Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Eve in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The cloudy day when we got to Cabo San Lucas

Inside the tender
The tender docked beside the MV Explorer, as seen from inside the tender I was in  (the plexiglas windows were very scratched, thus the poor quality of the picture)

In looking over my pictures, I realized that I didn't write a blog about our last port, Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico.  We arrived there early in the morning on an overcast, cool day.  There aren't any docks large enough for our ship, so we anchored out in the harbor and used the "tenders" to transport us to shore.  "Tenders" are what they call the lifeboats when they're not being used for emergencies!  We got a lesson the night before at Pre-Port to explain to us everything we needed to know about embarking and disembarking from them.  It wasn't that complicated, but the folks on board were very good about making sure everything was safe and sound for us and that people took things appropriately seriously.  As far as I know there were no mishaps for travelers getting on or off of the tenders, and it was kind of fun getting to use yet another mode of transportation during the voyage.  Plane, taxi, ship, tender, bus, van, kayak, outrigger canoe - I think that was it - no train, bicycle, horse, or bicycle powered taxi, though I suppose those would have been options if I'd thought to use them.

I chose to take one of the package tours to go snorkeling, so I got off bright and early along with 25 of my fellow passengers.  We were loaded into 4 vans then driven through the sleepy,  not yet awake town to a cove where our kayaks awaited us.  We used double sit-upon kayaks with clear bottoms - the clear part was a bit of a joke, but it sounded good in the advertisement!  We didn't see anything through them!

I paired up with a very nice woman from the Bay Area of CA to paddle to the next cove where we would snorkel.  She and I made a good team, working at about the same speed to traverse the 45 minutes of fairly choppy water.  It was a decent workout and felt great to be on the water moving my body.  It was chilly out, about 65 degrees, and overcast, so I definitely preferred moving to sitting still.  On the way over we told each other about our lives, our kids, and what they were up to.  She's Mormon and one of her daughters is getting ready to go on her 18 month mission trip to South Korea.  It was very interesting
learning what that's like for the kids.  I'd never spoken with anyone about what it's like to be one of the folks traveling around spending 18 months sharing the Gospel with anyone who'll listen.  I'm glad I got the chance to learn more.

Once we got to shore again, we were outfitted with snorkeling gear then got to head into the waters we'd just kayaked through. The last time I went scuba diving (and could see anything) was in Hawaii about 12 years ago.  It was an amazing experience, and I'd been wanting to go again ever since.  This wasn't scuba diving, but it was fantastic!  The moment I put my head into the water, I saw fish!  Small fish, large fish, iridescent, opalescent, opaque, bright, dull, shiny, fast, slow, skinny, broad - anything I could imagine and so much more!  I saw an eel poking his head out of the coral then slooping back in.  There was an octopus with a body this size of a small cantaloupe camouflaged on a rock, holding on it to, eating whatever came its way.  There were several needle fish - long skinny silver fish with pointed noses and tails.  100's of bright blue baby fish nibbling at the coral.  Sea urchins planted fast on the rocks.  A huge grouper with its dull snout iridescent and bold nosing around the bottom of the water.  The water was about 15 feet deep, and I could see all the way down. 

the cove where we snorkeled - see the divers in the water?
I loved the feel of the fins on my feet because they enabled me to swim quickly and far with each stroke.  I felt so powerful!  Wearing the mask and breathing through the snorkel made it so I could keep my head underwater the whole time without lifting it up.  The water was fairly gentle by the shore so I didn't have to worry about waves crashing over the snorkel and flooding the tube with water - thank goodness!  I was able to breathe unimpeded the whole time. 

warming up after the snorkeling session
I swam out to the far rocks that you can see in the picture in my quest for more and more sea life.  I was a bit startled to see how far out I had gone.  Though you can't see it in the picture, there were rocks and reefs underwater the whole way out there.  The water was chilly as was the air, so after a half an hour or so, I started to get chilled.  I had goosebumps on my arms, and I had to notice that my fingers were starting to get numb, but I was so enthralled I just didn't want to leave!  I don't know when I'll ever get to snorkel again, but I do want to try to make sure it's pretty soon.  It is such a different world under the sea - so beautiful, teeming with life, fascinating in its diversity.  I felt like Jacques Cousteau and certainly wished I were him! 

Once I finally got myself to leave the water, the sun started breaking through the clouds, and eventually the day became quite warm - comfortably in the 80's or so.  We climbed back in the vans and headed back to town.  Along the way, we saw many signs of gringos - whites - and our US culture.  Burger King, Office Max, Costco, and even a Hard Rock Cafe with fake, yes, fake, cacti coming through the roof, even though there were huge real cacti not 10 feet away.  This was the second Hard Rock Cafe I saw on the trip, the first one being in Cartegena, Colombia. 

When we got back to town, we had some time before the ship was set to leave town, so I wandered around a bit.  The place was clearly set up to cater to tourists.  There were only tourist-type shops in the surrounding walkable area: artisan stores, junk shops (aka craft shops), bars, restaurants, T-shirt stands, and many, many places ready to sell services such as parasailing, jet boat rentals, snorkeling, boat trips, etc.  There were several large tents set up to house the zillions of partying tourists they were apparently expecting to spend New Years Eve with them. 
One of the stores I went past sold the T shirts shown in the picture to the right.  I felt uncomfortable seeing them and wonder who would want to wear such a shirt, even as a joke.  Then I wandered a bit further towards a restaurant which had loud music coming from it.  Inside I first noticed the "floats" on the ceiling with bare bottoms hanging out.  Sorta cute.  Then I saw the bar stool with the bikini-ed bottom painted on it.  Then I saw where the commotion was coming from. 
There was a young guy sitting on a chair in the middle of the room getting stamps put on his chest.  He got up, stumbled around, laughed.  Then his companion sat down.  Two women blew on plastic whistles while a man in a white shirt poured a vile-looking green liquid down his throat while his friends clapped and hooted.  When he had gotten his fill, the woman behind him grabbed his chin and the top of his head and wound them around, back and forth, apparently to help the medicine go down.  She then reached down and pulled up his shirt so the man could stamp both of his nipples.  He got up and reeled a bit then chugged a full beer.

Their female companion was next.  The routine was the same except that they pulled her dress down instead of up, and didn't quite expose her nipples.  They called to the second woman to get her to take part but she chose not to.  This was at 12:30 in the afternoon. 

I admit to feeling some judgments as I watched their shenanigans - I can't say I've ever felt moved to take part in a ritual like that - always too hesitant to lose control or to make a fool of myself or to face the consequences of my actions - or to barf my brains out.  I got drunk in college once to the point of not knowing what I was doing, and that taught me everything I needed to know about that possibility!  Ever since then I've been a very light drinker - it just wasn't fun.  I don't know what these folks wanted to achieve by drinking like that other than to have a story they could tell their friends - a sense of "You'll never guess what I did down in Mexico, man!  It was the bomb!"  then stories about wandering around the town drunk off their ass, bugging other tourists, going to more bars and drinking until they couldn't remember anything, then going back to their hotel to pass out on the bed only to wake up to barf all over the place, leaving in the afternoon for the maid to clean it up.  I get the fun of telling such stories about oneself - sort of - but I guess I just have other ways I'd rather spend my time.  I don't mean to sound judgmental, though I probably sound precisely that way - it's just that I don't understand it, and it doesn't hold any appeal for me.

A few other pictures from the town:

a favorite pelican perch, apparently!  It was a boat for tourists to go out on - the Beer Bash.  It was covered with Pelican poop.

Two sailors wandering the wharf in Cabo San Lucas, with shops and restaurants behind it.

This sign could be seen from the harbor.  It means "Not for Sale".  It was a beautiful perch.  I'm guessing the owner has many, many people asking if they can buy the property, so he figured he'd let folks know they can't!

One of the 100's of Pelicans in the harbor.

Cabo San Lucas has every water sport I could think of other than windboarding or windsurfing, and perhaps they offer that in more secluded places.  There were 100's of ways to entertain yourself there!

I wasn't able to find out what this interesting building is.  I looked all over Google images to try to figure it out, but I couldn't find any pictures of it there.  I thought perhaps it was by Frank Gehry, but it doesn't seem quite weird enough for him.  I need the ap that'll look at a picture and tell exactly what and where it is.

When I got back to the ship, I could hear the loud speaker from the tents on the beach speaking in English, encouraging people to take part in various drinking contests.  It made me glad I'd not be in town for the New Year's festivities!

Once back on the ship, I felt a strong urge to draw the surroundings.  I knew I wouldn't have many more chances to draw while at sea and none at Cabo San Lucas, so I got out my easel, drawing board, and pastels.  I was planning to paint the sea and sky like I usually do - the sun was moving quickly across the sky and was shining bright white across the water, almost blinding me.  Then I noticed - duh! - that I could turn just a bit and draw the rocks that the city is famous for.  I quickly drew the rocks, feeling frustrated that I didn't have the right colors at all.  I decided to make that a challenge to myself and to try to create the right colors from what I do have and to work with light and shadows, value, more than color.  The two pictures here are two of the three paintings I did of the rocks.  The light changed a lot just in that short space of time - different areas were highlighted and the faces expanded and contracted depending on where and how the light hit them.

After I did the rocks several times, I moved my view to the right a bit and drew a larger land mass which actually had grass on it.  I'm well aware that the green seems way too bright, but it was actually an accurate representation of the color the way the afternoon light was shining on it.  One of my art students who's 14 or so looked at it and expressed his concern that it was too bright then thought about it and realized it was accurate for that time of day.

Wanting to continue drawing, I went back to the rocks, but this time just to one of them - and the sky had changed completely - now it was full of puffy clouds rather than whispy ones.  It was fun playing with the different texture.  The color of the water changed too - now it was much greener than the blue it had been just a bit before.

By this time, all of the passengers were back on the ship because it was time to leave the area.  It was also "cookie-o'clock" - snack time on board - so many people had wandered out on deck and saw me drawing.  There are a lot of pictures of me drawing these rocks out there in cyberspace!  People were very nice with their comments.

The ship was leaving port so I couldn't draw the rocks anymore - they were disappearing quickly.  The sun was nearing the water; the light was beautiful; the clouds were shifting dramatically.  I drew as fast as I could to try to capture the beauty.  I smeared my hand across the page, added color like a crazy woman, then had to call it done - we were gone from Cabo San Lucas!

No comments:

Post a Comment