Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Little Haven on the Eastern Cape: Cabo Pulmo

“It’s like a drug,” Libby described to us, as the truck bounced its way along a freshly groomed dirt road. “You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it.” A CD mix of American and Mexican techno music (her son’s music) trails out the windows behind us. As the sun sets, Libby drives faster; kicking up dust while the color of the sky makes its transition from blue to a light purple. “We got to make it before the sun sets, so you can see the bay.” The windows are blown out on one side of the truck, so I covered myself with our thick, cotton Mexican blanket (newly purchased in La Paz) to keep me warm.

Lord of the Wind Kiting Competition, Los Barriles
We met Libby just the day before. While sitting on the beach in Los Barriles, observing a kite boarding competition (“Lord of the Wind”), we overheard a group chatting about Cabo Pulmo, our intended destination for the week. We introduced ourselves and couldn’t believe our luck. Libby, an American woman, not only had a home in Cabo Pulmo, but raised both of her children there. Seeing our backpacks with snorkel gear attached, she offered us a place to stay that night and a ride to the pueblo (town) mañana after the completion of all the kite boarding events. While Libby wasn’t in Cabo Pulmo full time anymore, her 84-year-old mother, Nancy, still resided there and ran a restaurant.
Clif, Nancy and Libby laugh at the fire place.

Nancy's restaurant prepping for dinner time.
We didn’t pull into the restaurant parking lot until after dark. Even in the dark, the stone work and large arched windows were visible.  We left our backpacks in the bed of the truck and walked it, greeted immediately by Nancy, who was awaiting our arrival. Her silver hair and tan slender body revealed many years of hard work, adapting to the rural Baja life. She held a glass of El Jimador (tequila) on ice and proudly displaced her Sirius XM radio that was provided the mood music for the evening. Frank Sinatra sang “Autumn in New York” while we sat down to a candle lit, wood table. During our drive, Libby had told us of the small stone fireplace that was lit every night, customers or no. The small wood fire gave off most of the light for dining and preparing meals. Without hesitation, or worrying about being cliché, I’ll say: it was magical. I felt transported.

The inside of our palapa-roofed casita at Nancy's.
We ended up staying with Nancy and Libby for three nights, in one of two casitas that Nancy rented out behind the restaurant. We had breakfast each morning, prepared by Nancy, and in the afternoons, we’d help prepare the fire, and enjoy a margarita made with love by Libby, who declared her margaritas the absolute best (and we agreed).

Cabo Pulmo is a national marine park just 60 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, up around the eastern cape of the Baja. The town of less than 100 people, is mainly supported by diving tourism. Cabo Pulmo is home to one of the only hard coral reefs on the west coast. We took four dives during our stay and saw many, many fish. Large schools of fish that were not phased by our presence. We were happy to see coral growing strong and regenerating. We loved our local dive master, Roberto (the best of the best), who took us out to some great spots and made us feel very comfortable on and off the dive panga.
Giselle listens intently to Roberto's description of the next dive site...
A large school of fish loom in front of me, while I swim around with the GoPro.

Clif absorbed himself from time to time in helping Nancy get just a little more power out of her solar panels (cleaning, dusting and trimming back a tree that had started to shade part of the panels). I enjoyed listening to Nancy’s stories about her young days as a musical theatre star in Chicago. “I was always the lead,” she said, “ and I played every part.” If she was cast in a supporting role, she would be convinced it was a mistake by the director: “Directors ALWAYS make mistakes.” Once, she was put in a chorus, she hammed it up so much on stage, stealing the show every night, and the theatre never put her in the chorus again (Well… that’s one way to do it!).

Reluctantly, Libby drove us back on our third day, after we finished diving and took a siesta. She wanted us to stay… and do did we! We chatted about helping her mother with the restaurant and getting our dive masters. It seemed to us the Cabo Pulmo would have a place in our future… maybe not this year, but soon there after. The romance of the little village, living off of well water and solar energy, reminded me of Tenakee (a Mexican version of it, at least). Hikes through the mountains, horseback riding and turquoise water keep many coming back, and some even build their own little casita for a more permanent stay. It would be the perfect place to sit down and write a book… I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.

We took the bus back from Los Barriles to La Paz in the dark: back into the city lights, back to our own bed (which Clif was most excited about). We don’t have too much more time down here before we begin our journey up north to Guaymas and dock the boat for the summer. However, I think we might squeeze in a little visit to Cabo Pulmo for Nancy’s birthday on February 14th, which we heard, should not be missed! Connie will be with us there, and we will get to share our little Baja heaven with her as well: geckos, las cucurachas, bird songs, turquoise waters, beach and all.

Showing off!

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