Monday, February 20, 2012

Los Cabos Feb 18-20

Two days in Los Cabos for the "first informal meeting of the G20 foreign ministers", an event which was just as exciting as it sounds.

This was a strange trip because there seemed to be no point to it: no communiques, a lot of informal chat behind closed doors for a weird group of foreign ministers (including Argentina and Benin, Cambodia and Australia..) and nothing but NOTHING for the press to do.

When we lived in California I always thought Cabo sounded pretty nice -- a rocky peninsula of desert, surrounded by turquoise blue sea. And that is what it is...except what we saw were a lot of time shares, a few expensive resorts and a lot of cheap hotels. At the harbor a man said they had found a drowned body under the pier that morning and assumed it was someone who drank too much tequila at the "Senor Frog" bar nearby.

We stayed in a sort of in-between place -- unusual for Clinton, but I guess the good ones were all booked up. It was an "all inclusive, family style resort" which was a combination of kids and kiddie pool and parents drinking mai tais at 11 a.m. Everything was free with the room rate -- meals, alcohol etc. And you had to wear a little arm band which you then showed to get into restaurants or whatever.

My room was on the ground floor and so people were parading right outside all day. And there wasn't anything for us to do. We arrived on Saturday evening, and Sunday was given over to whale watching. Clinton went with the rest of the foreign ministers to a special ecological reserve up the coast, and we went on the regular whale watching tour from Cabo San Lucas.

It was actually great -- they showed us the famous "Finis Terre" rocks and arch where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez (above), and then we were off across the chop in a big flat Zodiac style boat looking for whales.

It didn't take long. We saw one mother and calf just outside the harbor, and then further down the coast there were two or three who were "breaching" and playing. A Mexican navy boat came alongside and warned us to stay further from the beach -- because that was where the G20 conference center hotel was.

That was definitely the highlight because nothing else happened all weekend. We went to the conference center to watch them all walk in...and then the doors closed. The next day we went back and watched them all walk in again. Clinton came out and signed a minor oil exploration deal with her Mexican counterpart, then they disappeared back behind closed doors. A full day of waiting later, Clinton appeared again and held a brief press conference at which she said nothing. Then we headed to the airport and...that was it.

Here's a final photo of a sea lion, "surfing" back into the harbor on the back of a fishing boat. Thanks to AP's Charlie Dharapak for sharing his pictures, which are a lot better than any I could have taken (I didn't even try).