Wednesday, February 26, 1997
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico --
The view is spectacular. To the northwest, the mountains, over which lies the Pacific, in which the entire drainage area of the Costa Azul arroyo becomes obvious. The arroyo is a loose sand-filled limestone canyon, that stretches a couple miles into the hills. There is a waterfall somewhere in there.
The water comes right out of the rock wall, into a pool, flows for a hundred feet and goes underground. One of those romantic moonlight four-wheel drive romp-things. To the southeast is, of course, the ocean, stretching east to Punta Gorda and west to Cabo San Lucas. The golf course lies directly earthward. Eighteen islands of glorious green floating in the desert. As of this writing, Jack was in last place, 1 over… and he designed the course. (note: the Hotel Palmilla is the grandest hotel in the baja. Built, I’m just guessing, in the 40’s by Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, and some others as a fly-in resort for fishermen. On a point, in the rocks, a green oasis. A little Frank Lloyd Wright feeling to the place. Rooms start at about $350 per night.)
There is this cave that is a regular stop on my tour of the reef. It is at about 15 feet and goes four feet into the side of the canyon. There is always something hiding out there. Lobsters, fish, sea critters. It is right across the street from my favorite grouper hole. This year there is this fairly large Mexican hogfish that seemed to be spending a good amount of time in the area. They are extremely territorial and I often see the same fish day after day within the same 100 square foot area. They are great eating and they know it (have been described to me as resembling fresh-water perch; firm, white meat, approaching the consistency of lobster).
They say you can eat every thing in the ocean, but I have found there is a direct correlation between how skittish a creature is and how good eatin’ it is. And the Mexicana hogfish is just about the most skittish fish around. I have never been able to get close to one - until this one started hanging out in the cave. First time, it nearly ran me over, blasting out from the shadows. Next time, it saw me coming. From then on I began to sneak up on the cave. Slithering down the left side of rock, my spear in my right hand, the rubber band pulled taut, I would come around for a quick look.
Last time, the hogfish was there, flat against the cave’s wall. Its big fish eye, wide and scared. It fed four. Pan-fried in garlic and butter. But, now, with the surf up, the water will be murky for at least three days after it subsides. Until then I will have to be content biking in the mountains or, heaven forbid, actually doing a little shore-fishing myself.