Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where In The World Is Nellie? Quien Sabe!!

It was great to be back in Victoria this week, if only for a few days to soak up the Chinese New Year family festivities and feasts. A lot can be accomplished in just a few days when one sets their mind to it and I managed to complete a lot of personal business and spend a great deal of quality time with my parents and daughter.

It was a good trip down memory lane. Being back in the continuous grey skies and dismissal weather made me remember why I live in Loreto. Victoria can be a beautiful place and boasts one of the most temperate weather patterns in all of Canada. However, the barometer is constantly high which to me feels very oppressive and difficult to keep warm from the dampness. Weather is a huge topic of discussion and seems to affect everyone’s day to day lives on varying degrees of scale.

Give me the sunshine of Loreto where the topic of discussion is whether or not it is too windy to go fishing. Arriving at the airport on time at 5:25 am this morning, I had a sinking feeling when no one was at the Horizon Airlines ticket counter and there was a sign saying “Back at 6 am”. After desperately seeking the agent, I find out they had overbooked and there were no more seats. I was stuck here for 2 days since there was no way to make the LAX connection to Loreto until Tuesday. NOT ACCEPTABLE. How could this happen!! I had forgotten in all my years of business and personal travels - that you can go anyway in the world… but you can’t get off this freaken island!

When Time Suddenly Becomes Available, It Is Generally Wasted, and I do not have 2 days to waste in a place where I have accomplished all I came to do. After ranting, pacing and controlling my blood pressure for 10 minutes, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons. I asked the agent to get me to LAX as soon as possible and then I would see what doors would open to my next adventure. So, here I am at the Victoria airport at 6:30 am on Sunday morning, writing my blog because I have no idea where I will be this evening, but am pretty sure that it will not be boring. Tune in next week to find out Where In The World Is Nellie!

In the meantime, I am posting an entry written by Guest Blogger James Bie, who writes about one of our mutual friends and characters of Loreto. These are times that I truly appreciate having backup material when life happens and I am momentarily at a loss for words. Please feel free to share your Loreto experiences as one of my Guest Bloggers because it is much appreciated and matters to many. Thanks James!

I first saw Loreto six years ago from the deck of a cruise ship swinging into the bay from around Isla del Carmen. We spent a day in town, sampling the local food and drink, applauding the line of costumed school-girl dancers in front of the city hall, and just absorbing the scenery and atmosphere.

One day in this paradise by the sea was not enough. Six months later we came back and purchased our own bit of Loreto right on the malecon where we can watch the sun rise each morning over the island. Frequent visits to town since then have given us the opportunity to meet some of the town characters.

Like Jorge. His name is actually George Ghiselin but that fact has been lost during his 15+ years of permanent residence. The fruit of his talents, however, are visible all through the community. As president and chief executive officer of JorgeAviones, he builds airplanes. Boeing is not endangered by the competition because Jorge’s planes don’t fly. They’re too small to carry passengers or cargo. And they’re made out of beer cans.

Patrons of local bistros can see a Beechcraft Debonair (Tecate version) hanging from the ceiling. A Modelo Light Cessna Centurian is on display at Augie's Bar and Bait Shop. The Del Borracho Saloon and Stroker’s Reef show off a few more of Jorge’s creations.

The miniature flyers are so authentic looking – in spite of their brewery origin – that JorgeAviones has been featured in FLYING Magazine, the world’s leading aviation publication. They reproduced Jorge’s Tecate model of the Ford AT-4 trimotor that explorer Richard Byrd flew over the South Pole in 1929. If you go to Yahoo Search, the first item that pops up is “Beer Can Airplanes by Loreto Artisan.”

The simplest plane, his Giorgi XP-3 experimental-promotion model, takes about 10-12 hours to construct. More complex items like the sleek SR-71 Blackbird spy plane requires about 40 hours of labor. Because of his attention to detail, Jorge may slice up 15 or more cans so the various label designs produce an attractive exterior of the flyer. To complete the beverage theme, even the wheels of the models are made from beer bottle caps.

But for all the talent that Jorge has poured into more than 400 authentic and historic airplanes, my favorite is one of his latest creations. When Modelo recently began to distribute beer in cans that bore the emblem of my favorite baseball team, the San Diego Padres, Jorge assembled a classy XP-3 that is now proudly displayed on my desk at home.

James and his wife, Vicki, live in Southern California when not enjoying Living La Vida Loca in Loreto.

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