Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nellie's Celebration!

As I sit down to write this week’s epistle I am a little concerned that you, my gentle reader, may get the wrong impression about life here in Loreto Bay – as this will be the third week in a row that I have written about a party or social event that has taken place here. But, as worthy as the Reunion weekend and the Paella Cook-Off were as subjects of the past two week’s Blogs, I couldn’t miss writing about this week’s main event, Nellie’s - my friend and employer’s – 50th Birthday celebration.

In hindsight, this may in fact be one of the highlight parties of this winter’s season, with over 120 guests for a sit down dinner at the INN at Loreto Bay this past Thursday (bringing a whole new meaning to November 11th and Remembrance Day). Although a decade Birthday would be sufficient reason for a celebration itself, this November marked two more anniversaries for Nellie; 7 years of her life centered in Loreto and the fourth year of her living here full time.

So needless to say, Nellie has given a lot of thought to how and where she would
hold her party, with several different ideas under consideration over the past several months. However, the final plans for this week’s party started to “gel” a little over a month ago when she had a chance meeting in the arrivals area of the Loreto Airport on her return to Loreto earlier this Fall. As she was waiting for her bags to arrive, she was making small talk with the tall sandy haired man standing beside her waiting for his luggage.

Not being shy or retiring by nature, it took only a couple of minutes for her to find out that he was driving on from Loreto to his home in San Juanico, on the other side of the peninsula, and also that he was a professional, award winning Impersonator of David Letterman, the “dean” of Late Night TV comedy/talk shows, who commuted to Las Vegas where he performed regularly. A THEME was born there and then! Nellie told Greg that he would be the perfect entertainment for her upcoming party and email contacts were quickly exchanged so the details could be worked out over the weeks ahead. Only in Loreto, and only if you were Nellie, could you meet a David Letterman impersonator waiting for luggage and, in less than 5 minutes, make him part of the plans for your birthday party a month later!

Now that there was a “hook” to hang the rest of the plans on, things started to come together quickly for the rest of the event. Since the celebration was in part to recognize the significant role that Loreto Bay has played in Nellie’s life, over the past years, the INN at Loreto Bay was the logical venue. Although there have been some major improvements made to the property over the past six months, including renovations to the pools, freshening up the exterior and interior as well as refurbishing several of the restaurant areas, the management at the INN, operating under the new ownership of Homex, is still rebuilding it’s staffing as it prepares for the influx of visitors that will be coming to Loreto later this winter.

So hosting a dinner party, with entertainment, for over 120 guests, while
maintaining standards for regular Hotel services, was going to be a challenge for the Manager Peter Maxwell and all of his staff, this early in the season. Needless to say, this was not going to be a casual taco chips and beer sort of event – not for Nellie’s 50th – she had very specific ideas about the menu, grilled steaks and chicken with three kinds of salads, potatoes au gratin and rice, all served buffet style fresh from the mesquite fired grill.

Nellie also saw her event as a celebration for the whole community; Loreto Bay and the town of Loreto, as well as for her many friends and homeowners all over North America, so she made her invitation public through the Home Owner’s website, and having a Poster printed that she displayed several places advertising that tickets were available. Anticipating the appeal of such a celebration, the need for controlling access with tickets became apparent in the final few days before the event as people came into our Baja BOSS / Dorado Properties Offices and claimed the last few available before the maximum of 120 guests were reached.

Greg (a.k.a. “David Letterhead”) arrived the afternoon of the event, after a longer than normal 6 hour drive from San Juanico, delayed by “bathtub” sized potholes that were the worst he has seen in his many years of driving the challenging sections of road near his home. Nellie had arranged for him to use one of the Loreto Bay homes and after he had settled I took him to the INN for a sound check of my PA system which I had pre-set there the previous day. When we arrived, the colonnade outside the main dining room was in the process of being transformed into a beautiful open air (but sheltered) setting for the party.

The Guests were invited for cocktails at 6:00 pm and some arrived with North American punctuality, but many more drifted in over the next hour and the patio area outside the dining area filled with clusters of people in conversation who covered a wide cross section of local and Mexican business people mingling with a large number of Homeowners, some of whom planned their travel specifically to be here for the date! When finally most of the ticket holders had arrived, I managed to interrupt the socializing and get them to take seats at the tables for the entertainment.

Greg/Dave exploded onto the “stage” with huge enthusiasm and energy and proceeded to
do an opening monologue that I (as a two decade fan of the original comedian talk show host) instantly recognized as being an uncannily accurate depiction of the original Letterman’s style. Not only did “our Dave” have the vocal and physical idiosyncrasies down pat, what had been a passing similarity of appearance, when I met him arriving that afternoon dressed casually after a long drive, became an eerily familiar doppelganger of the “original Dave” when he was dressed in the elegant Black suit, crisp white shirt, red tie – and – trademark white socks!

After some typical Letterman material about topics of the day and poll results, one of the evenings highlights required Nellie to join “Dave” on stage while he read one of Letterman’s signature pieces, The Top Ten List. This night’s subject was: Top Ten Reasons Why Nellie Has Survived 50 Years. After extensive negotiations with the Home Office here is an exclusive report of that list, as it was read on the evening:

10. She is the only Gringa in Loreto Bay that ALWAYS wears stiletto heels – through the potholes, over the cobblestones, through the sand and gravel – Even mountain climbing
9. She dresses like she never left Scottsdale; pearls, chandelier earrings, big sunglasses and ALWAYS skirts & dresses.
8. In her purse, she carries her life with her at all times – 5 currencies, passport, camera, 2 phones, the most valuable Black Book in Baja, Get out of Jail Free cards – She has been known to leave 6 different countries at the same time.
7. Her Mercedes Coupe which alternately is her alter ego, life raft, and high speed therapy couch, and sled to the Salon.
6. Her Golf Cart/Truck which carries her to all the places she can’t walk to in the stilettos and has enough cargo space to carry dinner for 5.
5. When all else fails Nellie leaves town. In the past year she has been to: New York, Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Hawaii and here’s the weird one… Loreto
4. She lives in denial - denial about where she lives, denial about what she does, denial about the past, denial about the future – she has even been to the Nile to be in denial.
3. She started drinking the Kool-Aid in November ’03 and since then she has moved on to stronger things – we’ve all seen Nellie with a drink in her hand, but how many of us have ever actually seen her eating?
2. Over the past four years Nellie has had a number of different businesses; a Hotel, a Sushi Bar, a Charter Boat, FM3 Agency, Information Kiosk (“Ask Nellie”) Real Estate Broker and Property Management – a moving target is harder to hit!
1. She is Living La Vida Loca!

Following this, Nellie said a few words of greetings to her assembled friends and then the buffet lines were opened and the feast began! Great food in a beautifully
prepared venue, with attentive staff and good conversation should make for a success of any party, and this evening at the INN was no exception. The evening was capped off with the presentation of a magnificent chocolate Birthday Cake decorated with fruit and flowers and some specially imported (on that day’s flight) decorative candles accompanied by a lusty rendition of Happy Birthday!

Nellie, always the gracious Hostess, made a point of introducing many individuals from the party, giving each of the business people a friendly “plug” for their particular expertise or service and then expressed her appreciation for such a wonderful celebration of so many good things we all have to be thankful for here.

Bringing together over 120 people, local and ex-pat, business and pleasure, all of whom have in common the love and respect for Nellie, one of the pillars of our fledgling community, and doing it with memorable style and joy – this truly was a special night to be “Living Loreto”!