Cabo San Lucas: A spectacular paradise we’ll probably never go back to.
Why? Well, if you don’t fish, golf or drink there is literally nothing to do in Cabo. And since we rarely golf and almost never fish, drinking was the only option left open to us. Cabo is like Las Vegas only without gold-plated toilets and casinos (but that will be rectified soon). Sure there’s stuff like wave-runners and para-sailing to placate the ugly American tourists — many of whom lived up to that adjective — but there are no hiking trails, museums or anything historical/cultural (i.e. interesting) to speak of. There is a glass-blowing “factory,” but otherwise Cabo has no industry. As a result, Cabo exists solely to offer foreigners fishing, golf, liver-damage and skin cancer.
We arrived in Cabo on Saturday afternoon and were immediately accosted by the time-share folks. They promised us perks like cab fare to and from the hotel, breakfast, wave-runner rentals, boat ride to Los Archos, and a fifth of Tequila just for sitting through their 75-minute interrogation and subsequent brow-beating . We agreed to take the tour the instant we found that a cab ride to and from the hotel was $150 by itself! Ouch. (The following day, after two hours of unsuccessfully trying to make us believe we’d be stupid to pass up their deal, we passed up their deal. They did a fair amount of sulking but finally gave us our promised perks, including the Tequila, and grudgingly let us leave the property skidding out the lobby on our butts.)
Our hotel, the Melia San Lucas, was not as nice as the one we had just toured, but it was still very nice by Mexico standards (in other words, it had four standing walls and indoor plumbing). It was ideally located at the end of the Baja Peninsula looking out over El Fin de la Tierra or “Land’s End,” the part of Baja where the, uh…land kind of…well, ends. This made for a spectacular view out our 5th-floor balcony window. We’re certain the sunrises were breathtaking had we been awake that early to see any of them.
Our first few days were lazy, relaxing ones spent reading books, sipping fruity drinks and cooling off in the bi-level pool. By Tuesday, however, things got more dramatic as I contracted Montezuma’s Revenge and was feeling like barfing up my lower intestines. Despite its scary name, the condition hardly feels like the act of an angry god striking at his enemies from beyond the grave. It’s more like “the runs,” Still, my previous experience with Mexican illnesses had taught me to call el doctor immediately, because invariably, they’d prescribe a pill that would cure me in under twenty minutes. But this time, the doctor informed me that my nausea was a symptom of severe dehydration. For the next six hours, I stared at the cracked ceiling of a Mexican emergency clinic while a large woman who spoke no English emptied five I.V. bags of saline into my arm. In no time, my nausea had subsided only to return quickly when they presented us with a bill for US$500. From that moment on, our single largest expense was bottled water, since even at $5 a bottle, it’s still cheaper than saline.
The town of Cabo has only one stoplight and about 400,000 cheesily themed party bars. From Sammy Hagar’s cleverly named Cabo Wabo to the 3-story El Squid Roe, if you want to drink away your college fund, Cabo is the place to do it. Here, drinking is less of an activity and more of a sport. You can’t just go into a bar and order a drink in a glass. In Cabo, they spray Tequila at you swinging from the rafters. Or you do shooters out of glowing test-tubes. Or bodyshots off hard-bodied, nubile young women trying to get on the next Girls Gone Wild XXVI video. Er…so I hear.
Because Cabo is really just Orlando West, it is equally expensive. Not just by Mexican standards, but by US standards, too. Dinner out at a decent restaurant almost always involved $30 entrees. Not entirely out of line, mind you, until you realize that it’s for MEXICAN food. Yeah, that’s a lot of money for tortillas, rice and beans. We checked Fodors for suggestions and had several very satisfying meals which led to a surprising revelation about the diversity of cuisines available. You can have virtually any type of food you want in Cabo. As long as it’s Mexican.
As part of our consolation prize from the time-share folks, we received a free boat-ride out to the tip of Land’s End. Los Archos (“The Arch,” for you gringos) is a natural hole in a cliff created by centuries of Pacific Ocean surf slamming into the Sea Of Cortez. It was amazing to see the difference between the two bodies of water. The Sea of Cortez was calm and serene while the Pacific…um, wasn’t. On the Pacific side of the Arch is a small cove which pirates reportedly used to stash treasure from ships they’d pillaged. Now, I think it’s a Starbucks.
To be honest, I can see the appeal of Cabo. Were I 22 years old and looking to score some STDs, or 60 years old and looking to avoid my wife, Cabo would do the trick, but it’s not for everyone. From the looks of things, it’s mostly for overweight, obnoxious Texans and their bleach-blonde wives. It’s no wonder the rest of the world hates us.