Falling in Love with Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

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FALLING IN LOVE WITH CABO SAN LUCAS, MEXICO
By Eva Eldridge

 

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: From cooking classes and sunset cruises to the lush scenery and rugged beaches, travel writer Eva Eldridge talks about her experiences in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

 

 

Recently, my husband and I traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico. I fell in love, not just with my husband but with the scenery, the people, the food, and even the crazy driving.

Located on the southern tip of Baja California Sur, the area is a juxtaposition of arid rocks and sand, a rugged coastline, and mountains covered with abundant vegetation. With an annual rainfall of a mere seven inches, the desert landscape is only green after the rainy season. Our visit followed Hurricane Norma and the southern peninsula was vibrantly green. If you weren’t familiar with the area, you could believe it was that way all the time.

The first thing we did after picking up our rental car, which has its own tale, was find food. We stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall place with a cart and two tables. They pulled out another plastic table and two chairs to accommodate us al fresco, which is typical in the Cabo area. We ordered a bowl of birria and a couple of tacos—lengua (tongue). The food was excellent. We sipped our sodas and watched the local people stop by for tacos-to-go and chat with the owners. One of the reasons we picked this place was the available parking.

Parking is an issue in most of the Cabo area. We had a rental car, but we also used Uber to avoid parking issues. The Uber service worked perfectly for us, and the drivers had their own stories which we found interesting.

We stayed in an Airbnb condo a mile or so uphill from downtown Cabo San Lucas. We had a sliver of an ocean view, but not of downtown. There are vacation homes, Airbnb, and many resorts to choose from depending on what your focus might be. We like getting a feel for the area and sometimes resorts insulate you from that which is why we chose to stay at an Airbnb. The condo we rented was new and beautiful, but we lacked access to any beach. If you want beach access, check into the resorts.

The lack of beaches surprised me. I had expectations of palapas and drinks on white sand. Because Cabo is located on the tip of Baja California, the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez co-mingle waters and create a steep shoreline with a lot of undertow. There are a couple of beaches where swimming is safer but make sure you can get there and double-check the water conditions before you swim. There are numerous short cruises available from the local tourist companies along with deep-sea fishing and swimming with dolphins.

Other activities offered in the area are cooking classes and tasting tours. We chose a cooking class that included going to the Mercado and picking out our vegetables, limes, and fresh chicken. The limes needed to be smooth and a little soft, and the chicken had yellow chicken fat that wasn’t factory-grown, but raised by local farms. We picked out deep green and shiny poblano chilies and round white onions. Chef Francisco led us on a local tour through the San Juan del Cabo mercado followed by a trip to a tortilla factory. Their corn tortillas were the best. The class took place in Chef Francisco’s home where we learned how to make hibiscus margaritas using fresh lime juice, followed by roasted poblanos in crema, the complex steps of molé creation, and finally the meal. Molé is a complex dish consisting of a minimum of 30 or more ingredients including dried chilies, spices, nuts, fresh tomatoes, a tortilla, bread, and chocolate. It was served over the chicken we purchased at the Mercado that was boiled to make broth and the tender fragrant meat. It was worth spending the day learning some of the customs and food of the local area.

 

We ate out several times and found the food wonderful, especially breakfast. We found local restaurants in tight little streets where parking was a challenge, but worth the effort. One of the area’s specialties was green juice, and jugo verde. The recipe varied depending on the restaurant. Most contained nopales, celery, and either pineapple or orange juice. Lime, parsley, avocado, apple, spinach, kale, or avocado could be part of the juice. Each one I experienced was different and delicious. It was a great way to have something a little healthy.

If you want to eat at your temporary residence there are large grocery stores like the Fresko, besides many little bodegas and quick-mart type stores. The Fresko was similar to walking into any large full-service grocery store in the United States with gourmet meats and cheeses, bakery, fruits and vegetables, and everything in between. The mercados were more like local farmers’ markets here in the States. For me, everything was an easy transition and I enjoyed finding new things in all the stores.

As with any tourist town, there are many little shops where you can buy souvenirs, art, jewelry, pottery, and many other things. I found some beautiful hand-painted pottery in a small shop near San Juan del Cabo along with beaded ironwood figures. One shop had lovely shawls made in the Oaxaca area. Vanilla is a popular item for purchase and can be found everywhere. As with anything, the quality of the items varies, so be aware.

One thing we noticed while in Cabo was all the cisterns located on roofs all over the city. We originally believed they were used for rainwater collection, but over time we noticed the large amount of water trucks that were everywhere nearly twenty-four hours a day. The municipal water system supplied by the aquifer and desalination plant is inadequate to keep up with the demand. There are days when water does not run in the pipes, so the residents have installed cisterns and pump systems to store and provide water during the dry times. The water trucks fill in when the cisterns get low and the city water hasn’t been able to compensate. It’s quite ingenious and as tourists, I believe we should know about the water system so we can do our part to help conserve this precious commodity.

Everywhere we went, we found the locals friendly and helpful even if they didn’t speak English. Many people moved to Cabo to work in the tourist trade in varied capacities. They were there for a job and understood their livelihood depended on us pesky tourists. The ones who could speak English talked to us about where they came from and their families. Many were paid better than they would have been in their hometowns. We depended on the locals to get us around and to point out places to eat or the best place to shop.

If you decide to rent a car and drive yourself, be aware that traffic moves differently in Mexico. Stop lights are mostly stop lights, but not always. There are many traffic circles and stop signs are just a suggestion. Be courteous. I found that if you waited for the first driver to go through an intersection, the other drivers would let you through. It worked something like the four-way stop here in the USA. Watch how the local drivers handle entrances and exits on the highways. It can be a bit intimidating and watch for the speed bumps. They can sneak up on you.

The last word of advice would be about the airport. Be aware of the friendly people who can make you deals on places to stay, cars to rent, the best tequila, and tours. They may not tell you the whole story and lead you down a path you weren’t expecting. As with any travel be aware of your surroundings and enjoy the local customs and people.

Eva Eldridge is a contributing writer for Big Blend Magazines. Along with travel and lifestyle articles, she also writes fiction and poetry. She was editor of the Tucson Sisters in Crime anthology, “Trouble in Tucson.” Visit her at www.EvaEldridge.com

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About the Author:

Eva Eldridge is a contributing writer for Big Blend Magazines. Along with travel and lifestyle articles, she also writes fiction and poetry.

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