A Taste Of Mexico In San Jose Del Cabo

"The desert bore an eerie resemblance to the one that I had seen on my frequent visits to the Saudi capital of Riyadh in years past"

A Taste Of Mexico In San Jose Del Cabo

It was the 21st of December and the peak of the holiday season. When we were ready to deplane, we were told to wait until a ladder was found. When we were on the tarmac, we had to wait for a bus to be found. Once we reached the airport, we had to deal with long lines for immigration and then for customs. The customs officer decided to give our bags a detailed examination. Perhaps this was to reciprocate for the treatment passengers with Mexican passports get in the US.

An hour after landing, we were finally in a van headed to the JW Marriott. But the roads looked quite different from the ones we had taken five years ago to visit Cabo San Lucas. That’s when I discovered there were two towns in Los Cabos with Cabo in their name. This time we were headed toward San Jose del Cabo. So, this was not going to be a repeat of our last vacation but the beginning of a new one.

I did not know what lay ahead. I had done no research since I had just assumed we were staying in the other Cabo. When we arrived at our resort, I discovered it was located on a cliff overlooking the sea. On the other side was the desert which we had traversed to get here. The desert bore an eerie resemblance to the one that I had seen on my frequent visits to the Saudi capital of Riyadh in years past. Unsurprisingly, the brochure at this resort talked it up as being located “between the desert and the sea.”

I wondered what Cabo meant and found out it meant 'cape.' The weather was nice, the people were friendly, the food we had for dinner at the resort was tasty, and the scenery was stunning. But to get to the beach, you had to climb down some 25 steps, go left on a raised wooden platform, and then go down another 30 steps. The beach was not inviting. It was narrow and the sea was rough for most of the time we were there. The black flag warning was in effect. We did not venture down and just took in the views. A few intrepid souls were strolling on the sands that lay underneath us. Like us, they were of South Asian origin.

At the resort, the atmosphere was truly cosmopolitan. We encountered people of several ethnicities, including East Asians, Europeans, Americans, Africans and Mexicans. More than once, we were mistaken for being Mexican, and we came to know that when people would speak to us in Spanish.

We walked around the resort. It had seven buildings labelled A through F. They triggered classroom memories of days long gone. In class, everyone wanted an A, but we few got it. No one wanted an F, but some got it. We were given a room in Building B. It had a partial ocean view. Our daughters got a panoramic view in C.

Every day we would walk the grounds. One day I spotted an iguana, like the ones we had seen in Puerto Vallarta last December. As I approached it to get a close-up shot, it panicked and slipped down the side of the building. Through the vine that covered the side, I could see its long tail. It was much bigger than I had imagined. I suspect if one got too close to it, the person would be hit with it.  

The resort was designed for people to just stay there. It had seven swimming pools, a spa, an exercise centre and several restaurants from casual to formal offering a variety of cuisines. But we did not want to just stay there.

In advance of our visit, our daughters had booked meals at several restaurants. Three of them featured farm-to-table cuisine and, to make sure you had the authentic experience, you had to drive on a dirt road for a mile to get there. Acre Resort had the best food, Flora Farms had the best grounds, and Tamarindos had the best internal ambiance. But it also gave us amazing views of the sunset and the nearly full moon.

On our last evening, we went for Italian food at Parole Los Cabos. We were seated outside but, thankfully, a heated lamp was placed next to us. While we were indulging in the taste of Rome, a violinist appeared and serenaded the guests.

We took Uber wherever we went. One driver was fluent in English. Given my interest in energy issues, I asked him as to why none of the homes had solar panels and why there were no electric vehicles on the road. He said that the government did not want customers to sell power back to the grid, because that would infringe on its monopoly rights. I was quite familiar with that argument. However, there was a town just an hour away where the grid did not supply power. The residents had installed solar panels and paired them with batteries, so they could live off-grid. As for electric vehicles, there was no place to charge them. Until the charging infrastructure was built, why would anyone buy them?

One afternoon we toured Centro, the quaint downtown area. A beautiful church stood there. There were shops all around and several art galleries. A few restaurants were located along the main road but we had already eaten lunch. So, we stopped at a bakery and savoured their pastries with tea and coffee on the patio. We also stopped at the famed Secret Garden restaurant and took a couple of pictures.

The six days just flew by. The two Cabos made for a good pair, each unique in its offerings. I would not mind coming back to either one. In fact, I discovered some people who would come there annually and some who had permanently moved there from the US upon retiring.

Dr. Faruqui is a history buff and the author of Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan, Routledge Revivals, 2020. He tweets at @ahmadfaruqui