Sunday, April 5, 2009

Oh you've got to have . . . Friends!

One of the strongest plusses about Living Loreto is the wonderful people who are our friends and neighbours down here. In spite of the fact that this is only the second full winter we have spent here, I know more people here than back in Calgary, where I have lived and worked for decades.

I think that there are several reasons for this. First of all, a new development like Loreto Bay appeals to people who have many things in common; like a sense of adventure, environmental stewardship and some degree of risk tolerance. Once we start to spend time here, it is easy to meet other people in the community, because there are relatively few other people around and we find we have much in common with them. As we were helped to adapt to these new surroundings, we reach out to others who are starting their experience to offer help and advice that we have learned, or received from others.

These bonds build relationships quickly, and they become stronger as we find other things in common and begin to share new experiences together; like where we found a new store that sells something hard to find, or the location of a new beach or hike down one of the many nameless dusty side roads. Simple pleasures also build these new friendships.
We were introduced to a card game called “Wizard” by some good friends who visited us here over a year ago. It's a simple game that uses a special deck with 8 extra cards, the object being to win a many “tricks” as you predict. After we enjoyed playing this game with our guests several times while they were visiting us, they kindly left the special deck of cards with us when they went home. We then introduced the game to a number of our friends down here, and over the past year, the game of Wizard has become a hit among a growing circle of Loretanos. In fact we have asked incoming visitors to bring several decks of these cards down with them and passed these cards on to people we have introduced the game to, as our original deck was wearing out from being loaned so often. This is an example of the simple things that we can enjoy with friends in this situation.

In the larger Loreto Bay community there are now about 400 homes that have been completed and turned over to the owners. This is substantially more than when we started our first winter here a year and a half ago. At any given time this winter there are probably 100 or more of those homes occupied, most of them, for a few weeks or up to a month at a time. This is probably two or three times the number of people who were living here last year.

Within this number there are several layers of community that we are involved in. There is our immediate “cluster” of neighbouring homes, most of which were among the first completed, and many of them are occupied at least part of the season. This is where we have some of our closest friends, and many of whom were the first people we met down here, even before our homes were finished. These are also the people who we see almost every day, as we and they come and go about our daily activities.

We also have friends and aquaintances spread out over the rest of the “village” area. Some we got to know back in Calgary, where we met at Loreto Bay events or socially at Loreto-wanna-be get togethers, before we were able to spend as much time here. Now, we are able to be here together; playing golf, exchanging dinners and living the dream that brought us together in the first place. Others are people we have met here, who are spending the same sort of time here as we are.

Since I have been writing this Blog, it has brought me in touch with some others, who may only be able to visit for shorter periods of time, but feel a connection through reading these postings and get in touch when they are here for a visit. The current flurry of communications over the Homeowners Association business has brought us into contact with another group of owners, who we might not have known otherwise.

Since we have been here for these extended stays, we also have a further circle of friends who live in the Nopolo area that borders the Loreto Bay development. Many of these people have been here for a number of years, (some close to two decades) and we consider their experience of buying and/or building on their own, without the “protection” or structure that comes with a developer-driven project, to be a big step beyond what our adventure has been.

We also have friends who live in the town of Loreto. One couple in particular, who we refer to as “the city mice” (we being the “country” version) became aquaintances one evening in June 2004 when we were the only two tables occupied in a restaurant. From the inevitable eavesdropped conversations, we both realized we were talking about the same trials and tribulations of building a home in Mexico. Instant bonding! As we learned that evening, they were building their dream home in town, just a few blocks away from the restaurant at the same time as our place was being finished in Loreto Bay. Now both homes are finished and we visit back and forth sharing and comparing the similarities and differences in our chosen paths toward Living Loreto.

There is another group of people that we are developing new friendships with, as we spend more time living here, and that is the Mexicans who make Loreto or Loreto Bay their year round home. Some of these people provide us with goods or services and we get to know them better the longer we are here. Others we come in contact with through the day to day dealings with living in our home in the community, like the repair man, (who we feel we have almost adopted), that has fixed things in our home that are beyond my skill or ability. Within this group, my wife's growing fluency in Spanish opens the door to this new world of people, who, in time, may become the largest group we know.

What brings all of these relationships to my mind at this time is the change of seasons. The winter is ending and the subtle seasonal shift from winter to spring and then summer is progressing from day to day. With the change of season, begins the northward migration of the “snowbirds”. Every week we are saying good-bye to people who are leaving to return to their summer life. They usually express regrets about leaving, and often, concern about returning to comparitively wintery weather back home. But we also know, from our own past experience, there is also excitement and anticipation on their part, to return to lives and homes and family after spending their time so far away.

For us, this experience of gradually losing our community, bit by bit, and person by person, is a sad reminder that everyone that leaves shrinks the pool we have enjoyed playing in so much all winter. So this is the beginning of the end of the winter season and every week we find ourselves saying good bye to friends and asking when people are leaving is becoming the new common question when we bump into someone. Talk then moves on to expected return dates and we find ourselves beginning to look forward to “next winter” before we have even reached the end of this one. Getting used to comings and goings is, sadly, another part of Living Loreto.