Chef Jimmy Surfs Scorpion Bay

Not only can my good friend Jimmy surf, but he’s one hell of a cook – excuse me – make that chef. Notice the title with his name. For more information on his skill set, and his killer MOJO product line, click here :

Casa Baja Luna for Rent

Casa Baja Luna

Good friends Cynthia & Cal have reason to be stateside for the summer, and are offering their wonderful San Juanico home for rent.  It’s a fabulous 2 bedroom main house with rooftop view deck and bar – perfect for entertaining.  There is a separate casita with private bath and lovely gardens.  Lucky the person who gets to spend time there.  For more details :

Homage to the Home Planet

Earth Day-Loreto Pride 2011

Earth Day – Loreto Pride were celebrated on April 10, 2011 with a community cleanup of the Arroyo Candeleria.  The event was sponsored by the Waterkeeper Alliance, Parque Nacional Bahia de Loreto, Loretanos por un mar lleno de vida, and Eco-Alianza de Loreto. A.C.

As in years past, the arroyo had been used by those less educated about the affects of garbage as a dumping ground for unimaginable waste.  During the dry winter season, the arroyo serves mostly as a road from Mex 1 into the beach front community, but in the rainy season, it can/does become a roaring torrent, pushing everything in its path into the Sea of Cortez.  Hence, the need to remove the accumulated refuse, and save the waters from unnecessary pollution.

Discarded Refuse in the Arroyo Candeleria

There was grousing in the community about ‘cleaning up “that” place again’ … accompanied with ‘they’re just going to fill up up with trash when we’re finished’ … but the choice of the arroyo was the right one.  Intelligent and needed, no matter who caused or created the refuse.  At the end of the day, it was the sea that won – and those who live near it and call upon it for their livelihood.

Waste management is an on-going concern for every community, not only pickup, but what to do with our collective garbage once it leaves our doorstep?  It’s not only a residential problem, but a commercial one, as well.  The nuclear fuel crisis in Fukishima, Japan heightens awareness of exactly what we humans create, and the havoc we face in disposal.  Batteries, florescent tubing, toxic motor oils, paint thinners, industrial cleaners, acids …substances poisonous enough to cause serious and even deadly harm to man.  We create them, we use them, but what do with do with them when we are ‘done’?

On Earth Day this year in Loreto, something wondrous happened.  Over 200 school age youth arrived at the registration desk, ready to put their energies into their community.  They were not the creators or the garbage mess, nor did they necessarily live in close proximity, but there they were, ready to put muscle and heart into protecting the waters that they love.

Over 200 Local Youth Signed Up to Help with the Cleanup!

Rubber gloves and contractors trash bags were disseminated at both registration, and along the cleanup route.  There was a water truck to make sure that everyone was hydrated, and multiple pickup trucks to cart the collected refuse to the dump – where is should have been deposited in the first place.

They brought friends, cellphones, and great attitudes.  In fact, I don’t think the arroyo has ever been cleaned as quickly as with this small energetic army!  There were expected ughs and gags.  I mean, not only garbage but dead animals were in the mix.

Some of the things I personally picked up : plastic, plastic, plastic (remind me NEVER AGAIN to use a plastic bag to carry something)((when it sits in the sun, plastic doesn’t degrade, it merely hardens – so that when you go to pick it up, it breaks into millions of itty bitty pieces of plastic!!)), dirty diapers, plastic bottles (yes, more plastic), tin cans, empty food containers, partially full food containers, cigarette boxes, broken and unbroken bottles, cardboard boxes, broken plastic cracks, broken trash cans, toilet paper, Kleenex, more plastic bags wrapped around cactus and trees, building materials, old bits of rubber piping, florescent light bulbs shattered into millions of pieces –

SIDEBAR : As I sat in the dirt trying to pick up as many tiny fragments of glass as possible, I was struck by the beauty of the sunlight on the shards, and my thoughts was – wow – if I were a fish or a dolphin or whatever – I’d be attracted by the shimmering beauty and for sure take a bite!  Sudden – or maybe agonizingly slow – death.

… and still more : old bricks, broken tiles, trashed appliances – and/or parts of appliances, motor oil cans, paint cans, foam cups, foam bits and pieces, school books, notebooks, papers, cigarette butts, plastic trays (does the uses of plastic never end?), plastic water bottles, lamp shades …… There was more – over 30 filled trucks and trailer trips to the dump!

Students Created a Demonstration Board on Value of Clean Seas

And when we were done?  Amazing.  A clean arroyo, just as it should be.  Filled with mesquite and paloverde.  For a few minutes, we all sighed, smiled, and congratulated ourselves on our work… and then set to thinking how to educate those who do not understand the relationship between their actions and the health of the seas.

The crowd of dusty dirty volunteers headed up the beach to Rancho Jaral, where a celebratory barbecue was held.  Hats off to all community volunteers, including the Marine Park, ZOEFEMAT, Hugo Quintero, Tony and Linda Kinninger, Pam and Kent Williams, Mary and Nick Lampros, Catharine Cooper, the students and their participation in the EAL workshop under the direction of Edna Peralta, Program Administrator for Education and Outreach, Horacio Gabrera – Exectutive Director of Eco-Alianza, and Gaby Suarez – Program Director for the new Waste Management Program.

Waterfront Estate for Sale in Loreto

View through palms across lap pool

My good friends, the Boyds, are selling their lovely waterfront home.  It sits directly across the Malecon on the Sea of Cortez with stunning sunrise vistas of Isla Carmen, shorebirds and nearby marine mammals.  Within walking distance to everything, the property has expansive gardens, a heated lap pool, state of the art kitchen, and is primed for expansion into a small bed and breakfast, if an owner should choose.  Currently 3 bedrooms, with 2 full and 2 half baths, wine bodega, separate guest casita and extra storage. For more information and additional photos :

Great Baja Girlfriends!

Cynthia & Catharine

Figures that I’d meet friends for the ‘rest of my life’ in sleepy towns south of the border. On a surfing safari to San Juanico, a beautiful blonde approached me at pizza dinner, claiming that for sure she knew me.  I was taken aback, but she was so emphatic – almost as sure as I was that I’d never met her before in my life!

After a few go-rounds of questions, we figured out that she had been the neighbor of my sister, Claudia, in Sun Valley, Idaho … and since my sister and I look very much alike, the mystery was solved.

Cynthia Wagstaff, as I’d come to know her, lives for most of the year in San Juanico. She is a talented painter, writer (her blog : baja luna) , gardener, designer and explorer of life.  Which barely touches on the fact that she is an incredible chef!  She has the ability to create a gourmet meal out of whatever happens to be in the icebox or the cupboard – and no matter who drops by, she finds a way to create a feast that leaves everyone raving – and wanting more!

Cynthia’s ‘mom’ to Pancho & Chica – two adorable rescue dogs – who dote on her as she dotes on them.  Ball play and stick chase .. long beach walks and adventures.  While not a surfer, Cynthia’s an avid swimmer, snorkeler, butt boarder and stand-up-paddler.

You can find her easily cruising the cliff tops and beaches in her bright yellow Volkswagen or her streamlined Subaru.  She’s the one with the sparkling eyes and the big broad smile.

Christmas at Picazone

Christmas Day, 2010, Loreto, BCS.

Dawned with north east breezes, clear skies and crisp temperatures.  Shared hot coffee and Christmas cookies with Jeff Kahan who had stopped for a couple of days on his journey south to La Ventana.  We took a long beach walk and let the fresh sea air waken us into the sacred holiday before he took off to meet his friends.

First on my agenda was a Buster bath!  Oatmeal soappy and fresh and soft dog fur.  I combed/brushed/cut out sand knots and ended with a blow dryer that left him looking like a show dog! Then, the jingle bell collar went on and he was ready for our outing.

The evening meal had been arranged by Jill Jackson for a private Picazone feast. What a treat! 3o or so family and friends who trekked to the far point on the water overlooking Coronado Island.

We gathered on the couches, sipped cocktails and wine and stories of Christmas past, fishing (there is always a fishing story or two in Mexico), travels, and adventures. We all reflected on how lucky we felt to be in such a special location under the kind and watchful care of Alejandro, Imelda, Alex Jr., and Diego.  They have carved a magical space out of small chunk of seaside desert with their tony restaurant, Picazone.  I would have to say it is a must see/do in any Loreto vacation planning.

Prior to dinner, Rick Jackson had set up his camera on the beach and was doing spontaneous Christmas portraits.  Buster, all fluffy fur, demanded that we have our picture taken.

With a first course of onion soup, the stage was set .. along with the dramatic backdrop of sky colors shifting from blues to sunset hues.  I helped light the beautiful bank of drip candles atop spent wine bottles.  Alejandro eventually used one for each table, the soft light spilling across the colorful clothes and warmly lighting the faces of friends.  Gravy laden turkey plates arrived next .. each with a side wondrous cheese potatoes.   Is there a word for ‘happy mouth’?  My tastebuds were pleased, my heart filled with the warmth of friendship that continues to spread and build in this small community.  Such luck.. such wonder.  Such a special Christmas day.

Moon & the Milky Way

The moon races past quarter toward half.  It’s light begins to occlude the Milky Way, but the brighter stars still shimmer in the darkened sky.  Buster and I walk the ‘hood’ and listen to horses whinnying in the distance, mingled with a few car noises on distant Mex 1.  The quiet is decidedly soothing … a smile turns up the corners of my lips and I thank my friends for all their support and help to get me here.

Before I headed south, I had counted the days left in my Laguna home by the phases of the moon .. How many full?  How many new moons?  Now, the count moves in the other direction.  The mind begins to settle.  The heart begins to find its own rhythm.

A home by the sea …

Dawn on the Sea of CortezThis first time I set foot on the property that was to become “Casa de Catalina,” my mind flashed a message : “This is where we come to get well.”

It had been a brutal year with the death of my brother and the loss of my mother’s home in the Laguna landslides.  My marriage was shaky and work had lost some of it’s glimmer.

As I stood in the patio of a home I was not quite sure I could afford, the message seemed so clear.  I could hear the voices of my friends laughter.  I could see their faces radiant with smiles.

And so it turned to be exactly that.  Little did I know then, that I’d find myself living in Loreto more than not, but life throws those curves, and an opportunity that I cannot resist has presented itself to me.

So now, sunrises on the Sea of Cortez every morning.  Beach walks with a small pack of dogs.  Great neighbors and the intimacy of a small community.  Waters teaming with life and beckoning for underwater – as well as above water – adventures.

I am reminded by all these twists in the pathway I had imagined, that there are few certainties .. but many open roads …..

friends, friends, friends ….

…. so i’m not in mex .. and it’s always weird .. buds are spread all over this summer … cynthia’s been in idaho putting fine touches on the best kitchens .. george has been trying to catch up to both daughter’s weddings … carol was here to help me pack up stuff .. alexander was up .. val was in alaska with husband, barry .. on pam and kent’s boat chasing BIG fish ..  jeanne was north for a bit .. then in SJ with Mark .. he and i played in the surf ..  mikey’s left for brazil (lucky dog) .. martin is building a new palapa in todos santos ..  norm is spending the summer in bandon and SUP’ing his heart out ..   dennis has been in/out .. hopefully catching some waves  … james has been passing on real estate info .. and the world keeps spinning …

Friendships …

Captain Barry Wilkerson

Barry, my life-long friend Val’s husband, told me that he has the best friends of his entire lifetime in Loreto.

I thought long and hard about what he had said, and why it was in fact, true.  I think it’s because like personalities are drawn to the area for similar reasons.

In fact, it was friendship that drew me to Loreto in the first place.  Val and Barry had finished building their new home and Val invited the ‘girls’ to come down for a long weekend.  It only took 4 days – I had never been in Loreto before – but I fell in love with the charm of the town and the warmth and caring of the residents.

Fishing is one of the great draws.  In fact, anything that has to do with the bounty of the Sea of Cortez serves as a backdrop for gathering friends.

Val as a Sea Bird

Scuba diving, snorkeling, island hopping, swimming, sailing, paddle boarding, kayaking … All related to the beauty and wealth of this pristine sea.

And on a second note, the majority of the “gringos” in Loreto are retired, so the tension and rat maze of making a living have fallen off the radar.  Life is easier, choices are simpler.  A game of afternoon cards?  Why not?  Spanish lessons three times a week? Good idea.  Help you paint that wall?  Sure, come on over.

Neighbors are special.  Everyone looks out for everyone else, and when there is a need, everyone rushes in to help.  Yes.. friendships based on choices surrounding the desert and the sea and the activities that they provide.  Common ground that draws us together.