Some sources claim that Cabo San Lucas sees more tourists than any other city in the country. That seems like a huge claim, but a trip to Walmart in Cabo San Lucas would support that statistic. As we strolled the familiar wide aisles and looked at the last minute Christmas glitz we were not among locals. It seemed that the only Mexicans in the entire store were working the registers and stocking the shelves. The place was packed full of visitors, buying supplies for their hotel rooms and time-shares. The languages were from around the world (Japan, Germany, India, France, China, Canada and USA) and their purchases were stimulating the economy in a city that had been struck by disaster.
We went to the big city for a few reasons. The least of which was that we needed some basic supplies. The best reason we went was to visit an old family friend that lives there. She is a Mexican national, married to an American ex-pat. They live in a beautiful one-hectare compound with a donkey, dogs, cats and amazing gardens that is located just out of the tourist section of town. We had a terrific dinner in their kitchen and enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect. Their smallest dog (knowing that I love my little Mango) spent the entire evening on my lap watching the humans!
When our time in this bustling city was done, we headed for the mountains. The nearby village of Santiago reportedly had hot springs and camping nearby. We passed the Tropic of Cancer. Perhaps that is why we were wearing shorts and rolling down the windows to cool off on Christmas Eve. We climbed the hills and followed the GPS to El Chorro and Agua Caliente. On the way, we passed this luchador sitting by the road- he offered no assistance or direction so we rolled on.
When we pulled into the grassy camping area, we found our old road-buddy Dave tucked away in the trees in his green VW bay window bus. The location offered great privacy and a peaceful couple of nights. The hot springs soaking area had been damaged by the storm and changes in water flow. But the pond was pretty and the mountains at sunset were amazing.
After checking the wind predictions for Cabo Pulmo (found a new app called iwindsurf for this) we decided to go back to the beach to see if we could get some water time. We have been in Baja since November and have really underutilized the SUP- not to mention no diving yet! A few hours down the road and we were back in Cabo Pulmo set up with a beach camp. The dogs settled in to their usual routine. Seri was napping in alternating locations (sand, sun, shade, seat). Mango was sleeping in a hole in the sand. Zeb was alert and watching for lizards in the nearby bushes.
At sunrise the next morning we awoke to this and took off into town to set up some dives. But it was not to be! All the dive shops were booked solid because the wind had finally let up. We started to push the matter, ask for on-call spots or sit and wait for no-shows. Then we paused and realized that this was meant to be- I was not to dive here today.
I will stop for a moment and explain the significance of this. In 2000 I started the process of becoming a PADI certified diver. I loved it and found myself driven to continue the training levels. I trained in Mexico and the Philippines until I reached the top level- Dive Instructor or PADI-OWSI. Sometime during my training I believe I suffered a mild injury to my lung. Then after my training, I was diving in Cabo San Lucas and injured my lung-badly. It is a story of stubbornness, pain, avoidance and lack-of-knowledge that took place (message me if you want details) but in general terms- I caused my lung to collapse in what is known as a pneumothorax. The repair and healing took 10 days of hospitalization and months of recovery. After being studied by experts at Yale University, I was told that it would be very risky for me to ever dive again. You guessed it. I still dive. Not many times mind you, but I dive. Who can go to Aruba and not dive? So that brings me to NOW. Who can go to Cabo Pulmo a National Marine Preserve and not dive? Well, apparently… ME because there were no open spots on a boat, so I was not meant to dive today.
Instead of diving we did something WAY BETTER! We inflated the stand-up-paddleboard and pulled out our new snorkeling gear. We paddled out to the reef (about 300 yards) and attached the SUP to our ankle and went snorkeling off of it. It was fantastic. The water was the perfect temperature and the sun was warm. The waves were mild because the wind had let up for the day. The fish were out in all their colors and we felt like we were swimming in an aquarium. We watched the dive boats go in and out all day, packed full of divers who would be splashing around at deeper depths with divemasters barking instructions and controlling water times. And we just keep paddling along, looking under the surface at the healthy, living reef that earned Cabo Pulmo this special designation. This was a much better experience for us than diving could have been. We felt independent, exhilarated and relaxed. It was perfect. At sunset we cooked pasta for dinner and watched a movie.
Tomorrow the iWindsurf app predicts that winds will be up to about 20 mph. We heard about a live band and buffet dinner back in La Ribera at Trinidad RV Park. That is just a short distance from here. We will see how the winds are in the morning and then pack up and head north.