After leaving Los Angeles, we continued south, crossed into Mexico, and landed in the desert environment of Cabo San Lucas at the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Known simply as Cabo, it has become one of Mexico’s top tourist destination in recent years and has a population of 68,000.
25 years ago, we came here on a small expedition ship, as part of a wildlife voyage. I remembered the interesting geological features, awesome snorkeling, abundant sea life, and small village. Deep sea fishing was big back then.
Fishing is still paramount, but beyond that, the focus has shifted dramatically. The waterfront is crammed with high rise hotels, time shares, marinas, strip clubs and stores. Cabo is best known now as an intense party town. It was crammed with merrymakers, already stumbling around at 11 am. But, this sign really sums up the vibe here…
Drugs labeled as “controlled substances” in most countries are sold freely through pharmacies on every street corner. Each one featured a blinking neon sign advertising an extensive list of available medications.
Daytime muggings have become commonplace due to the sharp increase in tourism. Police wrapped in bullet proof vests had a strong presence.
Until recently, this unique and fragile environment was largely unprotected by law, and was cannibalized by reckless developers interested in capitalizing on the low-end tourist bonanza. Thankfully, there is a growing collection of activists and attorneys who are challenging the rampant destruction of wetlands, coastline, and other fragile ecosystems.
We strolled around town for a few hours, before the intense heat (dry but scorching), constant assaults by “fishing charter” hawkers, and general disillusionment sent us back to the ship by lunch time. We miss the “old” Cabo.
Just before climbing aboard, we enjoyed our highlight. A young fisherman was feeding scraps to the local sea lions in hope of getting tips. His tomfoolery earned him 5 bucks from us. I’m surprised he still has his lips.
Next stop, Antigua, Guatemala.