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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

2009: A Visit To Cabo

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/19/2021
Occurred: 1/16/2009
Topics/Keywords: #BajaCalifornia #CaboSanLucas #LosCabos #Mexico #Photography #Places #PosadaChelaba Page Views: 481
I take Michael to spend three days in a Mexican paradise.

On Christmas Day, Michael opened his present from me, an oddly light-weight box. It contained a custom-made travel brochure that read, in part,

On Friday, January 16, 2009, you will be flown to the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas, in Baja California Sur, where you will meet your husband (flying on a different flight), rent a car, and spend Friday and Saturday nights at the Posada Chabela bed and breakfast, with three days' exploring, before returning on Sunday January 18, 2009, to Phoenix.

We have just returned from that trip.

Cabo San Lucas is located at the southernmost tip of Baja California, that peninsula that extends south of the United States state of California.

Baja California is bounded on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the east by a body of water that American maps generally call the Gulf of California. However, we soon learned that locals prefer to call it the Sea of Cortés. In fact, people who actually live on Baja are unsure what the Gulf of California is.

Because of my flight privileges (thanks to my flight attendant daughter, Karen), I could fly free but not directly from Phoenix, as United has no direct flights from Phoenix to Cabo. On the other hand, I had to buy Michael's tickets; so while he took a short, two hour flight, I had to go by way of Los Angeles.

Because there were two segments to my flight, and because my previous flights had been so problematic, I decided to leave a night early and spent the night at an inexpensive Travelodge near the airport. That flight turned out to be no problem, and the next day my flight to Cabo also went smoothly.

Baja California is sparsely inhabited and mostly barren. I could attest to that simply looking at it from the plane window.

Just to be on the safe side (in case I had a problem making my standby flights), I had given Michael the computer printout with the information regarding where we were going to stay and the car rental reservation.

As I later learned, there are two "Cabos" at the southern tip of Baja California. One is Cabo San Lucas, and the other, a little east of there, is Cabo San Jose. Together they are known as Los Cabos or (in English) The Capes. The airport is closer to Cabo San Jose but serves both towns. It is an "international" airport but somewhat primitive by American standards; there was no jetway. We had to walk down a flight of portable stairs. (Later, Michael reported to be that he was concerned that his stairs might not be able to support him. Mine were quite sturdy however.)

We were ushered into the Mexican Customs and Immigration area, where a dozen kiosks awaited us. All but one was labeled, "Foreigners". The remaining kiosk was labeled, "ciudadano mexicano" (Mexican citizens). One woman from my plane, pre-vacation dressed in a flowered dress and a large straw hat and sunglasses, seemed confused. "Where do I go?" she asked an attendant, who gestured toward the Foreigner kiosks. "I'm no foreigner!" she retorted indignantly. "I am an American citizen!"

A man near her said, "To the Mexicans, that is a foreigner." Then when she stared at him blankly, he added, "We're in Mexico now." She still didn't seem to get it, so he added further, "That's not in America." At that, the woman seemed to slowly get that she was no longer in a place where she could claim to be a local citizen. She went on through the Foreigner kiosk, but still seemed put out by the whole thing.

When it was my turn, I discovered that 1) I was required to tell the Customs official where I would be staying; and 2) I had no idea where that was. Michael had the papers. I explained to the man that my friend had come on another flight; that he knew where we were staying but I didn't. The official kept my passport and sent me into the terminal to find Michael, with instructions to return when I had the information.

Unfortunately, Michael wasn't outside waiting for me. (It turned out there are two terminals and he had landed at the other one.) I found the Dollar Rent-A-Car kiosk (I remembered that much) and they did have my name on their manifest but of course they didn't know where I was staying, either. The man let me peruse a list of accommodations in the area. We were staying at a very small bed-and-breakfast; I didn't really expect it would be on this list and it wasn't. But I also realized the Customs agent didn't really care. So I ran back to him with one of the names from the list, the Cabo Surf Club; he wrote it down on his paper and returned my passport and sent me on my way.

By now Michael had walked from the other terminal; we met at the Dollar shuttle.

In the nearby Dollar Rent-A-Car office, I was prepared to rent the economy car I'd reserved over the Internet. However, I remembered that Rose Ann, the proprietor of the bed and breakfast, had strongly recommended we went a Jeep. That choice hadn't been on the web site menu. But I asked about it, and the clerk had one. Michael whispered to me that I should "haggle". I didn't, but the clerk did give us a Jeep SUV for under $200 for two days, including auto insurance.

We drove the beautiful road from the airport toward Cabo San Lucas. At this time I didn't really realize that we would be staying in the nearer town of Cabo San Jose. I was also thrown by the kilometer numbers on the highway, and the conflicting numbers that seemed also to be speed limit signs. It wasn't until we were leaving that I figured it out: The signs were the speed limit; the numbers on the road were the equivalent of mile markers. It was just a coincidence that the first kilometer marker I saw, 100km, was the same as the 100kmh speed limit sign next to it.

Not that it really mattered. I never once saw a police car pull over a speeder, and all the other cars were driving at least 20kmh over the posted limit.

The road we took was a toll road. The dollar is worth approximately ten pesos, and dollars are freely accepted at that exchange rate anywhere in the area. However, the actual exchange rate is lower than that, so pesos are more efficient for Americans to use there. The toll was 27 pesos. But I didn't have any pesos yet, so the collector accepted $3.

Our instructions said to locate the Havanas Club and turn right on the dirt road just past it. As near as I could tell, that was a wash under an overpass. We passed riders on horses, and followed the road into a narrow canyon.

Canyon on the wrong road to our lodging.

We also encountered cattle along the way, at which point I began to wonder seriously if I'd misread the directions.

A cabo cow on the trail.

Finally, we came to the top of a rise. Despite the exquisite view, we were, in fact, in a garbage dump. It's not easy to make out in the photo, because the desert heat and sun had bleached everything to the same color as the ground. But surrounding us were old bed springs, tires, and bags of household waste.

The Cabo El Dumpo.

Since it was now inescapable even to me that this wasn't the road to our bed and breakfast, we returned the way we came and got back on the highway, again heading to Cabo San Lucas and looking for another Havanas Club.

An hour later we decided we weren't going to find one, and returned to the first. It turned out there was a steep dirt road immediately next to it, that I had dismissed as a driveway. Now that we looked more carefully, we saw that there was even a sign for our destination, the Posada Chabela.

Now that we were on the right road, it was fairly easy to follow the directions (although we still had to stop and ask an English-speaking neighbor). I rang the bell and was promptly greeted by a young golden retriever, followed shortly by a handsome woman in her late fifties. She unlocked the gate and we followed her into an exquisite enclave of casitas and flowers.

We had signed (and pre-paid) for a queen-sized room with external bath. Since we were the only guests that weekend, she "first" showed us the larger king-size room with attached bath. It was a lot prettier and roomier than the one we'd planned for, and only another $50; so we agreed to take it—mostly for the view from the private porch.

View from the private porch of our casita.

Our hostess, Rose Anne, then led us to an outdoor bar where she had prepared a pitcher of Margaritas to welcome us. Michael declined; I seldom drink but she'd gone to so much effort so I went ahead and had one. Then another.

The bar at the Posada Chabela. Michael and Rose Ann

My first question, of course, is why a straight widow from Brooklyn would open a gay bed and breakfast in Cabo. She explained that she was the adventurous sort, had owned and run retail stores in New York; she and her husband had many gay friends and her children "had no problem with it." She saw a need for a place where gay men could go in Cabo to feel comfortable, a place secluded enough where they might feel free to hold hands or kiss without fear of ridicule.

The master quarters at Posada Chabela.

She had purchased the place three years earlier. It was a shambles. The casitas were falling apart and there was no home for the host—the previous owners had lived in a trailer. Rose Ann got rid of the trailer and had a house built to her design, including a pool in front. She was now ready to sell and enjoy the next phase of her life. "This is my year!" she told us. "I feel it. I expect romance and excitement!" She told us the only problem was finding a man her age who could keep up with her. I started to assure her that many gentlemen in their fifties are in excellent health, when she corrected me. She was 74 years old, and most men her age are dead. But she hoped to land one nevertheless.

Tulo the dog waits.

She showed us the home she'd built. It was airy and beautiful. That Rose Anne has exquisite taste cannot be denied. She also has a loyal companion in the form of Tulo, the dog, who waited patiently at the foot of the stairs.

Rose Anne urge us to have dinner across the street at a place called Zippers, which was right on the beach. She warned us, however, that they did not take credit cards; and I hadn't had a chance yet to get to an ATM. The main road is Federal Highway #1 and is a limited access road. Once on it, you can only turn around by using a "retorno". So from the Posada we had to drive a mile or so toward Cabo San Lucas, then over an overpass and back to where we started.

Zippers was mostly a sandwich place but I wanted to stop there first just to figure out how many pesos I should withdraw from the ATM. The prices were reasonable but neither Michael nor I really felt like burgers or Philly-style cheesesteaks. So when we found an Appleby's next door to the ATM, we gave in to temptation and had dinner there.

As we were enjoying our salads, I suddenly realized that eating salads rinsed in Mexican water had been our downfall on a visit to Monterey some years back. But it was too late now. Fortunately, neither of us developed Montezuma's Revenge on this trip. (And, in fact, figuring the damage, if any, was done, I proceeded to drink tap water for the remainder of our visit.)

Before retiring we also visited Mega, a discount grocery/department store not unlike Wal-Mart at home. They were notable for the huge displays of pastries that we miraculously did not sample. They did look marvelous, though.

So we returned to our room about 10 pm. I was pleased to note our room did not contain a TV set. And it was open and breezy, with its own porch with a built-in table and benches and a hammock. The bed was very comfortable, firm but soft. The only odd thing was the two framed pictures of Marilyn Monroe taken from the her infamous nude spread done for the first issue of Playboy. Odd for a gay men's B&B, but not odd for the sophisticated Rose Ann who had done all the decorating.

I especially looked forward to taking my shower in the morning in the shower stall which had no ceiling and opened directly onto the crystal clear sky.

We turned off the lights and settled in to sleep…until Michael started. "There's a mosquito in here!" he cried.

"No, there's not," I assured him. "This is a desert, even if it is a little lush. Besides, with the open windows and porch door and the shower with no roof, any bug that came in could immediately leave."

Michael complained about his mosquito several more times, and I rebuked him each time—foolish man! Always has to complain about something!—And then the little whining devil of a bug dive-bombed my ear. There was a mosquito. It didn't seem to be biting, but it was terribly interested in our ears. And it must have been very small, because when Michael heard it I could not; and when I heard it, he could not.

I finally decided to sleep in the hammock on the open porch. Sure enough, the mosquito stayed in the room; every now and then I heard Michael yelp and once, in an effort to squash the bug, he punched himself in the eye.

It did seem like morning would never come; but eventually we did fall asleep and slept heavily until a loud knock sounded at the door. "It's 11 o'clock!" Rose Anne called. "Do you want breakfast? I usually serve it from 9 to 10."

"Yes!" I called, still groggy but also hungry. "We'll be right there!"

Breakfast was served at a table near the bar. There was fresh fruit including papaya and bananas, toast made from the most marvelous, thick slices of bread, granola, coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice. As we ate we chatted more with Rose Ann. We mentioned the mosquito, and Rose Ann apologized and promised to turn on the "bug zappers" before we returned from our day's adventures.

"If our food drinks and service aren't up to your standards, please lower your standards!"

Now it was time to take a shower. I was really looking forward to this, a shower in the open air. Unfortunately, it turned out there was no hot water. That wasn't obvious at first, since the cold water is more of a tepid temperature than a chilly one. But it was soon clear (after I was soaped up, of course) that there hot water was no more or less tepid than the cold.

Still, if anything that led to shorter showers; and soon Michael and I were back in our rented Jeep and heading for Cabo San Lucas, about twenty miles west.

Cabo San Lucas is known for its unique rock formations that stretch out in a mini-archipelago that is the southernmost tip of Baja. These rocks are known as Land's End (Finis la tierra) and attract visitors of all kinds to the area. It was my intention to rent kayaks and paddle out to the end to take photos.

Finding a road to the beach made this a little problematic, however. We were still making use of Federal Highway #1, so whenever we thought we saw a road it would be on the other side of the highway, and we'd have to drive a mile or two past it until we got to a retorno and could turn around. Then the road would turn out to just be a driveway or a dead end, and we'd have to make another stab.

We wound up in old town Cabo, complete with narrow streets, throngs of tourists, and trinket shops were actual haggling was the norm. Also, many places to eat. It was interesting to note that there were as many signs in English as there were in Spanish.

And then, at one point when I thought we might at last be nearing the beach, Michael got all excited and starting wagging his tail. I knew what that meant: He'd discovered an actual Wal-Mart, complete with McDonald's.

The Cabo San Lucas Wal-Mart.

So for lunch in Mexico we had a couple of quarter pounders with cheese. Excuse me, I mean cuartas libras con queso. But it tasted pretty much the same. One shock for me was that McDonald's didn't sell Diet Coke. Apparently the people in third-world countries can't see the value in purchasing a drink with no nutritional value whatsoever.

We could tell we were getting closer as Land's End appeared in the distance.

Land's End

It finally took us a drive of about a mile along a sandy unpaved road, then a turn into and out of a hotel parking lot, to get to the beach where the raft, snorkeling, kayaking and other concessions were located. As we approached the beach, a woman walked assertively up to meet us, introduced herself as Erika, and offered to take a picture of the two of us together.

Paul and Michael at the beach at Cabo San Lucas.

I explained to Erika that we wanted to rent kayaks to paddle out to Land's End. She pointed to the kayak concession, but then added that it would take an hour and a half for us to paddle out that far, and another hour and a half to return. She, on the other hand, had a glass-bottom boat that would take us there in 20 minutes, include a tour, and even drop us off at the beach and pick us up later when we were ready to return—all for just $20, or 200 pesos.

We decided to take the boat.

Daniel, our captain.

The captain was a young man named Daniel (he used the Spanish pronunciation which sounds more like "Dan-YELL") and he had an assistant named Caesar ("Say-SARR"). Neither assisted us in climbing the ladder into the boat, which rocked crazily in the waves pounding the beach. (Erika had touted the ladder as the defining advantage of her glass bottom boats compared to the other vendors'.) As we sailed past the shore, the condos, which are all relatively new (built within the past decade) came into clear view.

The condos and town of Cabo San Lucas.

But soon we were out near the weirdly-shaped rocks and hoodoos of Land's End (and the other boats and tourists also come to gawk).

Weirdly-shaped rocks attrack tourists.

The smaller islands of the archipelago—that is, the ones too small for tourists to sunbathe on—attack hordes of seabirds, especially pelicans, which use them to roost.

Pelicans roost at Land's End.

One small island makes up in height what it lacks in land area. It's called Neptune's Finger. (Our captain took pains to explain it was Neptune's middle finger.)

Neptune's Finger dominates the islands.

The many levels of absurdly carved rocks made for interesting views at every turn.

Carved granite at Land's End.

On the largest island near the last, a sandy beach cut through from the Sea of Cortés to the Pacific Ocean. Because the Sea-side is calmer, it is called "Lover's Beach". The rougher, Pacific side is called "Divorce Beach".

Lover's Beach.

As we got closer to Neptune's Finger it only came to look more amazing. Remember, all this carving was done by water over the last several million years!

Neptune's Finger.

A narrow cleft in the rock wall allows the waters of the Pacific and those of the Sea of Cortés to intermingle.

The waters of the Pacific rush through this cleft to intermingle with those of the Sea of Cortez.

We finally came into sight of the most famous of the formations, El Arco, the arch.

El Arco at Land's End.

A sea lion colony occupies another of the small islands. We approached it closely enough to smell the decaying fish parts the sea lions discard after getting the good stuff. Trust me, you wouldn't want these guys as your next-door neighbors, no matter how cute they look.

Sea lion colony.

From its white color, I was guessing these liths were limestone; but I was wrong. They are granite, bleached pale by millions of years of sunlight and pelican droppings.

The islands are solid granite.

We finally came to the outmost of the islands, the southernmost piece of Land's End. (According to Daniel, some people say that this is "Land's End" and the other islands are just unnamed islands on the way to it.)

The final island in the Land's End chain.

We continued on around to the Pacific side where the water was, indeed, a little rougher. Daniel remarked that at one time these hidden coves and caves were the home of pirates.

A pirate cove? Once a pirate cove? A pirate cave?

Because it had taken so long for us to find the beach, the sun was shining from the Pacific side. And photos of the rocks now included the mainland behind them.

Cabo is seen beyond the rocky islands.

It was on our return to the Sea of Cortés that I got the obligatory picture of El Arco.

El Arco

Once every few years, the Sun and Moon align in such a way to form unusually low tides. This last happened last November. At such times, sand is revealed at the base of the arch and people can walk there. Normally, though, it's deep enough for a boat to traverse—though few attempt it, since the random currents of the mixed Pacific and the Sea of Cortés nearly guarantee such a boat would be dashed against the rock walls.

Daniel didn't try.

Three islands at Land's End. Landing at Lover's Beach.

Back on the Sea of Cortés side, Daniel pulled right up to Lover's Beach to let us off for a swim and a little exploring, promising to return at 5 pm. A gangly, pock-marked man was waiting and took my towel and camera to "help" me off the boat. He also helped Michael, then declared, "Acepto tips!" in that weird pastiche of English and Spanish.

"Of course you do," I acknowledged, and handed him a 200 peso bill—$2, almost certainly too much for such a very small (and unrequested) service. But I hadn't been prepared for the degree of tipping expected here. (You are also supposed to tip grocery baggers and even gas station attendants.)

But now we were on Lover's Beach, on the shore of the Sea of Cortés and a short walk to the Pacific Ocean. It was now, on close observation, I realized the islands were made of granite. The sand was coarse; if the grains had been a shade bigger they'd have been pebbles. But it was comfortable to walk on, with little garbage and no shells or other impurities to injure the foot. And everywhere there were hoodoos (I am using the Arizona word, because I don't know what they are called locally), irregularly-shaped mounds of granite protruding here and there from the ground.

Hoodoos on Lover's Beach.

This gave Michael and me a chance to take pictures of each other.

Michael Paul

The walk to Divorce Beach on the Pacific side was short but spectacular.

Between Lover's Beach and Divorce Beach. Hoodoos between Lover's Beach and Divorce Beach. More hoodoos between Lover's Beach and Divorce Beach. Divorce Beach.

The Pacific water was too tempting a blue to stay out of. Michael and I both waded out, we couldn't go far because the ocean floor fell away sharply. The waves were perfect for body surfing even though they did tend to grind us into the coarse sand. When I left the water, my bathing suit pockets were full of the stuff, as was every orifice I possess.

Divorce Beach was hemmed in on both sides by seemingly insurmountable walls of granite.

A massiff juts from the water, hemming in the south side of Divorce Beach. Granite walls on the north side of Divorce Beach. Entrance to the collapsed cave.

After our swim, Michael and I returned to the Sea of Cortés and wandered along the shore, finding one secluded beach after another, many with their own caves. The roof of one had collapsed some time in the past, allowing in a ghostly light to play on the tortured walls.

Interior of the collapsed cave.

All these caves were formed, of course, by millions of years of ocean waves pounding on the granite slabs of which they're made, same as all the other weird shapes. Once an indentation was made in the wall, subsequent waves would pound even harder on it, amplified by the depression, however slight. In time the depression became a cave. This is common in limestone, but granite is much harder so the process takes a lot longer. What's unusual about this archipelago is that it's been around long enough to display such a history.

Finally, it being (I thought) close to 5, we got in one last photo op and returned to Lover's Beach to be picked up.

Paul and Michael on the beach.

As it turned out, we were about a half-hour early. Michael made himself comfortable on his beach towel and I remained standing, enjoying the view and looking for anything else I might be able to take a picture of. (I took 137 of them altogether; I've included only a few here!) We had a great view of Neptune's Finger from where we were, and I suddenly realized that some daredevil was climbing it! He had no climbing gear, no shoes even, but he managed to scale it in less than 20 minutes. He had my eternal admiration.

Guy climbing Neptune's Finger. Guy climbing Neptune's Finger. Guy climbing Neptune's Finger.

When he reached the top, everyone on the beach applauded, even the tip guy, which suggested to me this was a special occurrence.

Before the climbing guy could begin his descent, our boat, the No Problem II arrived. I told Tip Guy that we could get on by ourselves, thank you very much—I'd watched him carry all the female passengers onto the boats as they arrived, and I did want to chance him trying that with me and slipping a disk—and we boarded. There were many more passengers for the return, as this was Daniel's last trip of the day.

We returned to the Posada Chelaba to rinse the sand off of us and change for dinner. We'd been given instructions to rinse sand off at the poolside shower. That shower had plenty of hot water and I made the most of it.

Rose Ann, hearing the shower, came out and asked if it was us, and then asked about our day. When I mentioned the water in our own shower being cold, she looked perturbed, then said, "You should've said something. Oh! I know what happened. You were going to be in the other casita. I leave the hot water turned down in the unoccupied casitas to conserve. I'll make sure yours is on tonight so you can have hot showers in the morning." She also told us she had put in new bug zappers so we shouldn't be troubled by any mosquitoes.

Michael wanted to have dinner at a Thai place he'd discovered on the tourist map. It was in old town Cabo San Jose. As usual, we had trouble finding it, driving out of town before returning and discovering the sign that said "El Centro". We'd been looking too hard for a small, hard-to-read sign and so missed this green billboard-sized sign hung over all four lanes of the road. In fact, we'd driven under it.

I was worried we'd have trouble parking; in fact, the streets were crowded. But I visualized a nice parking space and, moments later, a car just ahead of us pulled out of one and we claimed it as our own. It was right next to a church where a choir was singing for Saturday night Mass. Following the sidewalk, we found ourselves in the town plaza just in front of the church in traditional Spanish plan. The plaza was well-lit and gently occupied by strolling couples and families letting their little ones run and play. Considering it was almost 9 pm I was a little taken aback until I realized that the Mexican residents would have taken a three-hour siesta in the middle of the day and wouldn't go to bed until 10 or 11 pm.

The plaza was lined with art galleries. We didn't go in to any, but the pieces we saw from the doors and through the windows looked quite impressive. An art lover wouldn't find a trip here wasted.

The Thai restaurant was on a side street, next to the town's only gay bar. The only way we could tell it was a gay bar was 1) it was filled with good-looking men and no women except the bartender; and 2) our hostess had told us where it was next to the Thai restaurant. There were two friendly dogs waiting patiently by the door. As Michael and I stood there, trying to decide if we wanted to bother going into a bar, a squat, middle-aged man came out and spoke to the dogs. Michael asked if they were his.

"Si, mi perros," the man replied. "My bar, too. Come in!" He was so insistent that Michael and I instinctively stepped back. Mexicans have a compressed sense of body space compared to Americans. He may have taken this for distaste for "the gays" though, because he then went back into the bar, bringing the dogs in with him.

In the Thai restaurant, Michael and I asked for a table in the patio. Michael ordered pad Thai noodles with chicken; I had cashew chicken and fried rice. Both were very good. Michael also drank not one, but two caffeine-laden Thai teas. Michael doesn't usually drink caffeine because it makes him start talking non-stop. No, I mean even in comparison to his usual speech patterns.

Perhaps because of the vicinity to the bar, there were two other gay couples eating there, a couple of guys and a couple of lesbians. Each couple was attractive and dressed better than we were, which suggested they were locals rather than on vacation. Next to us was a table with two straight couples, in which the women talked to each other while ignoring the men, and the men spoke together while ignoring the women. While we were there they put away three bottles of wine.

While we were eating, a three-man musical combo strolled in and aimed directly at the straight couples, asking for requests. Distracted from their conversation, the four of them struggled to remember the name of any Spanish-type song, finally coming up with Cuando Caliente El Sol. The band, with guitar, bass, and mariachis, did a beautiful three-part harmony on the number, then allowed the husbands to tip them. They then came up to us, but I was low on pesos and not certain this restaurant would take a credit card. So I asked if they could sing "Play That Funky Music White Boy". Fortunately, they declined, and moved on to the next couple.

It was about midnight by the time Michael and I returned to our casita and readied ourselves for bed. I was quite sleepy by now. Unfortunately, the mosquito was still occupying the room. I tried to ignore it—after all, it hadn't actually bit me—but then my feet started to itch and I wasn't so sure.

Then Michael's Thai teas kicked in and he began a lecture on Charles Dickens and his mastery of description and the actors and actresses who'd played characters in movies based on Dickens' books and how changes in lighting in the movies was used to express passages in the books describing the characters emotional states. Every time the droning of his voice started to help me doze off the mosquito would dive-bomb my ear and my eyes would fly open square in front of Marilyn Monroe's nude breasts.

Michael taking a cold shower.

It was a long night.

I don't know when we finally fell asleep, but we awoke about 8:30, which gave us time to shower and dress before breakfast. Guess what—the water was still cold in the shower.

Breakfast was again delicious, however, though Rose Ann served bagels rather than that delicious toast from the day before. But the bagels were good, too.

Paul and Michael with Tulo the dog.

We got dressed and packed and bid Rose Ann farewell. She took a final picture of us with her dog.

We had to fill the Jeep with gas before returning it to the car rental place. There was a gas station not far from the Posada Chelaba, but it was on the wrong side of the highway and therefore would involve miles of driving to one retorno and then another. So we decided to follow the highway until we found a gas station on our side. I was sure I remembered a couple from our explorations the night before. But we were on the edge of town before we finally got to one.

It took about $30 worth of pesos to fill the tank (gas stations don't take credit cards) and to tip the attendant. We then began to pull out of the driveway, when I became aware of what was across the street.

In Cabo San Jose and Cabo San Lucas, we'd seen many old stores and shops, but mostly brand-new and extravagant houses and condominiums. Even on the dirt streets, the houses were genteelhaciendas with wrought-iron gates and colorful paint jobs. It was very much like being anywhere one might go in California or Arizona.

But across from this gas station, is where the other half lives.

The shanty town of Cabo San Jose.

I'd read about this when I was researching Midnight Harvest. These people live in huts made of cardboard and plywood.

On the plus side, they are allowed to. In America, we'd be too embarrassed to allow such poverty to exist in plain sight, and would have the huts bulldozed "for health and safety reasons" and forbid the residents to stay there. Scattered homeless people are easier to ignore than a village of poor folks all in one place.

Suddenly I didn't feel nearly as bad about overtipping Tip Guy on Lover's Beach. This was very possibly where he lived.

So we pulled back on the highway and found ourselves behind an "Eco-Baja-Tours" bus, all painted green and obviously going after the environmentally-conscious tourist crowd. I had to laugh, though, when the bus started to go again after stopping at a traffic light. It belched enough smoke to make Rush Limbaugh choke.

Eco-bus spews fumes.

Other than that, our trip to the airport was uneventful. We returned the car to the rental lot, and allowed their shuttle to take us to our respective terminals. Michael got out first at terminal 1, and I got out at terminal 2, went through security, and wandered to my gate. I had plenty of time; my flight wasn't scheduled to leave for a couple more hours.

However, when I arrived at the gate, I was surprised to see they were boarding now. In fact, they were nearly done! I handed my standby flight papers to the agent, and asked why they were already boarding. "Oh, we like to leave early when we can," she replied. Then she added, "There is a $21 fee for standby passengers."

I was startled, since this had never happened in my previous travels. I was also dismayed, because I had used the last of my pesos at the gas station. The woman had me give my credit card to a runner, who took it downstairs to the United ticket counter and soon returned with a receipt for me to sign. I was then allowed to board the plane; we took off almost an hour-and-a-half ahead of schedule.

They've started calling the lead flight attendant (the cabin manager) on United the "purser". On this flight, the purser was an unusually good-looking man in his mid-thirties. I had plenty of opportunity to study him because I was in the front row and his jump seat was directly in front of me. I had a book to read, but every time I looked up he was looking at me; and when he saw me notice him he would give me a broad, inviting smile. I was puzzled because my gaydar is rarely wrong and he seemed straight to me. Maybe I looked like his dad or favorite uncle or something.

But when I was saying goodbye after we landed in Los Angeles, he shook my hand in a warm and lingering way, as if he hoped I wouldn't leave.

Maybe that's what they mean by "the friendly skies of United"!

Because we left so early, after I'd gotten through customs I was in time for an earlier flight home. The agent gladly shifted my reservation and I arrived within a half hour of Michael (instead of four hours later) and also of my daughter Karen, who had picked that day to come home for a visit.

So: Trip over, definitely a success, though I don't think I'll return. I enjoyed visiting Cabo thoroughly, but there are so many places yet to visit…and so little time!

Flat Stanley

By: Paul S. Cilwa Posted: 1/29/2009
Topics: #CaboSanLucas #Cailey #FlatStanley Page Views: 498
My greanddaughter's school project goes to Mexico!

The day before I left for Cabo San Lucas, I received in the mail a brown envelope from Virginia. Two of my daughters, and my only granddaughter, live in Virginia; but not at the address on the envelope. So I almost didn't open it until after my trip. But I did, and it turned out to contain Flat Stanley, a cutout character my granddaughter, Cailey, had made in school. Her teacher had sent Flat Stanley to me, along with a letter from Cailey asking that I allow Flat Stanley to accompany me for a week or so and then to respond by telling his adventures. This blog entry is for that purpose.

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