Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

I couldn't resist!

Our final port of the cruise was Cabo San Lucas.  Sitting at the southernmost tip of Baja California, this town is a major tourist destination for Hollywood moguls and the like.  The natural setting of jagged rocks rising out of crystal blue waters makes for a dramatic backdrop.  We tendered in to the port early and spent the day walking around the marina.  It is lined with restaurants and bars looking out onto the hundreds of boats harbored there.  We also explored the streets behind the water’s edge, even locating a Starbucks outpost!  We shopped the myriad of souvenir stalls, eventually settling on a Mexican wrestler’s mask as a gift for a friend stateside.  Finally we stopped for lunch at a dockside venue.

Part of our lunch in Cabo.

This was one of our favorite scenes of the entire vacation.  We settled into chairs at Solomon’s Landing, located at a corner of the marina next to a straw market.  Music from the restaurant wafted out over the parade of well-oiled vacationers strolling up and down the walkway, providing us with never-ending entertainment as we ate.  Another round of Pacifico beers paired with guacamole, salsa and chips to start us off.  Tony chose an authentic beef burrito stuffed with grilled skirt steak, avocado, tomato and crema.  I splurged on a whole grilled lobster.  Bursting out of its bright red shell, it was served with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables.  We were as relaxed as we have ever been and life seemed very, very good at that moment.  I feel grateful for that particular experience.

Later that afternoon, we enjoyed a cocktail on the balcony of our newfound friends Richard and Bill.  As we sipped on a cool drink, the ship swung around in a 180 degree arc in preparation for leaving the bay.  This gave us a final, sweeping panorama of the town and its stunning setting.  We were nearing the end of what we all agreed was one of the best vacations of our lives.

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Acapulco, Mexico

These carvings are on a hill high above Acapulco.

Arriving early in the morning, we took our coffee out on the deck and watched as we sailed into Acapulco Bay.  There is development nearly all the way around this harbor, with even some highrise hotels in the tourist district.  This is not the same Acapulco visited by the winners of The Dating Game in the 1960’s.  Nearly a million people are crowded into the city and up the sides of the surrounding mountains.  We chose a tour that took us up into the hills for a chance to see the ancient petroglyphs at Palma Sola and capture the panoramic views that climb would afford.  We boarded a large van at the pier and headed out.

At first, we stuttered through the morning rush hour traffic along the bay and the nearby streets.  Once we began climbing the hills, there was less traffic but the road began narrowing at an alarming rate.  As the city grew in the last century, residents staked out their own plots of land on the mountainside in a crazy-quilt fashion.  When the city administration annexed this land and brought services such as water, electricity and paved roads to these neighborhoods (known as colonias), no one wanted to give up one single centimeter of space.  Houses extended all the way to the edges of the individual properties.  The layout become a nearly impossible maze of unbelievably tight roads.  Added to this was the steepness of the hillside.  None of the roads is marked and we faced many byways blocked by parked vehicles.  When asked how he knew which way to go to reach our destination, the driver responded, “I just keep heading UP.”

The Pearl sits in the Bay.

After some thirty minutes of this tortuous climb, we reached the Palma Sola Archaeological Site.  Arrayed up the hill from the Welcome Center here are more than a dozen petroglyphs produced the Yopes peoples, from 800 B.C. to 200 A.D.  A set of 500 rough stone stairs is set into the hillside, requiring a good bit of stamina to climb.  Along the way we stopped to view the carvings, finally arriving at a plateau at the top where we rewarded with a simply astounding view of Acapulco Bay.  It was worth the effort to see this panorama.

Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico

This was our view of the Pearl from the beach.

Our first stop in Mexico was the resort town of Huatulco in the state of Oaxaca.  It is a resort development ranging across nine bays (bahias).  We chose to stick to the small tourist area set up at the end of the pier.  Given that it was meltingly hot that day, this was more than enough activity for us.  We walked the few streets lined with shops, where Tony purchased a wooden fish, representative of the brightly painted, indigenous Oaxacan carving style.  On our way back to the ship, we allowed ourselves to be seduced by the host of one of the seaside bars into having a drink on the beach.  We sat and sipped a bottle of Pacifico, protected from the brutal sun by a thatched roof.  There was the echo of  marimba music drifting up from the beach, mingling with the persistent sound of the crashing surf and the laughter of the glistening, tanned young people playing in it.  Birds darted between the tables, seeking any scraps dropped to the sand.  We lingered in the cooling breeze, having truly relaxed at this point in our vacation and feeling in no rush to return to the relative confines of the Pearl.   This is one of my favorite moments of the entire fifteen days of vacation.