Monday, August 28, 2006

Cabo Pulmo trip, part three

It was really hot Friday night and JH woke up around three in the morning. After that, I had a hard time getting back to sleep. Sara was kind enough to get up with JH Saturday morning so I slept in till around 8 AM. I was feeling kind of down on the trip after that interrupted night's sleep -- it's too hot, why did we go for only two days, et cetera. However, after breakfast and a cup of coffee, I started feeling really good. Sara and I had a great conversation over coffee during JH's first nap. He napped till almost noon; we discussed going to Nancy's for lunch but decided on Restaurant Caballero instead. We made the right choice.

Restaurant Caballero is the most "Mexican" of the three Cabo Pulmo restaurants we visited. It has a kind of family feel. An adult and a child were watching music videos at the bar. We were really pleased to see and hear a rooster crowing in the yard next to the patio where we ate. I held JH up to see the rooster and recited the line from his book, "The rooster says, 'Cock-a-doodle-doo!'" Sara got a fish burrito sin queso and I got one regular. JH had rice and beans and this time they weren't too hot. The woman who took our order explained to us that the beans were made right there, at the restaurant. We all enjoyed our meals.

U.S. residents often have gastrointestinal difficulties when they visit Mexico. Inspired by Carl Franz, I now take the attitude that I'll eat what's put in front of me, enjoy it, and accept the consequences. Fortunately, there was no need for that kind of compromise in Cabo Pulmo. Some of our friends were a little worried about eating local produce uncooked; we all cleaned our plates at Restaurant Caballero, including the salad. I think we could drink water straight from the tap in Cabo Pulmo without fear.

Unlike the other two places in Cabo Pulmo, Restaurant Caballero printed its prices in pesos, which we liked. Cabo Pulmo prices are inflated compared to most of Mexico but still quite reasonable by U.S. standards. I think our dinner on Friday night was 320 pesos plus tip.

After lunch, our friends told us they were going snorkeling and swimming at the "Mermaid Beach," which they said was lovely. Sara wanted to cook the Saturday night dinner and JH needed his nap. This dinner, a vegan meal for Lisa and steak for Pete, was her gift to the couple for their bachelor/bachelorette party, which was the occasion for this trip. After about half an hour, I decided to follow our friends over to Mermaid Beach. They told us that there had been a sign but that it was now replaced by a plastic bag. "Look for the plastic bag," they said. "You can't miss it. It's a clear plastic bag."

I set off on my own to Mermaid Beach. It was nice driving down a dirt road in Mexico, all by myself. I finally saw the plastic bag -- it was a very sturdy looking bag on a stick -- after driving about 8 km. I parked near some cattle, right beside to our friends' rented minivan. There were a few people on the beach and in the water. I didn't see our friends but I decided they must be snorkeling somewhere where I couldn't see them. Later, I found out that this wasn't Mermaid Beach after all -- that one was a fifteen minute hike from the place we parked our cars. Nonetheless, Parking Beach was quite pleasant. I stripped down to my swimming trunks and waded in. The bottom at this beach doesn't go down gradually -- rather, it drops suddenly from about 10 inches to three or four feet. Although this dropoff doesn't work for little kids like JH, it's fine for adults and it means you don't spend a long time wading into the water.

The waves were very calm and I swam for a while, thinking to myself that this was one of the most pleasant experiences I could remember. The water was warm and everything was just great. Suddenly, I felt a burning sensation on the underside of my left arm. A jellyfish! I shook my arm vigorously, got out of the water and looked at my arm: it was all red from the stings. Clearly it wasn't a very bad sting because I kept on thinking to myself, Does this mean I have to stop swimming? I decided I could keep wading as long as I kept an eye out for more jellyfish. A (gringo) snorkeler had been stung as well. He caught a jellyfish on his goggles and was showing it to people on the beach. I kept wading for another half an hour or so. After swimming in the salty water, I felt cool for the first time since we arrived in Mexico. Although I didn't see any more jellyfish, I did see what I think was a needlefish. It was about 18 inches long, silvery-blue, and moved very fast. I also saw some smaller fish, maybe four or five inches long, darting around in shallow water.


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