Let me start off by saying that Mexico was a great time and I really enjoyed everything Cabo San Lucas had to offer. With that out of the way, I am not going to make this entry a detailed account of everything I did, instead I will make this a more generalized travel guide to Mexico/Cabo San Lucas.
I couldn’t get YouTube to work, so I think you can just click the link below to download a great 11 second movie of Lev reeling in a Marlin which is jumping out of the water.
Lev Battles the Marlin
Okay, let’s get started with the travel tips!
Tip #10 – The Mexican peso is roughly 9 cents to our dollar. No, that does not mean you get about a dollars worth of stuff for 9 cents, it means you have to spend approximately 10 pesos to get a dollar’s worth of stuff. Here’s where it gets complicated, but these details can really save you money or lose you a lot of money, so pay attention! Most merchants accept American dollars, but they exchange it at 10 to 1, so 1 dollar gets you 10 pesos. But the exchange rate for a peso is only worth about 9 cents, not 10 cents, so if you’re buying something for $1,000 pesos, it will cost you $100 dollars if you hand them US dollars, but if you use a credit card, it will only cost you around $90, because of the 9 pesos to every dollar exchange rate. To sum it up, because I am boring you to death, use your credit cards or as soon as you get to Mexico, hit up a ATM machine and use pesos, they give you the real exchange rate and it will save you about 10% over the trip.
Tip #9 – The Mexican people we encountered were very nice and most of them knew a little more English then we knew Spanish, so we managed to communicate at a basic level. Definitely brush up on your Spanish before you go, because it’s real fun to speak in Spanish and the people sincerely appreciate the effort. Plus, it was my experience that there was cooler stuff and cheaper stuff as you got further away from the resorts and further into the town, but the language barrier becomes more apparent as you start to leave the safe havens. Bone up on your Spanish and you’ll be ready to explore.
Tip #8 – I read in the newspaper that the minimum wage for Mexicans is slightly less than $5 for a day’s worth of work, on average, Mexicans make closer to $10 for a day’s worth of work. This means that tourists are extremely valuable to their community. This is really good, because they make every effort to take care of your every need and to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable vacation. But you must be prepared for a constant barrage of people doing things for you in hopes of a tip. You will have people opening every door, offering to sing you songs, carry your stuff, sell you things you don’t need (like Chicklets), and in some rare instances try to scam you out of a buck through fast talking. Here’s my advice, make a plan and stick to it, it minimizes unnecessary dialog and unwelcome advances, but no matter what, you’ll need to always carry some small bills, because people will be exceedingly nice and do something for you that warrants a buck or two.
Tip #7 – Get off the resort (if possible). Our resort was absolutely beautiful and had hundreds of activities to choose from. They had at least 3 pools, some with slides and volleyball, they had jet skis, parasails, horseback riding, etc. The resort had everything and terrific food. But there’s something very exciting about walking off the grounds and visiting the local stores, bars, and docks. Cabo San Lucas had a very nice town, I felt safe 99% of the time (I had a brief encounter with a pack of wild dogs), and you trickled through the big budget operations and met the actual boat owners, the shop keepers, and bartenders.
Tip #6 – Go on an adventure. I was lucky to do two adventures while I was in Mexico and I’d say they were both highlights of my trip. They required a decent chunk of change and at points they were both required some determination, but in the end it was worth it all. Trip 1 – I went to the marina and met some English speaking guy who had a nice boat and he said he would love to take us out on a trip to check out the big rock formations, seals, and possibly a whale. He said he’d even throw a case of beer into the deal and I was sold. We ended up seeing a massive school of dolphins, the seals, and after driving around for awhile in the ocean, we came across a whale (picture below). The other adventure was a fishing trip for Marlin. This blog entry is getting long, so hopefully, the file above will provide enough evidence to justify the adventure. It’s easy to just stay on the beach sipping on Margaritas, but there’s some serious adventure to be had in Mexico.
Tip #5 – Learn how to negotiate. 95% of the shops I went into did not have a price tag on any product. I’d ask how much a sombrero was and they’d tell me it was $40, I’d walk away and then they would say $35, I’d say, “no that’s too much” and they’d ask how much I would pay. It’s crazy and at first, a little uncomfortable, but you get used to it and then you wish you could always negotiate prices. I think I miss price negotiation most now that I’m back in the States. Whatever you do, never accept their initial price, just say “no thanks” and see what happens, almost every time they lower their price significantly. Additionally, a lot of restaurants are competing for your business and many of them have a person out front trying to entice you to eat at their respective eatery. Tell them you’ll eat there if they throw in a free round of margaritas and they usually will.
Tip #4 – Go to the grocery store. The grocery store was one of my favorite experiences in Cabo San Lucas. You could find a couple of old standbys like Coke, Pringles, and Tylenol, but almost everything was different. The fruits, candy bars, cheeses, etc. offered a huge culinary adventure in itself. Try a couple new foods and save some money by purchasing items at the store opposed to the mini-bar or convenience store.
Tip #3 – Specials! This is specific to Cabo San Lucas, but we found two great places that offered excellent specials. Taco Loco offered 4 tacos and a beer for $7 and Sangrias Bar offered 2 beers and two shots of tequila for $6. You just can’t beat those specials, these places had great flavor and friendly staff, they were tucked away but worth the trip.
Tip #2 – Markets. I loved the markets in Cabo San Lucas and I assume markets are typical in most Mexican cities. You can find all kinds of wacky stuff, I’ll post two pictures below of some nicer finds.
The Day of the Dead, you can find these little skeletons all over
Tip #1 – They may say you can drink the water, but don’t drink the water, buy bottled water and preferably water that was bottled in the US. Montezuma still lurks below the border despite water purification systems.
A couple more random pics:
Me with my marlin
Jack with a wre
stling mark that I purchased in a market (yes I negotiated for it!)