I needed more exercise, so I told Lynn I would hike to Cabo San Juan, a beach we had heard was “the most beautiful.”
I would start from the same easy sand path we’d taken to Canaveral. I put my flip flops back on, grabbed a water bottle out of the mini bar, slung my purse over my shoulder, and headed out.
“I’m happy to just sit here and read,” Lynn said, “So don’t be in any hurry.”
I was gone for five hours.
Why do I do these things to myself? Why, when I am supposedly on vacation, do I undertake grueling five-hour hikes in sub-tropical heat and humidity—in flip flops?
I brought the map from the lodgings but it wasn’t helpful. There were no signs. I followed the sand path until a branch led in the direction I thought seemed right. People on horses passed me by. I scoffed. Who was so lazy that they would do this by horse?
A half hour passed and I didn’t see anyone else. The sand made my footfalls silent. There was a rustling in the jungle and there—there was a capybara! At least that’s what I thought it was. It looked like a furry black pig as it scuttled away.
This was what I had come for—to be alone in nature, to hear the sounds and see the flora and fauna. There were the usual leaf cutter ants and spiny tree trunks and twisting vines.
A boulder blocked the path. I scampered over it. There was another boulder on the other side. And another, and another. Oh, I see. The boulders were the path now.
“This is a good workout!” I told myself as I jumped up and down. Then the path took a steep incline, so I was jumping from boulder to boulder going uphill. Then downhill. Then up, up, up, then down, down, down … you get the idea. The “path” was wide enough that it didn’t afford any shade. It was like hiking in a dry sauna. My sunscreen was washed away by sweat. I hadn’t bothered to wear a hat.
After an hour and a half of this, I hadn’t seen any other hikers or signs. Was this really a path? I heard the sound of horses and pressed myself against a rock face to let them pass. So it was a path, and if horses could do it, I could too.
Finally, a sign.
“The Cabo. 80% of the way.” I took this to mean I was 80% of the way there, not that I had 80% left, because that would have made me cry. My water was long gone and I would have sold Lynn into slavery for a granola bar.
A young couple came from the other direction. They had enormous back packs and she was carrying a five-liter water bottle. “You’re almost there, only 10 minutes,” he said in a Swiss or German accent. “Does this lead to Canaveral?”
“Yes,” I replied, “but it’s a very long, difficult hike.”
“Vee vill haff no troubles!” he scoffed. I exchanged looks with her and wondered if he would make it to Canaveral alive.
I descended back onto a sandy path and walked through a cool grove of palms toward an unmissable sign that said something about an entrance fee. Normally I am a rule-abiding person, but I was too tired to stand in the line of backpackers waiting to pay. I have learned that if you stride confidently along—and you’re a white middle aged woman—usually no one asks any questions.
Ahh, a breeze! The beach was beautiful, but I was too exhausted to enjoy it.
There were more camp sites.
I had been gone for a long time, and wished I could send Lynn a What’sApp message so she wouldn’t worry. But the only way to get wifi was to buy a meal in one of the thatched-roof restaurants and I had no appetite. An ominous sign.
Why had I done this? I couldn’t think. I would think later.
I paid a peso—33 cents—to use the bathroom, bought two bottles of water, and started back.