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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Mexico Trip Part II

On Our Way
We just found our seats on the plane and stowed our bags in the compartments overhead. Settling into our seats, we saw familiar faces coming down the isle of the plane. Guy and Patty Peterson, Nebagamon residents hailed us with smiling faces and slipped into the seats just behind us. It seems they were off to Cabo as well, invited to spend a week with another Nebagamon couple who make regular winter visits to that area. It is always a surprise and a delight to meet someone from our little (500 winter residents) town when out in the ‘big’ world.
Our first and only stop over was in Dallas Fort Worth. We had a brief layover, so we picked up a hamburger and re-boarded our flight to Cabo.

Crossing the Rio Grande
From Dallas Ft Worth we flew west southwest toward the Gulf of Cortez. As always, I looked out the plane window as much as possible. I get two things from this, one is a stiff neck and the other is a lesson in geography. The lesson in geography is a little fuzzy since I don’t know exactly where I am, but usually have a general idea. What amazed me was the incredible number of what I took to be oil wells. It seemed we flew over oil wells as far as I could see for a long time.
Finally, we the Sea of Cortez came into view. There was some resortish looking places along the western shore of Mexico and then the azure sea. Craning my neck to my limits I could make out small boats which I took to be charter fishing boats. The farther we got from land the more boats there were. In what I estimate to be the middle the number of boats appeared to be as numerous as the stars in the sky. I didn’t know there were that many boats in the world.
Shortly, we arrived on the other side of the Gulf and once again land appeared – The Baja Peninsula. Soon were landing at San Jose del Cabo.
We Made it!
I love the smaller airports where you simply walk down the gangway to good ole Mother Earth and stroll across the tarmac to the terminal. The sun was shining, of course, and the smell of gentle sea breezes was in the air. However, even small airports can be hectic. Mexican customs meant long lines and forms to fill out. Worse yet were the hawkers on the way to the shuttles who offer you all kinds of good deals and inside tips for tourists as a guise to coerce you to attend a time-share presentation. Fore-warned is to be fore-armed and we successfully fended off their “ the way to Hacienda del Mar.

Hacienda del Mar

“In my adobe hacienda, there’s a touch of Mexico”, so went the song I remember from my youth. One of many multi lingual tidbits in my repertoire which are of only rare use. Anyway, I knew a hacienda was a house and this would be our house for the coming week. I would refer to Hacienda del Mar and Sheraton Inn as a “compound”. We were traveling through desert country, but as we passed through the gated entrance of the compound, we were greeted by a lush, irrigated garden of palm trees and flowering semi tropical plants. The streets pleasantly meandered through the pastel colored buildings, none of which exceeded 4 stories. The shuttle van stopped at a cul du sac were our driver unloaded our luggage from the back of the van. Young Mexican men clothed in white scurried out to carry our luggage to a nearby veranda and pointed us to the registration building for the resort complex. We would learn that the Sheraton Hotel was a separate entity on the compound.
A Tip of the Hat to Servers
Anyone who knows me knows that I am fiscally conservative. Some have even said that I am tight. However, in truth I am merely fiscally responsible. I can even be generous with my money when I am moved with compassion. At the same time, I have always found tipping servers to be difficult. I am of a nature that I like to consider the price of an item under consideration for purchase before I decide to seal the deal. Tipping is a little too unstructured for me. I had been warned and I boldly gave the shuttle driver 2 US dollars. He looked irritable and said nothing, I took that to mean the amount of my tip was not satisfactory.
We went in to the registration desk to the concierge and signed in. The registration desk was manned by several white-uniformed Mexicans and there were also a couple of senoritas at a desk, one of whom introduced herself and told us of a ‘free’ breakfast the next morning (translation: time share presentation) which we glibly accepted. We then exited the front entrance where the concierge had one of the bell boys ready with our luggage to take us to our quarters. He transported our luggage in a golf cart down one of the winding walkways to our suite 625 A. This time, I tipped him $1 per bag and his countenance was satisfactorily cheerful. In fact, all the personnel on the property were very cheerful and always greeted the guests with a bright ‘Buenos Dias!'
Next: Trip to Mexico Part III
Life in the Sun

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mexico Trip Part I

Sometime in October of ’09, our daughter Brenda called and asked if we would be interested in taking a trip to Los Cabos, Mexico to stay in a time share there for a week. The offer would be good for the last week in January 2010. She explained that she had been awarded just such a trip by bidding on it on a Rotary benefit auction at Coeur d’Alene where she lives.

Eve asked me how I felt. To be honest, it caught me cold. I like my home. I have no big problem with winter. There would be lots of details to work out; travel arrangements, taking care of our home while gone, planning for foreign travel, what would we do there, what would be the other costs of the stay, etc.

With time, I eased into the decision that this would be an interesting adventure at least or a fun time at most. So we told Brenda we would gladly accept. Eve immediately put on her travel agent hat and began to check out websites onCabo San Lucas. Where is it? What is it like? What is the weather like? What is the time share like? What about flights schedules, cost of airline tickets and all the baggage and security restrictions? The money exchange? What is there to see and do? This is Eve’s bag. Besides the internet she checked out books from the library. Eve is no stranger to planning trips. We had experience going to Alaska, Iceland, the Northeastern and Northwestern US, South Carolina, Florida, and California. No one is more prepared to travel than Eve. I just get out of the way and tag along.

The Big Day

(Well, actually the day before the big day.) We started out for Minneapolis where we would stay in a motel over night. We would be able to leave our car there for the week and take a cab to the airport. We had just packed the car with 2 large suitcases each and our carry-ons. We had even packed winter clothes suitable to dig our car out of a snowdrift when we returned to Minneapolis. We had said good bye to Patches the cat and assured her that Gary Smith, our neighbor would make sure her litter box was emptied and her food and water supplies were filled. About 3 miles into this amazing journey we wondered if we had closed the garage door. Thank the Lord for the cell phone with which we were able to call Smiths and asked them to check it out.

About 5 pm we arrived at the motel near the airport. After passing the well-hidden entrances at least 3 times in the winter darkness on a very busy intersection, we landed at the registration desk. We ordered out for pizza as we were tired and we feared that we may not find our way back to the motel if we ventured out. Arrangements were made for a cab to pick us up in the morning at 4:45 to take us to the airport for our 8:30 flight. Going through the ticket counter and the security check is always a stressful time for country folk. There were a lot of people in the airport at that hour going through the same thing. One of my favorite thing is watching all the other people – all kinds. I always wonder where they are going and why. Lots of stories there.

We had time before going to our bording gate to stop by the currency exhange and trade for some pesos. We were the only customers there at the time and the young lady there was very helpful and made the process easy. It took me most of the trip to grasp how to convert between dollars and pesos. We then found a place to sit and wait for our flight.

next On Our Way