Sunday, April 27, 2014

Three Loreto Dog Tails

In response to my recent Blog on the Baja Bark Fundraiser  ( I received an offer of a Guest Blog from Kristen (who is a member of the Loreto Bay Volunteers with a particular interest in animal rescue).  She wanted to share several stories about Loreto street dogs finding new lives with Loreto Bay Homeowners.  While I am not a pet owner myself, I am very aware that many in the Loreto Bay community are, and I thought that learning more about a few of these "dog tails" would further highlight this part of our Community. 

"As my dog and I walk around Loreto Bay and along the beach, we often meet Homeowners with their dogs.  Many of these family pets have been brought to Loreto from the States or Canada, but a few of these dogs have been fostered or adopted directly from the nearby streets.  Here is the “tail” of three lucky street dogs that are “Living Loreto”.

Scruffy was found tied up to the chain link fence at our local dog shelter, Segunda Chansa (see Drew’s Blog written about Patrick  Patrick took him in, had him bathed, neutered and vaccinated and hoped for a quick adoption.   Scruffy was lucky to be fostered temporarily by two Loreto Bay Homeowners, Jaymi and this guest writer. 

During the time we had him we went on frequent walks on the Beach, where Scruffy could often be seen making friends with every dog and person he met.  Eventually he caught the eyes of Brian and Denny, two other Loreto Bay Homeowners who, after a lot of campaigning by other local dog lovers, eventually agreed to adopt Scruffy.  Brian and Denny live in Sausalito CA and often fly back and forth between there and Loreto Bay.  Now that Scruffy is flying with them so often, Brian and Denny have started tracking his flight hours and say that he may soon qualify as a “gold status” frequent flier.

Scruffy literally became a "Poster Dog" as the mascot of our first Baja Bark Fun Walk and Run held on April 6.  He walked in the race with Brian and Denny and posed with the winners and major sponsors on the medal stand.  From street dog to living the good life in Loreto and Sausalito, here’s to Scruffy, Brian and Denny.

Loreto Bay Homeowners, Tony and Lynne found Oso (or maybe Oso found Tony and Lynne) when they were standing outside a Loreto Restaurant with a group of friends after dinner.  This is Oso's adoption story in Tony's words: 

Six of us were standing outside Domingo's steak house on April 11, when we realized we'd been joined by a silent, bedraggled seventh. Barely able to stand (and then on only three of his four legs), he had a dreadful scab covering most of his forehead, fresh scars above and below his left eye, and an all-too-prominent ribcage.

Two more things were instantly clear - his chances of seeing another dawn were very slender, but what he wanted more than anything else was some sign of affection.  Ten minutes later he was in Lynne's and my small car, heading back to Loreto Bay. Once there, he silently inhaled a dish of dog food and then collapsed on a blanket in our side yard while we decided what to do next.

Next morning we took him to see our local veterinarian, Dr. Dassia, who was as shocked by his appearance as we'd been.  An initial examination revealed that while Oso (he'd now acquired that name over breakfast) was in bad shape, there was hope.  Dr. Dassia's best guess was that he was a street dog who'd been hit by a car and then attacked by another animal.  The impact injury to his left hip made him reluctant to put weight on his paw, but there was no evidence of a break, and the scarring on his face, while infected, had fortunately missed his eye and didn't seem to have fractured his skull. 

Dr. Dassia prescribed some painkillers for his hip and antibiotic shampoo and pills for his infected face.  The effects were miraculous.  Within 48 hours the shampoo had dissolved the most of his facial scabs, his infection had cleared up, and he was gingerly putting weight on his injured leg.  A full body shampoo brought up the color in his red-gold coat, and regular meals were beginning to cover his ribs.

Best of all, his loving nature toward both Lynne and myself was becoming more and more apparent - as well as towards our other Loretana rescue dog, Peluda.  Unfortunately, Loreto's two dog refuges, Animalandia and Segunda Chansa, are both overflowing, and our northern home is far too constricted for an addition who will probably approach 25 kilos when his weight returns to normal.  So we've decided to get Oso the necessary shots and take him back to a no-kill shelter in Santa Paula, CA, where his sweet nature and elegant appearance should earn him the forever home he so richly deserves.”

Last week, there was a knock on our casa door.  We opened the door to a dog in the arms of our Loreto Bay friends Maureen and John.  The poor dog looked like a down on her luck Rastafarian, with long, dirty dreadlocks.  Our friends wanted some advice on how to help the poor dog that had followed them and their own Canadian rescue dog down the beach.  Armed with Dr. Dassia’s phone number Maureen and John went home to see what they could do for the dog.  As the dreadlocks were snipped off, the little dog became recognizable as a poodle mix.

Off they went to Dr. Dassia’s office, where she clipped the rest of the little dog’s hair, treated her for fleas/ticks and vaccinated her.  Meanwhile, the Maureen and John pondered the future of the newly named Playa.  After considering the limited options available, they decided to adopt her themselves and last week Playa left for Canada with her new family, flying in the cabin, proudly wearing her new blue parka for protection from what's left of the Canadian winter. She too will be returning in the Fall to Loreto, joining Scruffy and the growing number of other rescued animals who have received a new lease on life from their adoptive families and become the canine version of Snowbirds.

These three dog “tails” are just a few of the wonderful stories about dogs and cats that have been fostered and adopted by Loreto Bay residents.  If you would like to walk dogs, foster puppies or dogs, meet the dogs at Segunda Chansa and Animalandia that are available for adoption, or volunteer at a spay and neuter clinic, please contact this Guest Blogger Kristen, Loreto Bay Volunteers’ Animal Coordinator ("

These are just three of many stories of Loreto Bay Homeowners who have opened their hearts and homes to stray dogs (and a few cats!) that have now become an integral part of their lives here, and where they spend their summers.  Over the almost 10 years since the beginning of the Loreto Bay development, Homeowners here have joined with other animal lovers from the Loreto community to dramatically reduce the number of stray and abandoned animals that used to be a common sight in town . . . bringing another meaning to "Living Loreto"! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Semana Sante in Loreto Bay

Semana Sante, or Holy Week, is one of the biggest Holidays on the calendar here in Mexico, and as I begin to write this on Good Friday here in Loreto Bay that fact is apparent from the absence of almost all of the maintenance and construction workforce that would normally be here, but are now on holidays for this long weekend.  In the town of Loreto, Government Offices and many businesses including Banks are  closed for the 3 - 5 day weekend as well.  On the other hand, the Hotel here in Loreto Bay is busier this weekend than any other time since Christmas with mainly Mexican guests, and there are also a number of local Loreto families who have come to Loreto Bay just to enjoy a day at the Beach.   

Coincidentally, this weekend also marks the approximate beginning of the exodus of the "snowbird" residents, some of whom have started to leave Loreto to return to their summer homes back north and so there is an air of preparation for their departure in the community.  This can be seen as some people who drive back and forth are loading their vehicles for the drive north, while others store their cars for the summer months and catch flights departing from Loreto or Cabo.

The topics of some casual conversations have changed as well.  Earlier in the Season it was common to hear people meeting each other on the street asking "When did you arrive?", while now more often the question is "When are you leaving?"  There are of course many others who have arrived more recently and are staying longer, or who come and go several times throughout the year and operate on a different schedule.  But the trend is clear, and it will continue over the next month or so as this Season begins to wind down and the Summer Season begins.

As someone who stays here longer than most, this transition time leaves me with several impressions.  First of all, I am struck by the fact that the weather here at this time of year is about the best it has been since I returned here in the Fall - mainly calm sunny days and mild evenings that are even more enjoyable since we have "sprung forward" only a couple of weeks ago, joining the rest of North America on Daylight Saving Time, with the extended hour of late afternoon/early evening. 

The warmer weather also brings with it milder water temperatures and a resulting increase in water sports like snorkeling and paddle boarding, along with other water related activities like fishing.  I have heard recent reports of prized Dorados being caught along with more people chartering for fishing trips as the warmer waters attract the summer species of sport fish to the Marine Park surrounding Loreto.

While some of the winter residents prepare to leave, another segment of the population is becoming more
and more noticeable, and that is the Visitors whose numbers have increased significantly this Season, due in large part to the increased availability of flights to Loreto this winter, as compared to the past several years.  This influx of people renting Loreto Bay homes has been one of the biggest changes this Season, made more obvious now as Homeowners who have been here for months begin to leave.  This has also brought about a shift in the ages of the people who we see in Loreto Bay - from a mainly retired early Baby Boomer demographic, to a much more diverse range including young families with pre-school kids and younger "Boomers", many of whom are scouting possible future retirement options.    

In my Real Estate work I have met many more such people this Season than in previous years, and I continue to enjoy the almost unanimous enthusiasm they express about having "found" such a unique and beautiful destination.  These positive impressions are due in part to the fact that our Community has never looked better than it does now that many of the infrastructure features have been completed in the past couple of years.  This was a result of the Home Owners Association's initiatives to complete landscaping and build additional Community Pools and generally improve the overall appearance of Loreto Bay.

There are also other signs of progress that help to create the positive impressions that many first time Visitors have, like the progress on the two Posada buildings at the center of the Founders Neighborhood (as described in a recent Guest Blog by Nellie Hutchison the Broker/Owner of Loreto Bay Homes: ) and the continuing work on a growing number of Custom Homes that are now being completed.  On a smaller scale, but in greater numbers, there is also the continuing work being done to maintain and/or renovate existing homes, with cosmetic plaster repairs and fresh paint as well as bigger projects like tiling terraces and adding other custom features. 

Importantly, there have also been some homes that have been in "limbo" for a number of years, that have been purchased by new Owners who are making the necessary improvements to turn what were vacant, and in some cases deteriorating homes, into beautiful assets that add to the overall positive impressions of Loreto Bay.  With this transition, new ownership brings enthusiastic and committed people into our Community - whose influence and energy will continue to build on the positive atmosphere that has been one of the most important attributes we have had since the uncertain days that followed the sea change that affected most Real Estate developments like this four or five years ago.

And so, as one Season draws to a close as yet another begins, and the growing population of winter Residents begin to take their leave of their Loreto homes, while more and more Visitors experience the appeals of this special place for the first time.  This change of Season is a good moment to take stock of how far we have come, and how bright a future we will enjoy, as we continue the adventure that is . . .  "Living Loreto"!        

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Loreto Bay has gone to the Dogs!

To say that the Loreto Bay community is dog friendly would be an understatement, and that status was never made more clear than this past weekend when the first annual Baja Bark and Run was held by the Loreto Bay Volunteers.  This event, which was a 1, 2 and 5 k walk/run, with or without canine accompaniment, has been in the planning for over a year and the time and effort that has gone into it was apparent as I approached the Golf Course Clubhouse Sunday morning, half an hour before the scheduled 11:00 am start.

The Clubhouse courtyard and the grassy area between the Clubhouse and the driving range had been taken over by over 50 Vendor booths for the occasion, most of them sheltered under shade tents, and the entire area surrounding the Clubhouse was populated with what appeared to be an equal number of dogs and their owners, most of whom were sporting numbered bibs indicating their participation in the races to come.  

There had been a registration-breakfast for the almost 150 "runners" taking part at 10:00 am and the 5 km race was scheduled to start at 11:00 followed by the 2 and 1 km starts at 15 minute intervals. The course looped around Agua Viva (the second phase of Loreto Bay) following the front nine holes of the Golf Course in reverse of the normal direction of play and the different lengths of the race were marked by colored balloons.  The first group off was the 5 k runners who first assembled on the first tee box and then were escorted across the Paseo for the start on the cart path adjacent to the ninth green by Maryanne, one of the key organizers of the event, subtly disguised in a full body dog costume!

Ironically, this "cross dressing" was a predominant theme for the day - mainly manifested by a large
percentage of the dogs dressed up in various costume pieces, but occasionally by their owners who adopted some "doggy bits" as their wardrobe accents for the occasion.  Not being a dog owner myself, I should probably withhold comment, but I have to say I am conflicted between the alternatives of whether the dogs are unaware of their costumed appearance - or if they actually enjoy being dressed up!  Regardless, it was apparent that everyone, including the dogs, were thoroughly enjoying the excitement of the activities.

The 2 k and 1 k events were started in turn, and I was struck by the large number of Mexican kids and their dogs that were taking part in the shorter distances.  Participation by the Mexican community in the town of Loreto had been actively encouraged by the organizers, including collecting donations to offset the 300 peso ($23 US) registration fee so it would be open to all who wanted to participate.  This integration of local Loretanos with the ex-pat community is an important aspect of more and more activities here in Loreto Bay, and I believe it is a healthy sign of the growing acceptance and harmony between the two communities.

After the participants for all the distances had been started, I made my way back to the Clubhouse area to find that there were at least at least twice as many non-competitors milling around the vendor's booths as the numbers of people actually taking part running in the events.  In addition to the registration fees that were collected from the runner/walkers, part of the fundraising was from the rental of booth space for sponsors, businesses and other organizations looking for exposure and good-will.  Businesses from both Loreto Bay and the town were offering their wares including snacks, and food carts, as well as fundraising and public relations booths for different organizations including the Amigos de Loreto umbrella organization that co-ordinates much of the charity efforts of this community.

Which is a good opportunity to point out that in addition to the fun and community-building aspects of this inaugural Baja Bark event, the underlying purpose of all of the many volunteer's time and efforts were to raise funds for the Loreto Bay Volunteers, who have become a very active group within our development and organize many activities and co-ordinate between Homeowners wanting to contribute support and the many worthwhile organizations in and around the town of Loreto who can benefit from that help.  The Volunteer's focus their efforts in four main areas: Animals, Children, Environment and Community and the proceeds from this event alone will raise over 90,000 pesos ($7,000 US) and provide benefits in all of these areas.

When all of the "races" had been completed and the participants had returned to the Clubhouse area there were many presentations of recognition to the various permutations of finishers who then were able to draw a prize from the many contributions from booth sponsors as well as the business community at large in the town and Loreto Bay itself.  The afternoon continued as the almost 500 estimated in attendance browsed among the different booths and sampled the food and drinks available, while enjoying the opportunity for person and dog to socialize together on another perfect day in Loreto Bay.

Around mid-afternoon Loreto Bay's favorite minstrels, Los Beach Dogs, started to entertain in the
Clubhouse Courtyard and they were soon joined by enthusiastic dancers, taking advantage of what will be one of the final performances of our resident "rock and roll gods" for this Season.  And so went the rest of the afternoon, a delightful combination of kids and puppies, good food and cold drinks, browsing for souvenirs and treasures, and enjoying the company of friends and neighbors, many of whom were accompanied by their four-legged family members.

The timing of the Baja Bark probably marks the beginning of the end of another Season here in Loreto Bay, although our village is still buzzing with people and activity, and will continue to do so for the next month or two.  But as winter residents begin to pack up their homes in preparation for returning to where they spend their summer months, this will likely be one of the last big events of its kind until the Fall.  And given the charitable aspect, it is also a fitting way for the growing Loreto Bay community to bid "HASTA LUEGO" to their adopted winter home for the summer, leaving behind their generous support of many good works that the town of Loreto will benefit from now and in the future.  Which brings a unique perspective to bringing together our community's love of "man's best friend" with their desire to give back to the people who share this beautiful place with us - yet another way we all benefit from "Living Loreto"!     

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mega Yachts come to Loreto!

Last weekend I was with a group of friends on a boat returning to the Marina in the town of Loreto from Coronado Island when we spotted two large "Mega Yachts" anchored offshore from the town.  Due to other boat traffic in the area our view was blocked until we were almost "abeam" of the two of them anchored some distance apart.  I first saw the more traditional of them which we were closest to before my attention was drawn by the other one a few hundred yards distant.

About twenty years ago I used to bare boat charter sailboats for holidays and for a number of years during that time I was a faithful subscriber to Yachting Magazine, where I avidly read articles and poured over photographs of state of the art Yachts.  A vivid memory from one of those sailboat holidays was seeing a yacht called Pegasus, that I had seen a feature article on, leaving the same harbor we were entering in the British Virgin Islands.  Although it has been many years since I had thought much about the rarified world of super Yachts, I found those memories coming back as we passed between these two floating palaces that had chosen Loreto as their however brief anchorage.

It was the other Yacht that was further away that commanded most of the attention from our boat, due to the radically distinctive design - I could tell, even from the distance we were, that it was probably a significant internationally known vessel, and that in turn raised a number of questions including: which Yacht was it, how big, and how much did it cost, among others!  As you can see from the hurried pictures I took as we passed, most of the rear transom was in a lowered position creating a dock across the stern of the ship and there was another opening on the starboard side where a motorboat tender was suspended, presumably in position to be stored inboard behind the lowered "door" that would close off the hull for travel.

By the time that I looked back to the first boat we had seen we were passing astern of it but I was able to glimpse the name "Ostar", which brings me to the other half of this story - Ostar is the name of Carlos Slim's Hotel division that is now the owner of the Loreto Bay Golf Resort and Spa.  While I have heard previously of numerous sightings of Sr. Slim's Yacht being anchored offshore around Loreto, this was the first time I had seen it "up close and personal" due to the coincidence of my being in the right place at the right time that afternoon returning to the Marina.

I was thinking back over this experience a few days later when my curiosity got the better of me and I
decided to try to find out what I could learn about these two massive Yachts from an internet search.  It did not take long to discover that the identity of the more unique of the two boats was in fact "Venus" and my hunch proved to be accurate regarding it's pedigree, it had been built for Steve Jobs (of Apple Computer fame) but it was completed a year after he had passed away and now belonged to his estate and wife Laurene.  Venus is 78 meters (255 feet) long, has a crew of 22 and can accommodate 12 (very indulged) Guests - at a cost of about $140,000,000 US!

In doing this research I quickly discovered that Venus was indeed quite a famous Yacht, the unique result of a collaboration between Steve Jobs (who was notorious for his attention to detail and design sense) working with international designer by Philippe Starck for over 5 years while it was being built at Feadship, a luxury Yacht constructor based in Holland.  It attracts attention worldwide wherever it goes and is apparently being repositioned to California, with Loreto, no doubt, being a pause in a Sea of Cortez side trip enroute.  I was even able to find this brief video (click the picture below to play) which gives an even better idea of the size and beauty of this vessel.

Although only by comparison, Ostar could almost be described as "modest" - in the league that Venus finds herself floating.  Built over 15 years ago in 1998, she is 52 meters (170 feet) long, has crew of 11 and can carry 11 Guests in 5 cabins.  Much less information is available online for Slim's boat, but one bit of trivia I found that puts this floating palace into somewhat sharper perspective is that it has a fuel capacity of 100,000 liters (26,500 gallons) and 5 years ago, when it was called Soulmate and was available for charter (presumably before Slim purchased it), you could hire it for between $200,000 and $250,000 per WEEK! 

Whether it was a coincidence that both these vessels were anchored off the town of Loreto on the same afternoon, and who was aboard, is open to any amount of speculation you may choose to indulge in.  But while Ostar has visited Loreto numerous times in the past, and, as Sr. Slim's business interests here continue to develop, will probably continue to be seen here more often in the future, the presence of a world class private Yacht like Venus on the same day is even more curious.  But regardless, on that day, returning from an idyllic afternoon spent on the beach at Coronado Island, it was one of those "Loreto Moments" to all of a sudden be surrounded by super Yachts, as we return to the modest Loreto Marina.  But "quien sabe" (who knows) perhaps this is a portent of what may become a more familiar part of "Living Loreto"!