Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This is not what a desert is supposed to look like!

When George and I moved to Loreto Bay almost four years ago, I packed four umbrellas, never thinking we'd actually use them much or at all, but, hey, I was a Girl Scout and old habits die hard. As it turns out that was a smart move, because the past two summers have delivered a lot of rain and those umbrellas have really come in handy. Well, they did come in handy, but I couldn't find a single one during Monday's latest deluge. We got hammered with another nine+ inches, courtesy of Tropical Storm Octave, which seems an appropriate name for a rain event that produced shrieks from me that became higher pitched as the day and rainfall wore on and on and on. 

Our front courtyard Monday night
Once again the Paseo is flooded with water and once again most of us here ran around with pans and buckets to catch the leaks in our homes. And wouldn't you know it that this rain came up just about the time the mosquitoes from Tropical Storm Ivo were brought under control. So now we'll have to fight the good mosquito fight all over again. Bummer.

Tuesday morning after Octave
I'm pretty sick of the rain and didn't really want to write about it again, but I started thinking about climate change deniers Monday while sopping up water from the floor and changed my mind. What will it take for those ostriches with their heads in the sand to wake up to the reality of the world we live in? What is it about science that instills such fear in them? Why do some people totally reject an almost universally agreed upon scientific conclusion? It's fear, pure and simple. Fear that stems from a changing world and it's this fear that drives the Tea Party to declare that the Environmental Protection Agency is not a necessity and should be trashed. Get rid of the Clean Air Act and forget about greenhouse gases and keeping our rivers, lakes and streams free from toxic chemicals and other pollutants. Who needs clean water! Who needs clean air! Who needs to be a good steward of our lovely planet! Heck, let's just continue to trash it like we've always done. Drill, baby, drill, and don't worry about suffering the consequences cause you'll be dead by the time the consequences roll around. Uh, except not. Right now we are suffering the consequences of very poor stewardship in the form of global warming which in turn causes climate change. 

George and Zoe - no, she's not dead, just wet!
Weather patterns are changing and there's no denying that. Here in Baja we have seen evidence of climate change in the amount of rain that's fallen in the recent past. Baja is a desert, but you'd never know it now.  As we were driving into town today it was hard to even recognize the landscape, because it's been so dramatically altered by the rains this summer. It honestly looks like a tropical jungle. 

All over the world storms are getting stronger, bigger and more ferocious. And there are more of them. Greenland's ice sheet is melting, setting the stage for the forestation of that country, which sounds nice, but Greenland's ice sheet comprises 10 percent of the world's water. The polar ice caps are shrinking, deserts are turning into jungles and when the Pacific Northwest has more than a month of summer (as they did this year), then you know things are changing! I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice to say we all need to get serious about the environment and what we're doing to it. Wouldn't it be nice to change the world for the better, not for the worse? For more info on global warming and climate change, click here.

Monday, August 26, 2013


That was the question we were asking ourselves early Saturday morning when the rain really started coming down here in Loreto Bay. 

Our home owner association put in a new drain to keep the Paseo that runs through the community (and right in front of our house) from flooding every time it rains. Even as little as an inch of rain resulted in road flooding. But in Baja we don't get just an inch of rain, we get a deluge of biblical proportions and Tropical Storm Ivo really delivered on that for us this past weekend.
Before the drain started draining
Initially, the drain didn't work, but after a couple of hours the water went rushing into the drain and right into the little lake where the storm drain ends. Of course, all that water coursing into the little lake turned it into a pretty damn big lake and the overflow combined with incoming rushing rain wrecked some new landscaping that was put in just a few months ago.

Yay! The drain starts draining

Damage to new landscaping by runoff lake
Our courtyard fountain served as our own personal rain gauge and we watched all day as the dry fountain base filled up with water. When all was said and done we got something over nine inches of precipitation. That's a lot in one day and rivals what happened last year during one big rain in August. 

But this time the damage was even worse. Our house survived the pounding rain with just a few leaks here and there, but our car wasn't so lucky. We met some friends at the Wine Cellar here in Loreto Bay for drinks and dinner and by the time we drove home at 8:15 that night the Paseo was pretty much free of standing water. Yippee, we thought! It worked. Just to be on the safe side, though, we parked a little north of our house in a spot that was on higher ground. 

Around 11 p.m. we heard all kinds of car alarms going off, so we rushed outside and saw our SUV in water almost to the top of the tires. OMG. Cars all along the Paseo were flooded with the smaller cars up to their hoods in water.
Our trusty Xterra drowning!
George decided to try to move the car, but that wasn't going to happen. He ended up getting stuck inside and I had to wade out in water to my waist (!!!) to get the keys from him to open the back hatch so he could get out. 

All along the Paseo that same scene was being played out as other residents tried to salvage their vehicles. Good grief. It was an incredible mess. A grand total of six vehicles in Loreto Bay were flooded on the Paseo.

We also heard that houses along the lake on the other side of the Paseo suffered a lot of water damage when the lake overflowed it's banks.

We don't know why the drain stopped working, but it obviously couldn't handle that amount of rainfall.  It was certainly more rain than we could handle.

The next day we found out that the roads both north and south of us were closed due to rock slides and collapsed sections of paving. Amazingly, though, our insurance company managed to get an agent into the area and he confirmed what we already knew. Our car's electrical system was totally fried and so were we.

Section of collapsed roadway near Villa del Palmar
So now we have to wait for the road to La Paz to reopen, so our car can be towed there and the insurance company can makes its final determination. We're looking at 20 days or more before we know anything. 

So, what does any good Loretano do when disaster hits? We have a party, of course! Waffles and Bloody Marys and beer were on the menu, along with the latest rumors and a lot of laughter. News that the main water line in Loreto was down put something of a damper on the festivities, but here in Loreto Bay we're served by a storage tank that might see us through until the line is fixed if we're careful and conserve. 

Our plan to drive to San Diego on Wednesday has been scrapped. We need a new car and we need it fast, so we're probably going to fly to the States, buy a new car and, with any luck at all, we'll be able to enjoy the house we rented for the month in balmy San Diego. 

Honestly, though, we were so much luckier than some. Our insurance agent told us that 15 cars and several houses in the Zaragosa community of Loreto were apparently swept into the sea. 

It's sunny and dry today and the water has receded leaving lots of mud and debris on the road and walkways. But, hey, at least we don't have to wade across the street! The really bad news is that we might be in for more rain at the end of the week. Bummer.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Local's Guide to Loreto Forum

One of the most valuable commodities for ex-pats (or anyone, for that matter) is information, and now information on Loreto is just a click away with the new Web site that's all Loreto all the time. Local's guide to Loreto

The fledgling site is just the thing for more localized news about Loreto and the surrounding area with helpful tips from other locals on everything from DIY pig roasting to how the fish are biting. Right now the site is in it's infancy, but the more people that join, the more information we'll have on what's going on in and around Loreto.

The guide is the brainchild of two local residents and business owners, Chris, who operates Baja Woodworking, and his wife, Mari, who runs, an online bakery (and isn't that a novel idea!).

According to Chris, he and Mari decided to launch the guide to help inform the local community. "I thought that with enough work and some participation by the community we could make a local forum a success."

The couple decided to make the site interactive to allow people to share local knowledge and make recommendations on anything and everything.

"Our goal is to seek out info about Loreto and present it in a positive, interactive and timely way," Chris said in an email. "Personal recommendations are a big part of life in Mexico," he added. "We think people would appreciate a place to talk about their good (and maybe not so good) experiences while in Loreto."

We live in an information-driven world, so be sure to check out this new forum to keep up to date on the happenings in our small part of Baja. It's nice to finally see a site that's all about Loreto and the things that matter to us here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Loreto Bay is a dog-loving community. Sometimes it seems as though there are almost as many dogs as people in our little community and for the most part we live in people/pet harmony. Most of us are responsible pet owners. We walk our dogs on leashes, we faithfully stock up on poop bags so we can pick up their poop and deposit the waste in a garbage can and we try to keep our dogs from being a barking nuisance.

Now here comes the but…

Unfortunately, a small minority of dog owners don't follow these simple rules - rules, by the way, that are clearly spelled out in our HOA rules and regs. Their dogs can be seen running through the community unleashed and unsupervised. Their dogs tear up the landscaping and poop with abandon throughout the development and the thoughtless owners expect the gardeners or security guards or someone else to pick up after their pet. I've walked by some homes and heard the howls and barking of dogs left home alone while their owners are out playing golf or relaxing by the pool or, as is the case with some renters, off at work.These kinds of thoughtless pet owners make Loreto Bay less enjoyable for all of us.

Zoe says keep your pets leashed and pick up their poop!

The mess left by irresponsible pet owners is annoying and unpleasant (especially if you happen to step in it - ugh), but it's not the worst that can happen when a pet owner doesn't follow the rules. There have been several cases in the past year of unleashed dogs attacking leashed dogs. There have also been some problems at the beach where many dog owners take their dogs to run off leash because HOA rules don't apply there (and, let's face it, dogs need to have a good romp once in awhile) and in a few instances a larger aggressive dog has gone after a smaller dog with injuries resulting. But even if an encounter doesn't result in injuries, it's still scary for the pet and the pet owner. I know because we've had a couple of close calls with our dog, Zoe, and it was damn scary. 

So what can we do? We can report offenders to our HOA administrators. I'm not crazy about that policy because it makes us the pet police, but it's all we've got at the moment. So let Associa know if you see someone violating the rules, because the owner is the violator, not the dog. The dog is just doing what comes naturally and it's up to the owner to make sure that his or her choice to be a pet owner (and it is a choice) doesn't make life more difficult for everyone else in the community.

To those very few dog owners who don't follow the rules: Please keep your dogs leashed; please pick up after your pet; please be a responsible pet owner! Your neighbors will love you for it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Sleepy little Loreto (pop. about 15,000, give or take a few souls) has many charms. A beautiful plaza; lovely ficus-lined streets; an historic old mission; a spiffy new malecon (an esplanade along the waterfront) that's nearing completion; many great restaurants; and warm, friendly people. There's little the town lacks, but number one on the wish list for a lot of us is a bigger supermarket. The largest market in town - El Pescador - has improved a lot over the years and even carries more gringo-oriented items now. But it's still pretty small and shopping for groceries usually means a trip to three or four different small markets in order to get everything on our list. It's called hunting and gathering here in Loreto Bay (I call it a full-blown Excedrin headache), but it looks like all that could change soon.

A new Soriana market may be headed our way and we've got our fingers crossed that this isn't just another unfounded rumor. The difference this time is that we heard the news from a reliable source and not just the usual rumor mill, which churns out all kinds of crazy talk. My personal favorite was one repeated endlessly two or three years ago stating that City Club (a Soriana warehouse store similar to Costco) was coming to town. Uh, huh. Still waitin' on that one. We're also still waiting on the Costco that everyone insists will be built in La Paz, but so far it's a no show.

I couldn't confirm the news online, but I did find a Reuter's story that said Soriana is planning to open 63 new stores in Mexico this year. And why shouldn't Loreto be on that list?!

Soriana has a chain of supermarkets throughout Mexico and they're nice. Wide aisles and a good selection of products. Clean and well-lit. We've shopped at Soriana in La Paz and Ensenada and we were impressed. I checked out the Soriana Web site and learned the chain has five types of stores, ranging from City Club to the mega-type like a WalMart Superstore to the smaller neighborhood market, which is what we heard is coming our way.  

This is exciting news, but as much as I love the idea of one-stop shopping coming to Loreto, I'm also a little worried that a chain store will change the town. Does this mean a second traffic light is in our future? Can a cineplex be far behind!? Only time will tell...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside

The sun may be shining and the sky may be blue, but it's cold here in Loreto and all one has to do is look around to know that's the case. The standard issue Baja uniform of t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops has been replaced with socks, jeans and jackets, and, in some cases, even woolen hats and gloves. George and I are bundled up whether outdoors or in, but still my toes are cramping and I have to pull a blanket over myself - and Zoe - while watching television or reading. I turned the heat on for the first time in three years and we're even taking hot showers now and that just doesn't happen in this part of Baja! Good grief, we're freezing to death down here.

Zoe keeping warm  in the sweater she got from her BFF Maryanne

Last year at this time daytime temps were in the upper 70s to low 80s. This winter we've seen highs that only reach 60 (gasp!) and lows near 40 degrees. Those of you north of the border may scoff, snort and send me photos of people shoveling out from under several feet of snow. My response to all that potential scoffing and photo sending is this: What the heck are you doing there? Get thee to Baja where you can at least lose the snow shovel!

We've been staying indoors a lot lately, only venturing out to take Zoe on her walks or when cabin fever propels us out the door and into the wind and cold. We've been hit with blustery 20-30 mph north winds during this cold snap, which really makes it seem cold - as in up north cold.

I've been keeping busy, though, by baking and cooking. And, of course, what I'm baking and cooking is good, old comfort food. Bread and rice pudding have been at the top of my list. I thought I'd take a page from my friend Sue's blog and post a most awesome recipe for rice pudding I found online. Thank goodness for the Internet and Mr. Google. I honestly don't know what I'd do without them. Credit for this recipe goes to The Frugal Chef at

Creamy Rice Pudding

1 cup short grain rice

1 1/2 cups water

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup whole milk

1 – 14.5 oz. can evaporated milk

1 – 14.5 oz. can of condensed milk

Powdered cinnamon

Wash the rice well and place it in a pan with the water and cinnamon sticks. Simmer it for about 10 minutes, until most of the water is evaporated. Add the milks, mix well, and bring back to a simmer. DO not cover the pan and make sure it does not overflow on you. If it starts overflowing give it a stir. Cook the rice for about 20 minutes or until it is fully cooked through.

Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the pudding to a bowl or individual ramekins. If you are not going to eat this warm, cover the bowl or ramekins with plastic wrap, placing it directly on top of the pudding so as to prevent a crust. Sprinkle some powdered cinnamon on the pudding when you are ready to serve. 

In my humble opinion it is the sweetened condensed milk (nectar of the gods!) that makes this so wonderful and creamy. But I also learned an important lesson when I made this the first time and it's a simple thing we can all learn from: Don't leave out one of the ingredients when making this pudding! I forgot to add the whole milk which resulted in a very hard pudding. But it was still good, just not very creamy.

I also learned something about cinnamon, which I couldn't have discovered without help from my friend, Mr. Google. I used the last of my McCormick's cinnamon sticks when I first made this recipe earlier this week. The pudding was gone in a flash, so I decided to remake it but had to run into town to find more cinnamon sticks. The type I found is very different in appearance from what we get in the States, but I figured cinnamon is cinnamon so I bought it anyway. Not so! The type sold in Mexico is Ceylon cinnamon which is much lighter in color, more brittle and flaky and much less flavorful. My research also revealed that the type used in the States is mostly from Indonesia and is darker and more dense with a much stronger flavor. I didn't let that stop me from making the pudding again, but I am going to order some of the good stuff and ask a friend to bring it down for me, along with vanilla beans which I haven't found anywhere in Baja. Which is odd because Mexico is renowned for its vanilla. Just another strange anomaly and one of many that keep us scratching our heads.

The good news is that our cold spell is on its way out with the forecast calling for warmer temperatures every day this week, which means I can get out of the kitchen and try to work off some calories!