Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, Cabo, Los Cabos, all located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, in the country of Mexico in the state of Baja California Sur, may never have made it to my red, green or blue pins on our Hammacher Schlemmer travel destination framed map had it not been for a recent destination wedding we were invited to attend.Â It’s not that Cabo, a popular place that many Los Angelenos visit, isn’t a perfect desert-on-the-ocean oasis for the rich and famous (and we Regular People), it’s just that it’s not too ideal for those traveling from the east coast.Â The west coast has Hawaii and Mexico, we have Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the vast choices found in the Caribbean.
But since returning from Cabo, I have since changed my mind and would love to find my way back, even if the travel is less than compact.Â And I can tell you mis amigos, it’s not because I can lounge by/in the pool and eat the best fish tacos I’ve ever had washed down with margs all day long, spa myself into oblivion, gain 10 lbs, and do all that comes with a resort like the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort.Â No, it’s actually because I had the opportunity to be a part of the local community.
Saturday, we chose to spend our day wandering through the Art District of San Jose del Cabo and after walking in and out of numerous galleries and haunting little shops on the brand new bricked streets, white washed buildings and brightly painted signs (finished for the G20 which just left town), also touring with Alex, our official guide and driver, I developed a crush on this special place.
The tradition, history, legends, battles, and strife this culture and community has endured is phenomenal and now, the number one way Cabo brings in money is through tourism.Â It has turned itself into a destination so desirable, that the G20 was here most recently, and on top of that, a convention center was built and is already being booked left and right (opened for the G20).Â Our tour guide explained to us that the road median, which displayed picturesque (Martha Steward landscape-style) cacti and rock formations was planted just for the G20 as were many of the other stark clean and “just a regular town in California” type visuals.Â The facelift was not unique to any market about to host a world wide convention, most cities spend years vying for the win, then millions making sure its thoroughly prepped for hosting, after all, don’t we want the guests to have an enjoyable time, thus returning again?
Not that the fresh paint and pristine appearance wasn’t a turn on, it was lovely, however, I most enjoyed talking to the locals and learning about their crafts within San Jose, which also hosts an Art Walk Thursday nights from November to June (5pm-9pm).Â It’s a welcoming that invites guests to stroll, to dine, to drink, to view and to visit within the Art District.Â And what a welcome it is that each owner and artist presented as we entered every door on this quiet hot, sunny Saturday.Â My Spanish (3 semesters in college, gracias) was and is still poor, but many store owners and artists spoke English as best they could, knowing that the more they conversed, the longer we would stay and the better of a chance they would have in selling some of their pieces, whether it be jewelry, a painting, mixed media, pottery, crafts, books, wraps, anything.Â I noted that many of the works came from artists based in Chihuahua, but some were right there in the shops exhibiting their finest and most prized pieces.
Some of my favorites were The Art Market, Ivan Guaderrama, Salitas, Paquime Gallery, Indian Hands , Desertica Art Gallery and there were so many others. Let it be known, don’t come to Cabo thinking you are saving money on anything, especially your hotel because remember, we are talking about a desert in Mexico, that yes, it’s on the ocean, but in order to get this region clean, consumable water, the technology and process is expensive, and the cost does end up getting passed onto the tourist/consumer/you.Â And silver? While years and years and years ago, you could trip to Mexico and collect mounds for nothing, not so anymore. The rising cost calls out for a “HIGH HO SILVER!” But when you can see that some of the jewelry and beads, and paintings, and crafts of copper are so different, each one made with the hands of a diligent artisan, you don’t care of the price because you didn’t get it in an everyday mall.Â I’m one who loves to choose artwork and jewelry with a story, so I can say, “We got this when we took our trip to Cabo for the first time” because they carry with them a special memory.Â Â A great shopping guide is HERE.
We also had a chance to go back the other direction on the highway to the Luxury Avenue, right next to the boat docks within a mall that wished to rival the Galleria with the other side being its “Tysons Corner Center”.Â Here we found the stores of Cartier, Fendi, Carolina Herrera and a number of ways to spend your hard earned plastic on fine jewels, watches and high end designers.
And we all know shopping makes a hungry bear.Â As someone who could alternate between Mexican and Italian everyday all day, being in Mexico was heaven. One place to which we were introduced was Mi Casa in San Jose, which was the catalyst for us returning the next day to the art district.Â It was simply delightful.Â Naturally, we dove into dining while at the Hilton resort (the breakfast buffet was next to none), which may I say, was really a solid place to choose.Â The space and rooms were sizable, rustic and luxurious, but not too over the top, the food perfect, and the service was full of stars.Â Impeccable, quick (we east coasters have no patience), professional, efficient and precise.Â Just what you want when you are on vacation.
Service seemed to be the name of the game, for when we went on the Sun Rider 100 boat with our group Thursday evening when we toured the rocky windy sea, you couldn’t even sip halfway through your Corona or Tequila Sunrise without it being filled up again by way of a grinning bright eyed face looking right back at you.Â Party, fun, happy! and service with a smile, anything you need, we have and if we don’t, we’ll get it for you! was the theme, from the second we stepped off the plane to the moment we walked off the Los Cabos Airport pavement and onto the steps of our flight home.
Those who understand the value that tourists bring to Cabo, embrace it 100% and do what they can to bring us back again.Â After all, we can get sun, fun and ocean breezes just about anywhere, but when you add the level of service, appreciation, history, and the whole realm of the interesting culture, the landscape changes.Â And yes, Sammy Hagar (Cabo Wabo) and many a billionaire have a residence in Cabo.Â And frankly, NOW I know why.
Let’s address weather, safety and getting to and fro from the east coast. First, the weather was perfect, but it could have not have been.Â Usually, it gets to 110, 120 around these times, but we lucked out with the storms that have been lingering, and had a “low” temp for this time of year of the 90′s.Â And sunny, dry heat it is, so don’t fret about frizzy hair, but do worry about super dry and sunburned skin. Wear tons of sunscreen and apply often and remember, the shade and umbrellas are your friends.Â The heat can bring you to a state of nausea, so hydrate and I don’t mean by way of margaritas.Â Bottled water, lots of it.Â And just because you spot cloud cover or a hazy day doesn’t mean you won’t get burned as cliche as it sounds.Â I almost fried when I was out for an hour during a hazy morning.Â Regarding bugs, we didn’t across any mosquitoes or pesky biting bugs, however, the restaurants were a fly-haven.
So now the pink elephant in the room: Safety. For starters, I never felt unsafe, no matter how many stories I’d heard. For the most part, if you were going to run into any type of danger, it most likely wouldn’t be drug cartel-related, just bad behavior and you can have the same thing happen in New York City if you aren’t careful-related.Â Yes, it’s best if you know your surroundings and the native language, but be smart, don’t walk around on Cabo San Lucas alone in the dark with your fancy self, and keep your eyes peeled for unsavory characters and suspicious behavior.Â Don’t pull out your your pesos or dollars and start counting in public.Â Did we seeÂ PolicÃa Federal around? Yes, and frankly, we felt more protected, and while yes, the Municipal has been known to be more corrupt and bought by the cartel (the education difference between the two in general also is apparent in the yearly salaries), I never felt an wary feeling in my gut, even as we traveled by two or in a large group.Â Cabo is so far south and hard to get to, many of the locals told us that it has been fortunately left out of the violence, however international perception of Mexico in general has hurt tourism and travel.
Speaking of travel … how to get to Cabo.Â There is American, there is US Airways and there is United.Â You can fly through Phoenix, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Houston.Â You can take early flights, you can take late flights, no matter what you do, you’ll end up pretty fine in the afternoon (you will have delays, you will have nightmares) upon arriving, however flying home, I have yet to hear of any good anecdotes.Â We had a two hour delay leaving and a 30 minute delay in Houston home by way of United.Â On the way home, we flew on 737′s, but from Houston to Los Cabos, they had switched the plane out to one which for all intents and purposes was better served as a private jet in the 80′s with an attendant straight from hell and which frankly was one of the worst experiences (and I’ve had BAD) of my travel career, but … such is life.Â At least we landed safely.
If you choose to go to Cabo from the east coast, make sure to spend a considerable amount of time, not just so you can tour the towns and do the activities like swimming with the dolphins, surfing, paddle surfing, boat tours, fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, horse riding on the beach and all that fun stuff, but also so you can get a true rest and relaxation in with the spa, sleep, drinking, dining and yes, my favorite: shopping.
Learn more at http://www.cabo.com/.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.