Sunday, October 29, 2006


This has been a week of many relationship endings, both personal and professional. I want to thank all my friends who took the time to write or talk to me with kind words of support and encouragement. This small gesture by so many had a huge impact on my ability to acknowledge these endings and give me the strength to continue on without the desperate need to look back and wonder “what ifs” or have regrets. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated and has made a tremendous difference.

These Random Acts of Kindness have made me feel part of a growing community and the reason I call this place home. I am going to share the story of how I came to be here.

In October 2003, I was a successful ReMax Realtor in Victoria and invested in Loreto Bay, never having known David Butterfield or been to Baja California. However, I was so excited about the project that I met David and told him that I would be interested in being part of the team sometime in the future. After talking for an hour, he wanted to hire me and said I needed to meet Jim Grogan.

A small group of realtors, who were also investors, were invited to come to Mexico in November 2003 to write contracts for the first event. Sure, a free weekend… why not! I had no intention of buying or ever living in Mexico. I happened to be sitting at the front of the bus from the Loreto airport to Nopolo and we came to the spot where the road had been washed out from a hurricane a few months back. At that moment, it hit me like a brick wall … I knew this place!

Ever since I was a small child I have had a reoccurring dream of this exact spot. Sometimes I have the dream 3 or 4 times a year, and sometimes I don’t have it for a couple of years, but it is always the same. There are mountains on my right, the ocean on the left and the road is washed out. I am always alone in the car and sometimes attempt to cross through the flood, and sometimes I stop at the edge. I have never reached the other side. When I came to this point in the road, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is where I needed to be.

We went through the weekend having a good time, and my realtor friends got caught up in the excitement and we all bought a house together. I introduced myself to Jim Grogan and gave him my resume, but had no chance to talk to him as we sold 52 homes that weekend and it was absolute madness.

As I was walking through the lobby towards the waiting airport shuttle to leave, Jim came over to me and excitedly said that it was serendipitous that he saw me. He read my resume and I was welcome to come to Scottsdale as soon as I could to join the core team. No position or salary was discussed.

I planned a Christmas trip in 2003 with my daughter, then age 12, to Scottsdale, San Diego, and Loreto, to see if she would be agreeable to moving. I sent her out with the Realtor in Scottsdale with my list of criteria and Carlie basically picked out the house she wanted. We had a wonderful sightseeing Christmas in San Diego, and then spent a few days in Loreto. Carlie was a real trooper and agreed to leave behind her friends and Victoria so that I could pursue this dream.

We returned to Victoria, where I sold my waterfront home, rental properties, filed non residency status in Canada, obtained working visas for the USA, only taking what would fit in my little Mercedes including my daughter, and drove to Scottsdale leaving everything behind us. My friends and family thought I was absolutely insane for leaving a successful career, taking a 50% pay cut, with no assurances or support system. I told them that my decision was not about moving to Scottsdale, nor was it particularly about Loreto Bay Company. I HAD to do this because I knew that it was a stepping stone that would take me to a “better place” metaphorically speaking. Even though at the time I had no idea where or what that may be.

I think I have found that better place, and since this journey began 3 years ago, I have not had the dream again. So now, we start with New Beginnings

I am pleased to announce my new company Baja BOSS! The website includes other Mexican companies that I have with partners and the services that they will provide. The one thing not here is my new brainchild … Nellie’s Tapas Bar which I mentioned last week. This will not be widely advertised and certainly only be known as Naughty Nellie’s to my friends. There are too many drunken fisherman that could get the wrong idea and that’s not the clientele I want to attract.

I have accomplished a lot in the last week, by hiring new people, organizing all the trades and materials, all of whom speak very little English, making headway into permits, licenses and registrations. I am very excited about my team and the opportunities ahead.

My priority will be to have Nellie’s Place B&B Hotel and Tapas Bar up and running by December 2006. This will be The Visitors Center during the holidays and a place where everyone knows your name. I am now taking reservations for Christmas at the regular rates.

Have a look at the website and let me know what you think. Our success is dependent upon your honest feedback and we will continually evolve to exceed your expectations.

See you in Loreto!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

“Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself”

This week has been a rollercoaster ride, even for me. I spent a lot of time driving to Cabo and La Paz, and thinking when I was growing up in a large 1900’s Victorian home with a dark creepy unfinished basement where I have memories of chickens being beheaded and running around bloodied on pure nerves. I remember being a latch key kid at the age of 5 and spending nights alone scared out of my wits at the shadows and shapes of the large oak and maple trees blowing against the windows at night and no one would be home. Someone had told me early on “there was nothing to fear but fear itself” and it was the only thing that I had to cling onto as a small child.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural address contained the following quote:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

It has been written that he was referring to The Great Depression and essentially saying, "if we can't shake our pessimistic economic outlook, it will be tough to turn things around."

I had a fear attack a few days ago and when I stepped back and analyzed it, I was shocked at the paralyzing affect it had on me. We all have the fight-or-flight response, and basic instinct is usually to flee to safety. One of my mexican business partners decided not to take the challenge with me at the last minute, after months of preparation and planning. This left me feeling alone and abandoned as an english speaking woman in a remote foreign area. Doing business here is very different than being retired or vacationing and often I have wondered “What am I doing???”

Then as if my Guardian Angels knew I needed strength, I met a very successful man who asked “Why are you doing it?” I was dumbfounded by this simple question. I thought a long while before answering him, and then replied that the answer is the same as George Mallory’s when he was asked in 1924 “Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?” His answer was “Because it is there.”

Then he asked if I was afraid? I was really puzzled as to what he thought I would be afraid of? The unknowns? The language barrier? The cultural, financial, safety concerns? Feeling vulnerable and acknowledging that I have no control? Yes, I have considered all of these factors and more, and at the end of the day I still feel lucky to have the opportunity to affect people’s lives in a positive way. We all have this gift and ability and chose to use it in different ways.

My businesses will be alleviating some of the vulnerability, stress and unknowns for many people discovering the Baja. It will be a gathering place, and YES I am going to open Nellie’s Tapa Bar! This will not be the Naughty Nellie’s Bar I envisioned just yet. Rather, it will be a rooftop playpa lounge. You can meet your friends before dinner, or before heading out to Mike’s Bar for late night entertainment. The vision is simplicity, good people, service and value for all my friends.

I have had to make some significant changes to my business plan after last week, but all is good and I’m back in the NO FEAR positive zone. My website is 95% done, my building is 90% completed, and I promise I will announce it soon.

Ases es la vida It Is What It Is

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lots of Familiar Faces in Loreto

I was in Phoenix for the day and it was a whirlwind of activity, as I managed to organize my furniture move to Loreto, meet with my accountant Randy Wagner (who is knowledgeable about both USA and Mexico tax structures), went shopping for wine and the whole Mall experience that only Scottsdale can offer, as well as seeing my good friend Catherine Swinscoe.

Many of you remember Catherine as the Spa Director for Loreto Bay. Catherine’s passion for creating unique world class spas combined with her dedication to finding earth-friendly, sustainable solutions that meet the needs of developers, was integral to the early success of the project. Swinscoe Spa Consultants started in Canada and now Catherine has opened offices in Scottsdale AZ, that offers leading-edge planning and management services to full service spa and wellness facilities. Formerly Corporate Director of Spa Operations for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, she contributed to the operational development of Willow Stream Spas internationally. Some of her recent projects since leaving Loreto Bay include The Spa @ Sailing Hawks in Lake Havasu City, AZ; Rancho de Los Caballeros in Wickenburg, AZ, Deserving Thyme Lifespa in Vancouver, BC, and The Schools of Cosmetology in San Diego, CA. For more information on Swinscoe Spa Consultants, call Catherine at 480-544-5006.

LAX was a meeting place, as I ran into several home owners on their way to Loreto. It was nice to see familiar faces at the airport and share a taxi to the INN. My first night back I had dinner with Bob Johnston of FN41 and his son Kevin; and Tom Woodard of the Whales Inn and his daughter Brittany. It was really an enjoyable evening at the Mediterrano until the very end when we were leaving. There was a loud argument going on with one of the tourists and the restaurant over a bottle of wine for $720 USD. I had met this man on my last flight in first class from Loreto to LAX and knew a bit of his background and worth. I was worried that this was going to escalate into a fight or someone going to jail because of bad communication and too much testosterone. Luckily Tom speaks fluent Spanish and I begged him to intervene, which he tactfully negotiated. Both sides agreed to payment of 50% of this bottle and the remainder of the bill, and it ended up without incident. What had happened was that these people were drinking $100 bottles of wine and asked the waiter for their best… thinking that would be $200 in Loreto. The waiter failed to mention it was $720 USD. This was an error on both sides and a lesson learned. Never assume anything, even in Loreto!

Pachamamas is my favorite place for atmosphere, food and wine selection. No $100 bottles here! There was a party and much laugher coming from Ariel Klein FN44 and her Portland friends, Christine, Pam, Karen, Jane Lurie & Sharon Dean FN203, Susan Hill FN153, Dee Wise FN63, Janet Rubenstein FN162, and of course, Norma Butterfield of FN1. It really is great to feel a community forming as home owners share a meal, information, and help each other out.

Here’s Sue & Wayne Barritt and Ken & Val Stecyk of FN317 enjoying lunch at the INN. They were early buyers from Calgary and very pleased with their home. Also in town is Bob Bish of FN23, Grant and Joanne Potolicki FN166, Linda Rutherford FN155, and Helen Swanston FN102. Since I am now writing once a week, I forget to have my camera out and ready. Shame on me! If you want to be on my blog, just remind me when you see me. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors!

My friend Ingrid from Mexico City is in town. Ingrid is David Farca’s sister with Touch of History, and she is now taking a more active role in the shopping trips and general operations for them. This is a much welcome addition, as Ingrid is very thorough, detailed, and a good businesswoman.

Also new to Touch of History is Alberto Arce who will manage the operations in Loreto, and Claudia Hernandez who will be the administrator. Alberto is from Guadalajara and recently worked in San Diego, so he fully understands the needs and expectations of both cultures. Claudia was previously with the Whales Inn and knows how to get things done in Loreto. Touch of History now has 9 full time employees in Loreto and will soon start construction of their new warehouse facilities. They now have their office, soon to be showroom at FN305, and you can reach Alberto at Having had very candid conversations with all my friends at Touch of History, including David, I believe that this is what they need to finally meet and exceed customer expectations. It has been a difficult road for all of us, and they are no different trying to juggle with the unknown construction schedule of the past 2 years. But we are seeing a marked difference in all areas, and this will be another area of positive turnaround.

I have been very busy with my new building, and even though I thought things were taken care of before I left… nothing gets done when you are not on the ground. I’m 2 weeks behind my scheduling and I am getting very anxious as “time is money”. Not a concept that is really understood here. However, I am learning to accept this and enjoy each day. I am working hard finalizing the endless legal and accounting details necessary to comply with the rules as I am a foreigner. This is a nicer term that being a Legal Alien as I am in the USA. Very soon I will be a permanent resident here and it will truly be home.

I never made it to La Paz or Cabo this week, and it certainly wasn't for a lack of trying. The papers simply were not ready and the people I was visiting were so very busy. It seems that everyone these days is run off their feet. There is a buzz of activity in Baja California Sur, and I can't wait to find out more information on the new developments and let you know.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England arrived in Newfoundland in 1578 and wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival in the New World. This means that the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Thanksgiving for Canadians is about giving thanks for the harvest season rather than the arrival of the pilgrims. It is celebrated with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey!

In order to work up an appetite for the massive feast, my friend Reham from Microsoft, Seattle, WA, came to visit and we explored Goldstream Park. The park is home to 600-year-old Douglas fir trees and western red cedar, mixed with western yew and hemlock, red alder, big leaf maple and black cottonwood.

It is very humbling being amongst these giant trees that have been here for centuries. These are very real and as I made my way into this hollow trunk, I was thinking how many other critters had been there before me?

I thought this was a wonderful sign and wanted to duplicate it for my home, indicating it was my safe haven to hibernate for the winter. Oops, I forgot, I now live in Loreto and no hibernation required. Oh well, it still would be nice to have a quiet zone.

My ex-boss from IBM Canada is Ted Button, and he has started Button Design Inc. which specializes in lamps and small furniture for space challenged environments. Specifically, these are urban dwellings in major centers that run $400 to $1000 per square foot, that can no longer accommodate our large antique furniture.

Their “Art of Living” contemporary line is a simple organic form that suggests both strength and elegance, combined with fun and color. For more information, check out their website at and tell them Nellie sent you.

I want to thank everyone for their suggestions for my hotel. It was very interesting that I was thinking of something Spanish that sounded romantic. However, almost all the suggestions came back in the form or variation of “Nellie’s Place” since that is what everyone would eventually call it anyways. So, for now, it will be known as Nellie’s Place until another name sticks.

This coming week will be very busy as I head to Phoenix tomorrow, Loreto on Tuesday, La Paz on Thursday, and some fun in Cabo on Friday. There is only one lane in Baja, so whether it is fast or slow really depends on the driver. I love the fact that there is no speed limit on the road or in life!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

On The Road Again

I’m back in Victoria this week enjoying the fresh coolness and abundance of tall trees and colorful flowers. Although its approximately 2000 miles or 3200 kms from Loreto, the world is very much a small place and through the internet I feel as though I could be next door.

Monday is just another day at the office whether I’m in Victoria, Los Angeles, or at the beach in Loreto. When people ask me what I have been doing, I reply that I have to “check my blog to know where I am”. I finally figured out why they call it a blog, because it’s a weB…LOG! Aahhh!

My new office on the malecon comes with 6 hotel rooms, whether I wanted them or not. I never dreamed that I would be running a boutique hotel, but hey, it could be destiny. The rooms are a good size and I will be renovating to make them comfortable to my standards. At this time, I think the rates will be in the range of $75 to $90 USD per night. Of course, there will always be a friends of Nellie rate. My dilemma is finding a proper name, since “Naughty Nellie’s Hotel” conjures up images not conducive to my Mission Statement. Any ideas? Please send them to me at

A good Loreto / Victoria friend is Rob Cairns. Here’s a photo of Rob with his wife, Laurie and his business partner, Joni Collett. Their company is “Carpe Diem” – “seize the day” for those that don’t know Latin. Rob has had extensive experience in consulting for start up businesses in the areas of manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing, and is focusing his efforts in the Pacific Northwest and the Baja. He is currently consulting to the Loreto Bay Destination Tourism department. Don’t let Rob’s laid back personality and constant stream of jokes fool you. He’s very clever and had many incredible experiences to learn from. I look forward to working more with Rob in the coming months.

Many of you know Gabriela of Owner Services. Her sister, Cecilia Talamante, has a small business making delicious chocolate cakes and different varieties of cheesecake from her home. I hear that her plum cheesecake is outstanding! This is a picture of Cecilia with her husband, Fernando Borquez, and their children Hector Daniel, Jose Andres and Jesus Fernando. Feel free to contact Gabriela who can be found at the Concierge Desk at the INN of Loreto Bay to place your order.

Last week Ariel and Peter of FN44, Janet of FN162, Tommy Hughes of FN145 and me went for dinner at “1697”. It’s a new Italian restaurant next to Mita’s near the town square. I would recommend the pastas and pizzas.

Also, in Loreto finalizing their homes were Terry and Charlee Gerlitz of FN319, as well as Garth and Maureen Mitchell of FN14. The Mitchells’ will be the first golf course custom to be finished and I hope they let me showcase it, as it is really beautiful.

It’s Loreto Bay’s first Sales Event of the season this weekend and I’m sorry to miss all the home owners down for the big party. I will be there for the next two events and if you are coming to visit, please make sure you drop by my new office and say Hola! Hopefully, I will be launching my website in 2 or 3 weeks and will have all the news of what I am going to be doing! Stay tuned…