My iPhone and I are on a break. Not because we don’t love each other, but because I am on vacation and salt water and electronics don’t really get along. My family and I are vacationing in Los Cabos, Mexico as part of a trip my mother won from a Fund for Teacher’s fundraiser (she’s received two grants to travel in Europe and Scandinavia, so she’s pretty much the luckiest person I know). It included airfare for four (naturally, I insisted she take me dad, brother, and me), and a five day, four night stay at a funder’s private villa in Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo. We arrived today.
After checking out the bougainvillea-wrapped two-story house (complete with four separate suites, an infinity pool, hot tub, and fabulous views of the Sea of Cortez), we decided to take our golf cart down to the beach. And that’s when all hell broke loose. We parked the cart and skipped down to where the water kissed the sand, standing back, admiring the shades of blue and green. Mom and I both stepped out onto the wet sand where the water had barely been a moment ago, only to find that the tides in Cabo are pretty unpredictable. Immediately water rushed up to our calves, and my mother (who was wearing capris instead of shorts), bent over to roll them up. Everything happened fast. A small wave came and knocked her off balance and soon she was IN the water, grasping for her shoes, being pulled further out. Laughing (I mean, come on, it was hysterical) I went to help her up. Unfortunately, a gigantic “ten foot wave” (my dad’s description) came and knocked us both completely over, sending me and my brand new iPhone 5 under water. I rushed onto the beach and threw my phone at my dad who ripped the cover off and started patting it dry with his shirt. Panicked, we drove back to the villa, threw open a bag of saffron rice (for future reference, saffron rice is like the worst idea for drying out a phone), and dropped it in. Phoneless. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to check snapchat and what’s app and my work email, which I can’t access from my laptop, to make sure there’s not an emergency!?
I’m too attached to my phone. The realization hit me about five minutes after I left it drying in rice. This incident was a blessing in disguise. Because I can’t access my phone, I won’t access my phone. I won’t think twice about checking for messages or looking at facebook. And only when I lost access to my phone did I truly start to go on vacation.
Cabo is a funny place. It’s paradise on the Baja Peninsula. The combined population of both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo is only around 400,000. It’s extremely clean and dry. The water is cool and the poverty that Mexico is known for is nowhere to be found. What can be found, however, is an excess of service in the hopes of ripping every cent you own from your bank account. We walked off the plane and towards the exit, where we knew our pre-arranged transportation was awaiting our arrival. “Where are you going? Do you need transportation?” a man in an orange polo immediately asked. “Um,” my mom hesitated. “We have have a car coming to get us.” “Ah, ok. Right this way and we’ll help you find it.” Except he had no intention of “helping us find it.” He lead us to a desk where another man awaited with maps and a smile. We told him where we are staying.
“The Villas del Mar?” he asked. “That is a very nice place. A VERY nice place. Muy bonita. Do you own or rent?”
“We don’t own the house,” my mother answered.
“And are you renting a car?”
“Would you like to rent a car?”
I knew what was happening. I could tell from the moment we exited. Here we were, about to enter the playground of the super rich and famous, and we were surrounded by vultures. There were more men in monogrammed polos than there were people on our flight, and the ones that weren’t on the floor were all leaned over a long, white countertop, on their elbows, watching. They knew we didn’t need a ride. They knew we had a plan, yet, there was still opportunity. He systematically checked us for weaknesses. Then my brother became the target.
“You like golf?” he asked. Dusten was dressed in a white Nike golf shirt and cap with sunglasses on top. “Don’t cave,” I told him with my eyes. It didn’t matter if he liked golf or not. Everything was to be arranged by the house managers we’d been in contact with for weeks, so there was nothing they could offer that Ernesto couldn’t get us himself. After insisting that he didn’t even like golf (what? This is a GOLF shirt!?) we finally were dismissed and found a man holding a sign bearing our family name. We’d narrowly escaped.
Weeks ago we’d made dinner reservations at the resort next door called The One and Only Palmilla. So, we spent most of our first day (post accident) lounging and sunbathing on our patio before loading ourselves into the golf cart and driving down to dinner. “We’re here for dinner at Agua,” I told the man at the gate. “Last name?” He asked? “Hess.” “Ah, yes, of course. Welcome, right this way.” We drove down a windy resort road until we came to the valets who took our golf cart and walked us through the lush resort paths to one of the most fabulous restaurants I’ve ever been to. The gigantic patio overlooked the Sea of Cortez and we could see the lights of San Jose del Cabo twinkling in the distance. Everything in Mexico is slower than it is in the U.S. Dinner lasted nearly two hours, and every second was wonderful. Three members of a perfectly tuned mariachi band stood on a small stage, serenading us with their songs, as we munched on homemade bread and hummus. The food itself was extremely impressive: Mexican skirt steak with roasted veggies for me and Mom, while Dad had Chilean salmon and Dusten (whose food was so good he had to pretend like it sucked so no one would take any) had red snapper and shrimp. Dusten and I ended our meal by sharing a rum bananas foster dessert and we all finally, sadly, stood from our table to leave.
One day down. Four more to go. So far, this is paradise.