Sunday, March 24, 2013

St. Patrick's in Loreto Bay

 With the increased numbers of Homeowners and Visitors here during the extended Spring Break season, we are in the midst of a busier social agenda at this time of year, including last weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration at El Cardon Cantina here in Loreto Bay.  While St. Patrick’s has become an almost international celebration, you may be forgiven if the idea of a Fiesta in Mexico celebrating the Irish Patron Saint seems a bit counter intuitive, but when you consider that it was being put on by Kieran, the Owner of El Cardon, who is himself authentically Irish, it not only makes sense but it was almost inevitable!

Tickets (which sold out before the event) were available at the restaurant, located here in Loreto Bay, for a couple of weeks before the event, and the 100 peso charge included a drink and a corned beef “pie”, which turned out to be a large turnover-type of pastry filled with chunks of potato, shredded beef and some herb seasonings.  In addition, there would be natchos and other snacks available from the Cantina kitchen during the event, and, of course, a bar offering beers, wines and some mixed drinks as well as (to my great enthusiasm) actual Guinness Beer – talk about authentic!

Headlining the festivities were the locally favorite music group “Los Beach Dogs”, in their “large band” format, including the original four members with their latest addition, a bass guitarist, so, not surprisingly, when you combine food, drink and entertainment with a popular excuse for party, the scene was set for another memorable night in Loreto Bay! 

On Sunday afternoon I headed down the Paseo to check out the preparations at El Cardon, where one side of the street, centered on the restaurant, had been blocked off to make room for a stage platform for the band.  Shade tents for a ticket desk and outside bar, were set up on the street either side of the stage and tables and chairs were being set up on the restaurant’s patio as well as along the sidewalk and the street, while the area between the sidewalk and the front of the stage was left open for dancing, with more tables and chairs filling the street on either side.  During the early afternoon the “Dogs” were setting up their equipment, while the Cantina Owners Kieran and Norma with the extra staff hired for the occasion, had turned that part of the normally quiet Paseo into a hive of activity.

After checking out the preparations I returned home to look for something green in my wardrobe and get ready for the evening ahead.  Fortunately, in a last moment flash of inspiration, I remembered that I had an unusual souvenir from my past life as a Calgary Flames (NHL Hockey) fan – a bright green hard hat emblazoned with the Flaming “C” Logo (“the hardest working fan”) which provided the finishing touch to my somewhat cross-cultural “wearing of the Green” ensemble!  So decked out and carrying my trusty camera – you never know when a Blog event may happen – I headed off a bit early for the 6:00 pm start time to get a good seat.

By the time I arrived there were several dozen other early birds claiming tables and getting food and drinks sorted out, while a steady influx of people arrived over the next hour or so, most of whom were “wearing the green” in one form or another.  The available seating filled up and more chairs were brought in until the available space was filled and people were sitting on the curb and standing at the outer edges of the crowd.  The Beach Dogs cranked it up around 7:00 and soon afterwards the street was full of dancers – young and old – who kept the place hopping for the rest of the evening.

Once again, Loreto Bay had transformed itself from a relaxed oasis of “quiet enjoyment” to a happy, friendly all-ages “party zone”, the mood of which was perfectly reflected by the music and energy of the friends and neighbors providing the entertainment – for the pure joy of playing the music they love.  Added to this the food and drink being offered by Kieran and Norma who, by opening the El Cardon Cantina earlier this season ( have become a part of this community, even if they still live in town where their main restaurant is located.

And so the evening progressed, far later than I was able to participate, being one of the few residents with work responsibilities the next morning, but by all accounts a grand time was had by all – Faith and begorrah!  Seeing a couple of hundred people in the community come together and enjoy any excuse to have a party, sharing in the fun of a evening of food, drink and music together and celebrating the spirit of St. Paddy’s Day, half a world away from it’s origins in the Emerald Isle – that is one more reason why we all are “Living Loreto”!