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 sea...how 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?" Hmmmm...so 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; www.casaloretobay.com/pancho

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 Loreto.com --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... http://www.loreto.com/marinepark/index.html

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 magic...here'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.

Blessings,
Deborah Scanlon
deborah@casaloretobay.com

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