Difficult Decisions

“Our” hotel, Casa Natalia, San José del Cabo

“Adios” rolls off the tongue—it’s literal translation “to God” obscured by frequent usage. Today we are headed home from a brief, but wonderful, vacation. I have written about this postponed visit before. I realize the luxury, the privilege I enjoy, and too often take for granted.

I truly had decided to avoid airplane travel unless it was absolutely necessary (and what would qualify is a question I consider), something the pandemic taught me I could mindfully do without. As soon as flying flew off the table as an option, I didn’t miss it. Environmental concern trumps almost all these days, as I was explaining to my son. So this trip compromised a principle I’d embraced.

What it also did is remind me that I can rationalize with the best of them—not a skill I’m proud of. The wedding was the “necessary” travel excuse that set this trip in motion, that and losing the money I’d paid, non-refundable, for a hotel.

Another way I salve my conscience is to say that here, 75% of the economy depends on tourism, and my husband and I are as generous as we can be with those who accommodate us. Nonetheless—rationalization 101. No way around it: we add stress to resources such as water, so I am caught in weighing my footprint one way or another.

I will say, “ Qué vayas bien,” when I leave this little piece of paradise and hope that my being here has been more a blessing than a curse, God willing.

How Many Stars?

When we come upon the pelican, dead in the water, that is the final straw. As if the tons of tour boats, just like ours, noses jammed into the small section of sea cordoned by tow ropes and occasional buoys, and the blaring music from large cruise yachts sporting reveling young adults enjoying Spring Break, isn’t enough: we have chosen the wrong tour activity. Snorkeling at Pelican Rock (with souvenir photos!) delivers less than expected. What is that saying? “Expectations=planned disappointments.

I could reflect on my choice of leaving a four-out-of-five star review on trip advisor after this ill-conceived misadventure. Here’s the thing—the captain Jonathan and the guide, Chuckie, did their damnedest to make this a worthy excursion. Both charming and accommodating, they shared folklore and jokes, helped the first-time snorkeler among us graciously, but CABO SAN LUCAS is not paradise…now.

It is overcrowded and loud; it’s popularity over time has sealed its fate. The fish themselves almost seem embarrassed to be there, skittering about above a sandy bottom, skirting rocks like stage performers at a soon-to-close show.

And the water in March? It’s 65°—that’s cold for an elder like me. I realize the truth of that when I take the plunge, mask held firmly in place as instructed, and head for the buoy rope. I am immediately chilled, no “getting used to it” will save me. I swim about a bit, attempt to follow the guide closer to our objective “rock,” but after seeing those shame-faced fish, I turn toward the beach and sun.

So that review? What do I do? I am kind but honest. I tout the people and their efforts. I know that most of us are trying to do our best with what we have to work with. That is the tourist philosophy that works for me.


One of our fellow bloggers has written “Three Things that Bring Me Joy“ while another used Georgia Heard for inspiration, writing ten observations without judgment. In this nod to them both, let’s see where I wind up, somewhere between three and ten; somewhere between joy and impartiality.

Once aboard and preparing for departure, the captain comes on to announce, “This isn’t Oregon; this isn’t anything your cousin said; this isn’t my imagination. If you’re on this aircraft en route to Cabo, then you’re wearing your mask.” I have not seen any squabbles or overt rebellion on the part of passengers. And I am judging when I read his tone and delivery as friend-to-friend, not dictatorial power-wielding. My husband and I turn to each other, now such competent eye-talkers after two years speaking and listening, and twinkle. Humor helps, doesn’t it?

The plaza is lively this Monday night. Couples, families, bikes, skateboards, bordered by vendors sitting in the breezy Mexican evening air. Overhead the moon, waxing, its belly hanging low, pregnant with light. Delivery of a full face on Thursday.

On the plaza stage, a rehearsal is underway. Young women spread their arms and golden fabric forms shiny wings in the twilight as they spin and prance in unison. At any moment, they might take flight.

Who should cross the plaza but a policeman. This one carries a trumpet and looks over his shoulder. A group of teens follows bearing drums. Where are they going? To the stage. Why? Cinco de Mayo is a ways away. What I think? All policemen should carry trumpets!

Roosters, roosters, they are roosters calling the day into being here in San Juan del Cabo. Sunlight rims the curtains, urging us awake. And so our first full day south of the border begins.