Baja Mexico: The Journey of Almost No Return – Chapter 18: This Must Be Just Like Living in Paradise

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Cabo Wabo

Day 05

Cabo San Lucas, BCS

Tuesday, August 30th:

We bag off of Highway 1 to make a pit stop at the beach near Punta Arena. While sitting on the beach working our way through a joint, we are greeted by a bedraggled yet hyped-up dude who has just come limping across the sand looking as if he had just minutes earlier narrowly survived the bombing of a building. He’s heading straight for us; and on a beach this large and empty, that’s certainly weird, and not a coincidence.

The guy hobbles up and starts yapping at us in Spanish about some drug person or gang that he’s obviously mad at, or afraid of- quite likely both. Gesticulating wildly, he keeps pointing back in the direction he came from, where after a mile or so the lifeless landscape disappears behind some rugged rocky hills of desert. It’s like he’s trying to tell us something. We are adamant that we want nothing to do with this information; and we quickly extricate ourselves from the situation and get back in the car and drive off in haste. If this dude’s being pursued by some kind of cartel henchmen or whatever, we don’t need to be seen exchanging words with him. Fuck that..

It's true what they say: I really do love to go down (south). (image by
For someone who’s spent as much time going down south as I have, I sure don’t recognize any of this scenery. I had been laboring under the impression that the south was mostly forest.
(image by


Almost immediately after turning back onto the paved highway, we pass a sign that says “Tropico de Cancer.” Sick- we just drove to the tropics! I forgot we were gonna do that. I’ve never been in the tropics before; the furthest south I’ve ever been is Grange Hill, Jamaica, and that’s a good five degrees of latitude further north than here; and anyway I did not get there by car.

IMG_7797 - Copy (2)

We penetrate the city limits of Cabo San Lucas sometime in the late afternoon, a time the American populace knows as  “rush hour“- though here we intend to experience it as more of a “chill hour.” We have reached the southern terminus of the Baja Peninsula– and our trip. San Francisco, my home, is 1,500 miles away to the north.

We try to find a beach equal to the tropical dreams we have borne through lifetimes of hype; but for the last twenty miles, from San Jose Del Cabo, it’s been nothing but gated communities, private resorts, and all other manner of exclusive, tourist-friendly municipal infrastructure (read: secured against any advance by members of the local populace). Yes, this is one of those places where America’s fancy-pants, well-monied folk come to relax and stretch out in a place that does nothing to challenge their narrow, limited vision of what a third-world tropical paradise should be.

This must be just like living in paradise... (image by
This must be just like living in paradise…
(image by


We end up settling for a ludicrously-jam-packed afterthought of a swimming hole, peopled by what appears, to us, to be an exclusive clientele of indigent local folk- save for me and Chalk. At this spot, reaching neck-deep water without physically touching another human being requires a considerable effort- involving circuitous routes, defensive maneuvering, and a bit of acrobatics. I guess the locals around here- at least those who don’t own or work for high-brow resorts- don’t really reap the benefits of living in a “tropical paradise.” That said, this throwaway of a beach spot is still far more aesthetically inspiring than 99.97% of what passes for pristine beaches in America.

And at any rate, at least the water is clean- I guess. It’s quite blue, anyway; and I mean natural, plausible blue- not that highly suspicious 2000 Flushes kind of artificial blue. However, as I look around at the throngs of small children frolicking in the waves, I admit to myself that this water temperature may in fact be a product of factors beyond mere latitude and prevailing ocean currents.

Cabo Wabo: A safe space for self-absorbed young people to emphatically reinforce all white-person stereotypes. (image by Wikimedia Commons)
Cabo Wabo: 
A safe space for young, self-absorbed white people to emphatically reinforce all the worst caucasian stereotypes.
(image by Wikimedia Commons)

This Ain’t America, Jack

Remember awhile back when I said I was gonna stop at the Bank of America in Cabo to re-up on cash, so that I could complete the trip without having to be temporarily financed by Chalk?

Yeah well so there’s no fucking Bank of America in Cabo.

This is most unexpected. I’ve been 100% counting on this. Why I didn’t confirm whether or not there was a BofA in Cabo before crossing the border is a question that cannot be answered without exposing me for the bumbling idiot that I am, so I’m not all that inclined to dwell on it further.

Anyway, the upshot is that I can’t get my hands on any of my own money until we cross back into the U.S.- still several days from now. So Chalk cashes in a mutual fund and hands me a wad of effectivo (cash), to live on for a few days. Critical move by Chalk.

Hi, my name is Sammy Hagar. Hold on, now... hear me out. Okay now look, I know you're already thinking it, so let me just put it out there right now to get it out of the way. Okay so like, to a certain extent (and in limited contexts), I can rock out with the best of them; but still somehow, no matter what I do, I just can't seem to crack that top tier. I guess I'm what you might call a "B Rocker." HA!!! And furthermore- 5150 was no 1984- not even close. I recognize that. People think I'm deluded about that, but I'm not. They also think I'm deluded as to the importance- to rock history, that is- of my tenure in Van Halen; but in that case, they're right- I AM. It feels good to share, to tell you the truth. I've been carrying this shit around for years.Man, I feel lighter already. (image by Wikimedia Commons)
Hi, my name is Sammy Hagar. Hold on, now… come on, just hear me out.
Okay so look-, I know you’re already thinking it, so let me just put it out there right now to get it out of the way. As we all know, I can, to a certain extent (and in limited contexts), rock out with the best of them; but still somehow, no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to crack that top tier. I guess I’m what you might call a “B Rocker.” HA!!!
And furthermore- 5150 was no 1984- not even close. I recognize that. People think I’m deluded about that, but I’m not. They also think I’m deluded as to the importance- to rock history, that is- of my tenure in Van Halen. But in that case, they’re right- I am.

It feels good to share, to tell you the truth. I’ve been carrying this shit around for years.
Man, I feel lighter already.
(image by Wikimedia Commons)

Cabo Wabo

As American males of a certain age, it would seem unfitting if we were to breeze through town and not pop our head into the Cabo Wabo Cantina, Sammy Hagar‘s much-hyped nightclub, a magnet for snatch-waxed wet t-shirt bitches, psycho-sexually repressed meatheads in white college baseball caps, and other spring-breaking heroes of coolness.

So we pop our head in there, figuring we should at least get ourselves a drink; but the lameness of the place hits us like a surprise birthday party. It’s basically a poor-man’s Hard Rock Cafe. We’re over it before we’ve even passed out of the sidewalk sunlight  and into the the actual joint.

Fuck this, we’re out.

1,100 miles of “We’ve got to check out Sammy’s bar”, undone in less than ten seconds.

"Let's go get some Italian." (image by
“Whaddya say we go get some Italian? I know this fuckin’ place in the Bronx blah blah blah old-fashioned pull-chain blah blah family restaurant blah blah perfect for us blah blah blah et cetera.”
(image by


As we’re walking out the door of the cantina, a man approaches me with an enthusiastically outstretched hand and a wide smile to match. Despite this, however, there is no outwardly sketchy vibe- though I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. The man speaks flawless English, though he is a Mexican.

He introduces himself as Juan, welcomes us to Cabo, and asks if we “need” anything- anything at all. Apparently, Juan is the man. I glance over at Chalk for a second, but his attention is elsewhere. After a brief moment of contemplation I, with last night- and this morning,- still firmly in mind, decline his offer.

But Juan sees right through me, like Sollozzo reading Sonny Corleone. He knows I’m hot for his deal. He tells me to ask around about him- everybody knows him. I tell him thanks but no thanks- we’re all good for the moment.

For the moment.

I thank Juan and move on. It’s time to find a hotel room, so we can establish a base of operations for the evening’s debauchery, whatever that might entail.


Previous: Chapter 17: Cheltdown #1

Next: Chapter 19: Many Times Upon a Time in Mexico (Mexican Roulette)