In Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the passengers of Carnival Miracle were taken to pier from tender. As the ship elegantly approached the shore from the Pacific Ocean before tendering, slowly turning to the Sea of Cortez, we could see one of the most famous landmarks, the magnificent rock formation El Arco at the Lands End. And the Lovers Beach – the hideaway only approachable from the sea. On the Pacific side of El Arco the beach is called Divorce Beach, strong currents are dangerous on this side and even good swimmers can be sweaped away. Don’t swim there, they say.
For us Cabo was familiar from American holiday goers T-shirts and Cabo Wabo Cantina of Las Vegas, the Van Halen musician Sammy Hagar’s joint that has the original party house in Cabo San Lucas. We were aware that this is a popular vacay spot for the people from North of the Border. Filled with resorts and time share opportunities.
The Penisula has lured famous names even before becoming famous, John Steinbeck spent time here in the 1940’s, following his marine biologist friend and making notes. He wrote The Log From the Sea of Cortez and later The Pearl, a novel we both have had to read years ago during high school years (that time the story didn’t make an impression). Cabo’s tourism really started in the mid 70’s as the Mexican government decided to create a high-end holiday destination to the tip of the beautiful Penisula of Baja California. These days, Cabo has become a playground for the rich & the famous and the development boom sees no end. Cabo is one of the most rapidly growing luxury destinations in the Americas, as this article explains.
However, we had heard that new (yet old) clouds are gathering in the skies as the area has faced increased incidents of violent crime in the tourist areas. Our day programme reminded us of paying attention to what to take along and what to leave in the safe. There was also an announcement for all passengers stating that the American Embassy wants to advice people to avoid leaving tourist areas and being extra cautious before dawn and after dusk. And obviously, for a good reason. A Los Angeles Times article by Kate Linthicum explains many of the recent whats and whys and states that Cabo is no longer a safe haven.
We didn’t book an excursion with the cruise company as we felt all interesting excursions would take too many hours of our time on the city streets. We wanted to take a tour around the city with a local to find out if this could be a future destination, too, and hired a taxi driver.
Jonathan was a fun and knowledgeable tour guide who first told us about the city streets, sights, famous bars and restaurants. During our visit we could’ve bumped into Hollywood A-listers, like Nicole Kidman, as Los Cabos International Film Festival was in full swing. Unfortunately, no star sightings this time.
Our guide told he had moved here years ago from the Northern Mexico to live a more tranquil life, the tourism has helped at keeping this place a safer place to live and raise a family -until recently. He didn’t have to explain more, we knew what he was trying to tell us.
We discussed the secluded luxury the area can offer for the high-end vacationers. Five star hotels, private mansions, Michelin restaurants, luxe spas and private beaches. At that point we made a photo stop at the glorious Medano Beach, by the posh Hacienda Beach Club with cabanas, bars and white sand. Then we talked about tourism, it’s good and down sides. Tourism is good and essential for the economy, that is for sure. But as in many destinations around the world, too much is too much for the locals and travelers alike. But especially for the locals.
As we visited just before the beginning of the high season, mid-November, Carnival Miracle was the only ship that brought passengers (part of whom didn’t bother leaving the ship as they had been here before -a little sad). Sometimes there are five ships in a day, all passengers roaming the streets of Cabo at the same time. The narrow streets, the shops, the restaurants and the marina piers will be filled with more or less polite cruise passengers in addition to the crowds wandering out from the resorts. Day and night.
Then there was this discussion of weather and Jonathan told how the recent hurricane season had caused severe flooding and several people lost their lives. He drove us to see the local residents hang out beach and then to a place next to it, where you can see a now dry river bed. Jonathan described how he found a drowned woman there after the storm. He was obviously and understandably shocked by the recent events. But we felt happy he wanted to share this personal experience with us.
English, Jonathan explained, he wants to learn more all the time. He has cd’s to listen to at his taxi. That is how he has learned the language, it is essential with the tourists. He would want his kids to learn other languages, as well. We told we should apologise, as guests to his country our Spanish should be good enough to have a conversation.
Cabo San Lucas comes with a mid-city church, of course, and the question”Are you religious in Finland?” was not exactly a surprise. The comparison of behavioral traditions in our cultures of faith was interesting. Purely curious, not judgemental. To you who are not familiar with our religious traditions: let’s say we mostly visit church for weddings and funerals.
As we passed a park with a whale skeleton Jonathan told us about the whale migration, the strong sport fishing traditions, the underwater miracles we must come see next time we arrive to Cabo. As stereotypical cruise passengers we asked Jonathan to drive us back to Cabo Wabo – just had to visit it. Anyways,do Cabo San Lucas with a taxi driver if possible.