Retirement


Somewhere on the internet, pension fund managers have colluded with psychologist’s to further confuse the baby boomers into believing retirement wreaks havoc on mental and physical health. Something to the effect that white dudes with previously white collars die immediately after they retire because they no longer have suitable challenges to replenish their self esteem.

Conversely, after four trips to a Southern Baja hotbed of retired folk and gypsies, I am ready for retirement. I don’t hate my job or working, for that matter, but the community my newly retired parents have joined, is bloody inspirational.

First off, to my knowledge, this area first became popular with windsurfing in the early 80’s, not long after the sport was invented. 30 years later, there are a few dozen expat properties, one beachfront camp site and several feral campsites. Nothing like the LA suburb known as Cabo San Lucas. The real locals are a mix of fishermen and ranchers that exemplify the ‘keep it country’ lifestyle and attitude. The area also receives a mix of damn solid wind swell from the North and the occasional perfectly angled S swell, so I would assume it was surfed in the 60’s and 70’s, prior to the sailor influx.

My parents rough it in the camp for nearly 5 months, along with a mix of similar-minded retirees and travelers. Some are rich, some are not, but a heckuva lot of them are Canadians. A normal day begins at sunrise, when certain individuals will be out catching dorado or tuna, others drinking coffee on the beach, group mountain bike rides through the hills or SUP adventures in the normally calm conditions. This is also the best time to surf the fading wind swell that formed the day prior. The overall camp feeling is your neighbor will pass you a cup of sugar when in need or straight up bake you some cookies for that glass of milk.

Like clockwork, the wind turns on daily around 10am. By 11, the first kites are normally heading out to do their thing, while windsurfers wait for the conditions to fill in. This brings us to virtually the only conflict in the area; kiters vs sailors. It’s like longboarders vs SUP’s; not really comprehendible, but completely understandable. Most cannot decide why they hate on each other, they just do. In my experience, kiters are just an uneducated lot. It is a relatively new sport that garners plenty of bystander attention, like SUP, but the vast majority of kiters are beginners that think they are ripping. Almost everyone who tries kiting is fairly proficient on their first attempt, and the learning curve continues to slacken with further technology advancements. Personally, kiting makes sense in low wind conditions because they are more efficient, but as the wind picks up, the novelty seems to wear off. My 62yo mother has different thoughts when asked why she doesn’t kite: “I’m not old. I’m not fat. I’m not out of shape. Damn, kiter kooks.” She has been struck by a kiter once and I’m certain her view will not change, nor do I blame her.

Unless it is a revered “El Norte”, where the wind can crank for up to 10 consecutive days, the wind normally begins shutting down around 4pm. First, it slowly changes direction, side shore to offshore and the uninitiated are often left with Ironman swims and equally Ironman hikes back if they don’t realize the wind is changing direction and untimely dropping to zero. It is around this time different groups gather for an obligatory happy hour. Ballena’s are consumed, stoke is shared, high tales weaved and jokes of inexperienced kiters being dragged down the beach are embellished and told so colorfully. Some of us skip the banter for cheap margs at Pablo’s and delicious salt-infused papa fritas. Ironically, the happy hour price never changes, but depending on how the bartender likes you, your marg might be mixed with Tang instead of fresh squeezed orange and lime juice. It’s always a gamble, so send your girl to order.

Resto selection is limited and I hope it stays that way. My personal favorite is Ruci’s hot dogs. It isn’t your standard dog, but it is a bacon wrapped, chili filled, avocado topped, crema dipped, onion smattered, sauce splattered, cheese stuffed creation. She is open 6-10 nightly and there will be a lineup. Alternatively, trucks pass daily offering fresh produce, fish, meat and tortillas and the most important part of good food is fresh ingredients.

It is rare for a night to last much past 10pm, unless you are fueled by substance. The Baja life dictates early bed time and most are looking forward to the next day’s routine. I know I do. Can’t wait to return or retire.

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