Friday, November 11th: Jet Skis and Snorkeling
Weather: Hot and sunny with a light breeze
Route: Cabo Azul Resort --> Mega Mall via local 'Urbano' bus --> Cabo San Lucas via Intercity bus --> Pemex Gas Station across from the City Club --> FullSpeed Jet Ski east of Medano Beach
On Tuesday, after we had found the jet ski tour we wanted online, we had arranged by phone to meet the FullSpeed Tours agent, Odo, at 10:00 today. We made sure we were on the local 'Urbano' bus to the Mega Mall by 9:00. Having ridden the local and intercity buses yesterday we were familiar with the routes and were only a little nervous about getting off at the correct meeting place near the Cabo San Lucas City Club. The intercity bus driver saw us hurrying from the Mega Mall and kindly waited for us to cross the highway. This time the fare for 5 riders was MXN$200.00, so we still weren't entirely sure how fares were calculated. Today the accordion-playing singer did not ride.
We disembarked when we saw the City Club and walked to the meeting place -- a Pemex Gas Station at the corner. Would any of us had thought that getting into the car of someone we had never met and being driven to a place we had never been was a good idea? Probably a very risky tourist mistake -- except that there were 5 of us. I phoned Odo at 10:15. He was running late but a few minutes later we were squeezing into his Jeep for the short drive -- passing through a guarded gate to a parking area near Medano Beach. We followed him to a beach kiosk where we sat under an awning at a table on the sand. Before beginning the paperwork Odo offered drinks: juices, sodas or bottled water. The large pitchers of homemade juice looked inviting but we played it safe and opted for the water. Odo quickly completed the payment process, making sure I checked that the final amount in US$ was what we had agreed to. We kept with us what we would need for the jet ski rides and the snorkel swim. Odo put the remaining items -- dry clothes and towels -- back into his Jeep. He would drive to and meet us at the Santa Maria beach later. None of us brought cameras.
Now he and his crew helped us get our gear into the jet ski compartment and get the 3 machines into the ocean. The young couple was on the double, I was on the back of another double that Sis's husband drove and the single was being ridden by Sis -- the crazy speed demon who was bouncing over the small swells with obvious joy. We would be jet skiing approximately the same distance as we covered on the sailboat yesterday.
The wind was in our faces for the 30-minute ride to Santa Maria Cove and the swells were bigger than an hour ago. I tried my best to anticipate the wave action using my legs as shock absorbers. The 3 jet ski drivers tried to find a speed at which their machines could ride the waves but after surfing a few we would fall into a trough and bog down. Neither me nor my driver was wearing sunglasses so the salt spray in our faces was making it difficult to keep our eyes open. We were about halfway to Santa Maria when the young couple on the other double complained that their machine didn't have enough power. Our guide took Young Lass to Santa Maria so Young Laddie could have some fun jumping the waves. Meanwhile, speed demon helped her husband get his snorkel mask out of our jet ski compartment then raced off again to play. We bounced along to the cove where we waited for our guide to drop an anchor and string a line to which he could attach the jet skis. Once we all had our snorkel gear on, the guide had us follow him to some open water where he tossed out bread crumbs to bring the fish swarming around us. I suppose tourists like this method of seeing fish. I prefer to find them in their natural habitat, darting among rocks where I have to work a little harder to see them.
After distributing all the bread he motioned to follow him out of the water but when we realized he was walking along the beach to get to where we could snorkel near the rocks we decided to swim instead. Unfortunately, three of our group were already in the surf removing their gear so they had to walk over and put it all back on again, trying to remove as much coarse sand from their fins as they could once they were back in the deeper water (the most difficult part of snorkeling). Sadly I spotted our guide standing on the coral rocks to adjust his equipment, then saw him drop his plastic bread crumb container in water too deep to retrieve, so I was not very impressed with his eco-habits. Although we had snorkeled here yesterday afternoon off the back of the sailboat, the morning light today created less glare and slightly better visibility. We dove down to get better glimpses into the rocky crevices that had been in shadow yesterday. Someone in our group saw a Spotted Eel as it slithered over the sandy bottom in search of a better rock to hide under but I was too far away to see it.
When we saw Odo on the beach we all joined him for a cold juice drink, then walked back along the beach to swim back to the jet skis. I kept my snorkel mask on for the ride back. This time Sis and her husband rode one double, Young Lass (also a jet ski speedster) got the single and I rode behind Young Laddie. With the wind at our backs the spray was not as bad but the waves still made for a bumpy ride. Before ending the ride our guide directed us over to El Arco where we could get closer to the arch than we had yesterday on the sailboat. Back at our starting point, Young Laddie accelerated at a heart-quickening speed toward the beach, trying to time the waves to ride the jet ski all the way up onto the sand. Good job -- I wasn't thrown off the back! It was about 13:00, so our late start did not affect the duration of the 2-hour tour.
Before looking for a restaurant we "assumed" we would be able to take a quick fresh water beach shower, which some of us were dismayed to learn was not available. Seeing our surprise, our guide brought a gallon jug of water which we used sparingly to rinse our faces and heads. Changing into our dry clothes in the outhouse would cost MXN$5.00/person or was free if we used the age-old technique of changing under a beach towel. Despite our confusion, Odo waited for us to be dressed and even offered to drive us to El Toro Guero for lunch. Well...first he thought we said El Torito, his family's favourite place, which also looked good, but we wanted to try the restaurant that had been recommended. El Toro Guero was busy with local Friday lunch clients -- a good sign -- and there was a long table for six under the outside awning beside the parking area. Live music and talking inside made the outdoor table preferable for us.
It took us a long time to decide on our orders; there were so many delicious-sounding entrees and all at very good prices. While deciding, we couldn't resist snacking on the tortilla chips and homemade salsa -- breaking the second safety rule of the trip. I wasn't sure what Huachinango was (it was Red Snapper) but the almond and shrimp sauce on it sounded good. It was. Sis ordered a margarita and sauteed crab (her go-to favourite). Imagine her surprise when a huge chalice of margarita was delivered along with a plate piled high with whole crabs, legs and all. She had her work cut out for her but she dug in and cracked open all those crab legs eventually! We lingered over the wonderful meals and the thirst-quenching drinks as we compared notes on our experiences today and how much our legs were starting to stiffen up from the pounding jet ski rides. I don't think today's jet skiing is what those with previous experience were expecting -- jet skiing on flat water allowed for more speed and maneuverability thrills, with less pounding. Finally fortified with food and drink it was time to find the bus back to San Jose. Odo had told us to look for the bus on the street behind the restaurant. Instead we turned towards the Marina and the tourist district 2 km away, a distance that would normally not have been challenging for any of us and probably was a good way to limber up our legs.
Walking through the suburbs of Cabo San Lucas gave us an opportunity to peek into the lives of the people who support the successful tourist industry here. We even came across a Pittsburgh Paints store! The young couple's high school Spanish was already much improved by now. It may have been good for our legs to walk back but our water-softened feet were threatening to blister in our sandals by the time we finally reached the intercity bus stop. The 5 of us were charged MXN$185.00 for the return trip. Some of us snoozed during the 20-minute ride back to the Mega Mall. We voted to ride the local bus back to Cabo Azul where a final snooze by the pool and a hot shower was waiting for us.
While unpacking beach gear I realized my snorkel tube had been collected with the borrowed gear when we left the beach. I debated whether to write it off or call to see if I could retrieve it somehow. Odo was most accommodating when I contacted him. He claimed he had business in San Jose del Cabo tomorrow and could be at Cabo Azul by 9:00. I was relieved that he had the tube but still unsure whether he would deliver it in time in the morning.
None of us were terribly hungry after the huge late lunch. The compilation of leftover snacks and breakfast food let each of us create our own individual and somewhat bizarre dinner concoctions. No one objected to finishing all the ice cream, M&Ms and peanut butter for dessert. The sugar boost helped get us mostly packed and ready for a 9:30 departure to the airport. It had been a wonderful day full of off-the-beaten-tourist-track activities. We were all ready to sleep early.
Today's compatibility assessment = A, based on participation in activities we wouldn't choose to do on our own.