If La Paz was sticking its big toe into the wonderful world of tourism, Cabo San Lucas has jumped into it with both feet. We first came here on a cruise ship about fifteen years ago and have great memories of watching the sun set over Los Arcos from a restaurant that had a reflecting pool at the edge of the Pacific. It was an isolated spot in the hills and we wondered if we could ever find it again. Imagine our surprise when we looked over our balcony and saw that same spot below us. In the intervening years, Cabo has grown both east and west from the central harbor area and construction is still going great guns.
We’ve read that one of the reasons folks come here is to do deep sea fishing - catch and release. Judging by the number of touristy fishing boats jammed into the harbor, this was easy to believe. Nearby restaurants offer to cook and serve what you have caught that day, it releasing isn’t on your agenda. A 1000 pound marlin would make a mighty generous meal. Most days one or two cruise ships are bobbing in the harbor. This area doesn’t lend itself to constructing a cruise ship dock, so passengers have to tender in. The spot where they land is lined with booths selling tickets to jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking and boat rides out to the peninsula’s end, called Los Arcos. Aggressive time share vendors are a burden the tourists in Cabo have to bear.
Because Cabo was a genuine Mexican town before the gringos discovered it, there are still remnants of old Mexico, but most of the place feels like an American version of south of the border. In addition to the familiar golden arches and KFC’s, the big box stores are here as well. We stocked up on groceries at a Super Walmart, located next to a Sam’s and a Costco. Office Max is being built across the street. Home Depot is nearby. According to the “Gringo Times,” these stores are not clones of the ones in the US. Rather the name is sold to a local, who patterns the store after the US version. The Walmart offered much more of the foods that we have seen in more typically Mexican grocery stores. Mexicans don’t generally eat bagels, but they were available in the frozen food section, for example. The Gringo Times also cattily commented that the cleanliness and organizational standards are bent a bit in the Mexican way, but we’re not here long enough to get a good feel for that ourselves.
Obviously shore line real estate is the most valuable. We were surprised to see that a little mall where we had shopped in 2005, was virtually deserted today. It had been on the edge of the malecon (boardwalk) that lines the harbor, but new stores and restaurants had been built in front of it and no one could see that the mall was still there. Americans often lament the rules and regulations put in place by government whenever they want to do something, but there’s something to be said for having a coherent plan and monitoring its completion. There’s a huge complex of new apartments near our condo that is totally deserted. When we asked why, we were told that it was built for low income tenants by a developer who was required to do so in order to have permission to build some higher priced developments where he could make some serious money. His work was not closely monitored and only after all the apartments were finished, was it noticed that adequate provisions for sewage were never made. The buildings are there, but no one can live in them. What a waste - no pun intended.