Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Cabo San Lucas
The tip of Baja includes San Jose de Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, here lives the largest collection of ex-pats anywhere in the world. For an Oregonian it is quite pleasurable to sit on the beach at 8:00PM, with toes in the sand at The Sand Bar, in a short sleeve shirt in December. The food was wonderful, though expensive at tourist stops. Snorkeling in Santa Maria bay was amazing in the warm water; so many fish. There is quite a disperity between the incomes of Americans and Mexicans, where the tourist dependent Mexican earns somewhere between $5 USD and $11 USD per day. However, there doesn't appear to be any major envy. It seems the goal of many Mexicans is to move to the US and make American money.
In some ways Mexico appears to be very Old World. The pace is slower and there is a respect or politness, much like we see in our stereotypical mafia family on TV. It is polite to address someone as senor or senora, on Don senor if they are elderly. When you enter someone's shop, you are always greeted with Ola and you respond buenas dias, or buenos tardes, or buenos noches. When you leave you may shake hands and say gracias. The taxi drivers are polite and it is best to negotiate a price before getting in, so there are no surprises. When you get out, pay, shake hands and say gracias senor. The US and Mexico are so different, and both have great qualities. The danger is to make one like the other, instead of appreciating the differences.
We took a tour up Baja to Todos Santos, where the Hotel California is located. All along the way is the simply gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean with beautiful sandy beaches priced at $35 USD per meter frontage. Imagine Oregon beach property at $3500 for 350 feet of frontage. Cabo reminds me of La Jolla, California. I suspect that Baja may look like as crowded as the Amalfi Coast in Italy. The one shortage is water. Baja gets about four inches per year and many hotels have desalinazation machines.
Tourism and timeshares are the big industries. 9/11 hurt Baja. Everyone talks about the timeshare visit. You are either involved in selling timeshares, referring, dependent on the money given as inducements, or sitting in the 90 minute meeting, then comparing your loot with others. For the record we received transportation to and from our hotel to the airport, $50 USD to be used at the restaurant Ole! Ole!, $50 USD to be used at the restaurant Mi Casa, a free snorkeling trip to Santa Maria Bay with lunch and an open bar, a tour by bus to Todos Santos, a bottle of Kahlua, a bottle of Tequila, a Mexican blanket and $20 USD.
My wife and I again agreed to disagree about the benefits of the "vacation club". Fiesta Americana is a five star resort between Cabo and San Jose, truly spectacular! The one bedroom suite in the vacation club next to the hotel of the same name, rents for $623 USD per night. We agreed to take a look again next year and stay in the hotel for eight days, seven nights for $995 USD plus tax. I have a year to prove to her that we can afford it.