As heat seeking, middle aged, well-fed Americans, Clif and I recently flew US Airways to Cabo San Lucas. Mentally dull from the recent sale of our business (www.GenesisSpasAndPoolSupply.com) our radar ran at low ebb upon landing in San Jose Los Cabos, Baja California, Mexico.
Just outside Mexican Customs we walked into a vultures’ nest. We arranged airport pickup service, so when a well-spoken Mexican man asked us where we were going, we were clueless that he eyed us as road kill with luggage. (Figuratively, we were.)
He whistled for his boy and rattled out in Spanish what I think was probably, “Dude, I got me some fat American pigeons. Stall while I set them up.”
“Where are you from?” he asked. “While we wait for your transportation, come over here and let me give you a bienvenidos package with free cruises, massages, and tequila if you like.”
Two-word interpretation: Time share, amigo.
His half-hour pitch ended when I lost my patience, grabbed my luggage and found my way outside to the glorious 80-degree temps. A whole other kettle of vultures waited outside. “Gracias, no,” became my mantra until a taxi carried us away.
Royal Solaris Hotel
Celebrating 20 years of marriage, I reserved an ocean view room at the all-inclusive Royal Solaris Los Cabo in San Jose del Cabos. http://royalsolarishotel.com
Endless food, margaritas, sun. Oh yeah, baby.
“Bienvenidos,” greeted a young man with earthen brown eyes, a black guayabera over khaki Dockers. His name tag read Christian. He called for the bell boy, then asked us, “Where are you from?” New Mexico, blah, blah, blah. “Wonderful! Follow me for your bienvenidos package.”
Inside the gala lobby, Christian sat us at one of the many welcome desks and asked, “Would you like a margarita, cerveza, or maybe a mimosa?” Not yet. A young woman brought us chilled bottled water.
As in the airport, Christian asked if we’d like a Cabo San Lucas bay tour? ATV rides? A massage? All free, of course. He was also enthused about the possibility of us being invited to an exclusive cocktail party and even a free breakfast (but isn’t this an all-inclusive hotel I wondered) if we would just give the hotel 90 minutes of our time that will show us how to save big money on travel. What the heck, we said.
Well into our 6th floor room, directly facing the white sandy beaches of the Sea of Cortez where whales floated by, mantra rays splashed in the surf, and white clothed mercados offered touristas hats, jewelry, scarves, wind chimes and tattoos, our feeding frenzy began accompanied with the promised endless supply of margaritas.
Amigos, this is the first part of a multi-part blog. Ahead: A warning note to the unsuspecting traveler, meeting up with Alemany High School grads of ’66, and moments of unexplained emotions from a close and personal encounter with grey whales.
Northern Californian, Marty Molidor, says "Yes" to cutting costs. This Six-oh-dear-dude even admits to being a skinflint. Skinflinting is a good idea. Here's what Marty has to say:
"I have some lifestyle things that help to save pennies...I maintain a spreadsheet of the things that (I) regularly buy at Costco (I try to get as much food and household stuff there as possible--not convenience stuff but bulky regular stuff). So, my spreadsheet has a row for each item. Example: chicken broth--which I now use with regular bulk rice instead of flavored rice...
The next column is the price, then the quantity (12 cans in the chicken broth example), then a calculated column which amounts to price per can. I keep a copy of my shopping list... so that if I find myself in a Safeway or FoodMaxx and I see their sale price for chicken broth for 80-cents a can, I compare it to my list which shows the Costco price at 66 cents. If the Safeway sale price is lower (rare) I stock up.
My wife will note when Safeway has this or that on sale for so much. I consult the list and let her know that the Costco price is still much better.
I print the (two sided) list every Saturday for my Costco trip and I check off the stuff we need. This just keeps me from having to write out what is needed. I also wear the list , attached to a lanyard around my neck like a convention badge, when I go shopping. Did I mention nerdy?
But the main idea is to keep aware of the Costco prices so we can avoid getting sale stuff elsewhere when we see sales...
Another thing we do is use a landline phone ($20 per month?) and keep a prepaid cell phone for when we need it. This only works if one's cell use is very occasional and not the main phone you own.
My kids laugh at this approach but sixty-somethings may understand. Also, no long distance carrier. I got sick of all the AT&T fees and charges. We use an MCI card for those occasional long distance calls. As in the case of the prepaid cell, the per minute charge is high but both have the beauty of no monthly charges/fees/taxes, etc. If you don't have a long distance carrier, you don't want to accept a collect long distance call, trust me. I paid $17 for a single collect call before I realized this."
Note: How does the Santa Fe Mother Blogger's spouse react when he opens the freezer? "Owy Cwap! What's with the bags of bones?"
No bone in the Santa Fe Mother Blogger's kitchen goes to trash. If I can't process them right away, the carcass and/or bones go into the freezer. (I have good bone density. Some I credit to this habit of recycling bones from chickens, turkeys and cattle).
When the need for broth arises, I place the carcass on a cookie sheet, blast some salt and pepper on it, then roast the bones at 450-degrees until good and crispy. That gets tossed into a big pot of boiling water spiced with refrigerator leftover celery, onion, whatever.
I cook it down to the point of where the smell is so good that I just gotta have some now. I strain it, then use that broth for just about anything. Oh yeah, I always make enough to freeze for the times I don't have the time to go through this process.
The roasting of the bones is what gives it that extra zing.
Nutrition on the Cheap-Lentil Sprouts
Try sprouting a handful of lentils.
Santa Fe Mother Blogger Reflects
After an 8-day freewheeling adventure in Baja, Clif caught me with a cup of coffee at the fabulous La Fonda in old Cabo San Lucas.