At 23:35, we retrieved the bubbles, a couple of red solo cups and rushed for the beach.
The local kids were already sitting on the sand, lit by their parked car’s beam lights, looking like a 1980s MTV video.
Live music from the nearby clubs disrupted an almost spiritual vibe: the beachgoers looked into the sky with anticipation—like someone who waits for the passing of a comet.
We realized we’d forgotten the grapes. I felt liberated. The last couple of years taught us how naive end-of-year wishes could be.
Still, I felt cautious joy when the countdown began: 3, 2…1! All the fireworks in the world shot into the sky, and suddenly it was daytime on Palmilla Bay.
We’d arrived four days earlier, after a gelid New York City Christmas. The JFK-San Jose del Cabo flight took us from -10F to 80F in just over six hours, and it felt like a miracle.
Feeling the sand between our toes, sipping that glorious first margarita, hiking to the Big Cross: Cabo’s always been about holiday traditions for over a decade.
And, during that time, we’ve also seen the town change.
Lola, who came thirty years ago, has witnessed an even more profound transformation. Back then, there were only two shacky hotels and a landing strip. Lola loved it so much that she never returned to her native Yucatan.
To those who came before her, she was that annoying newcomer. A decade ago, it was her turn to frown upon us. It goes on and on.
Lola worries about reckless drivers along The Corridor, the same road where the many resorts built in recent years have progressively blocked the sea view.
We loved admiring the water back when we drove to and from San Jose’s Art Thursdays to check out works from local artists and sip free gallery wine.
Those days you still could see Steven Spielberg speeding down the road in a golf cart, Enrique Iglesias donning a poncho in 80-degree weather, and Leonardo DiCaprio denying he was Leonardo DiCaprio in Agua Bar.
That was well before COVID, which feels like a lifetime ago. Once American politics spilled onto the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, it was not rare to spot drunken, sunburnt tourists decrying “plandemic” and “stolen election.”
There goes the neighborhood.
Luckily, Cabo’s natural beauty remains as mesmerizing as the first time Steinbeck and Ricketts sailed past El Arco and spotted whales and dolphins in the open ocean.
I felt the same exhilaration on New Year’s Day as that first boat ride from about eight years ago. This time, we anchored in Chileno Bay and jumped into the crystal-clear waters for a swim.
The captain tossed us snorkeling goggles, so we could see the colorful fish blissfully swimming amongst us. On the way back, the crew made us fajitas, which we wolfed down with some deliciously cold Pacificos.
A massive seal, unbothered by the many vessels, including a couple of titanic cruise ships, goofily swam by as we approached the marina.
We reached the hotel in time to experience the first sunset of the year. The timeless yellow and orange hues colored the Sea of Cortez like thousands of years hadn’t passed, and the Spanish conquistador—the first annoying newcomer of them all—didn’t dare to rename it.