Thursday, June 18, 2015


Last week we had the opportunity to visit Mexico, specifically Los Cabos, for a week. We were invited along by Sam's parents, who said basically, "We are going, whoever can come is welcome," so we got ourselves there and there you are.

Unfortunately, as people who are not big drinkers or surfers, Los Cabos is not exactly a dream destination for us, but we found enough to do and had lots of sunshine and relaxing and delicious food, so it worked out. The Los Cabos area is actually two cities: Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. We stayed in SJdC, which is more "local" and quite a bit less touristy (meaning fewer bars and clubs and more of other things to do), so that worked out well in our favor.

We flew down on Saturday and arrived at our hotel. The hotel people basically told us up front that they were encouraging people not to check in, and to either go home or find somewhere else to stay. The air was very still and hazy and the ocean was all riled up. All signs pointed to...Hurricane Blanca.
It's funny to me because I had been checking the weather in the days leading up to our trip, and it had just started saying "90% chance of rain" etc, but never anything about a HURRICANE. So I was clueless about it until we got to the airport.
Stormy skies

Some of the windows were boarded up in anticipation

It was kind of crazy on Sunday, especially by the afternoon/evening. Everywhere in town was closed and power in the city was limited, so we ate dinner at the hotel's one functioning restaurant, and it really made me feel bad. The security guys were trying to barricade the doors with sandbags because the insane winds kept blowing them open and blowing things in there. Whatever food they were bringing to the patrons they had to bring from another kitchen (which was running on their emergency generator), and everyone was harried and/or worried. On top of that, a number of other guests were complaining about how their drink was too watery or something else was too blah blah blah. I commend the staff for getting through it like they did, because if it were me, I would've punched somebody in the face and gone home and hidden myself.
A hurricane (Sam wants me to point out that his face is a bit exaggerated)

Unhappy waters

The palms got even more bent and blown than pictured here

The wind was picking up sand and spitting it on us on our way back up to the room. That night I found all kinds of sand in my hair. When it was dark, Sam and I stood out on the walkway and looked out over the city and all you could see were a couple of red emergency lights on top of an adjacent hotel. All you could hear was the eerie sound of the incessant wind and rain, whipping some debris somewhere nearby.
The darkness that night in the city

And for comparison, the night view on a night we had power

By late the next morning, the wind had died down significantly and the rain had stopped. There were palm fronds in the pool and leaves and styrofoam all over everything, but the staff was already out there sweeping up and wiping everything down. Again, I was impressed by them.

That day we drove into the foothills and went for a hike called Sol de Mayo that went to a little water fall that poured into what was supposed to be a blue-green swimming hole. Unfortunately, because of Blanca, the water was thick with mud and chocolatey brown, so we didn't feel good about swimming in it, but the hike was still fun, and easy enough that I don't think anybody felt like we had wasted our time. The proprietors of the trail area had several freaky hairless dogs (friendly though), and one adorable, wobbly little puppy. They had lots of other animals too-- turtles, donkeys, goats-- and it was over all just a quiet, peaceful little place. The desert was all green and a-bloom from the rain and it was very pretty.

On the trail
The waterfall and swimming hole

The pup

After the hike, we drove back through the little town of Santiago to look at the mission there. We found a dog sleeping in a patch of sun, and he was the only sign of life in that part of town.

Finally, we drove back to San José, found that nearly every restaurant was still closed from the storm, and finally got a recommendation for a place called Sardina Cantina. We had a (very) late lunch there, which everyone in the group except me thought was one of the best places we ate the whole trip, but I think it was 4th or 5th on the ranks. We were just starving. Bonus: we were moved to a new room, with an ocean view, and it was great.

The next day, after a delicious homemade breakfast from Sam's parents, we all went for a walk down at the estuary. It was incredibly hot and humid that morning, and Hurricane Odile (from November) had destroyed most of the pathway, but we saw lots of fun animals, like cormorants, osprey, loons, turtles, and even horses grazing on or near the paths. Cami even found some stinging fire ants (ha ha).
After that we spent most of the day swimming and hanging around. For lunch we ate at a delicious fish taco place called Blue Fish. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of fish tacos, but these were very tasty, and I think Blue Fish made my spot for 2nd best place we ate on this trip.
Birds at the estuary

That night for dinner (which we thought we were having pretty late, just before 8 o'clock, but were apparently still very early), we went to my favorite restaurant from the trip, Las Cazuelas del Don.
It was a quiet little local place on a covered patio, and the proprietor/owner/cooks talked with us and told us the story of how they started the restaurant, and it was kind of a fun story, which is a little too long for me to relate here.

Aside from the conversation and company, they also had the best taco soup I think I've ever tasted, and the main course, of course, was the cazuela dish. A cazuela is a clay pot, and after par-cooking the meat (we got beef) on a grill, they stew it for a couple of hours with spices and vegetables. Then they fish the meat out and put it in another clay pot (smaller) with a ton of cheese and other things and cover it with foil, heating it on the grill until it's bubbly like a mini volcano. Then you put that stuff on a fresh little tortilla and top it with lime, because "In Mexico, we put límon on everything, we believe it counteracts the grease." Also because lime is delicious.

The next day, Wednesday, we all drove over to Cabo San Lucas and took a boat ride out around the tip of the peninsula to see El Arco and the other rock formations, plus pelicans and sea lions. I love being in boats, so I had a really great time.

Land's End and a debatably animatronic pelican

After the boat ride, we were going to head over to the Natural History Museum, but when we arrived there, we discovered they had never gotten their power back after the weekend, and they weren't letting anybody in. I would've been happy to go through with flashlights or even using phones as lights, but they refused. I was pretty upset, because that was one thing we planned that I was really looking forward to (yeah, okay, I'm a dork, whatever).

That night, we went over to a restaurant recommended by Carlos, one of the guys at the front desk, who I liked because he was sarcastic and sassy, and still friendly. He sent us to this place for free drinks with our meal, which I thought was pretty cool. It was called El Herradero, and I almost wish we had gone here a different day, because the signature dishes, served in molcajetes, were pretty similar to the cazuela dishes from the night before. But El Herradero was little more commercialized, or at least more used to crowds, so it was fun in a different way, and they specialized in guacamole and salsas, so that was different. But the main dishes were pretty similar (though I got a different meat, and the molcajetes came with cactus and avocado as well, and were stewed in salsa). This place was probably my 3rd favorite.
Sam's molcajete (with shrimp)

And mine (chicken, cactus, onion, etc)

On Thursday we went to a fancy lunch place that every list had recommended and we had to get reservations for. While Flora's Field Kitchen (at Flora Farms) had a great setting and atmosphere (on a farm where they grow their own food for the restaurant), the food was rather meh. I mean, it was good, but it wasn't very special, and it was all pizza and salads and burgers-- nothing you can't get in the US. I think we all generally agreed on this one, that we probably wouldn't recommended the restaurant there to anyone, though it was kind of neat to walk through the little growing fields (and would've been even more so if it hadn't been about a billion degrees).
The extent of their little market in the summer (but pretty)

Sam, making fun of my entire childhood

Lovebirdz 4 lief

Later that evening, we went to downtown San José for the famed Art Walk. It wasn't very crowded because June is the off season in Los Cabos, but there were some interesting artists and craftmakers, so that was cool. We also checked out the Mission there in the town square.

It got too hot to be out, so we took refuge again in nearby El Herradero, and gorged ourselves on guacamole for a while (and they gave us free drinks again because we came back!). Eventually, it was cool enough to be out, so we walked around town and got souvenirs and looked at the art. It was pretty peaceful that evening.

The next day, Friday, Sam and I went for a long walk on the beach, past the sad little surf competition (no waves since the storm), and walked around some cliff/pseudo-cave stuff. We found loads of shells and coral.

Later, Sam and Peter and their dad went back to Cabo San Lucas to go snorkeling. Personally, I prefer SCUBA, and the area they went was pretty crowded, so I didn't go. No one else was really interested either, so we kind of sat around and waited for them to return. When they got back, Sam said he got stung by a jellyfish (ouch!) and that they spent a lot of time jumping off rocks and swimming.

After that, we got cleaned up and drove back to Cabo San Lucas for dinner. We went to a place called Mi Casa, that had amazing tamales, but those were just the appetizers. My main dish was not that special, though it was tasty. We walked around town for a bit, then drove home.

On Saturday, we flew home, and that was that! I'll probably never exert myself to visit Los Cabos ever again, but we ate some delicious food and had a good time trying to find off-the-beaten-path activities. I was also very impressed with the way people handled the impending storm, even if it blew itself mostly out before it hit us, and I was very happy at how kind and friendly every person (with maybe one or two exceptions) we met was to us. Overall, a good break.  And the night after we got home and were lying quietly in bed in the dark, Sam said to me, "You know, I already miss the sound of the ocean."