Sunday, October 7, 2012

And so Season Five begins!

Greetings to all my loyal Readers, thank you for returning to these pages for my take on Living Loreto!  I confess that I have actually been back here in Loreto for a couple of weeks, unpacking, getting settled again in my home and taking care of some typical maintenance issues after the long hot summer.

While there are a few hardy souls amongst the ex-pat Homeowners who live here year-round, most of the winter season residents have yet to arrive here and so Loreto Bay feels strangely unpopulated, except of course for the various employees and staff that work here.  And there has been considerable good work going on since I left here in May.
The most obvious change that has taken place during the summer is the stone paving on the east side of the Paseo, (or main street) through the Founders Neighborhood of our community.  These stone pathways had been substantially finished throughout most of the first phase of Loreto Bay for several years, except for the one side of the Paseo and this work to complete the sidewalk was to be funded under the Infrastructure Special Assessment that our Homeowners Association voted for at our last series of AGMs.  Work had already begun earlier in the year on paving sidewalks through most of Agua Viva, the second phase of the Development.
Also, as part of the paving project, street lighting has been incorporated with “cute” knee-high light standards to focus the light on the pavement and reduce the amount of light pollution.  I understand that we are just waiting for a final inspection before the lights can be connected to a meter and start lighting our main street – an important development in both safety and beautifying the community.

In addition to the paving being done in Agua Viva, work is also well underway there on the second Community Pool, which is being fast-tracked under the same Infrastructure program, as a result of a special no interest loan by a number of AV Homeowners.  So in many ways work has continued here in Loreto Bay through the hot summer months and I am sure that the returning Homeowners will all appreciate each of the improvements that have been made to the development since they were last here.

Aside from these man-made improvements, Mother Nature has also been busy here in the Baja during the last month – I am of course referring to the abnormal amount of rain that has fallen here recently.  Early in September there were several major rainfalls resulting from Tropical Storms affecting the surrounding areas with total accumulations of over a foot!  The second week I was here two other Tropical Storms in the area resulted in another 4 inches of rain over 3 or 4 days.  For a semi-arid climate that is the norm here these sorts of accumulations are very unusual and this is the most rain to fall here since hurricane Jimena over 3 years ago.

My first impressions of the impact of the rain began shortly after I passed through the border at Tijuana to begin my drive south to Loreto (a thankfully uneventful crossing, for those of you who remember the story of the secondary inspection that I was caught in about a year ago, entering Mexico with the usual “full load”).  While the climate and typography of northern Baja is very different than here in the south, even so, I was struck by the unusual greenness of the countryside that far north.  The impact of the rain became more noticeable the further south I drove, the rolling hills, studded with cacti, now are also carpeted with lush green grasses and normally leafless trees, standing gaunt with dry branches were now covered in fresh green foliage. 

After an early crossing by 7:30 at Tijuana, I had one of the smoothest trips south in the 8 years I have been travelling Mexico 1.  I prefer to do most of the travelling on Sundays, as there is less traffic than other days, and since the Sunday I travelled from TJ to Guerrero Negro happened to be Independence Day, there was even less traffic than normal.  Although I did see marching bands in Ensenada and a huge market with mucho caballeros in Mission San Vincente a little further south.  There were also two multi-kilometer construction zones, one south of Ensenada and another further south on the second day, but nothing serious and the road has benefitted from the completion of some of the big projects that have been underway for several years.
But by far the most surprising – dare I say shocking – sight on my drive south was standing water in ditches and ponds by the side of the road and, for the first time in my experience of driving this highway for over 8 years, there was water in 4 or 5 Vados, which are dips in the road where dry stream beds can flood across the highway during rains.  I remember the surprise I felt the first time I crested a small hill and descended the other side into . . . WATER!
Perfectly reasonable under the circumstances, I knew there had been a lot of rain and these Vados were one way the road had been designed to deal with occasional flood conditions, but in my many trips back and forth over this road there had never been enough rain to have covered the road at these low points - so that I had to rethink the connection between the existence of these Vados and the possibility that some of them could now actually being flooded with water.
Another effect of this much precipitation is the presence of butterflies and moths – millions of them!  For a couple of weeks after the initial rains earlier in the month I read reports from here about “clouds” of delicate yellow butterflies in and around Loreto.  Although I noticed that there were still a few in existence when I was driving back a few weeks ago, within days of the recent rains I started noticing a new influx of these delicate creatures that seem to spring from nowhere. 

On the topic of seasonal creatures, for the past several years, when I have returned here around the end of September, I have seen a spectacular type of large brownish/black moth, some of them with over 6” wingspans.  In the past, at this time of year, these dramatic, but harmless moths occasionally found their way inside my house where they might hang around for a few days before eventually escaping, otherwise I would find them deceased on the floor.

However, this year, I expect because of the amount of rains we’ve had, these black moths are everywhere in large numbers, including inside my house.  Over the past couple of weeks I have become somewhat used to sharing my space with several of these specimens.  Most of the time they will cling immobile to the walls or ceiling, occasionally fluttering about the room, and sometimes colliding (apparently harmlessly) with a ceiling fan, but one morning in particular was memorable.  When I went into the kitchen I happened to look up into the brick cupola in the ceiling and counted over two dozen large black moths clustered there!  In spite of feeling like I was in some Hitchcockian thriller, I managed to go about my normal morning routine, although I had the feeling I was being watched!
On my frequent visits to town, restocking the kitchen and getting back into the local routine of “hunting and gathering” I have noticed a few small changes in the business life of Loreto – but my main impression is how it feels quieter than a typical day during the height of the Season.  Talking to a few shop owners they tell me that it has been a slow summer and they are looking forward to the influx of winter residents who will arrive with the cooler weather later this month.

And so begins a new season here in Loreto, with the freshly invigorated surroundings lush and green from the rain, steady progress on the infrastructure of our community and the town ready to welcome back the ex-pats for another winter, all appears to be ready.  With the promise of more availability and choice in Airlift options this winter I am looking forward to the best Season so far in Loreto Bay and that is perhaps the best part of “Living Loreto”!