The Low South

Vacation Time in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula

**Becauseitzthere is mainly a hiking blog, but from time to time we feature outdoor pursuits of the less rugged kind, including posts of the ‘pursuit of leisure’ variety. Well, there aren’t many places on Earth where leisure is pursued with greater vigor than at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Located at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula, this resort town is in equal parts synonymous with stunning vistas of the Sea of Cortez and perhaps even more stunning seas of tequila consumed by throngs of Gringo tourists. Sylvia and Brian visited there recently on the tenth anniversary of their wedding and this is their story…or at least the parts of it that we can relate here.**

Stretching from the City of Mexicali on the US-Mexico border to its remote tip, Baja California is a 775-mile-long finger of arid land peppered with sage, scrub, chaparral and outright desert pointing south into a limitless turquoise ocean. It’s a land of contrasts so stark that they almost can’t seem to be reconciled…a person could walk mile upon mile in this sun bleached land and encounter no fresh water at all for much of the year, and perhaps even die of thirst…all the while being fully in sight of stunning tropical ocean lagoons, sometimes visible on both sides at once.

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One of the principal attractions of the Baja is the tranquil, turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez.

The Spanish called it Baja, or lower, California, to differentiate it from the upper (Alto) California – which is what we today call the state of California. Originally the Spanish believed that California was an island, a myth that probably gained traction from the lengthy nature of the peninsula, which when approached from the south must have seemed disconnected from the land.

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From Google Maps

Sylvia and Brian visited recently, but it certainly wasn’t to hike that they came here. We were celebrating our tenth anniversary, and instead of roughing it as we often do, it was in search of more civilized delights that we found ourselves at the very southernmost limit of this long, dry sliver in the blue – that being the Cape of St. Luke. In Spanish…Cabo San Lucas.

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While many people do come here to experience the pleasures of the sea…

Right away you know what you are in for in Cabo San Lucas when you pass by two bars – plus many vendors selling Corona out of ice filled buckets – just on the way from the front door of the airport to the shuttle bus station.

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…Liquid of a different kid is probably what Cabo is best known for.

Suffice it to say, finding water in the Baja may be a problem, but finding alcohol in Cabo San Lucas never is. Any unsuspecting Gringo who fails to exercise self-control here is destined for full on debauchery and ruin.

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But Cabo’s pleasures go far beyond those of finely fermented alcohol, and we indulged ourselves in a sampling of the rest of what the Baja offers. Among the things one can do here besides drink include boating, diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing (probably what the region is most famous for, besides tequila) dirt biking, 4-wheel-drive off-roading, horseback riding and other sorts of riding. Whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins, rays and whale sharks frequent these waters and can be seen, but are usually confined to certain seasons.

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The Baja has several distinct ecosystems but all of it is desert of one kind or another.

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This is a rough and mountainous land, with peaks as high as 10,000 feet. One could hike here too, but not in summer (remember, only donkeys and Gringos go walking at noon.)

Over the next few posts we’ll present some of our experiences here. Stay tuned for the pleasures of the Baja Sur – the Low South.

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