Cabo’s Park Rehabilitated

The 8 month project is nearly finished. You can walk around now.

The Amelia Wilkes park in downtown Cabo San Lucas has been undergoing face-lift renovations dating from last July. They’re spending just over a million dollars. The park is the main square of Cabo San Lucas, which is such a new town they have never had an official center with plaza and all the trimmings. It’s located at kilometer 0 on the Baja peninsula, which local merchants are waking up to and commercializing. There is now a T shirt shop across the street from the park, with km. 0 shirts, hats, and anything else they think they can hawk.

The new park is designed for old and handicapped people with full access to wheel chairs. Of course the sidewalks are still an obstacle course, so uneven and broken, with huge steps up the hillside, that no wheel chairs nor handicappers are likely to get to the park.

Amelia Wilkes.jpg
Amelia Wilkes jets around Cabo

''Public spaces are for everyone,” said Governor Mendoza at the start of the project. “Hence the rehabilitation of parks and squares in the state. We are aware that Plaza Amelia Wilkes is of great historical and cultural value for the Cabo San Lucas community and we are going to highlight these attributes.”

 The façade of the natural history museum will be restored, as well as 33 street lamps, and they’ve taken delivery of 52 benches, 3 bicycle racks, and 19 trash bins.

various plants that surrounded the small but cozy plaza were transplanted to an area that was set up as a nursery, and once the reconstruction work is finished, they will be brought back and replanted in the plaza. It will look better when it’s bushed up. The big shade trees were not yanked up, the construction crew worked around them.

"We are still missing pieces of the newly added stone floor that have not arrived and until then, I have no way to specify the exact date of renovated grand opening,'' said Roberto Cuatara, the man in charge of the reconstruction process. ''For the moment it is all that I can report.'' He could have just said the tiles will be here on Mexican time. Or, as often happens, the project is over budget, has run out of money, and the thing will never be finished. That’s pretty much what happened at the cultural center which could not be finished because about $3 million went missing.

The Governor also emphasized the importance the renovation represents to 40 laborers, benefiting 60 families belonging to the construction crew. 

‘The temporary inconveniences the work has caused has not affected the surrounding business,” he said.

small plaza was named after and dedicated to Amelia Wilkes Ceseña in 1976. Ms. Wilkes was born in Southern Baja California in 1907 and taught school from 1923 to 1966. Her legacy also included her volunteer work in Cabo San Lucas as a nurse practitioner and her management of public works, such as the introduction of the fresh water services and her administration of the small fishing village's electric system. Wilkes, known locally as La Profesora, collected money from the townspeople to buy heating oil for the generator that powered the town's electricity.

the 1930's, She would buy the oil and keep it in barrels at her wooden home. Yup, you know where this is going.

One night in 1939, her clumsy sister accidentally knocked over a kerosene lamp and the house caught on fire. As fast as they could, so their home wouldn't explode, the two Wilkes women rolled the barrels of oil out of the home, and while the flames consumed their house, Wilkes ran back inside and grabbed the cash savings given to her by the schoolchildren. She rescued nothing of hers and lost everything.

 The following year, Wilkes and her sister were given a new wooden home by the Governor, and it was at this 1940 humble abode that Amelia received and welcomed Pulitzer prize winning author John Steinbeck, a little after he penned, Grapes of Wrath.

She was also the Cabo delegate to the city administration headquartered in San Jose.

Small murals, which highlight The Lands End Arch, Cabo San Lucas beaches and the fishing history of this town, have been added to the exterior of The Natural History Museum which first  opened in 2006.

Upon completion, (remember those missing tiles), the Friday night art and music event will return to the plaza.