If Bud Parr is not the manifestation of every outdoors-man's dream, he will have to do till the real thing comes along. He made his first trip to Baja California Sur in 1947 and decided on the spot to sell out his construction business in Los Angeles and stay with the marlin and the doves and the mountain lions. For years he built places for others, stymied by a Mexican law forbidding foreigners to own land within 50 miles of the ocean. But five years ago providence intervened in the form of Michael Antonio Parr, born to Mr. and Mrs. W. Matt (Bud) Parr in Mexico and thus becoming an instantaneous Mexican citizen. Now 5-year-old Michael (Mitch) Parr is nominal owner of the Hotel Cabo San Lucas, a 62-room luxury establishment perched on the rocks overlooking a bay that once sheltered Chilean pirates. Little Mitch, the lord of the manor, hired his father to run the place, and thus the laws of the Republic of Mexico were satisfied. Sixty North American shareholders, each putting up $6,000, did not make Bud Parr's task any more difficult, and nowadays he can be excused if he walks about his son's hotel with the corners of his mouth upturned, cackling at his own mots and now and then doing a bit of work. As for Mitch, he is well aware, even at 5 years of age, that he is the lawful owner, and when one of his three older brothers gives him any lip, he says, "You stop that or I'll run you off here!" Sometimes Mitch wanders up to strangers on the beach, proffers his hand and says, "How do you do. I'm the owner of this hotel."
As befits a man who is living out his dream, Bud Parr is a warm, amiable person who believes that a hotel should stay loose and relaxed, and he does his best to set the tone. A parrot named Pancho has the run of the place; he taps his beak on the glass doors of the hotel's restaurant, and when you let him in he hops nimbly up on the table and bolts all the butter patties while Parr screams at him in bad Spanish. The Parrs keep four Labrador retrievers, and one of them, a chunky animal named Kennedy (after the Parr boys' favorite President), ambles about with a five-by-five block of wood in his mouth. When he wants to take a siesta, Kennedy puts the block down and rests his head on it.
Parr is forever regaling the clientele with jokes, none of them suitable for the Ladies' Aid, and when he comes to the punch lines his face lights up and he keeps repeating, "What? What?" to make sure that everybody knows it is time to laugh. As the comedian-in-residence at Hotel Cabo San Lucas, Parr does not deign to laugh at others' feeble attempts at humor. If he likes your joke, he merely says, "Urn hmm." He is also fond of playing tricks. When the hotel was being built, Parr slaughtered a fat burro and served it up to his construction workers. "Se�or Parr," one of them said, "where did you get this delicious beef?"
"It's burro meat," said Parr nonchalantly.
"Se�or Parr," said the same worker after a few halfhearted chews, "where did you get this bad meat?"
Bud Parr is his own best customer; at the drop of a hint, he takes guests to Santiago in his private plane to hunt doves, both because he likes to hunt the darting white-wings and because he likes to show off his skill with the 20-gauge shotgun. Parr takes his shooting stance as close as possible to his guest, so that both will have the same opportunities. "Don't worry," Parr said to me when I expressed some concern over this arrangement. "I ain't gonna shoot you unless you start flyin'." It is no trick for Parr to shoot 20 doves in an hour, whereupon the guests at his hotel are in for a gustatorial treat: cr�pes � la reyna, a dove dish invented by Parr's Italian-born chef, Oreste Toni, a man who keeps his own counsel. After a dozen polite attempts by me and several broad hints by Parr, Toni was muscled into divulging the recipe, which he wrote out as follows:
"Onion Sautee' Butter. Golden 2� Table Spoon flower Blend with� Tea spoon Paprika. Salt and Paper 2 York of eggs, chicken Broth. Shredded dove, Sautee' in Butter. When Half Down,� Glass White Wine.
"Seduce, and Put the above Sce in part of it. Make pan-Cake with flower, one egg and milk, roll up, Put in Square-pan. The rest of The Sauce, put some Parmesan cheese and Mix. And over The Crepes. Brown on The Salamander."
If that recipe means anything to you, consider it yours, compliments of the inscrutable Toni, who also features on his garbled menus such succulent specialties as cheese ka bob, pooched eggs and musharoom omelett, all of them, presumably, Browned on the Salamander.
Parr's hotel has become a mecca for students of the deliriously absurd, culinary and otherwise. They sit around the hotel's open-air bar at night, guzzling Margaritas out of salt-rimmed glasses and listening to Parr telling stories and leading the laughter. "We make our Margaritas with a little bit of damiana," he says. "That's a Mexican drink made out of herbs. It's supposed to be an aphrodisiac, and I have four boys to prove it." But laced in with his salty humor is an almost childlike respect for the wonders of Baja Sur. "One day I was fishing all alone," he tells the guests huddled in front of the burning mesquite in the fireplace, "and I hooked the biggest sailfish I've ever seen, maybe 300 pounds. Most sailfish'll jump periodically, but this one just kept skipping on top of the water, jumping and diving with his full sail open, the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. After 45 minutes I brought him back to the boat and I grabbed the leader, and then the thought went through my mind that I was the weighmaster for this area, and I'd have to sign my own weighing certificate for a record, and I remembered how beautiful that fish had looked. I jerked the leader and the hook came out of the fish's mouth and he swam away."