Saturday, April 11, 2009

Primavera has sprung!

Quiet! - That is the overwhelming sensation as I sit on the roof terrace Friday morning of Samana Santa, or Holy Week, here in Loreto Bay Mexico.

This week is one of the most important religious holidays here in Mexico, an overwhelmingly Catholic country, and today almost all work has ceased in the Loreto Bay neighbourhood. Aside from the occasional car passing by on the Paseo, the most significant sound is birdsong. These sweet sounds that are normally drowned out by the bustling activity that goes on six days a week are an indication of the many birds that have been attracted to this development as a result of the extensive landscaping and addition of many fountains and water features. Our development has truly become an oasis in the middle of the desert-like environment that surrounds us, between the shores of the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra La Giganta mountain range.

It is a wonderful moment to reflect on the natural beauty of our surroundings, further enhanced by the unusually “soft” weather today. Typically, most visitors from northern climates set a high value on clear blue skies and hot sunny weather – particularly when their weather back home is still struggling to shake off the last dregs of a hard winter. While that sort of postcard weather is typical for this part of the Baja, occasionaly, like today, we are treated to a rare overcast day. The temperature is a comfortable 80 degrees and the combination of calm and clouds makes for a particularly restful condition that I have come to appreciate, as much as my Mexican friends do. Part of this appreciation comes from the knowledge that the bright sun, blue skies and warmer tempertatures will return, probably tomorrow, and for now, the change is refreshing and relaxing.

The combination of quiet surroundings and calm “soft” weather creates a perfect environment to appreciate some of the subtleties of what is being created here all around us. Living here for months at a time, one tends to get swept up in the day to day challenges of home ownership and maintenance, the current “battles” over the impact of adjacent construction or the ongoing work to complete and or maintain common property areas and we lose sight of the inherent beauty and recreational opportunities being created here. Days like today make it clear how much has been accomplished towards the dream that brought all of us homeowners together in the first place, and puts the shortcomings and frustrations that are inevitable in the creation a magical village like this, more into proportion.

The warmer weather has brought other changes to our surroundings. The Sisus vines that cover many stucco walls in the village are growing again, after having lost many of their leaves over the past few months. Now fresh new leaves and tendrills are sprouting out of what appeared to be dead wood only a few weeks ago. Our palm tree in the side garden is no longer a “baby”. This specimen has grown 8 – 10 feet in the three years since it was planted and now for the first time it is putting out spikes that will be fertilized and produce seeds.

Probably the most exciting new development in our garden is the mango tree that is planted just outside our front door. Ever since it was planted over three years ago, I have been very disappointed with it's scruffy appearance and few chewed up leaves. That changed this fall when we returned to find it proudly sporting a full “head” of hundreds of lush leaves. A month or two ago flowering crowns sprouted at the end of it's many branches and now each of those crowns are studded with dozens of tiny lima bean sized mangos, making for a total of well over a hundred “potential” mangos. I don't remember where I heard the phrase “an embarassment of mangos” but it is the most apt description I can think of for this apparent bumper crop. Now I am beginning to wonder how this now fertile tree will possibly be able to support the combined weight of all of this fruit as it grows and reaches maturity. I have heard that harvest time is late summer, so I don`t even know if we will be here to enjoy this bounty, but I imagine that whoever is around at that time will take full advantage of the opportunity.

As the afternoon advanced the clouds slowly started to break up and the wind started to build. While windy days are not uncommon here, particularly early in the New Year when the prevailing direction is from the north-west, these winds were unusual as they continued from late afternoon through the evening and seemed to build in intensity. Even as we were heading off to bed after 10:00 pm the winds were howling and swirling such that we closed all our doors and windows for the night. Sure enough, the next morning dawned with a clear blue sky and was calm, but for a few gusts to remind us of the “blow” from the night before, which has left a layer of sand outside and a thicker than usual film of dust over every surface, inside.

But, thanks to the holiday weekend, Saturday too is quiet, without the regular half day of work that is typical here. So in a 24 hour period we have seen a rare calm cloudy day turn into a violent wind storm in the late afternoon and through the night, and then with the dawn another perfect blue sky sunny day breaks.

Spring has come to Loreto Bay in other ways as well. The main road through the Village, which has been partially torn up most of the winter, suddenly this week sported fresh chalk lines on one lane defining new angle parking stalls opposite a line of parallel parking. At the same time, on the other side of the median, traffic is flowing much more smoothly without the curb lane full of cars parked bumper to bumper.

Something else has sprouted in the side streets and courtyards of Loreto Bay this spring – chihuahua-sized fire hydrants! This raises a number of issues, perhaps first of all; why is such a basic safety feature only being installed now, 3 ½ years after the first homes were occupied? Then again, what is the fire hazzard in a solid concrete building? In any event, these cute little hydrants represent our last line of defence against whatever threat fire may hold.

The third sign of spring is the beginning of flagstone paving on the east side of the Paseo starting at the Inn. This beautifil meandering sidewalk was completed on the other side of the Paseo earlier this winter and now work is beginning on the other half of the street.

Probably the biggest addition to our community this spring is the opening of the first Homeowners swimming pool. The centrepiece of a large open courtyard area directly across from the entrance to the Inn, this pool has been under construction since the middle of last year. The finishing of the flagstone pool deck, the landscaping surrounding the pool, the shade palalpas and all the mechanical and plumbing works have been the focus of the worker's activities since the New Year. A few weeks ago there was a steady stream (no pun intended) of water trucks delivering tens of thousands of gallons of water to which dozens of 50 lb. sacks of salt were added, because this is a SALT WATER pool, a unique feature that is proving to be very popular with the early dippers.

In addition to adding a crowning feature to the largest finished courtyard in the Founders neighborhood, this pool is a much appreciated amenity for our community and an important milestone in the much anticipated completion of all of the common areas. It also sets a high standard for the future development of the other areas, including the smaller cluster courtyards which continue to be completed and add beauty and serenity to the homes that surround them.

As homeowners, we all bought into a dream and vision for this development which has been a long time coming, and, in substantial ways, we are still waiting for the fullfillment. But the addition of this community pool is a major step forward, and establishes an expectation on the part of we homeowners, and we trust, the new ownership of this project whose opportunity, challenge and responsibility it will be to take the dream forward and realize the fantastic potential that exists in this beautiful place "where the mountains come to swim". And that, to, is part of Living Loreto!