Monday, November 2, 2015

Farewell from Loreto!

For those of you who have been checking this Blog website recently for new postings I must admit I have been procrastinating writing for the past couple of weeks, since I have been back in Loreto, but I have now finally made the decision that I will bring the “Living Loreto” blog to a conclusion after 7 years, 225 posts and over 140,000 hits.

Perhaps obviously, this is not a decision that I have come to easily – writing a weekly Blog chapter has been a significant part of my life and my identity in this Community since I started doing it during my second season living here in 2008.  While it has sometimes been challenging to come up with weekly topics, I have benefitted in so many ways from writing the Blog over these years.

First among those benefits are the many people that I have met, both in person and through email, who got to know me first through this Blog.  Many of those Readers I have subsequently met through my work here in Real Estate, some of whom had followed the Blog for years before making their first visit.  One of my first memories of meeting a Reader happened just a few months after I had started the Blog.

I was doing a tour of several of our properties listed for sale with two couples who were visiting Loreto for the first time and while we walked through the pathways of the Community I was talking about some aspect of life here and I made a passing reference to the Bocce court which was then located adjacent to my home.  At that point, the person I was talking to stopped me in mid-sentence, looked at me intently and said “Raking and Baking!” (which was the title of one of my first posts about raking the Bocce court and baking homemade bread). 

Up until that point he had not made the connection between me and the Blog, but he went on to explain that he had been thinking about visiting Loreto for some time before, and he had found the Blog on one of his searches for information about the place.  He said that one of his concerns about coming here was that he didn’t know what he would DO in a remote location like Loreto, but when he read “Raking and Baking” his reaction had been “I could do that!”  - which eventually resulted in him making the trip that had now wound up with us meeting.

At that point I realized I was not writing in a vacuum – that people were finding the Blog and some of them were reading it on a regular basis.  Before long my weekly hit counts started to rise and after the first year or two I was receiving a fairly consistent 20,000 hits per Season.  The other thing that surprised me was that those hits were coming from all over the world – Russia, Singapore, Australia and many places in Europe (there’s a reason that it is called the World Wide Web!)

Of course these international hits were a small part of the total numbers, with by far the largest parts  
coming from regular Readers in the US and Canada, many of whom probably owned property here in Loreto Bay, but, particularly in the first few years I was posting, they were not yet living here.  For them perhaps I was providing a vicarious contact to their future Home, and in a small way keeping their dream of living here alive, until such time as their home was built or their lifestyle permitted them to begin spending more time here.

In hindsight, when I started writing the Blog in November 2008, the original Developer was just starting to wind down their operations due to the economic turmoil that virtually collapsed the Real Estate market.  The responsibility for continuing what they had started increasingly fell to our Home Owner’s Association, which was then in it’s infancy.  Many challenges followed over the years as the Development grew and more homes were finished and the now thriving Community began to take shape.

From the outset, I took a consciously positive view of what I saw developing around me, partly out of self-interest (I had already committed to living here at least 6 months a year) and partly because there were already more than enough “negatives” associated with the uncertainty that surrounded this Development in its early years and I felt a responsibility to create a more balanced perspective.  As I have written here before, one of the lessons I grew up with was “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” and I have tried to hold true to that in my Blog.

Living Loreto has also “forced” me to find things to do and write about, many of which I may have missed without the weekly “publish or perish” deadline I had self-imposed.  Which brings me back to some of the reasons I have decided this is the time to end the Blog.  Starting this Season my work in Real Estate has become a full time 5 ½ day a week commitment and I no longer have the time to “do” many of the things that I have been writing about in past years.

Another reason for my decision is the evolution of the Community and its Residents over recent years.  Loreto Bay has now become a vibrant and active community, but it has also stabilized and matured and there is not the same sense of adventure and new beginnings that had been the case in earlier years.  Also (and perhaps more significantly) many of the people who followed this Blog from the beginning are now living here at least part of the year – they are now Living their own Loreto – and they do not need my jottings every week to keep them in touch with their piece of Paradise far away.

In conclusion, I would like to say Thank YOU!  Thank you to all of you who have followed this Blog in the past, and through your continued support over the years, challenged me to write over a quarter of a million words about a place I love to live.  If experience is the best teacher, I have become whatever writer I now am through the exercise of writing this Blog over the years.  If in some way the collective posts in the archive of this Blog have become a sort of informal history of how this community began and evolved into what it has now become, I will be happy to have played a small part in that history!

Adios from Loreto!      

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A look back on Season Seven

Although I expect to be here in Loreto Bay for another month or so, this season is winding down
with  many of the winter residents already gone and most of the remainder planning on heading north in the next few weeks.  There are, of course, a small but growing number of people, who consider Loreto Bay to be their year-round home, in addition to the dozens of others who work here 12 months of the year doing construction and maintenance and the other jobs that are necessary to keep our community functioning.

But since the normally busy pace of life here has noticeably slowed down, I will be suspending the Living Loreto Blog for the summer as of this posting, due in part to the absence of activities for me to write about.  So this is my opportunity to reflect on this past Season and some of the things that have happened to make it one of the best ever in the history of our community.

One aspect that I have not written about previously is Loreto’s growing reputation as a Cruise Ship destination.  This past Season we were visited by at least 15 Cruise ships between October and April – a record number for Loreto, with two ships alternating from the Princess Line as well as several visits from a Holland America ship.  While this has been an economic boost for the town, with hundreds of passengers spending time and money ashore during their daytime stopover here, I was interested to learn that in response to a passenger survey conducted by Princess, Loreto was chosen by over 90% of the passengers as their favorite destination for the ships that stopped here.

While that sort of response is the source of considerable pride amongst Loretanos, it is also an important confirmation of the appeal that this place has for other travelers – and it will no doubt have a bearing on decisions about the numbers of cruise ships that will stop here in the future, both from the Princess Line as well as others.  Having thousands of Cruise Ship passengers visiting Loreto and leaving with a positive first impression will also have an important future impact on Loreto’s reputation as a tourist destination.  It is not hard to imagine that there will be numbers of these visitors that will decide, on the strength of their positive first impression, to return here for a longer stay at one of the Hotels or Resorts – or perhaps here in Loreto Bay.  

While I am on the subject about tourism and transportation, certainly one of the biggest stories this past Season has been the trial schedule of the first new North American Airline to fly into Loreto since the economic downturn of ’08 – ’09.  As regular readers will be familiar (having written about it several times on these pages) Westjet is wrapping up its 3 1/2 month trial schedule of weekly direct flights from Calgary in western Canada to Loreto. 

While there are still a couple of round trip flights remaining before the end this month, and there has not been an official announcement yet from the Airline, I have it on good authority that Westjet is planning a full Season of service to Loreto starting again this November and running through to the end of May next year.  Furthermore, I have also heard that they are planning TWO flights a week next Season, although I do not know where the second flight will originate from, I understand that their Fall Schedule will become official early this summer.  I have also heard that Alaska Airlines has plans for increased service to Loreto next Season, with the rumor that they will be commencing service to Loreto from San Diego as well as Los Angeles, although again this information is not from an official source.

Based on this speculation, I think it is reasonable to assume that we will enjoy improved air access
next Season with the impact being that greater numbers of people will be able to travel here more easily, and possibly at lower cost, which in turn will increase occupancy levels for rental accommodation and eventually the rates charged for that accommodation.  This increase in tourism will have many positive spinoffs in the overall economy of the town of Loreto improving profits for existing businesses and providing the incentive for new businesses and services to start, both of which will improve employment prospect for a growing number of Loretanos. 

As I indulge in some positive speculation about the immediate future of Loreto, I should qualify that many of us who spend time here have come to understand that without rumors we would have little or no news at all!  So, while some of my speculations could be considered as wishful thinking, there is some substance to my optimism – specifically, my Real Estate sales this Season have been more than double my best year so far, in the 7 Seasons that I have been doing this!

For many years I have held the belief that a positive future for Loreto was a question of WHEN and not IF, and so in that context, I can say with a high degree of confidence, that I believe the “when” is a lot closer now than it has been at any time since the departure of the original Developer, and the subsequent economic uncertainty that followed.  Like so many others who have found their way here and have chosen to make Loreto their home, I know that this is a special place and I believe that we are at the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the long history of this place “where the Mountains come to swim”.

And so another Season comes to an end, and as we reflect on the highlights and memories that make up our experience here, I for one, look forward to the continuation of the many positive trends that appear to be aligning toward an even brighter future for those of us lucky enough to be “Living Loreto”! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Seeing Loreto Bay through Grandchildren’s eyes – a Guest Blog

This week my Sister, who was a recent Guest staying with me, has contributed a Guest Blog about her visit that included her Grandsons, I hope you enjoy . . . 

This trip to Loreto, our fourth, was a very different experience for us all; instead of coming for a quiet, restful adult holiday, we travelled with one of our extended families - mom and dad and two grandsons on their first visit to Mexico. Less restful, yes, but full of new discoveries. Instead of revisiting the familiar pleasures of the ex-pat community, the serene beauty of the Baja landscape and the charm of the historic town of Loreto, we were treated to an entirely new perspective on this magical world, through the sparkle of the boys’ eye-view! 

When we got out of the airport terminal and into the sun and warmth of the afternoon, the four-year old pronounced that he was coming here to live. He wasn't going to wait until he was grown up – he was coming here NOW! TO STAY!! Our host looked somewhat alarmed. Of course, the boys had been prepped with photos and maps before the trip; school projects helped identify things like cactus and ocean … but Baja reality began to hit home when the first small group of horses ambled onto the highway just outside the airport. This doesn't happen much in urban Ontario!

Later, coming “home” to my brother’s villa in the Founder’s neighborhood to relax over an early supper, the meal was interrupted by a noisy flutter of small birds zeroing in on the tree in the courtyard – prompting the observation from a Grandson that “Hey, there’s no roof out there!! You can see the sky!!” While dinner on the deck at home is a familiar summer routine for the grandsons, small birds flitting into the dining room is relatively rare, and had to be investigated immediately!!

Like most youngsters, bedtime usually comes well before deep darkness; here, however, walking home along the Paseo after the short twilight, they were treated to a vivid light show, the moon and star-filled sky dazzling our city eyes. Next morning, the experience was shared in breathless excitement – “We saw the moon!”, “Yeah, and VENUS!!”, “And all those stars!! There were MILLIONS of stars” 

And cactuses? Well, the towering pillars that dot the landscape along the highway were not quite the finger-sized specimens that had been found in the local flower shop. On later inspection, the big, sharp spines projecting from the ridges of the Cardon had to be tested, as were the thick yellow bristles on the ornamental Barrel cacti used in the village landscaping. Tested with a gentle finger, and found to be, yes, sharp!

But of most interest in these odd plants were the “pimples” that the boys noticed at the top of some of the cacti – flower buds, of course – but what adult would have made that association? And when the pimples blossomed? Why, then they must be blooming pimples, or “bimples”. The fact that the flat paddles, or Nopalitos, of the prickly pear cactus are also sold as vegetables in the market was another curiosity they enjoyed – but weren't interested in sampling .

Little, quick-footed striped grey geckos scampering over the pale gravel replaced the darting squirrels and green lawns of southern Ontario, and were just as hard to sneak up on! Which didn’t prevent them trying, again and again! 

And the pizza shop, with the ginormous pepperoni pizza – and the coffee shop with the swing-out stools at the long table, where they served chocolate almond milk, and cookies the size of Big Macs, and huge fruit cups with chopped papaya, pineapple and mango, and grilled cheese sandwiches toasted with parmesan on the outside, and hot dogs with two doggies in each bun … Boy heaven! 

To say nothing of three pools – a big swirling pool with deep and shallow sections, and a non-functional hot-tub which became a private wave pool, with its own waterfall; the quiet, grown-up lap pool where Baba liked to sit with her book – and the other, best pool near the pizza shop, not so big, but on the way home there was always a chance of stopping at the little store – where once, we found the most enormous marshmallows – huge – the size of cupcakes, vivid pink and virulently flavoured with chemical strawberry! We heard the siren call of s’mores all the way home – and survived the sugar-frenzy that followed!

Just because it’s there! Punta Nopolo, the iconic tooth of volcanic rock that sits in the bay was a constant lure – nothing would satisfy the boys until they climbed to the peak – or as close as possible, with adults helpfully behind – King of the Mountain as they looked over the bay, the village and the golf course lying below. 

The adventure of the glass bottomed boat tour was literally, an eye-opener. Along with the grown-ups, they sat along the sunken viewing tank, watching the swirling schools of fish undisturbed in their native habitat – without getting water in their eyes or up their nose! The gold-striped Sergeant Majors were everywhere, but schools of silvery barracuda, lumpy-faced parrot fish, Yellow-tailed surgeonfish among other exotically coloured and shaped fishes kept us entertained while dozens of vividly coloured starfish decorated the rocky landscape below. When we discovered that the four-year old was counting the sting-rays, the whole boat-load chanted along – sixteen, seventeen, eighteen – all the way up to twenty-six! His proudest moment! 

And then there was the afternoon when the surf came up – a wind blew in past the cruise ship in the distance, and tossed big whitecaps against the shore, “white horses” for the boys to jump and chase all along the clean sandy beach. Later, the palm fronds whipping back and forth, the rattle and swish of their wide leaves whistling in the dying wind provoked worried concern about spooky night visitors. But before daylight, the wind was finished, and we woke to a calm sea and clear skies. Just another day in paradise. 

Mexican food was a challenge – while the grown-ups enjoyed fish and shrimp tacos, the Clam shack produced quesadillas for the boys – “Mexican grilled cheese” – a success; the elegant restaurant in town treated the grown-ups to a wonderful evening; Mom, Dad, and the Grands fully appreciated the delicate creamed cilantro dressing on the shellfish and shrimp, to say nothing of the silky Flan that ended the meal. (Note to self – NEVER pass up a Mexican Flan!!) Although the boys were underwhelmed with their grilled chicken and veggies they were fascinated by the pick-up soccer game going on in the plaza just outside the restaurant patio, and delighted by the ice-cream sundaes that arrived to make everything perfect! 

We made a final tour of Loreto Bay before the trip home, where the boys showed me some of their favorite things. We gently poked cactus spines, found a bird-nest tunnel in a larger Cardon cactus, enjoyed some lizard antics, splashed in a fountain on our way to the beach, and finally, shoes off and splashing, into the gentle wavelets lapping on the shore. No “white horses” today – but miles of empty beach to run, and warm sun and gentle breezes.

One last ride to the airport, luggage checked in, sweaters ready for the arrival in Calgary, and suddenly, they were away – until next time! But for a few days, we shared the magic they found here in Loreto Bay, experiencing the wonder and mystery again through the eyes of a child.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The road to San Javier, and more

Enjoying a second week with Visitors has given me the opportunity to make one of my favorite day trips near Loreto, the drive to San Javier - site of the oldest unrestored Mission Church in the Baja.  I have written on this Blog about this trip and the destination several times over the years and each time I have travelled this road and visited San Javier I have added something to my appreciation and understanding of the surrounding area - and this time was no different.

First of all, the trip to San Javier is as much about the journey as the destination.  Ten years ago when I first made the 34 km trip the road was primitive, unpaved, and dwindled down to a single lane in places. Soon afterwards, paving the road became a local election pledge and work began at the turnoff from Highway #1 a few kilometers south of the town of Loreto.  By the time the next election came around only about 3 km had been paved, but the promise was made again and following that election a total of about 10 km were completed.

This progress was followed by yet another commitment about 5 years ago by the then Governor to complete another 5 km, or approximately halfway to the destination, which finished the road to the where the most challenging terrain was as it switchbacked around a mountain before reaching the high sierra plateau for most of the remainder of the journey to San Javier.

This challenging road construction was further complicated over the past number of years by torrential runoff from tropical storms that have dumped record amounts of rainfall in the area around Loreto, but mainly in the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains west of here.  This runoff has done significant damage to sections of the road where it passes through gorges that channel the water into destructively concentrated flows that can strip away new pavement and erode the base underneath.  So, for the last several years, finishing the paving of this road has been a “two kilometers forward, one kilometer back” process, with one season’s repairs and progress being wiped out in a few days of torrential rain, and requiring major repairs the following season.

Since it had been almost a year since the last time I made this trip, I was happy to take the
opportunity of the visit of my recent Guests to travel to San Javier again, check out the condition of the road and visit the small hamlet around Mission and see what changes have been made.  Heading out early afternoon the road was in perfect condition to almost the halfway point where at the 15km point we passed through some shallow water flowing across the pavement in a shallow arroyo. 

Although we live in what is commonly considered a desert, there is a surprising amount of ground water flowing across the plains between the mountain range and the Sea of Cortez.  This water appears in the form of oasis where the geology forces it to the surface for some distance before it disappears again underground, to reappear again further “downstream”.  There are several of these naturally irrigated areas near the road to San Javier, their locations marked by lush vegetation and stands of palm trees rising above the dry scrub brush that covers most of the terrain in the area.

However, I have never seen so much water still flowing across the road in several places on the
second half of the trip as I did this time, causing me to believe that the heavy Fall rains of the past several years, replenished by smaller, but unusually frequent rains this past winter, have significantly raised the water table resulting in the usually dry arroyos that cross the road to be flooded this late in the year.  At about the 27km mark we encountered several pieces of heavy roadwork equipment working on the approach to one of the small bridges that have been added during the road construction and closer to San Javier we approached a hairpin turn that about 100 yards of pavement had been stripped away from the road leaving a stretch of rocky dirt and gravel to the turn where the paved road resumes and continues to climb up and around the mountain.  

The rest of the journey to San Javier was uneventful, with one more patch of broken pavement before we entered the quiet hamlet.  As we drove down the one main street towards the rugged stone Mission Church I noticed some minor changes that have been made here since my last visit.  There is a small new store now across from the entrance to the Church that apparently sells snacks and soft drinks and on the south side of the square there is a new restaurant, which was closed when we were there, but presumably opens when there is a religious or social event drawing more than the few tourists that are normally there. 

The “Living Roots” community center that I wrote about when it opened a few years ago was closed on the Monday we were there, but I gather it has sustained some damage from the storms last Fall and is due to be repaired during the summer, with funds that have been raised this past winter season.  After a brief visit inside the Church itself, we made our way down the path behind the Mission building towards the 300 year old Olive Grove, with its ancient trees dating back to the original Jesuit missionaries.

Along the path I saw more cultivated fields growing corn and onions than I have seen previous in years and I was left with a positive impression that San Javier was showing some modest signs of relative prosperity. Compared to my early visits starting 10 years ago, and I was surprised to see that I was able to get a fairly strong cell signal there now, no doubt a result of the electrification that happened here several years ago.  One can only speculate how the advent of wireless communications will impact this remote community in the years to come!

And so, after another peaceful, and somehow restoring visit to this 300 year old religious outpost, we headed back for the approximately 1 hour drive to the Highway and Loreto Bay, enjoying the return trip vistas of the Sea of Cortez from the road as it twisted and turned through the Mountains, and returned to the plains as they approach the shore.  Although this wasn’t my Guests first visit to San Javier, they too seemed to appreciate the mellow atmosphere that surrounds the place, and I was happy to have them with me to experience it another time, proving once again that sometimes it takes the presence of Visitors to truly appreciate “Living Loreto”.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How Visitors change the perspective

This past week I have been enjoying the company of family who are visiting Loreto from Canada.  In the case of my sister and brother-in-law, this is their third visit, and this time they were accompanied by my niece, her husband and their two young boys making their first visits here.  To accommodate this get together we rented a near-by home for the young family, while my sister and her husband stayed in my home.

The origins of this visit began with Westjet announcing their new direct service to Loreto from Calgary, which made the logistics much simpler for my niece’s family to travel here from eastern Canada where they live, and meet up with my sister in Calgary for the trip south.  Which makes their trip another example of the impact that this Westjet service is having on the numbers of Visitors we are seeing here this spring.

It is also an example of the expanding age range of the Visitors who have been coming here in recent years.  Pre-retirement Baby Boomers were an important demographic in the original Loreto Bay Developer’s marketing, along with those who had already retired.  But given the travel distances and more limited air access in the early days of the Development, younger Visitors and families with children were less common than they have been in recent years.  Presumably this trend towards a wider age range of Visitors will continue, as it becomes easier and less expensive to travel here, particularly as the numbers of retired Boomers living here increases and they invite their younger adult children and grandchildren to visit.

One of the rewards of having Visitors here is that it creates an occasion for me to see where I am living most of the year through their eyes – and to appreciate this place even more, as a result of that  refreshed perspective.  While I usually strive to live in the moment and not take my day to day circumstances for granted, it is, I think, inevitable that one tends to becomes somewhat “jaded” over time – even if those circumstances include an almost ideal climate, palm trees, and a beach on the Sea of Cortez!

But when Visitors arrive and see our Community with its multi-colored homes, surrounded by manicured landscaping, incorporating exotic plantings and multiple Community Courtyards with water features and secluded places to enjoy reading a book – or just the scenery – their reaction makes it easy to recall why I chose to live here over 10 years ago.  And also to feel a growing sense of community pride in how this place has evolved and matured during that period of time!

Visitors also can change the day to day routine which I am prone to, living and working here as I
have done over the years, and provides the occasion for me to enjoy some of the simple activities that I tend to overlook as I go about my normal life here.  For instance, going to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in town (something I don’t do as often as I have in the past), and when we had a short wait for a table, I found myself conducting an impromptu tour of the town square and original Mission Church, before we sat down for a delicious meal.  And then, following the meal, being serenaded by a street busker playing a handmade marimba (wooden xylophone) which he carries on his back from one stop to another, a moment that will hopefully live as a memory for my young nephews of their first visit to Mexico.

Simply taking my Guests on a shopping expedition to town to stock up on groceries, and introducing them to the “hunting and gathering” concept of provisioning, visiting several small specialty stores, while remaining adaptable and ready to enjoy what is available - as opposed to expecting to find everything on one’s list. And so, through this process, I too can see again the simple activity of buying groceries here, not just as a weekly routine, but as a unique – dare I say exotic – experience, when seen through the eyes of a person used to the typical North American supermarket.

It is also an opportunity for me to play the tourist in my own town again.  Like the day that I took them to the local “Clam Shack” (officially Vista al Mar) for a tasty lunch on the Beach before we headed to Puerto Escondido and went on a Glass Bottom Boat tour of Danzante Island, where we saw thousands of fish from dozens of species, including over two dozen rays, a particular highlight for my young nephews.

But I also realized that not everything during the visit needed to be an “event”.  Like the afternoon
the nephews played a somewhat anarchistic game of over-sized checkers on the inlaid game board of the Palapa Patio near my home, supported by an appropriately enthusiastic adult cheering section.  Likewise, the simple joy of running into the surf washing up onto the Beach – when you are 5 or 7 years old!  Or, in the case of their parents, the restorative power of heading to bed early (Baja Midnight) and being wakened by birdsong as the sun begins to rise on another beautiful day in Loreto Bay.

Of course, it is also a treat for me to have this time with family, when we spend most of the year thousands of kilometers apart - an infrequent opportunity to briefly get to know children who grow up so quickly, when it can be a long time between visits.  To be able to spend most of an evening in conversation, rather than trying to communicate over Skype before we lose the connection, or reduce the conversation to its relevant points in an email.

As one visit draws to an end, and the other reaches the halfway point, I consider what memories will be left after they leave.  Like a crowded dinner table for a change, with several family conversations going on at the same time, my nephews keeping a running total of the geckos they have sighted during their stay, these will be among my memories of their visit.  As for my Guests, my best wish for them is that during their brief stay they too will have gained their own appreciation for “Living Loreto”! 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Last Open Mic of the Season in Loreto Bay

We are currently in the “exodus” phase of the Season for Residents of Loreto Bay, as those who have been here for most of the Season start to return to their northern Homes for the Summer.  However, this year I am noticing a larger number of Visitors continuing to arrive here to rent Loreto Bay Homes for a spring vacation, due in part to the continuing flights by Westjet from western Canada.  Which is fortunate for them, as I have long felt that this time of year is one of the nicest – with temperatures of 30 Celsius/85 Fahrenheit, light breezes and relatively low humidity.

But before many of the Seasonal Residents had left for the summer there was a final Open Mic Night for the Season at the Wine Cellar about a week ago.  I have written about these musical evenings several times before, and over the couple of years they have been held they have grown significantly in popularity and participation.  Due to the popularity of previous evenings like this, I arrived early for the 7:00 pm start time, to stake out my preferred location at the corner of the Bar at the Wine Cellar where I can shoot pictures of the performers without interfering too much with others watching the show, and I’m close to the source for sustaining food and beverages!

Even so, when I arrived it was already almost a full house with an expanded number of tables and chairs occupied for the evening’s entertainment.  As is so often the case when there is an occasion for people to congregate here, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people who were still here, although many of them were talking about their immanent departures.  Before long the music began, with a “pick-up” group of five musicians who played an opening set.  They were followed by a duo who played some original compositions.

Later in the evening Steve, a popular Loreto Bay musician who was a founding member of Los Beach Dogs, joined the party and played his tasty lead guitar as back-up for a few songs, before launching into a solo set.  Because Steve has not been able to spend as much time in Loreto Bay this Season as he has in past years, he got a very warm response from this crowd, many of whom were friends and neighbors, as well as music fans.

That mood extended throughout the evening, as for many of those in attendance this was going to be one of their last chances to see and visit with Loreto Bay friends until after the summer, when the snowbirds will return to the Baja.  The unusually large crowd kept Wine Cellar Owners Will and Cynthia and their staff busy all evening with a steady stream of beverages from the bar and tasty tapas from their kitchen.  That crowd, and the music they were here to listen to, spread from the interior to the small patio area and beyond, where moderate level conversations were possible.

Along with the familiar faces of Homeowners who have been here most of the past winter, I also noticed a large number of “new” faces in the crowd as well - Visitors who were renting Loreto Bay Homes and had either dropped in for a drink and a snack and unexpectedly found themselves in an informal concert, or else they were drawn to the bar by the sounds of the music drifting over the otherwise quiet community. 

Regardless, I am sure the evening’s festivities came as somewhat of a surprise to these newcomers, particularly, as I have said before, if they had assumed that they were living in an apparently semi-deserted community, based on the relative handful of people one tends to encounter on a typical day’s activities here.

What must be clear to these newcomers, temporarily becoming part of a thriving ex-pat community in the southern Baja, is that they have stumbled upon a unique enclave that has created our own Village like atmosphere on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.  By day these Visitors can admire the acres of meticulous landscaping that makes up the extensive common areas of our condominium development, and enjoy our pristine community pools or the well maintained Golf Course that wraps around our Homes.

But after experiencing the daytime tranquility of Loreto Bay, they have now found themselves in a “standing room only” bar, with about a hundred of their newest best friends, listening to talented amateurs entertaining their friends and acquaintances alike with classic popular music, in a relaxed informal atmosphere.  But then again, I guess it comes as no surprise, when I meet some of those same Visitors who are drawn to my Office looking for information about this unique community, and then when some of those same people eventually become Homeowners here, and join the “party” on a long term basis.    

And so, as we draw nearer to the end of another winter Season here, with the celebration of another “last of the Season” event, we continue to welcome a growing number of people who are just beginning their Loreto affair.  Showing them a side of our community that can only be appreciated when one shares the day to day lifestyle we have created here.  Because, in addition to the beauty that we are surrounded with, and the almost ideal climate we enjoy most of the year, the “best” part of this place is the people who have come here and have helped to make it the very special place it is – and that’s another thing I like about “Living Loreto”!   

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beach Blog - Redux!

For those of you who are regular readers of these postings, you will be familiar with my occasional “Beach Blogs” in the past, and you may perhaps have noticed that there has not been one so far this Season – until now.

As my “work” preoccupation has grown, with the steady increase in business, there has been a tendency to get into different routines and get away from some of the quieter pastimes that occupied me in past years when life here was simpler and with fewer distractions.  But a combination of circumstances, not least of which is the fact that this past weekend Baja Sur finally “sprang forward” into Daylight Saving Time, over a month later than the rest of North America, meaning that the sun is now rising an hour later than last week, caused me to decide one morning this week that it was time again to hit the Beach.

As I left my Home about 6:45 the eastern sky was beginning to brighten and I could see that it was going to be a partly cloudy morning, not perhaps as conducive to classic sunrise images as a clear morning, but, then again, one of the benefits of living here most of the year is that an “ordinary” day is OK too – not every moment has to be a classic event, there can be another one any time I choose.  And so I made my way the short walk down to the Beach.

As is often the case early in the morning, the water was almost perfectly calm, reflecting the clouds as they became tinged with sunlight and the horizon over Isla Carmen in the distance gradually brightened with the approaching sunrise.  As I slowly walked along the Beach, heading south towards the Hotel, I met my first companions of the morning, a man walking two dogs off leash and we exchanged a greeting as we passed.  However much we humans enjoy a walk on the Beach, I am sure this is the highlight of the day for the thriving dog population of Loreto Bay - a chance for them to be free and explore the sights and smells and run at the water’s edge.

Before long three people arrived on the Beach carrying paddle 
boards and soon they were launched into the calm water lapping the shore, one of them complete with a passenger, their small dog perched trustingly on the wide stable board.  As the numbers of Residents has grown over recent years, so has the number and variety of water toys they have brought with them.  Kayaks continue to be the most common conveyance, but paddle boards have become increasingly popular and there are several Hobie style hybrids that are larger kayak style hulls with a sail, outriggers for stability, and pedal drives.

After watching the paddle boarders make their way offshore I was struck by how incongruous they appeared in the growing distance – apparently standing upright on top of the water, making their graceful way across the calm surface, while the boards that support them become harder to see as they move further away.  As I continued further along, ahead of me I saw another couple launching their kayaks and paddling out into the brightening water, as the morning solitude was gradually replaced as I was joined by other early risers who were enjoying more active pleasures this morning.

By now the sun was breaking above the craggy peaks of Carmen in the distance, but this day’s version of sunrise was accented by the clouds hanging over the horizon, filtering the strengthening sunlight.  As I contemplated this peaceful scene I realized how quiet it was, with just the steady lapping rhythm of the water and hardly a breath of breeze to ripple the water’s surface.  Without wanting to sound too spiritual about it, but the feeling on the Beach this morning was similar to how I have felt walking into some churches in the past – a calm stillness that creates a hushed atmosphere where one’s senses are heightened.

I noticed these feelings as I met more fellow travelers further down the Beach, as a mother, daughter and dog and we exchanged a quietly relaxed greeting, not wanting to disturb each other’s peaceful moment, while still acknowledging a friendly presence.  Further along, now in front of the Hotel Beach, a security person was checking the Beach Palapas and their lounge chairs, a few with remnants of the activities of the day, or night, before – a couple of beach towels on the chairs, with the odd drink can nestled in the sand nearby.

An early morning delegation of nearly identical seagulls moved rather aimlessly along the beach edge, trying their best to ignore my approach, while keeping a safe distance until they either take to the water or the air, either option more graceful than their flat-webbed shuffle on the sand.  There were a few pelicans cruising motionlessly a couple of hundred feet above, apparently waiting for the breakfast bell to sound when schools of small fish would arrive in the shallow water and the daily feeding ritual would begin again.

As I reached the end of the Beach at Punta Nopolo, the rocky outcrop that marks the end of Loreto Bay, I could see the silvery spray of the irrigation sweeping over the emerald green of the golf course with the now strengthening sun climbing higher above the clouds on the horizon.  Turning, I slowly made my way back along the Beach towards my home again, taking in the curving shoreline now trimmed with the multi-colored Villas, bright again in the morning sun, with the majestic Sierra de la Giganta Mountains in the background, seeming closer than usual in the clear morning air.          

As I retraced my steps, I was lapped by a solitary jogger pacing
himself along the water’s edge and then met a blissfully happy, if somewhat bedraggled, dog who invited me to play a potentially unending game of fetch with him, until his person joined us, and then, after a few friendly words of greeting, she expertly tossed the ball further down the Beach, continuing the ever-new game that was their morning ritual. 

Finally, fittingly, I met another couple of friends whose first return visit to the Home they had
purchased a year ago was about to come to an end – they were leaving the next day to begin the journey half way around the world to their other home in Germany.  Their three week visit had flown by, between getting settled into their new Home and a full schedule of activities, and they were already excitedly talking of their plans for a year-end return visit.  And so, after sharing their enthusiasm over their first experiences as Homeowners here, and bidding them farewell and a safe return, I made my way back to my Home to begin my day, appreciating once again the simple pleasures of “Living Loreto.”