Sunday, November 27, 2011

San Javier - Revisited

One of the best experiences of living in a beautiful place like Loreto is sharing it with visitors.  I had that pleasure this week when Percy and Alejandra, along with their friend Yves, drove down from Orange County in California to spend a few days with me in my home, Casablanca.  You may remember from my first Blog of this season (“The Long and Winding Road” Oct. ‘11) that I had stayed with Percy in Orange County on my way south this Fall, and at that time we made plans for this return visit – their first experience driving in the Baja.

While they had not made the drive before, they are not new to Mexico.  First of all, the three of them are all fluent in Spanish and Percy’s does business in Mexico so he travels regularly to several large centers.  Alejandra recently moved to the US, having lived all of her preceding life in Mexico, but she had only visited Cabo in the Baja before, and Yves had visited many places in Mexico but he too was not familiar with the peninsula.

Their route was the familiar one from southern California, crossing at Tijuana spending the night in San Quintin and carrying on to Loreto the next day.  But, as I have learned from past experience, every trip down the Baja is an adventure and theirs began on the second day when they reached El Rosario and found traffic halted through town for 2 ½ hours, due to a Revolution Day parade.  However, because they were fluent in Spanish, they were able to find out from a local that there was a back road that took them to a ford over the river, downstream from the big bridge at the south end of town.  Following this road, and managing to cross the river in their four-wheel drive SUV, they were eventually able to re-join the main highway and avoid the holdup that would have probably delayed them from arriving in Loreto until the following day.   

But all’s well that ends in Loreto (I think I’ve just made up a new saying!) and they arrived without much in the way of further incidents.  In spite of having spent the last two days driving, they were game for another outing their first day here, when I suggested making the 32 km drive to San Javier.  For those unfamiliar with this area (and likewise unfamiliar with my previous posts on the subject: “Semana Sante, San Javier & Olive Oil” April ‘11, and “Road to San Javier” March ’09) San Javier is the site of the second Mission Church to be built in the Baja by the Jesuits. A simple adobe building was originally built in 1699, just a few years after the first Mission was constructed in Loreto, with the magnificent stone structure that is now the center of San Javier being completed in the mid-1700’s.

As I know from past experience, going to San Javier is as much about the journey as the destination.  The 32 km road that starts from the main highway just south of the town of Loreto travels through typical scrub brush for about the first third of the way.  The road then climbs the east slopes of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains on a spectacular stretch that switchbacks around hairpin turns and opens breathtaking vistas back towards the Sea of Cortez.  Then it straightens out again for the last third, across high plateau ranchero lands before approaching the small hamlet of San Javier that has grown up around this majestic 250 year old mission building.

Five years ago when I made my first trips up this road it was all gravel (and worse) from the highway to the Mission with the road becoming narrower and rougher through the mountain stretch and beyond.  A year or two later paving the road was an election promise made by the successful candidate for Governor and work began at the highway end.  At the end of that 3 year electoral term about one quarter of the length of the road was paved, and so, in the ensuing election, continuing to pave the road was part of the new Governor’s campaign and work continued.  Earlier this spring on my last trip up the new road had reached about the halfway point, with the most challenging (and most expensive to construct) portion through the mountains, still to be done.

So on this most recent trip I was interested to see how far the paving had progressed and I was pleasantly surprised to see that now the new wide asphalt road (now with shoulders – a rarity in the Baja) has reached the 21 km mark, which includes most of the difficult route through the mountains.  Several kilometres past the end of pavement there are several more kilometres of wide graded roadbed, apparently ready for the next section of paving, before the road narrows again to the original rough dusty track through several rancheros.

In my description of this roadwork , I have failed to mention the dramatic shifts in scenery that is the real attraction for anyone making this trip.  The dry desert scrub brush that makes up most of the journey is broken unexpectedly by several small oases that can be spotted from a distance by the tall succulent palm trees that thrive wherever there is a reliable supply of water.  Yes there is water here in the desert, quite a bit, from the appearances of these palm groves, but it mostly travels underground until it is lifted to the surface by the subterranean geology and these areas become the occasional patches of lush vegetation that can be seen from the road.

A significant benefit of the progress this paving is that it has reduced the travel time to San Javier, we arrived in less than an hour, where it used to take up to a half hour longer on the old road.  When we did arrive, my first impressions were that the “town” was looking better than it has on previous visits.  The buildings appeared to be better maintained and, although several of the new businesses I had seen the last time were not open the day we were there, there was still more activity and services than was the case a couple of years ago.

But of course the focal point of any visit is the Mission itself, and it never has failed to impress me what a massive undertaking this huge edifice must have been when it was built with the most primitive of tools and technology over 200 years ago!  It was also my impression that, along with the surrounding town, the building itself and its grounds are being better maintained, as was the beautiful and inspiring chapel inside.  Although I have visited the Mission frequently, I never tire of photographing this building inside and out, trying to capture the impressive scale of the structure and the rugged details of the centuries old stonework.

Needless to say, my visitors were also mightily impressed by the beautiful building, rising from the harsh desert plateau where it is located, surrounded by the craggy peaks of the self same rock that these walls were hewn from so long ago.  The proximity of the materials of construction, within sight of the structure itself, gives the strong impression that this building somehow arose by natural means from the very ground where it now sits, rather than being built by man’s hand.

But I digress!  No visit to San Javier is complete without continuing on by foot behind the Mission building, past an ancient cistern holding irrigation water, and through a cultivated field (now lying fallow, but on prior visits growing a bumper onion crop) to a monument of another kind, the 300 year old olive tree.  Now a massive, twisted and contorted trunk, supporting a huge canopy of delicate silvery leaves, this tree was part of the olive grove that was planted by the early Jesuits, whose goal it was to establish a self-sufficient agricultural settlement to support the Mission building that would rise nearby, decades later.

The evidence of the success of what must have been a daunting undertaking over three centuries ago, is all around us, albeit primitive and marginal by North American standards, crops continue to be raised and harvested, irrigated by much of the original infrastructure laid down by those early missionaries.  As I mentioned in the April posting referenced earlier, artisanal olive oil production is currently being revived here from the fruits of over 300 trees that trace their genealogy back to this ancient specimen – true living history!

And so ended my most recent pilgrimage to San Javier, but I will return, time and time again, as I feel drawn to this place that represents so many unique aspects of life in this part of the Baja.  Very likely, my future visits will include guests or visitors, because it is usually on those occasions, with company, that we who have the privilege of living in this beautiful place, find the time and inspiration to see again the sights, and share the experiences with others.  That which originally caused us to fall in love with this place – through the eyes of others, we can see again, as for the first time, why we are “Living Loreto”.         

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Paella & Homecoming - Anniversaries to Remember

In a relatively new community like Loreto Bay there are not yet many occasions for anniversaries, but one of those “new” traditions took place last weekend with the fourth annual Paella Competition and Luncheon.  Regular readers of these pages will know that I have been writing about these events since the first one was held in 2008, and you can find write-ups on the earlier ones among the November postings in the archive on the panel to the right.

This competition has become one of my favourite annual events – and each year it has gotten bigger and better.  This year there were almost 200 tickets sold and 8 teams with 23 competitors each preparing their own unique versions of delicious rice, seafood and other ingredients.  Some of the teams came from as far away as Ensenada, some were sponsored and others were made up of individuals who want to share their love of preparing great food.

For the second year the event was held at the Inn at Loreto Bay, which provided their beautiful courtyard as a perfect location to for the competition.  After several days of unseasonable windy weather, the morning of the competition was back to the usual perfect Loreto weather with a gentle breeze and brilliant sunny skies. 

I had been asked to provide music again for the event with my portable PA system, and so I arrived at the Inn about 8:30 in the morning to set up the equipment.  At that hour, about half of the teams had already arrived and some were already hard at work setting up their cooking stations and preparing ingredients.  But much work had been done already by volunteers to get the site ready for the luncheon that would follow the judging.  Shade tents sheltered most of the tables that had been set up for the event and the courtyard was surrounded by the cooking stations for each of the participating teams.  Each team added decorative touches to their tables with displays of fresh ingredients, flowers and other accents to create their own ambiance.

As more teams arrived and began the cooking process, wonderful aromas began to drift between the different stations.  A steady stream of diners began to gather and enjoy complimentary appetizers and a selection of cold drinks as they circulated around the perimeter, observing and visiting with the participants, watching their preparations and “ooohing and aaahing” over the impressive quantities of seafood and other ingredients that were assembled to garnish the pans of fragrantly cooking rice.

The major sponsor of this Paella competition from its first year has been Roganto Wines, an exclusive, small, “boutique” winery located near Ensenada in Baja Norte.  This year they brought the biggest Paella pan I have ever seen – it was easily over 4 feet across and produced a masterpiece that served 120 people!  In addition they were providing tastings of several selections of their wines as well as offering wines by the glass and sangria to enjoy with the meal.  They also sold their wines by the bottle or the case, and all the proceeds made up a substantial portion of the total funds raised from the event.  In what has become another tradition, following the Luncheon they even set up a station providing free Pina Coladas until their ample stock of the ingredients ran out!

On a poignant note, this event was held on the 11th – Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in America and I was moved by the fact that someone had had the foresight to bring down a quantity of the Canadian Legion Poppies which were handed out to most of those in attendance – a fitting memorial for all of us living here who have so much to be thankful for.  All in all, it was a wonderful time, and none of this memorable day would have happened without the long hours of planning and organization that Shelia, assisted by her husband Manfred, have dedicated to bringing the people and resources together, and along with the involvement of over two dozen volunteers, to make this event the continuing success it has become. 

Each year, since the beginnings four years ago in the backyard of their home here in Nopolo, Shelia and Manfred have been the driving force behind this competition and luncheon - one of this community’s most successful social and fundraising events.  In addition to creating a wonderful celebration of food and drink and an opportunity to bring together our community in a beautiful environment at the beginning of another season, much good will also be done with the net proceeds of $4500.00 which will be divided equally between the Internado (residential) School, Caritas (providing basic support to those in greatest need), and the Loreto Optimists Children’s Fund.   

The other big event this week marked another anniversary, the “Homecoming Street Party”, sponsored  by the HOA and organized by Associa our administrator, to mark eight years since the first sales event that launched the Villages of Loreto Bay in November of 2003.  As part of the activities, during the day on Friday the commercial tenants along the Paseo celebrated the recent openings of their businesses by holding a “Sidewalk Sale” to introduce their goods and services to all the Homeowners who are currently here.

With displays set up on the sidewalks in front of each location, many of the businesses had special offers and or samples, making it a great opportunity for residents to get to know the businesses and what they have to offer.  The range of businesses that have opened on the Paseo (the main road that runs through Loreto Bay) now includes two furniture and home accessory stores, several property management services, a spa offering aesthetics and massage, a fresh food market, several construction contractors, a wine bar and boutique and the convenience store that has been in operation for the past several years.  A couple of more businesses are due to open before the New Year and when it is all up and running the community of Loreto Bay will enjoy a level self-sufficiency we could only dream about several years ago!  

After the businesses had closed for the day, the HOA hosted the Homecoming Party at the Bajaja Bar and Grill, centrally located midway between the Founders and Agua Viva neighbourhoods.  Homeowners had RSVP’d to attend and each home received a number of free drink tickets and the restaurant served several delicious “finger food” appetizers throughout the evening, all courtesy of our Association. 

As a measure of the numbers of Owners who are here this early in the season, there were 250 in attendance, 90% of whom were Homeowners, the remainder their Guests, who were able to purchase tickets at the door.  To top off the evening, Loreto Bay’s favourites, Los Beach Dogs performed two sets to “thunderous” appreciation and what available space there was on the pool patio was jammed with enthusiastic dancers. 

As I said, in a community as new as Loreto Bay is, there have not yet been many occasions for anniversaries – but this week was something special with both the fourth Paella competition and Luncheon and the eighth year since the first homes were sold here from chalk lines on the sand – just two more reasons we have to be thankful for “Living Loreto”.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home & Garden Tour - Beautiful Loreto Bay!

Last weekend I wrote about the different activities that took place during the Re-Discovery weekend, and I had promised to write more about the Home and Garden Tour that took place on the Sunday afternoon.

The Tour was sponsored by Baja Screens , a Homeowner owned business that supplies and installs the popular Phantom Screens in a growing number of Loreto Bay homes.  Shortly after he purchased his home in Loreto Bay, Bert Huisman, who operates the business with his partner Laurie, realized that the Phantom Screens he had in his home in Calgary would be an ideal addition to his Baja casa – allowing windows and doors to be left open while stopping insects and cutting down on sun exposure.  Being entrepreneurial by nature, this led to him securing the Baja Sur territory for the product, which marked the beginning of his new side business in Loreto. 

The tour began at Bert and Laurie’s Casa Chica #474, located near the Community Pool.  There have been a number of upgrades done to this pretty home, with Canterra stone surrounds added to the doors and windows and of course – every opening in this two bedroom corner unit has been fitted with Phantom Screens.  The main feature of these screens is that they are retractable on a spring loaded roller mechanism that discretely stores the screen when it is not required.  Most Loreto Bay homes have more doors than a typical enclosed home design because they are usually built around interior courtyard space.  This makes for an ideal application for the retractable French Door screens that have two panels that can be opened separately and are held closed together by magnetic catches.  Although most insects here are seasonal, and not an ongoing problem, In the past month or so I have had several visits into my living room by birds that can sometimes take some coaxing to find their way out again, so these screens can certainly be useful for a number of reasons.

In addition to the screens and other nice upgrades, the feature that stood out for me most in this home was the built-in furniture they had made for their viewing tower.  Wooden benches with corner storage units have been built into three sides of the tower space accented with lots of multi-coloured cushions   creating an inviting seating arrangement that can be converted to day beds perfect for afternoon siestas.  The generous boxed tables in the corners provide ample storage for these cushions when they are not in use.

After viewing this first home we were given a list of the other homes on the tour with a map showing their locations and were encouraged to visit them in any order so that all the people doing the tour did not converge on the same houses at the same time.  My next stop was #498, a unique Nueva Chica plan that had been constructed on a larger than normal lot.  The Nueva Chica was a later variation on the popular Chica plan that makes up more than half of the Founders Neighbourhood.  With the home positioned in the center of this larger lot, open garden/patio spaces were created both back and front with entrances off the main Paseo as well as from the Community Courtyard on the other side.  The Paseo side is mainly patio space with a large canterra tiled sitting area, ideal for dining al fresco, with a sheltered outdoor shower area accessible from the main floor bathroom – perfect for rinsing off and drying equipment after diving, one of the owners many outdoor interests.

The open space at the back of the home is divided into two areas, a beautifully protected sitting area off the main floor bedroom, surrounded by exotic specimen plantings and a generous entrance area off the Community Courtyard with a spacious Bodega, or storage room, big enough for 4 bikes to be hung on the wall and space left over for lots of other outdoor toys.  Storage ideas abound in this compact home, where every square foot counts, including a pantry area next to the kitchen where custom shelving makes the most of this valuable space.  I was also struck by the sense of spaciousness that is created when the furnishings are carefully scaled to the sizes of the rooms.

Nearby on the Paseo #467 is a Bohemia plan with a large side garden running the length of the home.  In a standard configuration, the main floor living area of the Bohemia opens onto a large interior courtyard with a staircase running up the opposite wall to the second floor.  However, with the additional large garden space in this home, the staircase is free-standing between the carefully landscaped courtyard garden and a dramatic water feature that extends along the far perimeter wall.  Built of natural stone and extending almost two stories high, is a wall topped with large potted cacti and succulents.  At eye level this wall is accented by several arches in the stone work and stone conduits that pour water into a reflecting pool running its full length.

The dramatic effect of the stone work and running water, accented with the lush desert foliage combines to create a sense timelessness – standing there, it is possible to imagine that these surroundings could have remained unchanged for a century or more, rather than the three or four years since the home was built.  Upstairs, the iconic Loreto Bay coupola (a domed ceiling over the kitchen that helps to vent warmer air from the main floor) has been surrounded by a low wall creating a raised garden space that has been planted with more indigenous desert plantings creating another lush green space separating the comfortable, pergola shaded patio space outside the second floor bedroom, from the Paseo below.

The next home I visited was #437, the only Custom Home on this year’s tour, located directly on the 10th fairway of the Golf Course and one of the more recently completed customs, constructed a couple of years ago in a remarkable 9 months!  Custom Home lots are mainly located on the perimeter of the Founders Neighbourhood along the Golf Course and Beachfront and are built on lots that typically are 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft., two to three times the size of the largest Village Home lots.  By definition, these homes are individually designed to capitalize on their location and views.

From the outside, the home has a contemporary architectural style with a dramatic stone faced entrance way that opens onto a covered transition area leading to an open central courtyard.  Inside this entranceway the opposite walls have been finished with faux-antique panels of plaster with exposed brick and painted to create a strikingly convincing passage that could well be generations old – making a dramatic contrast to the contemporary feel of the exterior.  As you enter the courtyard you eye is drawn through the open entrance to the main living area and beyond to the lush green rolling fairway with the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range as a backdrop – breathtaking! 

The open plan living area is furnished with uniquely upholstered accent chairs and low sofas that provide ample seating to contemplate the stunning views across the lush fairway to the mountains beyond.  A spacious granite trimmed “J” shaped kitchen wraps around a large central island on the right of the living room, while to the left, is the entrance to the Master suite, incorporating custom furnishings and a lavishly accented ensuite.  The French doors of the bedroom open onto the beautifully landscaped garden oasis that finishes the back of the home with tranquil golf course and mountain views separating the home from the fairway beyond.  Although the floor plan of the home conforms to the square shaped lot, the interior of the main floor is built on diagonals with a large utility room in one rear corner of the main floor and a second bedroom off the courtyard, both separated from the home by internal garden spaces providing additional light and air to the interior spaces.

Upstairs most of the second floor is open terrace with a shade pergola overlooking the mountain view and a second floor “casita” style guest bedroom with ensuite. Central on the terrace is a modified coupola feature that acts as a skylight to the living room below with side windows that can be opened to catch cooling breezes.

Next I made my way to #142 located centrally on the beachside of the Founders Neighbourhood.  This home has recently undergone one of the most extensive renovations to a Village home so far, with the main focus of the development being the large wrap-around garden.  Capitalizing on the exceptional outdoor spaces of this home, several distinct feature areas were created. As you enter through the impressively detailed entrance gate, on your right there is a pergola shaded seating area at the far end of the front garden with a unique water feature along one wall and sunken stone hardscaping that defines the space.  On the left is a beautiful outdoor dining area with a fully equipped outdoor kitchen as well as a pass through window accessing the main kitchen.  In the corner is a built-in acorn shaped fireplace, perfect for extending a relaxed evening dining al fresco, even on the occasional cool nights.  Around the corner there is a beautiful canterra outdoor shower conveniently located beside a new second entrance gate, beyond which a storage bodega fills the far end of the side garden with plenty of room for all the toys that make for an active outdoor lifestyle.

The main courtyard of the home has been partially hardscaped accented with sculptured plantings and a smaller wall fountain replaces the original central one, creating valuable additional space in this hub of the home.  Inside the main kitchen/dining/living area the attention to detail is obvious in the tile accents, particularly in the completely renovated kitchen and the arch separating it from the rest of the room which has been opened up even further by changing one of the windows to a French Door opening onto the side garden.  The rest of the home features many built-in ideas and subtle alterations to the original Encantada plan that spotlight what can be achieved with a total renovation of a Village home.

My final stop on the tour was #44, located in the first cluster of homes, just a few doors away from my own “Casablanca”.  This was another Encantada plan which was among the first dozen or so homes completed in 2006.  The owners, both of whom live and work most of the time in Loreto Bay, have done a lot of work and upgrades to their home over the years, but have just completed their biggest project so far, which included converting the courtyard garden into a canterra tiled outdoor living space, greatly expanding the sense of spaciousness in the home.  Replacing the original central fountain, a unique wall feature has been added below the staircase to the second floor terrace.  A sheet of trickling water ripples down the mosaic tiled wall which is dramatically accented with a propane fuelled fire bar across the base of the wall which must create a magical effect at night. In a side garden directly off the dining room/kitchen area, previously wasted space has been converted to a conveniently accessible BBQ counter complimenting the existing wall fountain and sheltered patio area, ideal for informal meals.

Upstairs previous renovations have included a lavish outdoor spa/shower area and the upstairs bedroom does double duty as a bright and airy studio/office with a built-in Murphy bed for extra accommodations when needed.  This home also features one of the first post-construction viewing towers accessed by a small spiral staircase that leads to a spectacular view of the Sea of Cortez and the Sierra del la Giganta mountains – truly the best of both worlds.

And so concluded my first annual Home and Garden tour – certainly a highlight of the Re-Discovery weekend for me – and I expect also for most of the 60+ participants, whose purchase of tour passes will contribute over $300 to a deserving local charity.  Although much of my work day involves showing Loreto Bay homes listed for re-sale, this “busman’s holiday” was a real eye opener to me – seeing how personal style and creativity can be expressed so dramatically in this small sampling of the many beautiful homes that make up this special community.  What is exciting to realize is that this is just the beginning of the next phase of renovation and personalization of the homes in Loreto Bay that will enhance even more the experience of “Living Loreto”.        

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Re-Discovering Loreto Bay

This past weekend was the second annual Re-Discovery Weekend - an event that has become the unofficial beginning of the season here in Loreto Bay.  Last year, several of the people who were involved in the early days of the development had the idea to organize what they called at the time a “Reunion” weekend, inviting Homeowners to get together in Loreto at the end of October to recapture some of the excitement and enthusiasm that marked the early days of this development.  I wrote about that event (Reunion with Food and Power, Oct. 2010) and speculated that it would become an annual event.

Which brings us to this past weekend, I have mentioned in earlier postings this Fall that there are more people here, earlier in the season, than ever before in Loreto Bay.  And so it was with the “Re-Discovery” weekend, with more people having arrived for the season and others who planned their first visit this Fall to coincide with the weekend the community population was at record levels for this time of year.

Things “kicked off” on Thursday afternoon with a get together at the Community Pool where there were about twice as many people in attendance than at the same event last year – a good omen for things to come during the rest of weekend.  Bajaja Deli Bar & Grill generously provided Margaritas and Apies for the party and the resulting level of conviviality was testament to the quality and generosity of their contribution!

Friday morning Darlene Tait conducted an Escorted Shopping Tour into to town to help Homeowners find the best places to buy produce, meats, pharmacy items and household goods in town.  This was a great help to both those who are setting up their households for the first time and others who wanted to catch up with the ever-changing shopping options in Loreto.  Speaking of food, that evening was the Official Opening of the aforementioned Bajaja restaurant, with a special menu of Pulled Pork and Ribs with all the trimmings, which drew a full house and many rave reviews.

On Saturday there was a full day of activities, starting with a Market and Expo that was to be staged in the “Racetrack”, a large open median space located between the Founders and Agua Viva neighbourhoods.  The plan was to invite some of the fresh fruit and produce vendors who sell at the Sunday market in town to set up the day before here in Loreto Bay.  However, the best laid plans in Mexico are always subject to change, and unfortunately the vendors were unable to make it due to a prior commitment at the market in Mulege, an hour and a half north of here.  However, there were a handful of different community and non-profit groups from the town of Loreto distributing information on the services and activities they provide.

Later in the morning I conducted a tour of several of our Real Estate Listings for Homeowners who were interested in finding out what was happening in the local market, followed by a second tour in the afternoon lead by my co-agent Ariel.  This was an opportunity for our residents to see some comparable properties and find out where prices are at the start on this season.  In my group there were several comments made about the remarkable values available now on a good selection different plans, at prices well below what many of us paid several years ago!

But the biggest event of the weekend was Saturday night at the Inn.  The evening started with a cocktail reception hosted by Bahia Property Management combined with an impressive exhibition of artwork created by some very talented Homeowners.  Although the subjects, styles and techniques varied widely, the common theme running through many of the pieces on display was the inspiration of the beautiful surroundings where we are so fortunate to have found ourselves.

Following the reception and exhibition we moved to the pool patio area where Las Villas de Mexico - Loreto generously hosted a buffet dinner for 200 Loreto Bay Homeowners who had registered in advance, quickly filling all the available seats. Two long buffet lines moved steadily through a delicious selection of dishes including soup, salad, rice, grilled fish, tamales, chilli relenos among other dishes and deserts.  This was further evidence of the increased numbers here this year as the equivalent event last year had attracted just over half that number, and there were even more who would have liked to attend this year after the maximum capacity for the event had been reached. 

After everyone had enjoyed their fill, I had been asked to make a few announcements and introductions and then it was my great pleasure to introduce the entertainment for the evening – Loreto Bay’s own “Los Beach Dogs”!  This time the original trio of Rich, Steve and Charles were joined by their “stray dog” Tony on electronic drums, which added even more punch to the Dogs increasingly professional sound – these guys have been practicing!  They played two full sets and along with their popular blend of classic rock, blues and some folk style standards, Rich has written and composed a new original piece about Mexican Highway 1 called “Ride of your Life”, complementing his first composition “Road Uncertain” which received one of the biggest ovations of the evening.  So, if there were still “45’s” being made, we might have our first #1 hit here in Loreto Bay!

But the weekend was not over yet – Sunday morning a pre-Halloween parade was planned for 10:00.  After the “exuberance” of the night before, I arose Sunday morning with some doubts about how many be-costumed paraders would actually show up, but once again we “Loreto Baybes” proved to be up to the challenge!  By the time I arrived at the roundabout down by the INN several costumes had already arrived and over the next 15 minutes a couple of dozen more joined us, including this year’s hot trend – dogs in costumes! (no, not Los Beach Dogs in drag, but the four legged variety looking surprisingly happy with their get-ups)

Headed up by no less than the Pope (complete with a Pope-mobile – driven, appropriately enough, by the Devil) the parade formed up for a circuit of the Paseo with religious themes, and cadavers apparently being popular choices this year, along with any costume that could be made from a sheet.  Planning ahead, I had brought down with me on this trip, a full head Gorilla mask of black rubber and thick black fur which I have worn to some good effect for many Halloweens back in Canada.  However, I had failed to take into consideration that it is considerably cooler in Canada at the end of October – a fact that became abundantly clear to me after about 5 minutes wearing the mask in 85 degree weather!

As with the previous Loreto Bay parade that I had taken part in (“A Red Letter Day in Loreto Bay”, February 2011) the paraders far outnumbered those who were watching, but a good time was had by all and Las Villas de Mexico - Loreto provided some refreshing drinks at the halfway turn around which kept us all going until we returned to the starting spot - where we were further revived by some slightly stronger cold drinks.

The final event of the weekend (which I plan to Blog about at greater length next weekend) was the first annual Home and Garden Tour of some of the beautiful private homes here in Loreto Bay.  A limited number of passes for the tour were sold and the $300 raised will be contributed to a local charity in the town of Loreto.  The tour featured six homes that are among the growing number recently completed or renovated and they provided an inspiring look at what can be done with both Village and Custom homes and their garden spaces.  This was a unique opportunity for other Homeowners to be welcomed into these special places, and I hope that in the future Re-Discovery weekends will include similar tours as I am sure this would become a highlight event.

So with all of these activities and festivities having been enjoyed by the largest numbers of Homeowners here this early in the year, the Re-Discovery Weekend was an unqualified success and it well and truly launched what promises to be the best season in Loreto Bay’s history.  When Homeowners from all over North America can congregate together in this emerging community to share good times and create new memories, we can all begin to really appreciate the special magic that is “Living Loreto”!
(Thanks to Al Graichen for some photos)