08 August, 2007

¡Viva Mexico!

If you somehow weren't aware, I wasn't around for a good portion of last week. Instead, I was located in the furthest Southern point of Mexico's Baja Peninsula: Los Cabos. I've worked with a company that deals with Golf & Travel to Mexico for almost 4 years now, and through the generosity of my boss Chuck Kinder (owner of BEST4GOLF Travel), I was given a great vacation opportunity for Celina and I. All of the necessities were taken care of: air, transportation, hotel, food & drink. I hardly had to lift my wallet the entire 4 days.

Our flight took off Wednesday morning at 930, meaning that we'd have to be at the airport around 730AM. That early in the AM isn't my cup o' tea. So to avoid leaving my house at 530 am and driving to San Diego International Airport, Celina rode with me to work and I booked a cheap room on PriceLine.com... About $72 for a Holiday Inn in the gaslamp district, not too shabby. I forgot my camera at home like an idiot, but CCR was a trooper and drove all the way back to Whittier to get it. We got to the hotel later than I wanted to, but check-in went fine. After settling in and combining our 2 bags into 1 large one, we set off for some food and to do some last minute shopping. After all was said and done, the shopping was done, the SUBWAY was digesting, we headed back to the hotel. I was supposed to call Jen Lo, but we were kinda dead and in no place to be out late (pussies).

Alarms went off and I jumped out of that hotel bed into a striking stance. I woke up out of that startle and went about getting ready to leave for the airport. We parked the car, loaded into the shuttle, and made our way towards the terminal. We got our tickets from AeroMexico with no quarrel. Security and all that jazz had a long line, but it moved steadily. Despite being a little late to the terminal, we were right on time. We boarded the plane, went through all the takeoff lectures and were on our way. The plane ride was only 2 hours, and to our surprise we were served breakfast: a bowl of fruit, yogurt and a muffin. I don't do well with the coffee, and was in no place to deal with that. Milk wasn't calling my name, so I opted for a cold refreshing Corona to accompany my meal. Celina and I both read books to pass the time, mine was "homework" from my boss. A book about how to use Google Maps above and beyond it's means. Surprisingly interesting, especially for a dork like me. The plane ride was quick and harmless, we were soon descending towards San Jose del Cabo International Airport, the smallest rinky-dink operation international airport ever.

We exited, waited in line for customs. I don't have a passport just yet so I was a little nervous, but not much. As long as you've got a proof of application, you're good tot enter Mexico (through Sep). We made it through no problem, the officer thought Celina spoke Español, but she didn't. Our bag seemed to walk right up to us as we entered baggage claim, then we strolled into the last checkpoint. I thought to myself "oh great, a bearded dude like me... might as well call me random bag search." (Dave Attell), but the light didn't have me and we went on our way.

I had an itinerary prepared for me by my lovely coworker Mariana Recines, she warned me that there would be a slew of timeshare reps trying to get me to listen to their gab. I wasn't having it, and tried to warn Celina. She was pulled in, as I tried to tell her to just keep walking. I won't lie, those guys are cunning, they spoke of "our vouchers" which were non-existent. Very official sounding. I grabbed Celina and made for the door. We met our driver Jose and loaded up for the 20 minute car ride to the resort. The language barrier was in full effect. We tried to get a feel for the types of American music that Jose liked. Everything was failing until he muttered something along the lines of Tammy Hakart. Instantly my ears went as Mexican as they could and I shouted "Sammy Hagar! Val Halen not Van Hagar!" From there on out we were pretty quiet, that was going to be the peak of our conversation.

We arrived at Melia Cabo Real to open arms and very hospitable people. We were instantly happy with our new surroundings, the place was beautiful. We checked in and got our room right away, about an hour and a half sooner than we should've (and sooner than the few people in front of us). We got a little lost on the way to our room while looking all around at the resort. Our room was freezing when we got in, and there was music playing from the TV. It was great, especially since it was about 95˙ outside. We settled in and got comfy. The Melia is an All-Inclusive resort, meaning whatever you want (for the most part), it's included in the room rate. I couldn't wait to start (ab)using this.

Once ready to go out, we headed straight for the bar, then the buffet. The food here was tasty! Normally I don't expect too much from a buffet, but it was really good. The service was friendly, and everything was off to an awesome start. In the resort, there are 2 restaurants you have to make reservations for (Kujira - Asian Cuisine & La Terraza - Mediterranean), I did that right after we checked in, but there wasn't anything open for this night. There was also 2 buffets and a snack shack as well as room service until 1030PM. Life was good in the food dept. Drinks were plenty, and located all over. There was a main bar upstairs, a loungy yet classy joint, a poolside palapa, buffetside bar and beachfront bar as well. I think I had a few at each one, many times. Oddly enough, never really getting completely inebriated, but having a great time anyway. Each night we walked around, mostly to the upstairs and beach bars. There were annoyingly drunk 18 year olds out every night. It was entertaining, but made me feel a little too grown up. After the meal we walked around, had a few drinks, I bought a cigar and we played some pool while I sweated my ass away. It was night time and still warm, that on top of my weak skin beginning to get sunburnt. I couldn't hang. We called it a night after a few games and headed back to the room.

We woke up at a decent time and headed out. Celina jumped on the zipline, I would've as well, but I weighed too much *shrug*. So I went down to take pictures of her while she zoomed down. The guys at the bottom of the zipline were cracking jokes with me, and at some of the riders. I bet their job is fun. I'd do something similar. We grabbed some burgers from the snack shack and a few drinks and relaxed in the sun. The beach was amazing, the water was blue as can be. I couldn't wait to go snorkeling. We swam some in the pool, rested in some bungalos, played some Spanglish Scrabble (in which I lost horribly), had some more drinks and people watched. After that, we headed over to the buffet for a bite of lunch. Everything was delicious once again, they weren't letting us down. Stuffed, we strolled down to the beach to check it out. The sand was hot and hurt to walk in. I swear I took a few years off of my dogs. The beach was amazing, I couldn't wait to get into the water, but the waves were too big to do any good diving. I would have to wait for tomorrow. After staggering back up the beach, hitting a hammock for a little and getting some good makeout time in, we headed back to the room for a nap.

Dinner reservations were late, so we had plenty of time. I wish I would've taken a picture, because for dinner we looked good... No lyin', we were a dreamy couple on the prowl. We checked in to Kujira and started dinner. The theme was Asian, and there were dishes from all over. We both ordered salads and sushi rolls. The food was good, but what we had in mind. The main courses came out (after a little bit of a wait), I had Salmon on mashed potatoes with veggies and a tasty sauce. Celina had a stewed pork. Both tasted good, but we were on our way to full. Dessert was a brownie with ice cream, very rich and delicious, but I couldn't finish it. That night we downed a good amount of drinks, strolled on the beach, watched some flamenco and called it a night. It was a great night.

The next morning I wanted to go down to the ocean and do some diving. We had breakfast at the buffet, Celina was feeling the repercussions of the previous night's drinks, and had to relieve herself from the table. I did alright. Once through with that meal, I was excited, so I made short business of that meal then we headed to the beach. Along the shore there were little kids crying, seems there were jellyfish in the water and about 3 kids had gotten stung. There was a local helping them out, and pulling the small creatures from the shore break. The jellyfish looked like small blue fish when they swam, you couldn't see their tentacles, pretty cool. We headed down into a cove where no one was getting stung and went in. The Sea of Cortez was warm, inviting and clear as a pool. I loved every second of it. I let Celina use my stuff and go out a little to try it out. She saw a few fish and was pretty excited. After she was done, I put it all back on and really went out, she went to sunbathe. I swam about 75 yards out and what I saw was more than I imagined. At least 25 different types of fish, in so many colors. You were able to see for an easy 35 ft. I wished I had a camera, so I made it a point to go buy an underwater disposable afterwards. After getting both tired and waterlogged, we climbed up on the break rocks and watched the crabs jump from one rock to another. That was oddly relaxing and enjoyable. Walking back sucked again, we avoided dead jellyfish on the shore, and hobbled across the hot sand. I dipped into the pool and hung out in the shade, my back was red from snorkeling. Seems the waterproof "Sport" sunscreen wasn't all that it was cracked up to be (Although, I will give it credit, I could've come out a lot more burnt than I am). A quick dip and we were on our way back to the room to wash up.

Lunch always seemed to end up at the buffet, and sometimes the little snack shack. Room Service always sounded like a grand idea, but the menu wasn't all that great. We overheard some kids bragging about already having room service and it made me remember that those two words meant so much at one time. Having Room Service used to make you feel like a champ, even in an All-Inclusive resort it still had a special ring to it. Something about it sounds so appealing, especially to a kid that didn't get shit growing up. The feeling was nostalgic to say the least. After lunch we set off for some drinks and a trip to the store for my camera and some sandals. Sure, I waited until the day before I was leaving to buy sandals (which I hardly ever wore until this day), who cares? You wanna fight about it? Needless to say, they were a good investment, they made walking over scalding hot sand a much easier task. That and a disposable/submersible camera cost around 510 pesos, which is something like $46 USD. That for the most part, was what I spent the entire weekend. Again, thanks Chuck!

Dinner reservations for the night were at La Terraza, the outdoor Mediterranean restaurant. We got ready and again were looking soooo good (Strong Bad). Celina didn't have high expectations for the menu, but nicely to our surprise everything on it sounded amazing. This restaurant was a nice contrast to the last night's dinner; the menu was great, the service was much better and the outdoor setting was very pleasant. A basket of deliciously rich breads came out, I could've filled up on those, but we practiced restraint. We chose a Bruschetta on "crackers" (which were really chips) along with sections of Camembert cheese. Celina had the Terraza salad, and I had the House Caesar. We shared some Artichoke soup. Our main dishes were even more enjoyable than what we'd tried so far; Celina had the Lamb Chops with mixed vegetables while I scoured down a Duck breast on mashed potatoes in a sweet & spicy sauce. For dessert we split a Crème Brûlée with fresh fruit. After the meal was said and done, we wished that we could've made reservations for La Terraza both nights after eating there.

Our last morning at Melia came early. The plan was to head out early and get some dive time in. We readied ourselves and hustled out the dooe. After checking out equipment for Celina, we headed to the beach. I was eager to jump in and get some great pictures with the fish. We suited up and jumped in. Celina got used to her borrowed equipment (not nearly as good as mine) and we went off in search of the beauty I witnessed the previous day. The water was a little murkier today due to a larger surf, so visibility was less by about 10-15 ft. It was still beautiful though. There were lots of fish, and I snapped off pictures left and right. Now that I've developed them, I should've been a little less snap happy. They are somewhat boring to look through. I need an underwater housing for my D-SLR, those pictures would've been both more and better. After getting out of the water, grabbing some drinks and dippin' in the pool we ate some delicious breakfast. The green Chilequiles were awesome, and I went back for seconds. Sadly, we had to head back to the room to start packing up. Even though we requested a late checkout, we only had until 1 PM to stay in the room. We packed up our stuff and checked it at the front desk. Luckily, they let us hold onto our bracelets so that we could still eat and drink. By this time, I was burnt and feeling it. I laid down in the closed upstairs bar and rested my withered ass. Bored, we set off to visit a local golf course; Cabo Real. I told the golf concierge that I wanted to take some photos of the course, and that I was affiliated with the Golf Guide that sat on her desk. She looked at it, and my ID, then called over to the course to arrange a golf cart for me and Celina. She said a Suburban was on it's way. "All 'burb or no 'burb" I've always said...

Waiting outside I caught eye of a buddy from back home, Mike Carran. I chatted him up for a second and wished him a good time. I knew he'd been there, but hadn't seen him until then. We jumped into the Suburban and headed to the course, once we got there the pro shop told us that were weren't exactly up to dress code, so we headed back to the resort. We laid down on the cushions and fell asleep. I awoke uncomfortable as can be due to my sunburn, Celina followed soon after. It was about our time to leave, then I saw our ride pull up. We loaded up and bid farewell to our hosts. The ride back to the airport was quiet, we didn't want to leave, but didn't have a choice...

San Jose del Cabo International Airport was a hell hole. The air-conditioning was shut off, apparently due to cheapness. The line for our flight was out of control, and we didn't think we'd board on time. Luckily, everything worked out, and we made it. The flight was even easier and quicker than the previous. We got back to San Diego in a timely 2 hours. Dinner was served, this time a ham & cheese con jalapeño salsa sandwich with a piece of cake, mine of course with a Tecaté.

When San Diego was in sight, I knew this trip was over. We landed. The old lady in the aisle row next to us was the last to get off, so we were even more last. We went through customs, I declared a sunburn and a disposable camera. Then we boarded our parking shuttle and headed back to the car. I knew that we both wished we would've had at least one more day. Even if it weren't necessary.

On our way home we stopped at Pedro's Tacos in San Clemente for some delicious foods, and headed to my house to crash. All-in-all, a great time. I can't wait for the next trip. I do have my passport now (just got it in the mail today).

Onto the next issue... The TEN came out last Friday, who's gonna go watch it with me?