Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy USA Thanksgiving!!

The INN put on a full thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, roast beef, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. They have hired a new Food & Beverage Manager and he seems very determined to make a difference. The buffet dinner was very good … so we can only hope!!!

It was difficult to find an American in the crowd amongst all the Canadians. I heard many of them were deep frying their own turkeys and celebrating at their Loreto home with friends in the traditional manner.

At this table we had Drew and Cathy McNabb (FN49), Garth Mitchell (FN14), Jennifer Rix (FN154), Dan and Janine Murphy of Ecoscapes, Janet Rubenstein (FN162), Maureen Mitchell (FN14), Boyd Kelly (FN22), and me (FN62). The vino tinto was delicious and in full abundance … as usual.

Going clockwise is Jim and Barbara Gettis (FN457 & FN458), Carol and Steve Morgan (FN482), Carl and Sarah Zichella (FN306), Janice Leppard (FN301), Mike and Sue Matthews (FN463). It is interesting how smaller groups and friendships are forming based around the proximity of the homes. There was also another table of AV owners, but I didn’t get a chance to take their photo. My lame excuse is that since they were in Aqua Viva, they were still a figment of my imagination! Of course, this is a joke and no disrespect meant.

This was a very busy travel week for me. I drove 1.5 hours each way to Constitution with Andres from my office to go to Tel Mex. We had telephoned that morning to say that we would be coming in the afternoon from Loreto. We arrived at 4 pm. Tel Mex never mentioned that they close at 3 pm! What kind of corporate office closes at 3 pm… not to reopen until the next day?? Quien Sabe!! Then we drove for one block and were stopped by a group of policemen stopping vehicles for various “infractions”. I was not wearing my seatbelt as we were only going 2 blocks to Super Ley, but that did not matter to the police. They were going to take away my driver’s license and I would have to go to the Municipal Office and pay the 400 peso fine to get it back. Andres was very diplomatic and stated that we did not live in Constitution, and there was no “infraction”. The policeman said I could choose instead to buy 4 tickets at 80 pesos each for the charity dance. We had no choice but to buy the dance tickets. Luckily I found some friends at the INN who live in Constitution and they would like to go. I had no intention of going to a dance where the advertisement was a Mexican cowboy with a gun! Tip of the Day: When going through Constitution make sure you follow the road rules to the letter. No illegal turns, excessive speed, and always wear your seatbelt!

Captain Mateo took a group of us out for a boat ride. The weather has been very warm with little winds for this time of year. It is still in the high 80’s during the day and tough to believe we are almost in December. Every time I go out on the water, I have to pinch myself that I LIVE HERE!!

We found a deserted town on the end of Carmen Island and now I’m on the hunt to find out the history of this place. I could imagine the activity in its day with the boat docks and plentiful housing. There were no signs except to say that landing here and exploring was prohibited. Oops, too late…. You had to be on shore to read the sign.

The beach was long and sandy, and the water crystal clear. We set up a picnic and roamed around for hours as if this was our private playground.

If you are thinking of docking near this beach, be very careful. The depth is very deceptive in many places and our boat seemed to run aground very quickly, even though we thought it was safely anchored out far enough. It was a little tense as the four of us tried to push the boat back into the deep water against the strong current. We managed to get the boat unstuck from the sand and anchor it out far enough to still enjoy the afternoon, without too much worry about being stranded. Every day is an adventure.

I’m back in Cabo today and it is always a surprise to see the large cruise ships docked side by side so close to shore. The cars in the bottom right hand corner give you some indication of the ships' size and how overwhelming they are. I took this photo while driving on the main highway to San Jose. What a sharp contrast to Loreto!

This has been another week of living fully and treading lightly in the Baja.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Baja 1000 – Nov 15 to 18

The final checkered flag dropped early Saturday morning in La Paz for an all-time SCORE record with 234 official finishers in the 39th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Another incredible and colorful chapter had been added to the legacy of this popular desert race down the majestic Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

The granddaddy of all desert races, the flagship event of the world’s foremost desert racing series was a rugged peninsula odyssey of 1,047 miles from Ensenada to La Paz. In an impressive display of power and poise, American Honda motorcycle teammates Steve Hengeveld, Mike Childress and Quinn Cody, along with the Andy McMillin/Robby Gordon duo, posted the overall motorcycle and 4-wheel victories early Friday to lead the field.

The race-record of 431 starters from 38 U.S. States and 12 countries, represented the largest field in the history of the desert classic. They competed in 28 Pro and 6 Sportsman classes for cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs.

Mexico tourism officials estimated record crowds of over 300,000 spread out along the course from Ensenada down both sides of the Baja California peninsula to La Paz.

This year’s Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert race will be televised on a delayed basis as a one-hour NBC Sports special for the third consecutive year, airing at 2:30 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, Dec. 10 on the NBC Television Network. It will also air on a delayed basis outside of the U.S. on ESPN International.

The value and excitement of the Baja 1000 is not lost on the people of Loreto. I was told by several of the racing crews that the average spent by each team is in excess of $1 Million USD, which includes the vehicle, drivers, crew, transportation and pre-runs. Many of the big name sponsors will spend closer to $2 Million USD for their participation. This brings a lot of revenue dollars to hotels and restaurants for the month leading up to the event.

Downtown Loreto was virtually a ghost town on Thursday and Friday as almost everyone headed to the hills to set up tents, music, BBQs, lawn chairs, etc. for the big 24 hour party. Thousands of people, including entire families, were lined up from Loreto, all along the arroyos, to San Javier for front row seats to see up close the vehicles rumored to race past at speeds as high as 160 km/ph.

These pictures were all taken by my newest employee, Andres Urias. My normally excellent camera was not up to the challenge of the speed that these racers were moving. But you can get a sense of the excitement as you see how close the people were to the race path.

BF Goodrich set up a huge pit stop, where the racers could stop to change tires, get oil, gas, or whatever they needed.

The first motorcycle came through Loreto Thursday night about 8:30 pm, with the first 4-wheel vehicle arriving shortly after midnight. They continued coming through all night long until late Friday night, as each starter has only a 43-hour time limit to complete the journey. The screams of excitement were abundant each time a new vehicle appeared. There is no lighting on the race route, and each vehicle is equipped with headlights that are so powerful they illuminate everything in their path for 2 or 3 miles.

In sharp contrast to this international speed race event, I am happy to report that the horses and cows are looking very healthy and well fed. I have seen several groups making their way along the side of the highway, grazing and being lazy this week. With evening temperatures in the low 70’s and mid 80’s in the daytime, it is beautiful life. Please remember Baja 1000 only happens every second year for a few days through the off-roads of Loreto, and never on the highway. This is the place that cows, goats and horses share with trucks and cars … at least for now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whales Inn Demolition Begins

Demolition has started at the Whales Inn and it is coming down fast! They already have their plans for luxury condos approved and are well underway in the process to start construction next year.

Last month the Whales Inn was having one huge Garage Sale! Locals were lined up with thousands of pesos in hand to take away a little of history. You could buy the entire hotel room – furniture, TVs, toilets, doors – all you could take out and carry, for one reasonable price. Many of the best rustic and large ornate pieces were donated to the University, the Municipal Offices, and churches.

Charity starts at home and the developers of Loreto are setting an outstanding example. This playground downtown was nothing more than a dirt patch two years ago. Loreto Bay generously donated the steel shade structure and cupola. The Whales Inn and Ecoscapes will be jointly donating the grass plus 20 palm trees to add the final touches to a beautiful safe place for Loreto’s next generation.

The Whales Inn was formerly a Diamond Eden Hotel in the ‘70s when hedonism was the popular getaway for our parents’ generation. A whole new meaning to “all inclusive resort” complete with nightly cabaret entertainment, Disco Luna, viewing rooms, and nudist beach. Over the past decade, it has become a quiet family resort known for friendly staff and great service.

Encompassing twelve acres of land with sandy beach, we all look forward to the new luxury development scheduled next year. Many of us have stayed at the Whales Inn over the past several years and really enjoyed the pool and beautifully landscaped grounds. I can only imagine how beautiful the resort was in its glory days and I know it will be like that again soon!

I bought the hotel doors from the Whales Inn for Nellie’s Place to bring good luck and charm. My biggest attraction will be the new pillow top mattress beds and 500 thread count sheets, with proper pillows for a good night’s sleep. Also, it is staggering distance from Nellie’s Tapas Bar, plus includes the best breakfast downtown. What else could one ask for in Loreto?

The renovation is going very well and my local trades are working 7 days a week so I can meet my schedule. I have now hired a full time Tapas Bar Manager, waiter, housekeeper, lawyer and accountant on staff. All are local Mexicans who take great pride in their work and are excited about the new opportunities of BajaBoss. Together as a team, we will be ready to handle all your unknowns and questions about Living in Loreto.

Janet Rubenstein, FN162, was kind enough to host my friends for a Tapas and Sangria Tasting Party to determine my menu. Clockwise is Janet, Janine and Dan Murphy from Ecoscapes, Garth Mitchell of FN14, Norma of FN58, and Goertz of FN416.

There were many other friends there as well, including Jeanny - my new Office Manager, her husband Noe and their son, Pedro, along with Gudren FN416. Noe has a Phd. in Agriculture and in charge of Aqua Viva for Ecoscapes.

Happy Birthday to Josh Swift! Josh worked with me at Loreto Bay coordinating the Lot Closing process. He now has been promoted to the Director of Closings and Permitting Associate, and has the huge task of working with the Mexican Government to ensure Loreto Bay gets the green light it needs to transfer lots and construct. Josh is handsome, smart, fluent in Spanish… and yes … single for all those 20’s something eligible women. Josh is one of my best friends and a partner in Velero Del Mar, our Yacht Membership Program.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Loreto Bay Sells 700th Home!!

Congratulations to Loreto Bay Company. This weekend they sold their 700th homesite. It was a smaller group than normal, but the buyers were very positive and really enjoyed getting to know all the existing home owners on the ground. The sales were in excess of $7 Million which added to the $300 plus Million already sold. Everyone has been very pleased with the activity of construction over the last 6 months and you can see a town taking shape.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the difference from this November 2003 picture, when there were only lines in the sand around the Camino Hotel. It was a snails' pace start, but it seems to be catching up … slowly but surely.

The Saturday night party is still a lot a fun, but admittedly the crowd is getting tamer as times goes on. This is probably because the first few events were such a leap of faith that more tequila was required to celebrate the spontaneity of the moment. Now the buyers are more educated about buying in Mexico and better understand the investment potential. From pictures you can always tell the home owners that have been around for a few parties such as Jane Lurie of 203, Linda and James Wright of 222 in the middle. They are having the most laughs.

Here’s Susana in Accounting, Jamie Master Copula Artist, Tonu & Nancy Bruns of FN353 and Rhonda from Touch of History.

It was good to catch up with my girls from Team Loreto Bay. Particularly, Jennifer who now is responsible for all Contracts of Purchase, and Cynthia who handles the Lot Closings. There are so many incredible young people in this company and I miss the girls in Scottsdale who were all like my sisters.

More and more home owners are arriving each week now that the weather is a perfect 84 degrees. It was Russ Demers birthday (FN109 and FN323). I gathered up 16 home owners for dinner at Loreto Islas to wish him the very best. Russ and his wife Cindy are at the head of the table together in this picture.

The chef made up a quick pancake cake with chocolate sauce on 10 minutes notice. The trio serenaded the crowd, including Carmen Colborne(FN58), myself, and Maureen Mitchell (FN14). I'm not sure why every picture I have has a wine glass prop on the table?? It was a great evening.

Other than the Sales Event, the other big news this week was the Baja 1000 pre race. Now seriously … when you see this macho machine parked next to the electric golf cart… which do you want to take for a spin? I think the environment will survive for 5 days a year when you think of all the money, fun, and exposure that this event brings. The men that arrive with their Big Boys Toys are really serious. No carousing and late night drinking for them. They come in, get organized, shower, eat and get ready to leave at the break of day to stay ahead of all the others. I do know that they come back often with their family and friends outside of the race and support the local community and maybe are future homeowners? For more information on the race, check out the website: