ATV excursion. After a bumpy hour-long bus ride, Spencer was hit with some mysterious illness and they had to get right back on the bus for a bumpy hour-long ride back to the hotel. Lance was convinced he was at Death’s door since he had turned down manning his own ATV, something he has begged to do for years. I was fairly certain it was nothing more serious than a case of junk food overload.
While the boys were gone, Sophie and I explored up the beach. The landscape didn’t vary much…a long line of jam-packed resorts, more sunbathers (ranging in color from ghostly white to mocha brown to lobster red), peddlers galore, and occasional horses topped with weathered locals or barefooted tourists (my favorite part!). We embarked on a serious search for unique additions to Sophie’s expanding seashell collection.
After lunch, Spencer miraculously recovered. Diagnosis: ‘junkfooditis’ combined with ‘carsickitis’. Treatment: a 30 minute vegetative state, followed by a HEALTHY meal force fed by mom.
Lance and I decided we deserved some quiet time by the pool, sipping cappuccinos and reading. Unfortunately, the Riu Palace entertainment staff didn’t agree. The only reason I knew we were not on a cruise ship was because I was not hovering over the toilet wishing for death. Over the next hour, we were
A ride on a glass bottom boat…
subjected to the Macarena blaring over the pool speaker and an actual beer drinking contest (complete with one too many big bellied American men). Once again, I had to decline poolside dance lessons (“Meringue, samba???”). I was still recovering from watching overweight Americans waving their hands in the air while doing water aerobics in the pool to the beat of pulsating Mexican disco music (“Woot, woot!!!”).
Buffet dinner and motivational speaking courtesy of Lance’s company tonight. I put my corporate smile on…
Much to my chagrin, one of the servers at breakfast has donned Spencer “Muy guapo!” While I appreciate the compliment to my boy, she is many, many years older than him and she is most definitely flirting. No, I’m not being an overprotective overreactive mom…this is the same young woman who offered my 13 year old son a cerveza last night. Time for a little talk with Mr. Guapo…
Today we ventured outside our resort walls and hailed a water taxi to Cabo’s marina for a glass bottom boat ride. After walking – then running – from
one side of the huge marina over to the other forging through a jungle of local wildlife (peddlers and partiers) and authentic wildlife (a baby jaguar), we managed to find our tour company (although we barely believed them because several other companies had sworn that they were it…until they saw our purchased tickets). We hopped on a tiny boat with two tiny glass openings in the bottom and headed out to sea. It ended up to be more of a tour, than a marine life experience, but it was pretty cool to be up close to pelicans, Lover’s Beach, seals (albeit quite fragrant), Divorce Beach, and floating amongst the rock formations that form most southernmost tip of Baja California. I probably understood about 20% of what our guide had to say, but his good mood was infectious. I scoped out the perfect place for a potential future visit…a colorful little colony tucked away on the Pacific Ocean side of the point called Pedragal. It seemed to be a more peaceful haven, segregated from the spring break/cruise ship crowd.
After the boat tour, we had a delicious Mexican lunch in the marina at Los Deseos…a refreshing mojito for me, a blended margarita for Lance, and fruity virgin drinks for the kids, melted Mexican cheeses mixed with tequila (and fire!) in a volcanic rock bowl served with fresh corn tortillas, grilled butterfly shrimp, mole chicken, chicken fajitas, and plain chicken tacos (for picky Sophie). Too stuffed for dessert, we went in search of the sandy “road” home. Unfortunately, we had to meander through an Americanized mall before we ended up smack in the heart of Cabo’s packed beachside
Some day we’ll stay in Pedragal!
bars. All of us instantly gained a greater appreciation for our much quieter section of un-swimmable beach. We bought fresh mangoes on sticks – squirted with lime juice and sprinkled with chili powder – and decided that tomorrow Lance and the kids would try parasailing.
After breakfast, we headed for parasailing. The original plan was for Lance and Sophie to ride tandem and Spencer brave it by himself, however the size and weight of our dinky kids threw a glitch in this plan. Spencer was too small to keep the parasail in place, so it was decided that the kids would tandem together. They slowly climbed in elevation until they were just two small dots in the sky. Leave it to Mr. Guapo to test the limits…hanging backwards and swinging back and forth causing some serious maternal heart palpitations. The worst part…the “evil eye” does not work from such a long distance and he knew it. The boat driver brought them close to the shore, slowing down as their feet skimmed the water, then sped up sending them flying back into the sky. I didn’t have to see their smiles to know how massive they were. As soon as they got back down to the boat, the begging for more commenced. We were happy to acquiesce…
Kids in Heaven!
The remainder of our time at the resort was spent reading and swimming. In the afternoon, we headed home…thankfully, an easy journey. Definitely a benefit of Baja!
Overall, we liked – but didn’t love – our time in Cabo San Lucas. We’ve been spoiled by Belize’s lush vegetation, warm water, thinner crowds, laid back lifestyle, and less traumatized locals. I have no doubt I will plan a more free-spirited and authentic experience here some day…maybe in Pedregal, maybe somewhere even more remote…