What's it like to live in a far-off place most of us see only on a vacation? Foreign Correspondence is an interview with someone who lives in a spot you may want to visit.
Ernesto de la Parra, 29, is a native of Ensenada, Mexico. He's lived in Los Cabos — the resort area on the tip of the Baja California peninsula — for 6 1/2 years. At the One & Only Palmilla Resort at San Jose del Cabo (www.oneandonlyresorts.com), he is the butler at the resort's new four-bedroom Villa Cortez.
Q. People go to Cabo for climate, sea and its proximity to the United States. Which is the main draw?
A. First would be the climate. It's a fantastic destination for weather. Then it would be that it's very close to the States — a two-hour flight from L.A. Cabo is also a fishing place, and is famous for that.
It's always sunny and warm; in August it could get a little over 100 but you always have a little bit of breeze and the air is dry. In other seasons it's still warm. In winter, you just need a sweater or light jacket at night. People can sunbathe on their terrace or around one of our pools throughout the year. It only rains seven days a year.
Q. What does the land look like?
A. It's a bit different from up the coast. It's not like a real desert; there's a little green. You have a lot of cactus.
The highways in Baja are always close to the ocean, with the sea on one side and cactus on the other. The middle of Baja is mountainous, and when you drive over them you get the altitude.
It takes a 20-hour drive to get from where we are, at the tip, to San Diego. My family does the drive every year. It's my passion. We stop and take our time to enjoy the view. The driving is relaxed.
You can stop at the various mission churches along the way; each is unique and has a lot of stories. There are also beautifully landscaped beaches around Loreto that are fantastic. I take my snorkeling gear.
Cabo itself has a great beach.
Q. Cabo is also a major hangout for Hollywood stars. Do you see many?
A. I see most, not all. There was a great party for Jennifer Aniston's 41st birthday at the resort in February. She stays at Villa Cortez with her friends, including Sheryl Crow and Courtney Cox. Jason Bateman and Gerard Butler were also there.
A famous celebrity hangout is Cabo Wabo (the tequila bar and restaurant founded by rock singer Sammy Hagar). Hagar has a band there that plays live music from all over the world.
Q. Whale-watching is a big draw; how close can you get to them?
A. The whale season is January through April. If you have breakfast around 10, you can see whales maybe 100 meters (about 109 yards) out from your terrace — the mothers and babies jumping in the water or passing through. Sometimes they pass through at lunch or sunset. The resort makes a sound at the pool that means there are whales around, and all the guests go to look. So we can see them very close.
Every year is different, but it's always worth it to see the mothers teaching the babies how to jump.
There are whale-watching tours here in Cabo. It's not common, but sometimes you can touch them. You see people in kayaks being approached by whales.
Q. What do they look like?
A. Gray, sometimes with a little white.
Where we are is about eight hours from the bay in the Sea of Cortez where they breed. When they pass, they're going to or leaving that area; when they leave, they turn at the end of the peninsula and head up to Alaska.
They have two protected areas in their bay. The saltiness is high in the water there, so baby whales have an easier time floating. It's not common for people to go there to see them, but there's a company we work with that can arrange a scouting trip.
Q. What else is there to do?
A. Snorkeling, fishing.
The fishing tours are very famous. We have a catch-and-release policy here with marlin. You can catch and keep tuna and mahi mahi, and then we prepare it for guests. On their return, the butler calls the fishing captain to find out what they've caught. We'll take the fish to our restaurant and can have it prepared for lunch or dinner in different ways.
Q. Where's the best spot there for snorkeling?
A. It's a fantastic place called Santa Maria Chileno, about 10 minutes from the hotel. There are great schools of fish around there and the water is calm. Families can go there and relax among the rocks — the places the fish love. You can find yourself surrounded by fish.