Sunday, October 19, 2014

Season Seven begins!

And so begins my seventh year of publishing posts to this Living Loreto Blog . . . I remember reading somewhere that we replace every cell in our body over a seven year period, so I guess that means that I am by now "reborn" as a quasi-Loretano - a "new man" since I began writing the almost 200 postings that make up the archive of Living Loreto!

Having stayed in Loreto until the beginning of July this year, and returning around the third week in September, this summer get-away was a month shorter than I have taken in past years, but enjoyable none the less. I spent about half that time returning for a few weeks in Calgary before travelling around British Columbia in August.  The rest of the summer was spent travelling to and from Canada, including my return trip down the west Coast of the US over the final three weeks, towing my summer "home-away-from-home" the 32' travel trailer I live in when I leave Loreto.  Because I store the trailer just north of Tijuana in Southern California, I do not haul it over the Mexican Highway #1 the thousand kilometers between Loreto and the border.

My trip north to the border with a travelling companion was more enjoyable than driving Highway #1 solo, but when we arrived at the border crossing in Tecate MX, about an hour east of San Diego CA, on the Sunday afternoon of the July 4th weekend, we encountered the longest line up to enter the US I have ever seen at this crossing.  Obviously, there were a "ton" of people returning to the US after spending the Holiday weekend in Mexico and it took us three hours to make the crossing - compared to the hour or so it has taken on recent previous trips.

However, on that drive north I stumbled on a neat idea that made big difference passing through the half dozen or so Highway checkpoints that are located between Loreto and the US border.  Although I have never had a problem at these Federal Army Checkpoints on my many previous trips back and forth on this highway, I do feel some stress each time I encounter one - due in large part to my lack of fluency in Spanish.  Although the soldiers manning these checkpoints are professional and just doing their job - that is, mainly checking for contraband drugs and guns - it can be a bit intimidating being asked questions in rapid Spanish from well armed, uniformed soldiers.

In preparation for their questions (which are basically; where did you come from, where are you going, and why), I had prepared a crib sheet in Google translated Spanish, to refresh my memory as I approached each stop.  However, at the first Checkpoint stop I came to I felt a bit silly reading from my "cheat sheet" so I simply handed the Officer the slip of paper on which I had written:  "Me voy a volver a Canadá, viajando desde Loreto a Tecate" or "I am returning to Canada, travelling from Loreto to Tecate".

As simple as that is, it proved to be one of the better I ideas I have had to handle the language challenge of passing through these Checkpoints - the soldier seemed a bit surprised at first when I handed him my slip of Spanish, but as I watched him read it he broke into a smile, chuckled, handed it back and waved me through!  I got the same effect at each of the other stops on the trip north, in most cases I didn't even have to get out of the car, and if there was any inspection it was minimal and I was soon on my way again.  Thinking about this during the trip I came to the conclusion that the questioning of barely bilingual Gringos was probably as trying for the Soldiers as it was for me, and my elementary "cue card" made it easier for both of us. 

I also think that the sheer novelty value of something different was part of the effect as well - it has to be mind numbingly boring for these guys to be standing at the roadside in the middle of "Nowhere" Baja asking the same questions over and over again - and this simple translation sheet seemed to amuse them in a GOOD way!  So I did the same thing on my return trip south, preparing myself beforehand with a version from Tijuana to Loreto - with the same enthusiastic response. 

Following these experiences, on future trips I will probably travel with a Spanish crib sheet again (until I am more "Spanish confident"), and I would encourage any of my loyal Readers who will be travelling Highway #1, and whose Spanish is somewhat shaky (particularly under stress), to try their own version this on their next trip and see if it smoothes the way for you as well!

Speaking of my return trip here last month, many of you will be aware that the Baja has had a record number of Tropical storms and Hurricanes this Fall, including "Odile" the biggest Hurricane on record to hit the Baja.  As the planned time for my departure from the San Diego area back to Loreto drew near, I was watching the weather reports closely, and although actual road reports from travelers were hard to find due to the Internet being down in most of the Baja following the storm, I was eventually able to confirm that the road had re-opened to regular traffic, before I began my trip about a week after the storm had hit.

Most of the damage from Odile was at the southern tip of the peninsula in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, due mainly to the high winds and secondly the heavy rains that accompanied this storm.  Further north from Cabo, La Paz experienced some damage as well, but fortunately this area around Loreto was relatively unharmed, although many trees and bushes here in Loreto Bay were blown over and there was some initial flooding, within a few days of the storm passing things were looking pretty much back to normal when I arrived back here. 

My drive south was actually one of the easiest I have made, with any storm damaged pavement having received temporary repairs and noticeably fewer vehicles on the road than normal, although there were a large number of empty flatbed trucks heading north, presumably after delivering their cargo for the recovery work around Cabo of heavy equipment and replacements for the thousands of power poles damaged by the storm.

More impressive than the aftereffects of the storm was the lush green landscape from about 500 km south of Tijuana through to Loreto!  This is the third year in a row that the area around Loreto has received at least 3 or 4 times the average annual precipitation during our rainy season that runs from mid-August through mid to late October!  Call it Climate Change if you like, but if these recent trends continue, someday we may become closer to a rain forest than a desert here!

Within a few days of my arrival there was another tropical storm that passed over the Loreto area, bringing with it heavy rains and the most powerful lightening storm I have ever experienced!  What started as distant thunder quickly came closer and before long the lightning flashes were simultaneous with thunderous cracks - meaning we were directly under the passing storm!  It was at this point that I began to wonder if I had in fact closed the sun roof on my SUV when I had parked it after a trip into town earlier in the afternoon.

I was almost sure that I had closed it, but I WAS sure it had been open to cool the car while I was driving, and I couldn't shake the lingering doubt as I watched the heavy rain slashing down and listened to the thunder claps on top of the lightning flashes.  However, what was obvious was that if it was open the interior of the car was already thoroughly soaked, and I wasn't going to venture out while the lightning was still happening all around the house.  The center of the storm passed as quickly as it had arrived, so it was not too long after that, when the electrical part of the storm was distant again, that I thought it would now be safe to venture out and hopefully confirm that the roof had been closed.   

Although the lightening had all but stopped, it was still raining hard when I ventured out with an umbrella to check on my car which was parked on the street nearby.  Between the wind and the heavy rain the umbrella was of limited use, mainly keeping my head and chest dry, but within a few steps I became soaked from the waist down and was treading through a couple of inches of water on the flagstone sidewalk to the street.  The street itself was overflowing the curbs and the rushing water had submerged the "tope", or speed bump - but the GOOD news was the roof of the car was closed - and I was so relieved that I didn't mind getting soaking wet to find out!

In the couple of weeks that I have been back that was the last storm we have had and I have seen the daytime highs drop 5 to 10 degrees with the humidity down to 60 - 70% from 80 - 90% when I arrived, so as Homeowners begin to return again for another Baja "winter" the weather is returning to almost ideal conditions again to welcome them home.  Seeing Loreto return to normal again, after coming through one of the most active rainy seasons on record, makes me appreciate even more "Living Loreto"!  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Blog reflections on Season Six

Well, it's that time of year again.  This is the last Blog posting for this the sixth Season of Living Loreto and it is time for me to thank you, my loyal Readers, for your continued interest in my thoughts and experiences about the place I live. 

With almost 200 postings to date and a total of almost a quarter of a million words, this Blog has become an important part of my understanding and appreciation of my life here - and, in fact, sometimes an important part OF my life here as well!  Writing these posts on a weekly basis is occasionally a challenge, looking for a topic, particularly when personal commitments or lack of "events" are factors, and can result in what I have come to refer to as "Seinfeld Blogs" - or Blogs about "nothing".  But ironically to me, sometimes these "Seinfelds" are some of the most popular posts I write, based on website stats and feedback that I get from some of you.

The (self-imposed) pressure to "publish or perish" on a weekly basis has at times been the incentive for me to do things, or go places, that I might not have, without the need to have another story or experience to share with you.  It has also imposed a degree of intellectual discipline in my life that I think has been beneficial and has lent some structure to it as well.  But my list of benefits from this would be incomplete without including that through persistence and repetition, writing this Blog has been a do-it-yourself course for me in learning about how to write.

And for all of that, I have YOU to thank!  'Cause as the saying goes: "Without no audience, there ain't no show!"  Over the course of the past 6 years, I have taken perhaps too much statistical interest in the Blog audience data, but I do get a lot of satisfaction from following the number of "hits" I get from week to week, and year to year, and one of the things that strikes me is how consistent the figures have been at about 20,000 hits per year, or an average of around 500 per week.

While I am here I write between 30 and 40 weekly posts during the winter season, but the Blog also continues to get hits year round, throughout the summer months.  To some extent this "off-season" readership contributes to another Blog Nerd statistic, and that is the on-going popularity of certain posts, all of which can be found in the archives at the top of this page.  Apparently the Blog title can be a factor in its popularity, as can some "key words" that may be searched and attract hits, as well as popular subjects or areas of interest.  For example, one of this Season's posts: "A Whale of a Tale"  http://livingloreto.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-whale-of-tale.html, is now the most viewed post of all since the beginning of the Blog, although it has only been available online for two months!

In addition to being interested in what interests you, I also find it interesting to know where you are reading from, because it is the World Wide Web, after all!  While it will probably not be surprising that over the life of the Blog by far the largest number of hits have come from the USA, at double the combined numbers  from Canada and Mexico which are in the second and third spots.  (Although, I believe that the Mexico number is mainly made up of US and Canadian readers who are Loreto Bay Homeowners accessing the Blog while they are here in Mexico.)  However, some of the next most frequent sources may surprise you: Russia and Germany rank 4th and 5th, and while the UK and France may not be surprising as next in the order, I for one would not have expected Latvia, Ukraine and Slovenia to round out the top ten!

Something else that has evolved over the life of the Blog is the number of contacts that I have received from Readers.  From a small handful in each of the first few years, that number has grown dramatically doubling year over year for the last several years.  Those contacts fall into three main categories; people looking for information and/or advice - often prior to a visit to Loreto, "fan" mail from people who just enjoy reading these posts, and Real Estate inquiries, which is the fastest growing group - reflecting the positive changes in this market in recent years.

And so, although I am not actually leaving Loreto at this time and I expect to be here for another month or so, I am beginning my "summer hiatus" from writing the Blog, as Loreto Bay transitions from the busy winter season to the much quieter (and hotter!) summer.  I trust that you will understand that for the next few weeks that I am here, but not making new postings, I will still be enjoying the uncommon experience of "Living Loreto" without writing about it!

Thank you again for your continued interest in these pages and I look forward to writing for you again this Fall, starting sometime in October if you want to diarize a reminder to check back, but until then I hope some of you will continue to look back at past posts and enjoy keeping in touch with "Living Loreto"!


Hasta Luego!   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Glass Bottom Boat launched in Loreto!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to join a preliminary excursion on what will be the next new "on the water" attraction for Loreto - Loreto Coastal Expeditions' "WANTOSEA" Glass Bottom Boat!  This project, which has been in the works for over two years, is the "brainchild" of Tim Yarbrough, with assistance from his son Brandon, who are both "serial entrepreneurs" here in Loreto.  Tim is an experienced stainless steel fabricator, has an organic market garden business supplying local vegetables in season, and a  composting business - as well as a sideline in delicious kettle popcorn, while Brandon supplies Loreto Bay with a wireless internet service as well as providing other computer related services.

But their true love is the Glass Bottom Boat project that started to come together when Tim found a previously owned 26 foot life boat in San Diego and transported it to his fully equipped workshop on the main floor of his custom designed home in Loreto, where he began the transformation that conservatively took over 1,000 hours to complete. 

I met Tim and Brandon and their Skipper Noe at the Marina in Puerto Escondido and we departed the harbor shortly after I boarded the beautifully rebuilt boat.  As we got underway, Tim explained that the whole interior of the boat, except for the original seat bench that ran down both sides, had been newly fabricated out of stainless steel and fiberglass, including the large "bimini", shade structure that covered the entire boat from bow to stern. 

I quickly understood the importance of shading the interior of the boat when I looked into the mate black steel well that filled the center of the boat and through the four laminated glass panels that made up the bottom of the boat.  Without shade from the sun's reflection, it would have been impossible to see through the glass bottom.  I will admit that, to begin with, it was a bit unnerving to be staring at the somewhat murky bottom of the Marina harbor area through the bottom of the boat, but after a brief explanation from Tim I understood the principle behind the design.

In the first place, each of the four glass panels are two 3/8" thick sheets of safety glass laminated together - like a vehicle windshield, more than strong enough to resist breaking under all but the most unlikely direct hits or rocky collisions.  But even in the event of a panel becoming damaged, the rectangular steel well that surrounds the glass panels would contain the water up to the boat's waterline (about 2 feet) after which the boat would continue to float.  This was demonstrated when they did in water test of the hull, without the glass panels installed, and the water rose only about halfway up the surrounding well and the boat continued to float stably  (see video clip).

video

I have mentioned before in these pages that I am not much of a "water baby" and not a strong swimmer, so although I have snorkeled occasionally I do not really enjoyed the experience - but this was different!  Imagine snorkeling in IMAX with 42 square feet of underwater view, and without worrying about water temperature, currents - or breathing! 

As we made our way out of the Escondido harbor we paused over a few underwater rocky outcrops where I discovered another unique aspect of glass bottom boating - the view of the bottom is magnified, so that a submerged rock that looks a foot or two below the glass is probably more like four or five feet deep.  Comforting to know that while the shallow 2 foot draft of this boat is well above any potential rocky hazards, the view from above is even more dramatic due to this magnification effect.

We lost sight of the bottom in more than about 10 or 15 feet of water, depending on how clear it is in a particular place, as Tim explained that many factors including rising and waning tides, temperatures, currents  etc. can affect the water clarity.  As we picked up speed and made our way across the channel towards Ilsa Danzante, there was a stream of bubble turbulence from the bow running down the center line of the glass bottom, giving a different, almost hypnotic sense of speed that I found hard to look away from, in spite of the beautiful scenery surrounding us above water.

The rest of the morning was spent "gunkholing" around the shore of Danzante checking out underwater features and spotting schools of dozens of tropical fish, dark grey Parrot fish (delicious!), long skinny Trigger fish and Manta Rays "flying" underwater.  Even when there weren't fish to watch there were many large colorful Starfish and plate sized Scallops clinging to the underwater rocks.  I was surprised how these fish tended to congregate in specific areas in large numbers, and then in similar "terrain" 20 or 30 feet away, not a fish to be seen.  The boat was also an ideal viewing platform because we hardly disturbed the marine life as we floated above them and so we were able to hang almost motionless for minutes at a time observing an underwater world that has been the sole preserve of snorkelers and divers previously.       

Meanwhile, for Tim, Brandon and their Skipper Noe, this was a scouting trip to develop the itineraries for their future excursions, finding the best locations for spectacular underwater views and where best to find fish to observe.  Time passed quickly, and after a couple of hours we headed back to Escondido where they dropped me off, and then headed back to the Loreto Marina where they would pull the boat out again until the next trip.  Now that the boat has been successfully tested, work is underway putting the final touches on the marketing plan that will make this venture a going concern and exciting new adventure activity for Loreto.


Brandon is building a website presence under the www.WANTOSEA.com name, which should be launched (no pun intended) in the near future, and  where they will be accepting reservations for one, two or six hour cruises, probably with a main focus on the islands of Danzante and Carmen.  I am grateful to have been invited along on this early "shakedown" cruise, and, while there are still a few logistical details to be worked out, I have no doubt that this talented and hard-working Father Son partnership will "launch" an exciting new attraction to the waters around Loreto and bring unforgettable memories to their many future passengers!


Getting to know better, two fascinating people, embarking on their long held dream, which will bring the mysteries and secrets of the "best" part of the part of the Sea of Cortez to the eyes of Visitors and Residents alike - this was a special day, "Living Loreto"!      

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Loreto Bay Flashback

It has been a quiet week here in Loreto Bay, with a dwindling number of Homeowners in residence as the exodus north continues, offset to some degree by a steady turnover of Visitors renting Villas for short term stays.  The days are getting noticeably warmer, with daytime highs in the mid-thirties Celsius and mid-eighties Fahrenheit, with afternoon breezes most days that clear the rising humidity that is only a hint of what is to come in the next few months.

Thinking about a Blog topic this week, I realized that it is almost 10 years since
my first drive down the Baja in June '04, which was about 7 months after I purchased the lot in November '03 that became my home here two years later.  This in turn lead me to look for pictures from that memorable trip on "Highway #1" in a 36' Motorhome (what was I thinking!) and first views of the site preparation work .  What follows is a bit of a trip down "Memory Lane" to the earliest days of this Development which I hope will help both Homeowners, and those who may have only visited Loreto Bay through these pages, to reflect on how far we have come from the early days of "chalk on sand" to the thriving self-governed community of over 600 completed homes that now annually attract many hundreds of Homeowners and Visitors alike.

In hindsight, that first drive itself was relatively uneventful, but certainly was at the time, stressful - due mainly to the narrowness of the two lane road with a lack of shoulders and compounded by the "foreignness" of the territory and uncertainty of procedures like border crossings and military check points enroute.  The trip took 3 days (I now normally drive it in a day and a half in a regular vehicle) due to my cautious approach to speed in the Motorhome and the requirement to overnight where there were RV utilities available.  Having said that, I think this was the most focused and intense driving experience I had ever had and I limited each day's travel to about 6 hours.











But I also have vivid memories of experiencing some of the most breathtaking and/or strange scenery of the Baja for the first time on that trip - landmarks that have become more familiar over the annual round trips I have made since: the boulder fields of Catavina, the beaches of Bahia Conception etc.  And then, the growing excitement of finally approaching Loreto at the end of a 4,000 km trip from western Canada, and the sense of accomplishment I felt having travelled most of the length of North America and seen the changes of geography, geology and climate that entails.

On arrival in Loreto, and the first visit to Loreto Bay since purchasing 7 months before, I remember the
excitement I felt seeing the first tangible signs of the future development - site preparation, which entailed removing the top meter of sandy soil and then watering the ground and compacting it in several stages as the soil was replaced back to the original depth again, providing a stable foundation for the construction to come.  I remember playing a round of golf on the original course, which was (to be polite) in primitive condition, with stretches of more or less natural sandy scrub brush between barely irrigated landing areas, and apparently "fertilized" with free range cattle droppings.











I made a couple of trips back to Loreto by air the following year while my home was one of the first under construction, seeing the walls rise, first as raw compressed earth adobe bricks and concrete blocks, and later as finished plastered walls.  But even after my home was completed in November of 2005 it was surrounded by construction of unfinished homes for months (and in some cases, years) to come.  I also remember joining in several of the Developer's Sales Events that happened to coincide with some of the early trips I made to Loreto, and seeing the infectious enthusiasm shared between the many groups of potential (and actual) home buyers that came under the spell of the message of Loreto Bay and the vision of the Developers.

This exercise in nostalgia, and looking back over the relatively short history of Loreto Bay, brings the accomplishments and progress of the past ten years into sharp focus.  What was an undeveloped stretch of featureless sand and scrub on a crescent beach, has now become a growing community of over 600 homes with a population of hundreds of residents during the winter Season.  Loreto Bay also provides employment for dozens more who work full time maintaining the homes and the acres of pristine landscaping year round.  

There are also a growing number of businesses providing services and supplies to the community, although the seasonal nature of the resident population poses challenges for some of these enterprises.  But I believe that one of the most important aspects of this unique place is intangible - the strong sense of Community that has been created here goes far beyond the "bricks and mortar" that makes up the buildings.  

That is the common ground that so many of us share, who have made their homes here over these years, as diverse as we may be in age and background, we have found a place we call home and we have all made sacrifices and faced challenges to accomplish that.  And I think that it is the synergy that comes from these shared experiences that is one of the bonds that we Homeowners have in common, and has helped to bring us together in this Community.

Looking back to the beginnings, so as to better appreciate how far we have come, and put into perspective what we have all helped to create, that is what it means to be "Living Loreto"!          

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Loreto Dog Tails

In response to my recent Blog on the Baja Bark Fundraiser  (http://livingloreto.blogspot.mx/2014/04/loreto-bay-has-gone-to-dogs.html) I received an offer of a Guest Blog from Kristen (who is a member of the Loreto Bay Volunteers with a particular interest in animal rescue).  She wanted to share several stories about Loreto street dogs finding new lives with Loreto Bay Homeowners.  While I am not a pet owner myself, I am very aware that many in the Loreto Bay community are, and I thought that learning more about a few of these "dog tails" would further highlight this part of our Community. 

"As my dog and I walk around Loreto Bay and along the beach, we often meet Homeowners with their dogs.  Many of these family pets have been brought to Loreto from the States or Canada, but a few of these dogs have been fostered or adopted directly from the nearby streets.  Here is the “tail” of three lucky street dogs that are “Living Loreto”.

Scruffy was found tied up to the chain link fence at our local dog shelter, Segunda Chansa (see Drew’s Blog written about Patrick http://livingloreto.blogspot.mx/2013/02/the-dog-man-of-loreto.html).  Patrick took him in, had him bathed, neutered and vaccinated and hoped for a quick adoption.   Scruffy was lucky to be fostered temporarily by two Loreto Bay Homeowners, Jaymi and this guest writer. 

During the time we had him we went on frequent walks on the Beach, where Scruffy could often be seen making friends with every dog and person he met.  Eventually he caught the eyes of Brian and Denny, two other Loreto Bay Homeowners who, after a lot of campaigning by other local dog lovers, eventually agreed to adopt Scruffy.  Brian and Denny live in Sausalito CA and often fly back and forth between there and Loreto Bay.  Now that Scruffy is flying with them so often, Brian and Denny have started tracking his flight hours and say that he may soon qualify as a “gold status” frequent flier.

Scruffy literally became a "Poster Dog" as the mascot of our first Baja Bark Fun Walk and Run held on April 6.  He walked in the race with Brian and Denny and posed with the winners and major sponsors on the medal stand.  From street dog to living the good life in Loreto and Sausalito, here’s to Scruffy, Brian and Denny.

Loreto Bay Homeowners, Tony and Lynne found Oso (or maybe Oso found Tony and Lynne) when they were standing outside a Loreto Restaurant with a group of friends after dinner.  This is Oso's adoption story in Tony's words: 

Six of us were standing outside Domingo's steak house on April 11, when we realized we'd been joined by a silent, bedraggled seventh. Barely able to stand (and then on only three of his four legs), he had a dreadful scab covering most of his forehead, fresh scars above and below his left eye, and an all-too-prominent ribcage.

Two more things were instantly clear - his chances of seeing another dawn were very slender, but what he wanted more than anything else was some sign of affection.  Ten minutes later he was in Lynne's and my small car, heading back to Loreto Bay. Once there, he silently inhaled a dish of dog food and then collapsed on a blanket in our side yard while we decided what to do next.

Next morning we took him to see our local veterinarian, Dr. Dassia, who was as shocked by his appearance as we'd been.  An initial examination revealed that while Oso (he'd now acquired that name over breakfast) was in bad shape, there was hope.  Dr. Dassia's best guess was that he was a street dog who'd been hit by a car and then attacked by another animal.  The impact injury to his left hip made him reluctant to put weight on his paw, but there was no evidence of a break, and the scarring on his face, while infected, had fortunately missed his eye and didn't seem to have fractured his skull. 

Dr. Dassia prescribed some painkillers for his hip and antibiotic shampoo and pills for his infected face.  The effects were miraculous.  Within 48 hours the shampoo had dissolved the most of his facial scabs, his infection had cleared up, and he was gingerly putting weight on his injured leg.  A full body shampoo brought up the color in his red-gold coat, and regular meals were beginning to cover his ribs.

Best of all, his loving nature toward both Lynne and myself was becoming more and more apparent - as well as towards our other Loretana rescue dog, Peluda.  Unfortunately, Loreto's two dog refuges, Animalandia and Segunda Chansa, are both overflowing, and our northern home is far too constricted for an addition who will probably approach 25 kilos when his weight returns to normal.  So we've decided to get Oso the necessary shots and take him back to a no-kill shelter in Santa Paula, CA, where his sweet nature and elegant appearance should earn him the forever home he so richly deserves.”

Last week, there was a knock on our casa door.  We opened the door to a dog in the arms of our Loreto Bay friends Maureen and John.  The poor dog looked like a down on her luck Rastafarian, with long, dirty dreadlocks.  Our friends wanted some advice on how to help the poor dog that had followed them and their own Canadian rescue dog down the beach.  Armed with Dr. Dassia’s phone number Maureen and John went home to see what they could do for the dog.  As the dreadlocks were snipped off, the little dog became recognizable as a poodle mix.

Off they went to Dr. Dassia’s office, where she clipped the rest of the little dog’s hair, treated her for fleas/ticks and vaccinated her.  Meanwhile, the Maureen and John pondered the future of the newly named Playa.  After considering the limited options available, they decided to adopt her themselves and last week Playa left for Canada with her new family, flying in the cabin, proudly wearing her new blue parka for protection from what's left of the Canadian winter. She too will be returning in the Fall to Loreto, joining Scruffy and the growing number of other rescued animals who have received a new lease on life from their adoptive families and become the canine version of Snowbirds.

These three dog “tails” are just a few of the wonderful stories about dogs and cats that have been fostered and adopted by Loreto Bay residents.  If you would like to walk dogs, foster puppies or dogs, meet the dogs at Segunda Chansa and Animalandia that are available for adoption, or volunteer at a spay and neuter clinic, please contact this Guest Blogger Kristen, Loreto Bay Volunteers’ Animal Coordinator (kristenwinn@comcast.net)."


These are just three of many stories of Loreto Bay Homeowners who have opened their hearts and homes to stray dogs (and a few cats!) that have now become an integral part of their lives here, and where they spend their summers.  Over the almost 10 years since the beginning of the Loreto Bay development, Homeowners here have joined with other animal lovers from the Loreto community to dramatically reduce the number of stray and abandoned animals that used to be a common sight in town . . . bringing another meaning to "Living Loreto"! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Semana Sante in Loreto Bay

Semana Sante, or Holy Week, is one of the biggest Holidays on the calendar here in Mexico, and as I begin to write this on Good Friday here in Loreto Bay that fact is apparent from the absence of almost all of the maintenance and construction workforce that would normally be here, but are now on holidays for this long weekend.  In the town of Loreto, Government Offices and many businesses including Banks are  closed for the 3 - 5 day weekend as well.  On the other hand, the Hotel here in Loreto Bay is busier this weekend than any other time since Christmas with mainly Mexican guests, and there are also a number of local Loreto families who have come to Loreto Bay just to enjoy a day at the Beach.   

Coincidentally, this weekend also marks the approximate beginning of the exodus of the "snowbird" residents, some of whom have started to leave Loreto to return to their summer homes back north and so there is an air of preparation for their departure in the community.  This can be seen as some people who drive back and forth are loading their vehicles for the drive north, while others store their cars for the summer months and catch flights departing from Loreto or Cabo.

The topics of some casual conversations have changed as well.  Earlier in the Season it was common to hear people meeting each other on the street asking "When did you arrive?", while now more often the question is "When are you leaving?"  There are of course many others who have arrived more recently and are staying longer, or who come and go several times throughout the year and operate on a different schedule.  But the trend is clear, and it will continue over the next month or so as this Season begins to wind down and the Summer Season begins.

As someone who stays here longer than most, this transition time leaves me with several impressions.  First of all, I am struck by the fact that the weather here at this time of year is about the best it has been since I returned here in the Fall - mainly calm sunny days and mild evenings that are even more enjoyable since we have "sprung forward" only a couple of weeks ago, joining the rest of North America on Daylight Saving Time, with the extended hour of late afternoon/early evening. 

The warmer weather also brings with it milder water temperatures and a resulting increase in water sports like snorkeling and paddle boarding, along with other water related activities like fishing.  I have heard recent reports of prized Dorados being caught along with more people chartering for fishing trips as the warmer waters attract the summer species of sport fish to the Marine Park surrounding Loreto.

While some of the winter residents prepare to leave, another segment of the population is becoming more
and more noticeable, and that is the Visitors whose numbers have increased significantly this Season, due in large part to the increased availability of flights to Loreto this winter, as compared to the past several years.  This influx of people renting Loreto Bay homes has been one of the biggest changes this Season, made more obvious now as Homeowners who have been here for months begin to leave.  This has also brought about a shift in the ages of the people who we see in Loreto Bay - from a mainly retired early Baby Boomer demographic, to a much more diverse range including young families with pre-school kids and younger "Boomers", many of whom are scouting possible future retirement options.    

In my Real Estate work I have met many more such people this Season than in previous years, and I continue to enjoy the almost unanimous enthusiasm they express about having "found" such a unique and beautiful destination.  These positive impressions are due in part to the fact that our Community has never looked better than it does now that many of the infrastructure features have been completed in the past couple of years.  This was a result of the Home Owners Association's initiatives to complete landscaping and build additional Community Pools and generally improve the overall appearance of Loreto Bay.

There are also other signs of progress that help to create the positive impressions that many first time Visitors have, like the progress on the two Posada buildings at the center of the Founders Neighborhood (as described in a recent Guest Blog by Nellie Hutchison the Broker/Owner of Loreto Bay Homes: http://livingloreto.blogspot.mx/2014/03/loreto-place-to-be.html ) and the continuing work on a growing number of Custom Homes that are now being completed.  On a smaller scale, but in greater numbers, there is also the continuing work being done to maintain and/or renovate existing homes, with cosmetic plaster repairs and fresh paint as well as bigger projects like tiling terraces and adding other custom features. 

Importantly, there have also been some homes that have been in "limbo" for a number of years, that have been purchased by new Owners who are making the necessary improvements to turn what were vacant, and in some cases deteriorating homes, into beautiful assets that add to the overall positive impressions of Loreto Bay.  With this transition, new ownership brings enthusiastic and committed people into our Community - whose influence and energy will continue to build on the positive atmosphere that has been one of the most important attributes we have had since the uncertain days that followed the sea change that affected most Real Estate developments like this four or five years ago.


And so, as one Season draws to a close as yet another begins, and the growing population of winter Residents begin to take their leave of their Loreto homes, while more and more Visitors experience the appeals of this special place for the first time.  This change of Season is a good moment to take stock of how far we have come, and how bright a future we will enjoy, as we continue the adventure that is . . .  "Living Loreto"!        

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Loreto Bay has gone to the Dogs!

To say that the Loreto Bay community is dog friendly would be an understatement, and that status was never made more clear than this past weekend when the first annual Baja Bark and Run was held by the Loreto Bay Volunteers.  This event, which was a 1, 2 and 5 k walk/run, with or without canine accompaniment, has been in the planning for over a year and the time and effort that has gone into it was apparent as I approached the Golf Course Clubhouse Sunday morning, half an hour before the scheduled 11:00 am start.

The Clubhouse courtyard and the grassy area between the Clubhouse and the driving range had been taken over by over 50 Vendor booths for the occasion, most of them sheltered under shade tents, and the entire area surrounding the Clubhouse was populated with what appeared to be an equal number of dogs and their owners, most of whom were sporting numbered bibs indicating their participation in the races to come.  


There had been a registration-breakfast for the almost 150 "runners" taking part at 10:00 am and the 5 km race was scheduled to start at 11:00 followed by the 2 and 1 km starts at 15 minute intervals. The course looped around Agua Viva (the second phase of Loreto Bay) following the front nine holes of the Golf Course in reverse of the normal direction of play and the different lengths of the race were marked by colored balloons.  The first group off was the 5 k runners who first assembled on the first tee box and then were escorted across the Paseo for the start on the cart path adjacent to the ninth green by Maryanne, one of the key organizers of the event, subtly disguised in a full body dog costume!

Ironically, this "cross dressing" was a predominant theme for the day - mainly manifested by a large
percentage of the dogs dressed up in various costume pieces, but occasionally by their owners who adopted some "doggy bits" as their wardrobe accents for the occasion.  Not being a dog owner myself, I should probably withhold comment, but I have to say I am conflicted between the alternatives of whether the dogs are unaware of their costumed appearance - or if they actually enjoy being dressed up!  Regardless, it was apparent that everyone, including the dogs, were thoroughly enjoying the excitement of the activities.


The 2 k and 1 k events were started in turn, and I was struck by the large number of Mexican kids and their dogs that were taking part in the shorter distances.  Participation by the Mexican community in the town of Loreto had been actively encouraged by the organizers, including collecting donations to offset the 300 peso ($23 US) registration fee so it would be open to all who wanted to participate.  This integration of local Loretanos with the ex-pat community is an important aspect of more and more activities here in Loreto Bay, and I believe it is a healthy sign of the growing acceptance and harmony between the two communities.

After the participants for all the distances had been started, I made my way back to the Clubhouse area to find that there were at least at least twice as many non-competitors milling around the vendor's booths as the numbers of people actually taking part running in the events.  In addition to the registration fees that were collected from the runner/walkers, part of the fundraising was from the rental of booth space for sponsors, businesses and other organizations looking for exposure and good-will.  Businesses from both Loreto Bay and the town were offering their wares including snacks, and food carts, as well as fundraising and public relations booths for different organizations including the Amigos de Loreto umbrella organization that co-ordinates much of the charity efforts of this community.

Which is a good opportunity to point out that in addition to the fun and community-building aspects of this inaugural Baja Bark event, the underlying purpose of all of the many volunteer's time and efforts were to raise funds for the Loreto Bay Volunteers, who have become a very active group within our development and organize many activities and co-ordinate between Homeowners wanting to contribute support and the many worthwhile organizations in and around the town of Loreto who can benefit from that help.  The Volunteer's focus their efforts in four main areas: Animals, Children, Environment and Community and the proceeds from this event alone will raise over 90,000 pesos ($7,000 US) and provide benefits in all of these areas.

When all of the "races" had been completed and the participants had returned to the Clubhouse area there were many presentations of recognition to the various permutations of finishers who then were able to draw a prize from the many contributions from booth sponsors as well as the business community at large in the town and Loreto Bay itself.  The afternoon continued as the almost 500 estimated in attendance browsed among the different booths and sampled the food and drinks available, while enjoying the opportunity for person and dog to socialize together on another perfect day in Loreto Bay.

Around mid-afternoon Loreto Bay's favorite minstrels, Los Beach Dogs, started to entertain in the
Clubhouse Courtyard and they were soon joined by enthusiastic dancers, taking advantage of what will be one of the final performances of our resident "rock and roll gods" for this Season.  And so went the rest of the afternoon, a delightful combination of kids and puppies, good food and cold drinks, browsing for souvenirs and treasures, and enjoying the company of friends and neighbors, many of whom were accompanied by their four-legged family members.


The timing of the Baja Bark probably marks the beginning of the end of another Season here in Loreto Bay, although our village is still buzzing with people and activity, and will continue to do so for the next month or two.  But as winter residents begin to pack up their homes in preparation for returning to where they spend their summer months, this will likely be one of the last big events of its kind until the Fall.  And given the charitable aspect, it is also a fitting way for the growing Loreto Bay community to bid "HASTA LUEGO" to their adopted winter home for the summer, leaving behind their generous support of many good works that the town of Loreto will benefit from now and in the future.  Which brings a unique perspective to bringing together our community's love of "man's best friend" with their desire to give back to the people who share this beautiful place with us - yet another way we all benefit from "Living Loreto"!     
 
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