Last Winter, December 2013: Part II – In Search for “Real” Mexico

Originally published on Endless Horizons; travel series commissioned by Fuzz
Travel is the quickest way to realign your perspective. Whether it’s a break-up, loss of job, or perceived life “rut,” hopping on a plane and saying “F@#& it,” is a perfect temporary cure. Early last winter, I did just that and headed off to Mexico with a bit of nudging from my fiancé. I was initially resistant to the idea fearing it would be a poor use of resources but warmed up to it after doing a bit of research about the beaches.
Arriving in Los Cabos was interesting.  We were welcomed by a patchwork of tourist spots and “real Mexico.” The tourist portions of the region were well maintained and resembled old Spanish palaces while the areas inhabited by locals seemed to be less glamorous. The drive between the airport and our hotel was very eye-opening; it further illustrated what I’ve heard about Mexico’s geography from travel literature.
“Mexico is a unique country, many of its urban environments transition seamlessly between shining examples of modernity and organized chaos.”
I took note of this while I drove between the regions small towns with no paved roads, modest structures, and taquerias. This differed greatly from the “tourist zone” which featured posh hotels, well maintained roads, and “sanitized” Mexican culture.
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Admittedly I was a tad ashamed of our hotel when we first arrived. It was blatantly pandering to American tastes. Connection to local culture was faint at best. Pulling up to the entrance in my rental car I was confused by the look of our hotel. It looked like a mix between a Southwestern style cattle ranch and Spanish colonial outpost.
My skepticism faded once we were settled. While the hotel was divorced from the culture of the area, it did have a breathtaking view of the Sea of Cortez, had multiple pools and was remarkably empty the second week in December (see part I). The staff was also super friendly and helpful. My fiancé and I befriended the woman who ran the hotel’s pool house. She helped us find an awesome taqueria which served amazing baja style tacos and helped us navigate some of the areas outside of the “tourist zone.”
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As I began to traverse Baja California Sur’s southern coast with my fiancé, I started to understand the allure of the place. It was far from perfect but the dry desert heat was very comfortable, people were friendly, and everyone seemed to be focused on celebrating the moment – something I took note of and brought home to Seattle after the vacation. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the trip would yield in terms of clarity about life goals or perspective but as always when I travel, I let my guard down, gave into the whims of the surroundings and was confident the area had plenty to teach and would provide ample moments of “ah” if I kept my eyes open.
To be continued… “Last Winter, December 2013: Part III”