2: A Day Out in San Jose – San Jose, Mexico

A Day Out in San Jose
San Jose, Mexico

28 August 2002
San Jose

I decide on a Dos Equis (XX) and marvel at the spread of different dipping sauces (green, mild; red, hot; a pepper-and-onion pico de gallo) brought with complimentary homemade chips (officially worth the 40 peso meal).

It’s damn hot out today. This morning’s search for an air-conditioned room in another hotel turned up fruitless, so at Sr. Manana I stayed. Before I left this morning two good looking surfies passed by saying “hi,” but left quickly for the surf before conversation could be struck. That’s okay, because snorkeling is a solitary activity.

Funny how as soon as I mention solitary – I am no longer. I spent the afternoon with Miriam, a pretty blonde German who’s lived and worked in places I could only dream of doing so: Amsterdam, Cairo, even Colorado. She’s now working at a posh San Jose del Cabo resort hotel as an intern for school. She’s embarking on an exciting career in hotel management in order to get herself around the world.

We were on the same bus to Playa Chileno, the only gringos. I was looking to swim with the fishes and she to catch some sun and atmosphere.

Playa Chileno

I rented snorkeling equipment from the Chileno Bay Acuadeportes that advertise all sorts of fun outings like kayaking and parasailing (play@cabowatersports). While Miriam watched the surf and my stuff I hit the Chileno Reef.

The water was pure heaven. Not too warm, not too cold, and definitely refreshing from the sweat inducing heat. The fish were playing tag with me. Big white and black stripeys, little minnow-like darters, big rainbow-colored guys, translucent and fluorescent fish as long as my arm darted at bits of food on the rocks. Long silver dudes with sword-like noses swam along the surface, only to disappear and fly above in unison.

Just when I would see no fish at all I would turn and there they’d be, following me in swarms, little black, purple and fluorescent fish, as if I were the attraction. If those fish had feet they’d be shuffling them, fins behind their backs whistling when I turned around. Tricky little buggers.

The Corridor Road
Miriam was in the mood for food. Tip: there is no food at Chileno, only overpriced water and soda. So she and I packed up and headed away from the families getting their afternoon snorkel on, and headed to watch surfies at Costa Azul.

We walked up to the 4-lane newly blacktopped Corridor highway, which connects San Jose and San Lucas and all the resorts in between. In October, presidents from all over the Pacific will converge in Baja Sur for the APEC conference, so all roads were being dressed to impress, a major patch-up job and a bit dangerous with all the workers everywhere.

Instead of waiting for the bus we hitched to Costa Azul. A nice man picked us up and agreed to drop us at Zippers, a beachfront hotel restaurant popular with Azul surfers.

Yesterday on the bus into San Jose, my new friend Miguel had informed me that these new roads have everyone in a state – lots of dangerous accidents and injuries. We got to see one firsthand.

The unpleasant picture: in the eastbound left lane was an overturned Toyota pickup. It had jumped the median from the westbound lanes and flipped onto its back. Above on the westbound side, the traffic had halted behind another truck that had spun around and now faced the opposite way, its front crushed in. Another car was the same, yet almost 50 feet back.

In this car a woman sat clutching a blood-soaked towel to her head, her clothing also spattered with blood. No one was with her, as they were all with the man from the overturned truck who was alive but in obvious pain. They were holding him down so he would not move. These new roads: a blessing or a curse?

Costa Azul

Iglesia de San Jose just before mass.

This is the off-season here in Cabo, running from about July to October, which means during high season travelers get severely ripped off, being overcharged for a pension with no air con. As it is off-season, the beaches are fairly empty and the surfies are happy.

At Zippers we ordered our cervezas, a Negra Modelo (dark beer) for me and for Miriam a Pacifico. She ordered food but as I was holding off for dinner on the plaza, I stuck with my beer.

We recovered from our sun bathing by having good conversation. Her next internship is in a year and she hopes to be positioned in Thailand, then to stay for a couple years after. She tells me her present boss is a terrible manager, which is good for her since now she knows how not to run a hotel.

The supply of hot surfers was low though the breaks high, so we headed back into town and parted ways. If I return, I know where to find her.

Plaza Mijares
Upon returning to the hotel, a cold shower and water refill was in order. I lay naked under the ceiling fan, desperate for a cool-off as the room was an oven. I took a much-needed nap until the bells of the Iglesia San Jose chimed for service. The town was about to come alive.

I grabbed my Mini Disc player to enjoy the new Coldplay (unauthorized advertisement for “Rush of Blood to the Head”) and got out of dodge. The sun was going down and I wanted to snap a few photos of the mission, the plaza and the beautiful stretch of street decorated for this weekend’s Carmen Electra-hosted MTV-type concert� a sort of Huntington Beach, CA meets Wild On! as the Chemical Brothers, Pennywise and others encourage binge drinking, sex on the beach and abandon usually seen in the neighboring city of Cabo San Lucas. All these I usually enjoy, but that’s another travelogue, so I am heading to Cabo San Lucas then Todos Santos to escape the hordes of teenyboppers in tight shirts and corresponding dirty old men.

My friend with the balloons.

Church let out at 8:00 P.M. and I joined the crowds on Plaza Mijares for people-watching.

A young man circled the plaza with his get-up of balloons and stuffed animals to sell. A family tossed a ball to their brown puppy, that in turn was playing with the strays. Women chattered at high speeds while their kids were on their play dates. An 8-year-old boy made vomiting noises.

Just another peaceful evening in the sunset’s glow behind the mountains in Baja.