Those were the words my companion uttered from the edge of the infinity pool at Las Ventanas mere hours after we arrived in Cabo. I followed her gaze past the white sand beach and into the glistening Sea of Cortez in time to catch a glimpse of a glossy blue whale breach and slip back into the ocean.
It is wonderful, but it’s not a dream, I thought. Then I pinched her just to prove it.
Paul picked us up at the airport and kept a running commentary on the landscape and history of this end of the Baja peninsula. He included restaurant and club recommendations and when he delivered us down the majestic drive-way to the stone gates of Las Ventanas, unloaded our luggage, and explained that our rental car would shortly arrive at our villa, my hard-to-impress friend winked and smiled at me. She was pleased, and over the course of the next hour, from the fresh limeade we were offered as we stepped across the threshold of the incredible resort, to the personal butler who guided us on a tour of the pools, restaurants, and spa as we made our way to our chambers, to the villa itself: vaulted ceilings, balconies spilling bougainvillea, spectacular views, her smile grew broader and her eyes lit up. But it was that moment at the edge of the pool that I knew I had her attention. For a week, anyway….
We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening by the pool, ordering drinks and an incredibly fresh, and incredibly expensive, tray of salsa and guacamole, shrimp cocktail and flatbread. The waiters brought bottles of water and repositioned the giant umbrella as the sun moved across the sky. Occasionally they would come around with tiny cones of coconut sorbet, or kiwi popsicles, or supplies to clean and polish our sunglasses. That evening we drove to San Jose for dinner and the Thursday night art crawl. From Las Calaveras Catrina dolls – eerily beautiful little statues of well-dressed skeletons, to traditional Mexican paintings of brightly clad subjects and in bucolic settings and modern amorphous bronze sculpture, the San Jose del Cabo art scene is an exceptional cultural microcosm of Mexico. After we were thoroughly aesthetically sated, it was time for dinner. Up and down cobblestone streets, we had passed dozens of restaurants, each with a modest storefront that belied the interiors. We settled on Tequila as much for the atmosphere as the menu with all of its fresh fish and organic produce. We dined under colored glass and woven lanterns scattered amongst the tree branches and twinkling stars from the open sky. The waiters brought heaters and even offered blankets to keep my companion warm in the cooler night air and when the mariachis came through, they sang “Brown Eyed Girl” to my blue-eyed friend with strong Spanish accents and tons of Mexican enthusiasm.
The rest of the week was just as magical as the first day. Espresso and breakfast on our private balcony, mornings and afternoons spent by the pool, and walking along the beach, watching whales and in one instance, ensuring that a baby sea turtle made it into the surf before the birds got him. Evenings were a series of wonderful meals in open air restaurants, or on the surf under thatched pagodas.
One day we got up early and drove north to La Paz, stopping at a roadside taqueria for breakfast. Once there, we rented a boat and hired a guide to take us into the Sea of Cortez to swim with whale sharks. Yes, we went swimming with those gentle, primordial, spotted behemoths of the deep! It was an experience I will never forget. Proximity to the slow grace of the massive beasts was awe-inspiring and exhilarating. Equally exhilarating was the moment I convinced myself to jump into the choppy waters along with them and even more exhilarating was the second I hit the water and realized how unbelievably cold it was. Good thing I had adrenaline in addition to my wetsuit to keep me warm!
A must see restaurant when traveling through Cabo is Flora Farm. Make a reservation, because it’s a popular place and set your GPS, because it’s at the end of a convoluted series of dirt roads but the experience is well worth it. The vegetable farm surrounding the restaurant is landscaped like a flower garden. They have incredible cocktails and world-class food made from farm fresh meats and vegetables, and local seafood. Tuesday is fried chicken night if you’re longing for something that doesn’t involve avocado and lime, and they top it off with homemade coconut cream pie.
Alas, it was eventually time to go home to Minnesota and we had to say farewell to the infinity pools and the cactus, the butler and the kiwi popsicles. The frigid cold of St Paul in winter was a startling reminder that Cabo and Las Ventanas were a world away. But was it all a dream? No, señor.