Sunday, November 4, 2012

A “Scary” Week in Loreto Bay!

This week I had the opportunity to enjoy celebrating both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos here in Loreto Bay.  Although both traditions have a lot in common, the differences in the way they are practiced are significant.  Halloween in North America, although is seems to be undergoing somewhat of a transition, has traditionally been a largely child centered event, with door to door “Trick or Treating” being the most iconic aspect.

While Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) takes on a more reverential tone, being primarily a day to cherish the memory and honor the dearly departed, and is manifested in the tradition of decorating the grave site of family members.  These decorations are prolific in cemeteries, but at this time of year they also can often be seen on the small roadside shrines (marking the location of fatal accidents that are all too common on the main highway running the length of the peninsula) with the attending families often travelling considerable distances to visit and decorate their relative’s shrine.

On Halloween eve the INN (now called Loreto Baja Golf Resort & Spa) had invited Homeowners to their open air bar on the mezzanine above the lobby for a party.  Although I had RSVP’d earlier in the week, I only made up my mind to actually go after the party had started at 9:00 pm – quickly pulling on the “Lucha Libre” Mexican wrestling mask I had picked up for a Mardi Gras party here last spring, before heading down the INN. 

When I arrived there were a couple of dozen people there from the neighborhood and more than half of them were in costume – not surprising, I guess, considering the fact this was billed as a Halloween Party, but impressive, none the less, if one considers that many of these people would have had to plan ahead when they were packing for their vacation and used precious luggage space (in the current circumstances of charged baggage and enforced weight restrictions) to bring a costume with them.

The party itself was quite a low-key affair, with tables of friends and neighbors mainly visiting among themselves, with a few dancers up on the floor, when the recorded music attracted them, but I enjoyed the break in my normal mid-week routine, and it was fun to spend an evening out and about, even if it was a late night by my Baja standards.

However, the second celebration of the week was a considerably more boisterous affair!  It has been almost a year since El Corazon Coffee Shop opened it’s doors here in Loreto Bay and in that time it has become one of the most popular and busiest businesses on the Paseo.  After closing over the hot and humid summer months, it was re-opened several weeks ago and has picked up right where it left off last season and soon after they spread the word that they were hosting a party to celebrate Dia de los Muertos and welcome back Homeowners returning here for the new season.  As a guarantee of a successful event they had booked our ridiculously popular (albeit well deserved) “House Band” Los Beach Dogs to play for the evening.

With my Office located directly across the street from El Corazon, I had observed the preparations being made during the afternoon before the party, boxes of supplies being unloaded, decorations being hung, and the all important Pacifico Beer truck making an unaccustomed delivery of beer kegs to a coffee shop along with stacks of the ubiquitous plastic rental chairs that here are a sure sign of good times to come!

This evening I opted for a more somber ensemble, leaving the Lucha Libre mask at home and settling on a black shirt and jeans for the occasion then liberally applied insect repellant (we are currently experiencing an influx of mosquitoes due to the recent rains and so “eau de DEET” was going to be the aroma of choice this evening) and headed out a bit before the advertised start time of 7:00 pm. carrying my camera and the essential flashlight for safe nocturnal navigation.  When I arrived the “Dogs” were finishing their set-up and sound check on the small patio area between the café’s French doors and the sidewalk of the Paseo where the aforementioned chairs had been arranged in several rows across the front of the shop.

Inside Corazon there was a flurry of last minute preparations being made by the regular staff, whose ranks had been supplemented with more help for this occasion, and about a dozen early birds were perched on chairs and standing around waiting for the festivities to begin. I sensed some mild panic on the part of some of the staff (most of whom were made up in exotic variations of the traditional “skull motif” in the Mexican tradition) who I do not think were expecting people to be arriving earlier than the suggested start time.

But soon enough, the preparations were complete, and when the sale of drink tickets began a line formed quickly out the door and onto the sidewalk as more and more revelers assembled.  At about the same time the “Dogs” began their first set of classic rock, interspersed with some of their own popular compositions and the seats began to fill as people got their drinks and moved back outside to enjoy the entertainment.

The crowd steadily grew and soon there were more people standing in the street behind the seating than there were actually seated and later, between sets, when I went inside to recharge my glass (several times) I discovered a second party occurring simultaneously within.  In addition to a fairly steady line at the ticket counter, there was a second line at the barista counter for light and dark draft beer and wine as well as bags of freshly popped corn.  There were a gaggle of young, mainly Mexican kids, many playing video games on their parent’s cell phones while others watched appropriately themed movies being projected on one wall.  In a place of prominence on one wall was a small shrine that had been set up for the occasion with candles, flowers, special breads and fruits, and apropos – coffee beans.

Periodically during the evening, Corazon staff circulated through the crowd that had grown to well over 200 with big platters of their new house specialty this season, bite sized squares of melt-in-your-mouth Belgian waffles finished with savory toppings including sausage and shrimp – delicious!  Meanwhile, the band played on, through a second substantial set before things started to wind down after 10:00 pm when the music ended and the crowd disassembled – most of whom were just a short walk from their homes.  

And so this “all hallowed” week comes to an end with a fitting juxtaposition of the two cultures traditions – but for whatever differences there are, the good will and harmony that surrounds this special place is evident – and that is what I love most about “Living Loreto”!  
P.S. In somewhat of a departure from my regular format, I am including a small collection of some of the great costumes that were at this party - the least I can do, considering the time and effort these people put into them!  I hope you enjoy -