Sunday, April 26, 2009

Privileges in Paradise

This week I thought I would share with you the events of the past week as an example of how simple things become part of the lifestyle here in Loreto Bay.

I drove to La Paz again the middle of this week, some of you may have read a previous post a couple of weeks ago about an earlier trip, “La Paz that Refreshes”. Part of the reason for the first trip was to register for paying income taxes here in Mexico, a necessary (and fortunate) requirement for me, now that I am selling Real Estate here in Loreto Bay. While I was able to accomplish three out of the four steps of the process on my earlier trip, it was necessary to make a second trip to complete the final step, hence the need for the return visit. Now it has been decades since I have had to set up any such similar account back in Canada so it is hard to draw any comparison between the procedure here and there, but suffice to say that Mexican bureaucracy is a “challenge” at the best of times, and when it comes to taxation, it is never the “best of times”. Having said that, other than the fact that the procedure cannot be completed in one session and that it can only be done in the State Capitol (La Paz) which is a four hour drive one way from here in Loreto, I found it to be a surprisingly efficient and high tech process.

Since both of these trips to the tax offices required booking an appointment time days in advance, I was lucky to be able to get a morning appointment on the day we were expecting a visitor, who was arriving at the airport in La Paz. So after completing my government business first thing in the morning, I then headed for the airport, stopping enroute for a mandatory visit at the Walmart, that I had mentioned in my last posting, to pick up a short and diverse list of “ungettables” here in Loreto. I then arrived at the airport and met our visitor, who had just finished collecting their bags 10 minutes earlier. Remarkably efficient timing all round!

Part of this story, of course, is the circumstances of our guest's visit. When we arrived back in Loreto after returning to Canada for Christmas, we brought with us a brand new, rather large and complicated telescope which was my wife's pride and joy. She had long been looking forward to having her own instrument to view the myriad of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies that are so dramatic in the night sky down here. However, as we soon found out, large and complicated are not always good things when it comes to new delicate optical equipment.

So that this blog doesn't become all about the trials and tribulations that come with a faulty telescope, suffice to say, we had to return the whole unit - which comes in it's own shock-proof carrying case the size (and weight) of a large suitcase – back to California for repairs. The northern leg was accomplished through the kindness of friends and neighbors who were travelling that way early in the New Year and, with the help of a good friend in the Los Angeles area it was delivered to the Manufacturer (who will remain nameless!). That same friend picked up the repaired (?) unit months later when it was ready for the return trip. Fortunately, the same friend was able to combine a stop in La Paz on a business trip he was planning to Mexico City and offered to bring the telescope with him that far, in exchange for spending a long weekend with us here in Loreto. As complicated as that may sound, it was mucho simpler than arranging to ship said telescope from Irvine CA to Loreto BCS!

So, now loaded with the refurbished telescope we headed for Loreto and passed the four hour journey enjoyably in conversation, catching up on each others lives and interests. Conversation, on an extended road trip is one of the best ways I know to pass the time and miles (kilometers) and since it had been months since I had seen our friend we had plenty to keep us occupied for the return trip.

Upon reaching Loreto Bay, we unpacked and “freshened up” before heading into town to join my wife and her new musical partner, another Loreto Bay neighbor, at their debut performance for a friend's Open House that evening. We joined a diverse group of “Townies” and “Bayites” at the party and enjoyed great hospitality, good snacks, and great music for a couple of hours before most of the group decamped to a local restaurant, which we took over entirely and had a feed of delicious pizza, making for another memorable evening in Loreto.

The next morning, we had arranged with our friend Ben (Captain Benito) to meet him on his beautiful Trawler-style boat “Alley Cat” back in the marina in town where we departed for a days cruise. While the weather here has shifted from spring to early summer, with temperatures reaching the mid-80's, that morning was particularly perfect. The water was as calm
as glass with a light breeze to keep things comfortable and we thoroughly enjoyed a leisurely cruise back to Puerto Escondito where we dropped off one other passenger and then headed across the channel to Danzante Island and a perfectly beautiful single boat anchorage in the aptly named Honeymoon Cove, where we enjoyed a boat lunch and relaxed on board interspersed with some snorkeling and beach combing before heading back to Escondito where the Alley Cat is kept moored. After making the boat secure we dinghied ashore and stopped at Porto Bello, the dockside restaurant/bar for a couple of cool ones before heading back into town to pick up the car and return home, to enjoy a quiet evening feeling relaxed and weary, but invigorated by our memorable day on the water.

The following afternoon we introduced our friend to the delights of playing the Loreto Bay golf course. His appreciation was even greater, considering the fact that on previous visits he had last experienced the course in it's original layout and condition. While the surrounding scenery was still spectacular on the old course, there is no comparison with the quality and condition of the course now. While I do admit to both some local bias and a limited experience of other Baja courses, I have it on good authority from many other players I have spoken with, that this course now ranks very highly with other (much more costly) courses in Cabo and we are all looking forward with great expectations to the opening of the second nine holes, which is about to happen in the next week. (Stay tuned, loyal readers, you may read a review about the balance of the course on these pages in the near future!)

This morning Cathy and I were committed to attending our new Condominium Sub Regime inaugural Annual General Meeting. Perhaps that sounds like dry stuff to most of you, but it has been one of the major focuses of our time and energy (particularly - with many thanks – that of my wife's, who has been responsible for much of the communications and the acquisition of dozens of proxies). While we were involved in this grassroots exercise of democracy and home ownership our guest was occupied with more idyllic pursuits on the beach and kayaking in the calm waters off the hotel.

After reconnecting for a quick lunch Cathy and our guest headed off for another round of golf, while I, your loyal scribe, sat down to the laptop and attempted to recreate for you all here, a brief summary of what has been a remarkable, but not extraordinary, few days of life here in Loreto Bay. Which brings me to my point for this installment of the Blog – life is not so much about what you do, but where you do it.

The circumstance of driving eight hours round-trip to pick someone up at the airport would be unheard of in most urban areas where we live, but when you can spend hours in deep conversation with a good friend who you don't see often enough, while driving through some of the most spectacular scenery on this continent, it is a privilege not a hardship. When an Open House at a friend's house turns into a musical concert and impromptu dinner party for over a dozen people with a great restaurant to ourselves, it becomes a cherished memory for years to come. When a day's boat outing takes place on a perfect day of crystal clear waters, sightings of seals many waterfowl, a passing pod of frolicking dolphins, and ends up in a pristine anchorage that could grace the cover of any yachting magazine it becomes another highlight in blessed lifestyle. When a simple round of golf becomes a series of mental scrapbook pictures, made even more memorable by the rare luxury of playing on an immaculate course without another player in sight it takes the sport into an almost spiritual plane. And when even a dry administrative meeting becomes a bonding experience of community-building among the fellow travellers that are actively creating the very place that they are living in, the rewards for the time and effort involved pay back a return many times the investment.

All of these ordinary events, combined over a few short days, and happening in this extraordinary place, add up to an experience that is my unique privilege, the privilege of “Living Loreto”!