Cabo San Lucas, Baja del Sur, Mexico
This place is a paradise of easy pleasure. Easy pleasure is suspect…except when I have two kids and sunlight deprivation. Bring it on, Mexico. Drench me in Pina Colada, dry sunshine, and obsequious poolside service. I need you.
Thanks to Sara at Wax-On Capitol Hill, I am sleek and hairless in the parts that matter, thus not worrying about that as I go everywhere in my swim suit. (Typically the only people who see my normally European grooming habits are my husband and the people at my yoga studio. And some of the women there don't even wax their mustaches. But I digress.) I'm white but intend to stay that way. Didn't even mess with the suntan-in-a bottle. Why bother? I'm just one out of a hundred fish-belly-colored gringos on Playa Medano today.
Here at the resort, there are four resident flamingoes standing around a small pond, dipping their beaks into the water and emitting soulful moans every so often. I'm not sure the coastal desert is their natural habitat. I'm going to pretend it is so I can enjoy looking at them. Same with the green and turquoise budgies flapping around in a soaring cage by the pool.
Audrey is all bravado and curiosity in the water. The only thing she wants to do is "swim." Here's how she swims: flaps her hands and feet while I support her shoulders and hips just under the surface of the water. Her face beams with pride. "I swimming!" she crows.
Why did I wait so long to come here?
Beautiful Ellya the concierge helped arrange a coconut birthday cake for Matt. He's 39 today. It says "Feliz Cumpleanos Matteo."
I also arranged a sunset cruise to celebrate. The four of us took a water taxi from the beach to the marina. After I sent us walking in the wrong direction around the very large, G-shaped waterfront, we discovered the correct dock and that our boat had left an hour earlier. Guess I left my suspicion of easy pleasure AND my ability to read boat schedules back at the customs line in San Jose del Cabo. No matter: it had begun to rain and a cruise out on the open water would have been very unpleasant. Instead, we went to dinner.
The restaurant was centered around a courtyard. Just off the kitchen in a dim corner, a woman stood behind a counter pressing balls of dough into a two-sided, cast-iron, round tortilla press. A hot grill sizzled with a dozen tortillas. The woman stood over this grill, surrounded by mounds of coarse-looking dough and stacks of fresh, warm rounds. Audrey and I watched her for awhile. She never looked up.
At this, the best restaurant we'd been to so far, the kids behaved their worst. In their defense I have to say it was hard finding a bite of anything that wasn't too spicy for them. The food had not been bastardized to please the turista palate. Audrey insisted on sitting on my lap, Jonah whined that his leche tasted funny, and both of them grew distrustful of anything I put on a fork and tried to coax them into eating.
We took a taxi back to the hotel. I couldn't stomach another half hour of walking the gauntlet of Mexican hustlers and fat white men in golf shirts blocking the tiny sidewalks downtown. Plus, Jonah kept trying to pick up really scary things off the ground. A crack vial. An old band-aid. Etcetera. I just wanted to get there, get the kids to bed, and drink some tequila on the balcony.
If I may be allowed a gross generalization about the Cabo locals: they love children. Everywhere we go, Audrey attracts shameless flirtation from Mexican women and men. Today a woman standing near us talking to her companion absently reached down and stroked Jonah's hair. We smiled in surprise, but she never even caught our eye. Just petted Jonah and kept talking.
This was not so much the case on our sunset cruise tonight. It turned out to be kind of a bust – although the 40-something drunk ladies doing the Macarena with the hot waiters probably wouldn't say so. The liquor flowed freely from an endless supply of flimsy plastic cups. If you were lucky enough to be drunk before the buffet was served, then you didn't care how drippy and lardy the frijoles were, or that the "queso" was really congealed Velveeta. (I think the chef must have been Mexican by way of Kansas.) I stayed sober in order to keep the children from careening over the sides of the boat or tumbling down the vertiginous stairs that led below deck. Or being hit by a drunk gringo who lost his sea legs as we entered a small rain and wind squall. To be honest, it was all a little scary.
But we saw whales. And we idled in front of the awe-inspiring rock formation called Land's End. (Land's End and El Arco are what you see in every picture of Los Cabos.) I looked in vain for the formation that is supposed to look like a group of hooded monks, but couldn't elbow my way through the people taking pictures and keep hold of Jonah's hand.
As we sailed back toward the marina, much later than I wished, I watched the drunks dancing to "My Humps" and thought, man, if my mom was on this trip with us, she'd be right there." Then a fortyish woman in white walking shorts and Keds started gyrating around a flagpole. No, I thought, she'd be right there.