Man Overboard!

We planned a couple of special activities while we were in Cabo San Lucas.  The first was a glass-bottomed kayak and snorkeling trip to Land’s End and Cabo’s “famous” arch.  Our guides arrived a tad earlier than we expected them, and Steve and I had a moment of panic when we could not locate Caleb.  After waking his neighbors pounding on his hotel room door, Steve found him in the restaurant (wondering what all the fuss was about, no doubt).  We all loaded ourselves into the van, picked up the remaining members of our group, and headed to the beach.

Steve and Caleb must have discussed logistics and kayak assignment beforehand because the next thing I knew I was being pawned off on the guide.  The joke was on them.  Here was my chance to receive expert one on one training!  As it turned out, in addition to paddling tips, I also received a history and geography lesson of the area from our guide.  And there no fear of falling out of the kayak this time.  This trip was definitely a win-win for me!

thumbnailThe bay was full of boats:  pirate ships, pangas, sailboats, and other kayaks.  Due to the number of boats, the water was a bit choppy near the Arch, so we waited for some of the traffic to clear out before entering the somewhat enclosed area where it is located.  I was hoping for an excited reception from the sea lions who lounge in the area.  Unfortunately, we were not the first visitors of the day, and they were no longer interested.  I guess if you have seen one tourist you have seen them all!  It was at this point, Steve most likely questioned his judgment in choosing Caleb over me for the first time.  A lone male sea lion dove into the water.  Like a flash, Caleb maneuvered their kayak closer.

Meanwhile, I was benefitting once again from being with the guide.  He held us steady so thumbnail-1I could focus on taking photos.  It was a bit intimidating to think there was nothing but water, a lot of water, beyond the last rock outcropping.   Instead, I focused on how small the Arch looked.  (Of course, anything in the Pacific would look small.)  I felt immediately guilty for expecting something bigger because it truly was amazing and beautiful.  Then I wondered if I was the sort of person who would see Mt. Everest and comment on how I thought it would be taller.  This led to an internal lecture on being grateful and appreciating the miracle of nature, blah, blah, blah.

We did not have far to paddle before stopping again to snorkel.  Given that we did not pull our kayaks out of the water, I opted to stay aboard and continue to serve as trip photographer.  Honestly, I could just not get past the vision of myself splayed across the thumbnail-2kayak trying to get back in.  Yes, I have been doing some arm work.  No, I was not quite ready to power myself out of the sea onto a boat.  Sea lions look cool sprawled out on the rocks.  Me, on the back of a kayak, not so much.  Steve had never snorkeled before, so I documented this “first”.  Caleb had snorkeled plenty, but it was a terrific opportunity for a new “Insta” photo!

Everyone made it safely back on and in their kayaks, and we headed to shore.  I was preening, listening to the guide tell me what a strong, consistent paddling form I had, when we were surprised by a sudden splash.  Apparently, while I was contemplating asking the guide if he could repeat this in front of my family, one of Caleb’s flippers slipped off the back of his kayak.  In an effort to save his parents the cost of replacing it, he reacted quickly to get it back, losing his hat and sunglasses in the process.  Caleb jumped off of the kayak and into the water, without giving Steve a head’s up.  The kayak was thrown off balance, and Steve was thrown into the water.  The flipper and hat were saved.  The sunglasses and Steve’s dignity were not.

I tried really hard not to gloat on the van ride back to the hotel.  The guide did indeed inform my family of my mad kayak skills.  And I was completely dry.

Guaymas’ Hidden Gems

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While I have lived here for nearly a year and a half, there are many places I have not discovered or experienced in Guaymas/San Carlos.  With the help and recommendations (and directions) from many kind friends, I am uncovering more of my new to me home everyday.  And yes, I still do “touristy” things like dolphin cruises, horseback rides, and sunset viewing from the trendy swings at the local beach bar.  But I also travel 35 minutes and brave parking in El Centro just to buy warm tortillas and the best totopitos in town.  I know where to find the freshest churros.  I will bypass the convenience of Ley or Walmart to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from produce stands at the Municipal Market.

Every once in a while, my husband and I get the chance to be tour guides to folks who know less about our home than we do.  Steve’s employer sees many business travelers, and occasionally, their visits include weekends.  When someone asks, “So, what do you do for fun around here?” we don’t necessarily want to answer with, “Well, we spend a lot of time napping and reading on the beach.”  Even if it is true.  This is our chance to show off the city we have come to love.

 

The gazebo in Plaza 13 de Julio was designed by Gustav Eiffel.  Yes that Eiffel!  Iglesia San Fernando, built in 1850, is the oldest church in Guaymas.  Its doors are open daily, and mass is still held on Sunday mornings.  Many people listen to mass from the shade in the plaza.  Plaza de los Tres Presidentes honors the three Mexican presidents from Guaymas.    It overlooks el Palacio Municipal, home of the local government.  The malecón offers stunning views of the Sea of Cortez and surrounding mountains.  A statue honoring Guaymas’ fishing history is found here.

 

Despite reviews on Trip Advisor and other travel sites that bemoan Guaymas and its failure to “realize its potential”, I love to be downtown in the middle of it all.  I do understand the criticism, however.  The beautiful, historic buildings are in severe disrepair.  No two curbs are the same height.  Sidewalks are pockmarked and crumbling in places.  Large potholes exist in the main thoroughfares.  Garbage pickup is sporadic.  Old cities in Europe manage to remain enchanting.  I have heard Guaymas described as “crummy, but authentic”.

 

And it is the authenticity of the city that appeals to me.  Every morning shopkeepers are in front of their stores, sweeping the debris from those crumbling sidewalks and washing their windows.  Those sellers without an actual storefront, unload and arrange their goods on tables, lining the main avenue- -an eclectic mix of clothing, backpacks, jewelry, mixed nuts, and fresh fruit.  Food trucks line Calle 19, and it does not take long before the enticing smells of tacos, tostadas, and churros overpower fumes from the buses.

There is a buzz of activity, no matter the day of the week.  The sidewalks are jammed withthumbnail-1 shoppers and students on their way to and from school.  Groups of men gather around the shoeshine chair to chat.  Farmers park their pickup trucks at the busiest corners, full of fresh oranges, watermelons, asparagus, and elote.  There are at least eight barbershops in a two block area, and each is bustling.  Loud music spills onto the streets from various stores around the city market, each playing something different.  Men pitch their goods using microphones and portable speakers.  A busy grocery store does brisk business.  But so does the family selling homegrown tomatoes, peppers, and onions. And the woman removing the tines from and cutting the nopal cactus into bite size pieces.

thumbnail-3It is the friendliness and the positive attitudes of the people I meet and see when I am in Guaymas that stands out the most.  There is always a smile and a “buen día” given in passing.  And due to the crowds, there are a lot of these greetings.  The beauty of Guaymas is its people.  And a closer look at them reveals that Guaymas has definitely realized its potential.