Saturday, November 5th: Pittsburgh to San Jose del Cabo
Weather: Crisp 58F to a humid 85F
Route: PIT --> DFW --> SJD
Friends are gifts, gifts which with a little nurturing become heirlooms. Best friends are valuable treasures, better than precious gems or riches. Best friends know about your bad habits, irritable moods, religious/political beliefs and are your friends all the same. Spending time with friends is joyous and relaxing. There are no thoughts of how long a visit should last before it is polite to make up an excuse to flee. Spending time with a best friend is comfortable, each one being themselves but complementing the other perfectly, organically.
So it was that I had been looking forward to this week for months. My best friend, my "sister from another mother" -- a confident, strong, beautiful, generous-to-a-fault woman -- had invited us and another couple to share a week of vacation time with her and her also-generous husband at a 5-star resort in Mexico. There would be no work issues to take her time away. It was also a week when I could see if the other couple, younger than me but with similar travel interests, might be compatible travel companions for future trips, and vice versa.
My soul mate -- aka Hubby -- opted to stay home. It was not the type of traveling he enjoyed and after 2 months away from home he was eager to get back to other interests. I was disappointed but knew he was making the right decision -- for himself and for the rest of the group.
Hubby did, however, graciously agree to drive the three of us -- me, Sis and her husband -- to the airport. They arrived on time, Hubby moved the car so they could park in our garage and we were on our way -- a week in tropical Baja California. While unloading the luggage at the airport our friends looked in terror at each other. "Where is my carry-on bag? I got everything out of the trunk. It wasn't in the trunk it was on the back seat. So it is still in our car in their garage?" Luckily we were all the type of travelers who arrive more than 2 hours before our flight. Hubby again graciously insisted on driving the extra hour to go back home and return with the bag. That is just what friends do, and don't mind doing it.
While we waited outside TSA Security for Hubby to return, the husband of the young couple, "Young Laddie", arrived and joined us. His wife, "Young Lass" had a prior family commitment tonight but would join us tomorrow. With the forgotten carry-on bag eventually retrieved from Hubby, the five of us passed through TSA Security, still with plenty of time to buy a few pesos from Travelex (~16MXN$/1US$) and a lunch salad at the food court before our 14:30 EDT flight out of PIT.
As the plane made its final maneuvers out of the airport and followed the Ohio River south we were treated to an Autumn landscape with wild red patches of Sumac trees amid geometric patterns of brown farm fields, their furrows following the contours of green hills. Deeper valleys and higher ridges further south disappeared as we reached our cruising altitude above the clouds. It was a comfortable, quiet 3.25-hour flight to DFW, arriving 15 minutes early into Terminal C. We took the Skyline to Terminal A with enough time to relax over a glass of wine at Vino Volo near our A19 gate. The 3-hour second hop of the trip to Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) was also quiet, arriving at 19:43 MST. Passing through Mexico's Immigration and Customs procedures took only minutes, with no queues at either checkpoint. Sis and her husband were delayed a little with a paperwork issue. As we waited for them outside the Immigration area Young Laddie and I were sitting ducks for timeshare sales marketers. We all finally extracted ourselves from them to find our prearranged shuttle rep at the curb outside. The 20-minute shuttle ride to San Jose del Cabo in the dark on Saturday night only gave us glimpses of the areas we were passing through.
Cabo Azul is a very high-end resort which was only recently added to the 5-star Diamond Resorts property holdings. Our check-in was efficient but pleasant. Soon a Concierge rep was carting the few bags we had (one backpack each for me and Young Laddie and a suitcase and carry-on for my Sis and her husband) to our rooms, along the way pointing out the various restaurants and other services available to us. It had been a long day but a quick trip to the resort's mini-mart was deemed necessary so we would have milk for the morning's coffee, a few snacks in place of tonight's dinner and a bottle of wine to enjoy tonight before bed.
Other than the normal safety rules about drinking the water and wearing sunblock, we all agreed to two additional precautions:
1. Don't go anywhere off the Cabo Azul property alone
2. Don't eat uncooked foods like salsa or salads in local establishments
I and the other night owl in our group, Young Laddie, then ventured back out across the street to browse through the sidewalk art festival before it closed at 22:00 -- in 15 minutes. The free performance of opera arias by local students convinced us that we really needed a shower and some sleep. Back home it was already 1:00 AM.
Today's compatibility assessment = A, based on Time Awareness, Minimal Luggage per person and Preparedness for unforeseen events.