A long time ago at a different time and place in our lives, Sharon and I had a friend with a second home in Los Cabos, Mexico. It was a wonderful hilltop condo perched among the crags and fissures of man-make lots carved out of stone and gravel. The location caught the grand sweep of ocean and endless expanse of sky. It looked down on the lessor fortunate who toiled up and down the winding highway between San Jose and Los Cabos. It was the good life for our friend six months out of the year and provided us several trips down there between seasons.
But like the changing tides of life, our friend’s world changed and evolved with personal relationships gone badly and a family crisis loaming. Over time our relationship withered and eventually we were no longer friends. But for a brief period in the early-2000’s she was kind enough to let us use her second home several times.
Cabo was another world back then. Fonatur, the Mexican Department of Tourism, was pushing heavily into developing the whole Baja peninsula and focused its effort on select towns such as San Jose and Los Cabos. Fractional ownership of condominium units was the rage and a lot of Americans were snapping them up as second homes. Two hundred and fifty thousand for three months and they were selling like hot cakes. Go figure.
I got caught up in the frenzy just enough to collect information and run the numbers. It didn’t make sense for us back then. I’m not sure if that was a credible investment or not but my gut said otherwise. Nevertheless, the area still brings back fond memories of incredible sunsets, warm ocean waves and friendly people. Unfortunately, that seems to have changed.
Perusing the media, I have a sad feeling that recurring hurricanes and increasing drug wars have diminished the luster of that place over the past couple of years. Recently the United State Department warned its citizens about traveling to Cancun and Los Cabos after a surge of violence in those regions. The travel warning could deliver a major blow to Mexico’s twenty-billion-a-year tourism industry which represents seven percent of the country’s gross domestic product. I guess only time will tell if the tourists and the buyers come back or find another place to call paradise.
But there was a time when the Baja Peninsula and Los Cabos held a lot of interest for us. It was the good life back then. The people were very friendly. Meals were relatively cheap. There was a Costco in Los Cabos and the ocean was warm. It was a fun, relaxing moment in time now relegated to several photo albums.
Our friend’s condo sat high on a sloping hillside just outside of San Jose. It was a one bedroom unit with a huge outdoor patio. It was small enough to be comfortable for two and a bit crowded for guests. Just the way she liked it.
The condo was a quick five-minute ride into town and away from the tourist traps and huge crowds spilling out of the cruise ships in the harbor of Los Cabos twenty miles away.
The town of San Jose lies at the opposite end of the Cabo peninsula and a slow twenty miles away from the glitz and glamor of Los Cabos. The San Jose lifestyle was busy but relaxed.
The peninsula highway that linked both towns skirted dozens and dozens of condominium projects in various stages of completion. New condos under construction hugged the coastline and dotted the surrounding hillsides. There was a major golf course under construction and California-priced homes hugging every fairway.
Unlike San Jose, the city of Los Cabos is a densely packed, excitement driven town built for and catering mainly to the tourist trade. It was every cliché and then some. But it wasn’t ashamed to be everything the tourists expected of it. Harbor cruses, deep-sea fishing, and water tours up to Todos Santos and other nearby fishing villages were all part of the appeal.
It was a fun experience while it lasted. Los Cabos was never really us. It could never have sustained any long term draw like we feel in the desert or North Shore. It was a fantasy world, fun to explore and great in short bursts. I wish them well. If things settle down it would be fun to return to those warm seas and clear blue skies.