The Report from Cabo: In search of Hagar
A few members of the group were on the plane, including the standout character of the trip. (There's always one, isn't there?) She sported state-trooper mirrored shades, platinum fried hair, a level of sun damage to permabrown leathery skin that would’ve killed a lesser being, a straw cowboy hat with headscarf underneath, and a spandex knee-length bodysuit with a nylon T-shirt over it (and I’m fairly certain, nothing under it). Picture the old gal from There’s Something About Mary. She eagerly spoke Espanol to every Spanish-speaking person we encountered, using approximately a Spanish-3 level of the language. Which I guess is admirable when looked at from one perspective. Or you could also look at it from another perspective.
For her first act, Spandex Bodysuit engaged our Mexican van drivers, who had a bit of trouble understanding her, in a Spanish conversation about roadrunners (correcaminos), which, she informed them, were as popular in a cartoon in los Estados Unidos as Mickey Mouse. "Yes, 'Roadrunner,'" one said, aware of the decades-old cartoon. Embarrassed already, I hunched over the notepad, and for the remainder of the trip, would document select quotes and all fashion choices. Branch of wilted flowers stuck decoratively in the hair? That's going in the notebook! She addressed me in a loud, slurry drawl, asking if my big Jackie-O-style shades were what the kids were into today, and soon after announcing, “I don’t wanna be condescending because you’re young. But I hope you know not to go out swimming here, like go out at 3 a.m. for a swim, because the currents are really bad, I’ve hadda couple of scary experiences…”
“Oh…did you go on one of those 3 a.m. swims?” I inquired, not being insane enough to ever take a 3 a.m. swim in the ocean myself.
“Naah….one time I went swimming toward some fishermen and I hadda really hard time coming back…” And she continued on. I would learn that it didn’t matter so much what you said in response. Especially if you were the young scamp of the trip like I apparently was.
We stayed at a fancy resort, which was an entirely new experience for me and Big Black, my normally hostel-going backpack. My room looked over the Sea of Cortez.
The place had an enormous pool overlooking the sea, which was this placid in the morning, but due to its swim-up bar, got fratty in the afternoon. I opted for the private beach cabanas with waitstaff service.
It was kinda like that VC Andrews paperback series Heaven, where the titular Heaven, who grew up in poverty, really thought she had hit the big time living with that WT family when they were taking her to KMart and saying “have anything you want, dear.” And then I think the dad molested her? Or no—-maybe it was more like that movie Annie.
Our first outing was a Hummer tour through one of Cabo's arroyos (dry river beds) and up into the mountains. But the tour company let two of the group members each drive one of the Hummers for the whole tour. So I got to drive, with exactly zero experience or training in driving one, and it ruled.
As our caravan of three Hummers took one-lane curvy roads going up and down mountains with no guardrails, I didn't get as good a look at the longhorn cattle corpse or the oasis as I would've liked. That's because I was concentrating on not taking us over the cliff like Toonces the Driving Cat. But now that I brought us through unscathed after already mastering driving in New York City, I can officially drive anything. Bring it.
Then we stopped in a tiny village in the hills called La Candelaria to visit Lorna. She's an artist and potter who originally came to Cabo from Portland, OR, to teach English and never left. Her place is a compound of several huts including her studio, a shaded patio, a grove of palm trees, a garden, a hundreds-of-years-old giant mango tree heavy with fruit, no electricity, no running water, and no plumbing. This woman seemed so relaxed from her lifestyle that I think she might have reached some higher plane of existence. I was amazed and felt honored to be there. I couldn't imagine a place further removed from my hectic lifestyle in ugly old NYC, I was in no hurry to return home, and wondered if I could ever get a setup like this for myself. (But, you know, with plumbing and electricity.)
This is Lorna in her kitchen hut by her traditional adobe stove.
Then we checked out the artist community of Los Santos. I love this life-size Dia de los Muertos-style skeleton having a siesta, but I still don't want to buy any striped stuff, Mexico!
That night we went on this dinner cruise to Los Arcos, the arch between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean that’s emblematic of Los Cabos.
See that little dot when you look through the arch? That's a PIRATE SHIP.
Why was I not on the pirate ship?!?!?!
But then I found my pirate boyfriend, this dancer on the cruise ship.
Our boat also got mooned by someone on another boat. That makes two trips in a row for me getting the full moon.
If only I had known that Sammy Hagar’s monument to tequila, Cabo Wabo Cantina, was in the port town where we disembarked from the boat, I would have stayed in town to party with the second-crappiest singer of Van Halen, which would have been the best thing ever to do in Mexico, and I shall regret this tactical error until the next time I get to Cabo. Instead, I headed back to the hotel lounge overlooking the sea. This here is a bandera, its three components representing the Mexican flag: tequila, sangrita and lime juice.
Eventually I was joined by a fellow tripgoer who reminded me of the mom from Six Feet Under. As someone usually surrounded by uncensored funny bitches, these trip participants were not really my speed. More than one of my remarks had already flopped with silence, but the one that tanked the most memorably happened at the bar veranda that night, when at first I’d been conversing fairly well, considering both other participants were decades older than me and we were talking about oldey-timey music. The older fellow, who hosts an all-Frank Sinatra radio show, mentioned he’d just interviewed Don Rickles, who'd been talking about his upcoming dates. Being muchos margaritas into the night, and quite honestly surprised that Don Rickles was still among the living, I said, “Who were his dates with, the mortician?!” Perfectly normal comment for me to make in regular life. But Frank Sinatra Show Guy and Six Feet Under Mom audibly gasped, Mom saying something like “Oh, youth!” in a completely dismayed way. I was out of my element. I mean—that’s like a Jay Leno-level joke. They can’t take that? I wished for just one of my asshole friends to materialize nearby, and soon retreated to my room’s balcony to finish the evening with my best friend in Mexico, my iPod.
The next day we went to swim with the dolphins, for real. I had no idea what this meant before we got there, but it was really structured time with one dolphin (Renoir) and one trainer (Super Perky Girl--and I'd prob be perky too if I got to play with dolphins all day). We learned a lot, like that they show their bellies to people they like (usually women and children, and they especially like pregnant women--they can see the hidden babies with their sonar, so I guess to them a preggo is like a woman/child double bonus), and that rubbing a dolphin's belly button is good luck.
Hanging out with my bud Renoir.
This really happened!
I couldn't wipe the smile off my face after that. Now I am totally going to get a backpiece tattoo of leaping dolphins silhouetted against a moon with a dreamcatcher around it and a Native American face floating in the sky with a wolf howling and a wizard holding a crystal ball, etc.
That evening, our last, we had only about half an hour to wander about town in the state's capital of San Jose. I went into the local Cabo Wabo merchandise store (there's a bunch, including one at the airport), and quickly made friends with the workers there, who invited me to their fiesta secreto in the back room featuring the high-end Clase Azul tequila. I took it without any groceries (straight), and it was fine. So this was the sipping tequila I’d heard about! These two were my new best friends in Mexico.
I left after a few feeling quite happy, feeling like the tallest person in San Jose, white miniskirt flouncing about me, atop wedge heels, the wooden-planked sidewalk was my catwalk. This stuff was goooood. I really liked it here. I stopped to pet a Chihuahua puppy—adorable! I stopped to buy my niece a doll and the sweet young boy asked me en espanol how old I was. I made him guess. “Fifteen?” he ventured. I love it—kids are so out of it!!! I asked his age and he tried to claim 18 when he must’ve been about 11. What a darling.
Then at Fenicia, the patio restaurant of a boutique hotel, I had the best cocktail of the trip: the Latin Lover, a jalapeno dirty martini, which was both spicy and salty like myself, and then proceeded to have what may have been the best meal of my life. Six courses, with just the palate-cleanser alone being mango sorbet in Grey Goose. Another course was asparagus risotto with white wine, roasted pine nuts, and white truffle oil. Ridic. Not sure what the other things offically were since, being vegetarian, they weren't listed on the menu. (Mexicans think vegetarians are crazy!)
Sitting there in that torch-lit palm-treed courtyard with chatter all around and the sound of water running into an ornamental pool, I understood why Cabo is one of those places where people come to visit and never leave. Of course, we’d all been given the royal treatment; but aside from that, there is something special about the place that commands you to slow down and relax. It’s hot, like 100 degrees, so you have no choice other than to give in. And it’s great.
Back with my amigos at the Cabo Wabo annex tequila shop earlier, I had made one of the best discoveries of the trip:
So, Sammy had basically come into HIS OWN STORE and gotten so overwhelmed with how much it ruled that he had to write it on the wall. Then autograph the wall. Then date it. But for perhaps the first time ever, I found myself in complete agreement with Sammy Hagar. Mas tequila, indeed.