Sunday, October 27, 2013

Good Moon Rising

Although more Homeowners are arriving every day, there is still only a small fraction of the numbers who will be here within the next month or so, when more of the Seasonal residents have arrived, along with shorter term Visitors.  But that fact did not deter a couple of dozen people to gather last weekend on the Beach for an impromptu party to watch the full moon rise.  The informal get-together was organized by Jeff, a Loreto Bay resident who is the Director of Las Villas de Mexico, the Homex Development adjacent to Loreto Bay.

In addition to the Loreto Bay residents who were there, there were also several Homex staff members and a number of residents from the Nopolo community that surrounds Loreto Bay – it was a good mixture of people from the “neighborhood” some of whom live here year-round, along with some of us early returning (snow) birds. 

I have written before about the beautiful Ocean views we get here along the crescent beach that Loreto Bay gives its name to, but after living here for a number of years I have come to appreciate how important the off-shore islands to the east are in appreciating that view.  There are two islands that can be seen from our shore, the smaller Coronado in the distance to the north, and the much larger Carmen, whose north end is more or less directly across from us and it extends south almost to the far horizon.  It is from behind Carmen that the sun rises most of the year, moving from the island’s far south end at the equinox, gradually north until it is almost rising due east in the summer, before reversing its path to the south again.

The significance of having this massive island forming most of our horizon to the east, is that it gives a sense of scale to the ocean view, without which there would only be a “blue line” where the sea meet the sky with no perspective.  However, with Carmen defining that perspective, we can enjoy the sunrises breaking over the jagged mountain tops of the far island (quite the nicest time of day to enjoy a solitary walk on the Beach) watching the light changes from minute to minute and feeling the warmth of the new sun every morning as it rises into another (usually) perfectly clear blue Loreto sky.

Similarly, Carmen also provides a suitable stage for the moonrise, particularly on the night of a full moon, when the moonlight can seem bright enough to read a newspaper by – if there was a newspaper here to read!  I was reminded of this, when I headed out of my house for the five minute walk to where a bonfire marked the party’s location on the Beach.  I had loaded up with camera equipment, and a few beers to comply with the BYOB invitation, and was about halfway there when I realized that I had forgotten the flashlight I had planned to bring with me, but seeing the party was in full swing by that time, I decided not to go back for it, and to take my chances getting home again later.      

Later, of course, with the moon high in the sky, it was almost as bright walking home as it had been when I headed out at dusk – I had forgotten the effect of full moonlight in our “dark sky” community, where we have done our best to reduce the amount of light pollution in the development with low wattage downcast outdoor fixtures.  Our southern proximity to the Tropic of Cancer and the crystal clear ocean air, of course contribute to the impact of moonlight, but “moon shadows” still take some getting used to when I first return here after spending some time away.

In addition to the bonfire, that was making good use of some of the driftwood that has accumulated on the Beach following the several Fall storms (which flush a lot of vegetation out of the arroyos, much of which winds up washing back onto the shore) there was a table of snacks contributed by Carlos who runs a new restaurant here called Agave, as well as some wine provided by The Wine Bar @ Nopolo.  There were a few other tables and chairs set up, but most of the people stood around and visited - visited that is, when they were not being entertained by some new Loreto Bay talent! 

Bill and his wife Laurie have been working in and around Loreto Bay for many years, first as a Construction Manager, when there was more new construction being done here, and more recently they have branched out as a Construction Contractor and Property Manager in Loreto Bay.  But until this party, Bill’s talent singing and playing guitar had been known only to a few friends and other musicians – this was his first “public” performance, and he was joined by return Visitors Peter on guitar and vocals and Peter’s wife Tina, who sang some accompanying vocals.  Surprisingly, this musical team came together just a day or so before the party, when Bill and Peter spent just a few hours of rehearsal before their “debut” that evening, although I understand that Peter is an accomplished musician in his own right, with several CDs to his credit

                  Considering the celestial theme of the evening, Bill’s version of Neal Young’s “Harvest Moon” was both appropriate and a highlight of the evening’s entertainment, as were a couple of a cappella songs by Madeline and Megan, the young daughters of Jeff, the organizer of the party.  There was also a short set by Francisco, a Nopolo resident who does more traditional Mexican style folk music. 

But the overall mood of the evening, for many of the people there, seemed to be one of reconnection and quiet celebration; for those of us recently returned – being back again in the place we love, and for the others who spend the summers here – seeing the beginning of another “social” season, as the community comes together again and there are more people around to enjoy good times, like celebrating a full moon together.

When a rising moon is a sufficient incentive for a Community to get together, and then turns into an opportunity to re-connect with friends and neighbors and to share musical talent – then I know that I am home again and “Living Loreto!            

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Welcome back! . . . Season Six begins!

Welcome back to the sixth season of Living Loreto!  Actually I have been back in Loreto for several weeks by now, busy with moving back into my home here after a summer of travelling in my Trailer around North America. 

It was very good to get back home again, I arrived back a couple of weeks after a Tropical storm dumped inches of rain in the mountains west of here – which is a recipe for flooding, washed out roads and a big mess!  Fortunately, by the time I was travelling down, the highway had been patched in the few places there had been damage so I had no problems getting here.  But there had been some significant damage, mainly in town, with localized flooding where the arroyo was breached.

As I have mentioned before, these arroyos are dry channels where runoff from the mountains is channeled when it rains, to find its way to the Ocean.  With a vast mountain range west of us, and a limited number of arroyos to carry all the water collected over 100’s of square miles of rocky ground, during a downpour, the arroyos can be transformed from dry riverbeds into cascading torrents with frightening speed .

What takes a little getting used to, however, is what matters is not how much rain we get HERE – but how much falls in the mountains to the west, where most of the water is collected.  This becomes more significant when you consider that most of the storms at this time of year come from the Pacific side of the peninsula to the west, and so the further west you go the more rain there can be – much of which flows east to the Ocean.

Arriving as I did, a few weeks after that storm, the most noticeable effect was the lush green grasses and leafy bushes along the side of the road as I approached Loreto from the north.  In places there was even standing water in low spots beside the road, strange to see given the normal desert-like conditions most of the year.  Now the Sierra de la Gigante mountain range to the west, is clothed in fresh greenery with the normally bare shrubs covered in new green leaves that only sprout when there is enough water. The sides of the road are thick with two foot high grasses, where most of the year there is only the thin dry straw that is left after stray cattle have grazed it.

Next to the greenery, the most significant thing I noticed on my arrival here in September was the heat!  Over 100 degrees and humid was typical for the first week or two, and some air conditioning was necessary in the evening, while during the day the slightest exertion was enough to soak even the lightest clothing.  But as in past years, within a couple of weeks the temperature had dropped along with the humidity and the A/C was no longer needed, ceiling fans and open doors and windows were enough to keep it comfortable inside.

There have been other changes here in Loreto Bay over the summer.  Last Season I wrote about the infrastructure completion project, a large part of which involved landscaping both sides of the main road through the development.  Now the center median has been “zeroscaped” using indigenous plants, shrubs and grasses that require minimal irrigation, set off with accent rocks and several colors and textures of gravel.  Now with this final element almost completed, the main artery of the community is looking better than it ever has, and it makes a much more positive first impression as one drives through the development.

Another significant project has been completed – the new Community Lap Pool, surrounded with patios and high-end outdoor furniture, is located about mid-way between the original Pool at the south end of the Founders Neighborhood and the one completed in second phase Agua Viva last year.  With the addition of these two new pools, everyone in the community is now within a relatively close distance to a refreshing gathering place that will become the hub for much enjoyment, as more and more people spend more time here.

I was also struck by how few Homeowners were here when I first arrived, there are of course year-round residents, many involved in businesses here and the operations required for maintaining a community of over 600 homes.  But there are a small number of Homeowners who choose to spend the long hot summer here, although many of them who do seem to enjoy the quiet solitude that comes from having the place almost to themselves.

Among the other changes this Season, Loreto Bay Homes has opened a new, much larger, Real Estate Office, a few doors south of our Property Management Office, where the convenience store used to be.  This new expanded office means there will be more than one Agent available in the Office during business hours so we won’t have to close when out showing homes.  Our larger presence is in anticipation of an increased volume of visitors this season, when the new daily airline service begins in November. 

In town there have been a number of changes this summer, probably one of the most significant is the opening of a new supermarket, the Ley Super Express, bringing a wider selection of products including an in-house bakery and Deli counter with prepared foods to go like rotisserie roasted chickens.  While I have enjoyed shopping there several times since I arrived back, my one complaint arises from the store’s popularity – any time I have been there the small parking lot is full and it can take some time before a space opens up.

The arrival of a new chain store competitor has raised the bar for some of the other stores in town with noticeable improvements in El Pescador and smaller changes at Mercado Juarez, but the grocery business in Loreto has certainly changed for the better, particularly when I remember the way things used to be a few years ago!  (Long time readers may remember one of my early postings where I described the shopping exercise as “Hunting and Gathering”

But probably the biggest change since I left for the summer is the fact that work has finally begun on twinning the highway between Loreto Bay and town.  A number of pieces of heavy earth-moving equipment are working on both sides of the existing highway, starting just south of town preparing the ground for new roadbeds.  I haven’t heard a projected completion date, but it will clearly take some considerable time to build the 15 km. of new roads, which I understand will eventually continue another 10 km south of Loreto Bay through to Puerto Escondido.

So as more Homeowners arrive daily and our community comes back to life, I am looking forward to the best season ever here in Loreto Bay.  I begin my sixth season of writing this Blog conscious of the commitment to post on a regular basis and the demand of coming up with weekly topics, but also excited by the expectation of new developments and progress in the community. I feel a real sense of optimism and confidence that, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the first sales event in November 2003 (when I purchased my home from a chalk outline on a sandy beach) Loreto Bay is now fulfilling the vision and dreams that so many people have shared.
Watching a dream become a reality, going from “chalk on sand” to a thriving community of over 600 homes with great expectations about what lies ahead for those of us lucky to call this place Home – that is what “Living Loreto” is all about!