Monday, May 26, 2008

Fishing, Giant Squid, and Film Crews in Loreto!

The Dorado have arrived!! The temperatures are getting hotter and the water is warm. Steve Lischka from Oklahoma chartered REEL TROUBLE for fishing and he certainly got more than he bargained for. He wanted to catch some yellowfin jurel but they are near the end of the season and we did not have much luck. We headed northeast about 35 miles and Chino found a school of dorado. We slowed down and watched excitedly as they were all around us.

Chino and Latcho quickly threw down 4 lines and we did not have to wait long. First Steve caught this nice decent fish to get warmed up. Latcho did not feel it was worthy of a photo, slightly larger than bait fish … so he quickly put it in the holding tank to get down to more serious matters.

I hooked a smaller Dorado, maybe 20 lbs., but rather than bring it in … we kept it on the line. Chino and Latcho said this was so that “granddaddy” would come. We got anther bite, so now we had 2 “Fish On”… and we waited. A few moments later, Steve got a huge pull and now we were fishing! Lots of activity as we pulled in the other fish and not get the lines tangled, and Chino maneuvering the boat so that Steve would not lose the fish he had on. After 30 minutes, it was a beautiful sight to pull our prize Dorado of the season. We continued to catch several large dorado until the client was happy, then we headed for home. In a few weeks, we will update the photos on the website

This boat is often moored in Cabo but the first time I have seen in Loreto, our little town is gaining attention. My sources tell me that it belongs to one of the original Microsoft Moguls, but it is not Gates or Bulmer. It has been in Loreto for over a week and the crew come into town to enjoy the local Happy Hours and buy their groceries. We see the helicopter doing some fly-bys and am sure scenic tours of the area, but no rich and famous sightings yet.

There was another 120 foot yacht in the harbor enjoying the Isles of Loreto, along with a variety of smaller luxury boats like this 50 ft cruiser. It is amazing how quickly we become accustomed to seeing these kinds of changes and no one objects to the wealthy using this as their playground. In fact, the locals kind of wish they would stay and spend more time (and money). As I always say … Be careful what you wish for …. You just might get it!

Last week, I met Troy Parkinson, Field Producer/Director, from Fargo, ND and Steve Olson, Director of Photography. They chartered our boat to film Dale Pearson and Rob Arrington, searching for the Giant Humboldt squid for Discovery Channel. They loved our boat and we like being associated with the film industry. Steve kept us in stitches of laughter as he talked about his other prime time TV show on the Travel Network Bizarre Foods. It is aired on Tuesdays nights and now I will be tuning in to see the most delectable exotic foods around the world.

Today I am in Santa Rosalia, which is 200 kms north or Loreto, and Port for the Ferry to Guyamas on the mainland. Singular (Fonatur) has spent a lot of money in the last year improving this dock and its facilities and it is one of the steps on the Nautical Ladder.

The tranquility of waking up to the sound of the fish jumping in the water and the gentle rocking motion of the boat is hypnotic. After this trip, I really believe that the advantage to belonging to the Velero Del Mar membership program is to be able to take the boat out, with captain, for several days and explore the islands and abundant natural beauty. It’s a great thing for 2 people to do for 3 or 4 days. Cruise, fish, snorkel, eat and drink, snooze, while Captain Chino takes care of your safety and navigation.

The boat is reserved all this week for Eric Galler, Head of Operations for Creative Differences Productions, based in Washington, DC. They are also filming a segment for Discovery Channel. The star and celebrity is Scott Turel, who invented the technique of filming the Giant Humboldt squid. He is famous in this area as all the locals want to meet and see the crazy man that encounters these cannibals that can exceed 20 feet in length, face to face, and then deliberately makes them mad! Here’s a photo of Scott, his Manager Shauna, and myself, after a very long 11 hour day filming. Scott is highly respected in his field and after watching a full day, there is no doubt that he is the Master.

In closing, the Memorial Service for Dan Murphy was held at the INN at Loreto Bay this week and there were about 100 people in attendance to honor him. His beautiful wife Jeannie was there, and it brought tears to everyone’s eyes how much she missed him and made us realize the importance of love and life. There was a tree planted in remembrance of Dan Murphy at the INN near the back garden. Dan’s good friends and partners Rob Kater, Jose Ramon Noriega, and Randy Wagner were the first to add soil to the tree in final support of Dan and his new journey. Many of us are still here making the original vision of Loreto Bay happen … poco y poco, which is exactly what Dan would have wanted. We will miss you, our friend.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Loreto …. It’s All About The Water …

Deborah Scanlon is my guest blogger this week. Deborah has been coming to Loreto almost 15 years and initially discovered Loreto fishing with friends. She eventually bought a home here and looks forward to semi-retirement and more time in Loreto enjoying the activities and people she loves here. She enjoys photography, kayaking, hiking, fishing, snorkeling, exploring, and just enjoying the ever present sunshine and natural beauty of Loreto. "I feel blessed to have so many dear and interesting friends that share a love of Loreto and that participate in community" Deborah left a successful career in high tech and data security to work in Loreto which allows her more time there. While not in Loreto she makes her home in Huntington Beach, CA---Surf City USA. Three of many things she would love to do in life; Through hike the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail, Ride a bicycle from Tijuana to Cabo, and learn to surf.

What magic does Loreto hold for you? I often wonder what draws people to such a place. Sometimes I am curious how I ended up in Loreto and can't quite retrace the events clearly. It was just a place I came to fish almost 15 years ago. But I marvel at how things unfolded for it to have such a huge part of my heart and attention. I have always said Loreto has the most 'serendipity' of anywhere I've been....but that's another story for another day.

For a small town Loreto has a big appeal. I query folks often. "What do you think of our little slice of heaven"? I ask complete strangers. "Have you been out on the water?" For people I've known for more than a brief moment, I ask, "Why are you here?" Not what brought you here, but why stay? For many it is the natural beauty, the contrast of desert and sea. Others see in Loreto a place of calm and tranquility. A place to literally escape their hectic, time pressured, regret the past and worry about the future lives. I have tried to articulate with close friends why I can have the same 50 item to-do list in Loreto as in the States and it just feels different. We've come up with a theory...we think that culturally and innately, our Mexican friends have the ability to be present in the moment in a way that has escaped many of us. I mean really present. Present and engaged in the now. Maybe that's where 'manana' comes from too. Somehow so strongly protecting being in the moment and not worrying about the future. I muse sometimes how the very reasons I love Loreto are the very things that can sometimes frustrate me when I forget where I am. I forget where I am and how to be in the now. Appreciation lives in the now. Relationship lives in the now.

It's easy for me to sit and look out at the sea and have it bring me back to the present. To calm my mind. To breathe deep and appreciate the magnificence it holds. We all love to be on it, in it, and around it. We play with our dolphin friends that are so prevalent and marvel at the whales and other abundant sea life. The dramatic mountain and island backdrop fill our visual embrace. Yes...where the mountains swim to the appropriate.

As a photographer I have always been intrigued with capturing 'moments'. This is one I am most proud of from several weeks ago. A humpback whale waving to us.....

I love being on the water. I love the splendid reminders of Creation. I took this photo and others while out on classic panga with local Loretanos Rafael Murillo Pelayo and Pancho Ramero Alvarez. I think these two guys love being on the water even more than me. The make their livelihoods on the water. They depend on the sea. Pancho is a local independent fisherman with 30 years of experience and Rafa is a dive master at Dolphin Dive. They are very special and dear friends to us and a trip to Loreto is not complete without time together. After a hectic few weeks of all of us working, I offered up.."anything you guys want to do, anything at all". Their response, "why don't we go look for blue whales, fish a little for lunch, make fresh ceviche, and meander around Carmen Island?" that's what a day off looks for these two! Their passion inspires me. Their friendship uplifts me.

Pancho and Rafa are the embodiment of all things good Loreto. I am sure there are many, many ambassadors of Loreto. I just have the privilege of being close to these two and their families. If you want to have superior service and to support them, please do. Yes, a shameless plug for two deserving friends. Anything I can do to help. Maybe it's my way of trying to keep alive and well the soul of Loreto. We all want to keep things 'authentic', although I'm not exactly sure how to do that or even what it really means. I suppose ultimately if I am my authentic self and you are yours that is all we can count on. And practically speaking, maybe Pancho won't have to decide between finishing plastering his walls or putting up a palapa for summer shade on the house he has continued to build on his own. Maybe I am more attached to him having 'more' than he is. I need to always caution myself to make sure I am not trying to instill my definition of 'better' for him. Friends don't do that and Pancho is one of the happiest people on this planet and in my world. And he is my secret weapon for fishing. You can find him here;

Rafa takes conservation and protecting the sea very seriously. He has taken advantage of every opportunity to further his education about it both formally and informally. He tends to be my encyclopedia as we venture out onto the blue horizon. What's really fun is how excited he gets along with any visitor. This ray has about a 10 foot wing span. Unbelievable. All of our eyes were bugging out as it floated on the surface for what seemed like an eternity. Gently gliding around the boat it seemed to bask in all our accolades and shouts of amazement. Rafa had the presence of mind to grab his camera and video it. The sound track on the video is quite amusing with oohs and ahs and a couple of 'holy xxxx".

Rafa wants to remind all of us the importance of supporting the Marine National Park we get to call our playground. I didn't really know the rules and guidelines of the park. And I am sure many of us just aren't aware or educated. It is important to pay our 21 pesos for daily use to support the park. With it's meager budget it is very difficult to monitor and enforce the protections of the park. If you are standing on land fishing, you don't need a park pass (just a fishing license). But the minute you get on the water for any activity, you do. If PROFEPA finds you in the park without your wristband the fine is stiff. You can get your pass/wristband at the marina at the National Park Office. Some other important rules: No pets on the islands. Stay on paths on the islands and use designated camping areas only. Permits are necessary for camping also. Carmen Island is a private island and you must get permission to be beyond the 22 meter Federal Zone. You must stay 50 meters away from wild life (whales, etc.) There are "no fish" zones in the park and of course licensing and catch limits need to be observed. Jet-skis are allowed only around the coastal area of Loreto (200 meters from shore) and are not allowed around the islands. I don't know if there is anything other than a day pass, but if Nellie invites me back again, I'll try and get more details for everyone. Do ENJOY this marvelous resource that we are blessed with. Underwater photos compliments of Kristin Hawkins.

A little background on the park from --Due to the diligent efforts of the Loreto community, The Bay of Loreto National Marine Park was created by a Presidential Decree and approved by the Mexican Federal Congress on July 19, 1996. The Park covers 2,065 square kilometers in the Sea of Cortez ranging from Isla Coronado in the north to Isla Catalana in the south. On July 14, 2005, the Park was inscribed to the United Nation’s list of protected World Heritage Sites. With over 800 species of marine life inhabiting the Sea of Cortez and while many of them are currently endangered, the need for protection of these delicate ecosystems is great. More...

Even the rain is more interesting in Loreto. It's scarcity. It's way of showing up with unbelievable force on occasion. And it's importance to such delicate ecosystems. Even the rare rainbow in Loreto seems to hold more vibrancy, more's my photo of the only rainbow I have ever seen in Loreto observed last November.

Mix desert, water, and development and there will always be controversy and politics. We all need to be responsible in all of this. Water is essential to all life. It nourishes us, surrounds us, and reminds us of natures inherent strength. Like I said, "It's all about the water". And Pancho, and Rafa, and peace, and friends, and adventure, and making a difference! And you fill in the blank for you!

I'd love to hear what Loreto is for you. Drop me a line.

Deborah Scanlon

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother’s Day! New Hospital in Loreto, Mexico

We wrote this for Nellie because she told us she needed a break, and what a better time to give a gift than on Mother’s Day that she was able to spend with her mother and daughter in Victoria. This guest blog is about our tour of the new hospital that was given by Dr. Carranza, Director, to invited foreigners on April 22, 2008.

Here are a few pix from the tour. It was a fairly typical Mexican event, started late, was disorganized and everybody seemed to have a good time! The Director of the Hospital gave the tour, he looks to be in his 30's speaks better than adequate English and I was impressed by the responsibility he has at his age. Opening a new Hospital in Mexico is not an everyday event and it is obviously a significant honor to be chosen for this position.

My impressions include; the building is much larger than I had any idea of from the outside, I'm not an expert at this sort of thing but I would guess it could be as much as 15,000 to 20,000 sq ft. The Director made a big deal of telling us, many times, that all of the equipment was NEW, apparently not a common circumstance in his experience with the medical system. The quality of construction and finish were very good, ceramic tile floors in about half the building in high traffic areas, the inevitable stucco walls, suspended drywall ceilings, very bright and airy throughout with central A/C and emergency generators for the inevitable power failures. There are three consultation rooms, two for general medicine and one for a specialist, plus one for a dentist. There are 5 ward rooms each with two beds and a washroom plus one isolation room. There is plenty of room for expansion on the current site for adding more beds, which I gather are in the future plans.

There are two operating rooms, one for delivering babies, the other for all other surgeries. There is a lab for blood and other tests, an ultrasound and X-ray set-up and in-house laundry and kitchen as well as a small chapel (under the dome you can see as you drive past). The menu of services and related charges has not been released yet, but for all but the lowest income Mexican citizens (who receive their services free) the payment terms are simple, cash. No insurance of any kind is accepted, but the fees are supposed to be very low, by North American standards, e.g. an initial consultation with a Doctor is $110 pesos.

There is a pharmacy on the premises to distribute medication as well. I am sketchy on the details, but I gather there are supposed to be at least 3 general medicine Doctors and one Specialist plus Emergency staff. Two Doctors will be available in the morning and one in the afternoon, Emergency will operate 24 hours. There will be one general surgeon and one pediatric specialist staffing the two surgeries. The Hospital is open now as a sort of walk-in clinic, but is due to be completed, staffed, and in full operation by sometime in June, in time for the official visit by President Calderón for the Grand Opening.

In conclusion I was very impressed with the facility, acknowledging that I know very little about Hospitals, other than watching Grey's Anatomy. It will be a vital link in the future of all people who live in or visit Loreto and I am pleased to think that the Loreto Bay Foundation has contributed to making it a reality.

Drew and Cathy of FN49 wish all Mothers’ a Great Day today!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Where In The World Is Nellie??

Quien Sabe??!!

Nellie was last seen working at the office on Dais de Trabajo, Mexican Labor Day Holiday ... and then she's gone.... MIA

Here's a hint... she is 4400 miles away from Loreto.

Let us know if you see an sightings....

Have a good week ...