Everyone raved about Cabo. Our daughters had been there half a dozen times but we had never been. So this year we decided to go there for they year-end family holidays. We arrived on a Monday and departed on a Friday. Cabo San Lucas is located in the state of Baja California Sur in Mexico, anon-stop three-hour flight from San Francisco. It sits on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. The Gulf of California lies on the eastern side of the peninsula and some early explorers thought that Baja was an island. Cabo is one of Mexico’s top five tourist destinations.

It offers warm weather, sun bathing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and golf. Additionally, one can indulge in spa treatments, sun bathing, and practicing Spanish. Whale watching tours are available in the morning.

Our hotel offered incredible views of the ocean. Its Moorish architecture and colours were so pleasing to the eye that we immediately put Spain on our bucket list. I had visited Madrid for four days back in the late nineties on a business trip and gotten but a glimpse of its fine museums and palaces.

In Cabo, the beach next to the ocean carried signs warning beachgoers about the dangerous undercurrents in the water. So we contented ourselves with walking on the beach and feeling the sand in our toes. The sand had a very gravely feel to it, more so than we had experienced in the beaches of Hawaii.

There were several restaurants on the property, one for every taste. In the evening, the large patio turned into an open-air restaurant where you had the option of bringing in the fish you had caught during the day and having it cooked in front of your eyes. Many people were availing themselves of that facility but we never had time to practice our hand in fishing.

Given all the controversy about the US plans to build a border wall, I was somewhat apprehensive about the airport formalities in Cabo and San Francisco. Thankfully, they proved to be minimal

At night the skies were crystal clear. In the early hours of the night, the Milky Way made its presence visible. Cassiopeia, named after the vain queen in Greek mythology, loomed in the northern sky. So did Orion, the hunter. In the early morning hours, the planet Venus shone bright in the eastern sky.

We went out to eat every night. The Hacienda Cocina y Cantina Restaurant near the harbour provided great food with a view. Two cruise ships were anchored a few hundred yards away. As the sun went down, they turned on their decorative lights, giving the harbour a festive look.

Toro Latin Kitchen and Bar provided the best food of the trip but the air was freezing cold, requiring the use of gas lamps and blankets. It reminded us of the Mariposa Restaurant in Sedona, New Mexico, which may be the best Latin restaurant north of the border

Esperenza had quite possibly the best layout with tables laid out next to a pool. We felt like we were feasting under the open skies, but the service was more than a little slow.

The menus at these restaurants featured a diverse array of food items, including traditional Mexican fare such as taco and burritos and pasta, pizza, steaks, sea food, chicken and lamb, along with a host of vegetables and rice.

For lunch on our last full day we went to Flora’s Farm Bar, a relatively new eatery set in a farmhouse. It was almost an hour away from the hotel and the last portion of the drive was unexpectedly bumpy. The pavement disappeared and we were driving over mud. In the end, the food and the personable service made the journey worthwhile. After lunch, we strolled on the grounds and had pictures taken against a bright red pickup truck and with a stuffed donkey.

Before going on the sunset cruise, we walked through the markets adjoining the harbour. They brought back memories of some of the older markets in Karachi.

The sunset cruise was awesome. We ended up on a big boat with only 25 people most of whom were locals and got the genuine Cabo experience. The most famous sight during the cruise was the iconic arch which is cut into the mountain range that juts into the sea. The locals call it Arco and it is located where the Pacific Ocean turns into the Gulf of California. Another famous sight was Pelican Beach where the birds roost.

As we stepped out on the deck of the boat, a man appeared with a camera and flash. He asked us to pose for the camera and kept firing away. At one point he even asked us to kiss but we demurred. Later he sold us a DVD containing our pictures and several other pictures showing points of local interest for $30.

The man who drove us back to the hotel asked as about our evening plans as we got into the taxi. We said we will watch some TV and then go bed. He appeared genuinely surprised and said: “Most people go night clubs and bars after the cruise.” I smiled and said that is good to know but we are not changing our plans for the evening.

It was hard not to compare this five-day trip with a six-day trip with the one to Cancun that we had taken in February to celebrate Valentine’s Day. There were some similarities – warm temperatures, Spanish, beaches, mountains and cuisine – but also numerous differences. Cancun is on the Caribbean Sea and Cabo on the Pacific. Thus the former is humid and the latter is dry. Cancun offers the visitor ample opportunities to tour the ruins of the Maya. Cabo is bereft of sights of archaeological interest.

In Cabo, should the need arises, you can visit a Home Depot, a Walmart, a Costco and a few other American stores. I wanted to see the how their inventory compared with those of the same stores in the San Francisco Bay Area but no one in the family wanted to spend their vacation checking out retail stores.

Given all the controversies about the United States (US) plans to build a border wall, I was somewhat apprehensive about the airport formalities in Cabo and San Francisco. Thankfully, they proved to be minimal.

Most tourists were Americans and the US dollar was accepted everywhere, like it had been in Cambodia. Just about everything was expensive, including the taxi rides.

While Cabo is not an inexpensive destination, it offers some unique opportunities for enriching the heart and the soul. We emerged rejuvenated from the trip, ready for 2019.

The writer can be reached at ahmadfaruqui@gmail.com

Published in Daily Times, January 8th 2019.

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