Cathedral of San Jose del CaboRinged by mountains and desert and bordered by sea, Los Cabos essentially is two towns connected by a 25-mile-long, paved highway.

There's Cabo San Lucas, familiarly called Cabo, on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.

San Jose del Cabo, its sister town a bit farther north, also is home to spectacular scenery and breathtaking sunsets.

The two could not be more different.

Party-hearty Cabo, top-heavy with beach bars and clubs, restaurants, in-town hotels and outlying upscale resorts, high-fashion shopping malls, outdoor concert venues and the 10-theater Cinemex, resonates with adrenaline-fueled energy, excess and exuberance.

Medano Beach is packed with sunburned tourists and strolling vendors who sell everything from baubles, beer and burritos to serapes, sombreros and sandals.

The marina is stem to stern with expensive fishing boats, sleek cabin cruisers and yachts.

Large catamarans packed with camera-toting visitors head out in the late afternoon to catch the sunset at El Arco, the signature arched rock formation of Los Cabos at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.

Nighttime goes late, music is everywhere, traffic can be daunting (especially on the narrow streets) and stop signs are few.

Cabo (the word means Cape) is a vibrant, colorful, fun town.

When Hurricane Odile brought Los Cabos to its knees on Sept. 14, the choyeros (people native to the Mexican state of Baja California Sur) rallied, got to work and persevered in the enormous cleanup, repair and rebuilding process.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Los Cabos, and with the fall season on top of them and peak travel season looming, speed was of the essence.

As I traveled the 20-mile tourist corridor up the coast to San Jose del Cabo, I did see Odile's damage at a handful of upscale resorts that remain closed for the time being while under repair.

I also saw resorts that sported new coats of paint, sparkling infinity pools, restaurants with menus posted and tables set and a bevy of landscapers working to bring back the flowers and foliage that had been ripped away by Odile's powerful winds.

San Jose del Cabo streetSan Jose del Cabo exudes a different vibe than Cabo. I sensed it as soon as I arrived.

The town still has the look and feel of a fishing village. It is low-key, smaller, quieter and very appealing.

The zocalo, or town square, is home to the city's cathedral, a massive limestone structure that stands as a reminder of the town's vivid history as a mission.

Artists had set up easels in the square on the afternoon I visited. A few stalls sold souvenirs and handicrafts, and a bevy of colorfully dressed women demonstrated the art of making tortillas.

I deliberated over a small painting, but the artist, named Jose, did not badger me, so when I decided to buy it, I did not bargain.

I paid full price.

"Thank you, thank you, gracias, thank you," Jose said repeatedly.

He told me his family made it through the storm safely but his home was estropeada — ruined.

With the help of a nearby translator, I learned he was living with friends who were helping him rebuild his home.

So I bought another small painting.

Narrow streets lined with small shops and restaurants ringed the square.

Dinner that evening was at Casa Natalia, tucked in a courtyard bordered by its 19-room hotel, all rooms decorated in a different decor and color scheme.

"We lost 10 trees in the wind and water from the storm," said Nathalie Tenoux, co-owner with her husband.

"We didn't wait for insurance to pay up," she said. "We just got to work and cleaned up and repainted and got new kitchen equipment and reopened six weeks later."

Every one of the tables was full, and she said the tourists were beginning to fill her hotel rooms again.

Hurricane Odile dealt a heavy blow to Los Cabos for sure, but the comeback has been swift, and the region is once again welcoming guests.

As one hotel sales manager said of her staff and the choyeros in general, "We are warriors."

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