CABO PULMO: A Slow Start to the Blog

My intention was to do something creative every day we were away, but my creativity has tended more toward perfecting my margarita recipe and figuring out a substitute for Worstershire sauce in my steak marinade. So it’s Thursday the 6th of March and I’m just now blogging, even though we’ve been gone since the 2nd. We weren’t in Mexico that entire time; our flight was on Tuesday the 4th. We’d planned to stay at the airport the night before as our flight was REALLY early, but the threat of snow pushed us to Boston on Sunday vs. Monday. The Southcoast area got enough snow to be a nuisance, but in Boston there was nary a flake.

So with no snow to keep us hotel bound and a whole day to ourselves in Boston we took the T two stops on the blue line and spend a wonderful few hours at the New England Aquarium. We are members but rarely use our membership, so we were happy to visit my beloved penguins, meet the new fur seal and check out the renovated ocean tank. Being a Monday it was not crowded, and we had an easy time viewing all the exhibits. I could talk to the volunteers cleaning the penguin enclosure, one in particular who was being challenged by a curious young African penguin that repeatedly grabbed the neck of her scrub brush, trying to take it away from her.   When she leaned forward from her sitting position on their rock outcropping another penguin bit her on the butt. She said he was a troublemaker and very sassy. It probably hurt to get nipped but I thought it was hysterical. I always remember Christopher Walken talking about his penguin interaction while filming one of the Batman movies. He told Jay Leno they would come up to him and whop him on the knees with their flippers when they were hungry. He said they liked to snack. How much fun would that be, having a penguin hit you with his flipper when he wanted a herring?

We ended our excursion with clam chowder and Prosecco at Legal Seafood across from the aquarium, a treat on the very cold (19 degrees) day especially since we were not dressed properly as we were heading to Mexico. We followed up lunch by sharing a maple bread pudding that was delightfully custardy and while maple flavored not cloyingly sweet. Yum. We braved the cold for the short walk to the T and were picked up at the airport T stop by the Hilton shuttle. It was a really fun outing.

My friend Mary Ellen joined us that evening toting a nice red wine, which we enjoyed with the hors d’oeuvres and goodies in the executive lounge in lieu of dinner. Their sun dried tomato and feta in phyllo appetizers were delicious. We had a short night’s sleep and trekked to the airport for a 4:15 AM check-in, a latte from Starbucks and an uneventful boarding. I was finally starting to relax as the previous week’s threat of “a major weather event” on or around our departure date was making me hyperventilate. We made it to Cabo a bit early, and the jet parked at the new terminal, complete with jetways! No more disembarking down the steps to the tarmac and having no idea where to go because of the throng of people either walking to their planes or just arriving from other planes creating a sea of humanity, some kind of disorganized chaos. It’s much more civilized now, but I can’t help but think it is just a bit less charming as well. On to customs and immigration. We continued to be amazed by how people can’t follow simple directions on how to fill out an immigration form (one woman had to redo hers 3 times before the agent would stamp her passport and let her through), so after the line from hell we found all of our bags, got green lighted at the customs desk (so no luggage search) and then headed to my most hated part of the trip – the car rental.

Mexican car rental agencies make me want to scream. We walked out to a wall of people holding signs for every rental agency – except ours. We asked if anyone knew where the Fox Rental Agent was and they showed us where their shuttle van SHOULD be, but of course it wasn’t there. We were trying them out this year because they were open 24 hours and our departing flight was very early, and most agencies don’t open until 5 AM at which point we’d be boarding. The Hertz agent asked to see our rental agreement and agreed to match the price, much to the chagrin of the manager at their off-airport location. When asked who told us we could get the same rate Steve described the woman as long dark hair, yellow shirt, white pants; I told him he’d just described every woman that works for Hertz in Mexico. They did agree to rent us the car, my belligerence made them go easy on the push for additional liability insurance, and we walked out with a Chrysler Town and Country with 5000 miles on it. AND we can leave it in the paid lot at the airport because they don’t open until 5 AM. God forbid the other rental agencies would put that on their websites.

Next, the grocery store. Soriana, the Mexican grocery chain, has built a lovely new location close to the airport especially for me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I had a comprehensive grocery list as our casita rental in Cabo Pulmo has a great kitchen and a grill and we’re going to be there for eleven nights. With 5 restaurants in town it would be easy to get Mexican food overload, and I love to cook, so we can have variety and even save a few bucks. We loaded up the van and headed north, stopping to pick up Pacifico Lite in bottles at a bodega on the way. Bud Lite Bottles, Corona Lite in cans, but no Corona or Pacifico in bottles at Soriana. Really? If I could write Spanish I’d leave a comment card.

The drive to Cabo Pulmo is always interesting. Will a portion of the road be washed out? Will a bull be in the middle of the road on a hairpin curve? With American Express providing the liability insurance on the rental car and a $5000 hold on the card to guarantee coverage I really don’t want to ding this baby up, never mind total it.  So we’re going the speed limit behind a beat-to-shit white Toyota Corolla when a flatbed truck posing as a moving van coming towards us loses three white resin chairs off the back in spectacular fashion. They leapt off of that bed. Two hit the asphalt behind the truck and the third collided with that poor Corolla. It was like white resin fireworks. We avoided the two chairs in the road and felt the ping of a piece of resin off the roof, but aren’t sure if it left a mark. Hopefully nobody at Hertz will notice. That Corolla is going to need a new windshield.

The rest of the ride, with the exception of the bone rattling 6 miles of dirt road into the village was easy-peasy.

The Jewel of Cabo Pulmo.
Our casita is an oasis. The house is palapa roofed with a roof deck, a covered porch on two sides, both an indoor and outdoor shower, a magnificent garden, which, while Mary Ellen and I agree needs some editing, attracts magnificent birds, hummingbirds and butterflies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped while writing this to grab my binoculars and look at a mango colored oriole, a cactus wren or the longest eared rabbit I’ve ever seen. Mary and I are having a hard time moving from the air chairs positioned in front of the bird feeders, which we’re keeping full. She looked at me this morning and said, “Can we just stay here forever?” Even Steve, who wasn’t really interested in birding, is enjoying the show.

The first night we ventured to El Caballero for dinner, as it was late by the time the caretaker had come by to give us an orientation. Our waiter, Octavio, was the eighth child born to his parents and was born in August. I wonder what his lucky number is? The food was OK but not outstanding. The fish was a bit salty even for me, and Mary said her chicken tasted like it had been cooked, run over and cooked again. But she did like the mole sauce. Steve had Kahlua shrimp and seemed pleased with it, but after a long travel day, a beer and 2 margaritas I’m not sure any of our taste buds were at their best. We slept really well that night.

I was still on east coast time so 5:30 felt like 7:30 and I was able to go to the beach with my yoga mat to catch the sunrise. Several boats with divers were headed out at dawn, but other than that I had the place to myself. Mary whipped up a tropical fruit salad that we enjoyed with Greek yogurt and my homemade granola. We dined al fresco, bird watched some more, and then headed to Los Arborlitos beach for some snorkeling. Mary is a novice, and Steve was very good about giving her pointers and we both kept a close eye on her. I was going to try out my new underwater camera! The biggest surprise was that THE WATER WAS WARM! Usually it’s a bit numbing unless you have a wet suit, and I’m not a fan of cold water; probably wouldn’t go in at all if it weren’t for the fish, but this was actually delightful. Great viewing and I got some good pics, which I can’t share until we head to Cabo San Lucas, as the wifi here doesn’t have enough bandwidth for uploading large files. Mary wasn’t aware and sent out a couple of photos while I was on-line. It ground the computer to a halt.

We came back to a lunch of homemade salsa and guacamole, famous Cabo chips (the best!) and the Mexican boiler maker – a beer followed by my aforementioned recipe-tweaked margaritas. And homemade candy. The old saltine, brown sugar, butter and chocolate chip kind.

We hung out, talked, read, bird-watched, sat on the roof in the sun, walked the beach and came back again for a marinated skirt steak, baked potato and garden salad dinner, followed by my carrot cake. Mexican ovens don’t have temperature dials so I had no idea what temp I was baking at. But it’s all good. And my marinade recipe used soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, garlic, scallion, Dijon mustard and vegetable oil. And it’s not really a marinade; the steak is sprinkled with salt, pepper and sugar and then grilled. After removing it from the grill it is pierced with a fork all over and the marinade poured over it, with extra served on the side. Really good!

More mañana.