The town of Loreto and the Loreto Bay resort are back. While I’m not about to suggest it’s a whale of an economy, by comparison to the past few years optimism is running high. Anecdotal? Definitely. If someone has access to economic data — retail spending, tourism, building permits, etc — I’d be most interested in reviewing the hard numbers. But for now, I’m just using my eyes and ears.
For example, construction projects across the region appear to be in full swing. Roadwork is underway on Highway 1 just outside the main entrance to Loreto, everyone’s favorite little fishing village here in Baja California Sur.
As Loreto Bay homeowners know, Homex has invested time, money and resources into this development. The result: Visible improvements and a renewed energy and hope. The paseo, previously perhaps a Baja style ode to Lawrence of Arabia and the glorious sand dunes, is now… dun-da-dum… paved! This, of course, is old news to those in the know. But it’s one more example of things moving in the right direction. Remember, this is a project that essentially went bankrupt. Early signs suggest the white knight is Homex, as massive publicly traded (NYSE) Mexican (good) developer with interests as far around the world as Egypt (!). Interestingly they’ve been know for quality housing for low income buyers. So Loreto Bay could become their flagship example of a luxury resort done right. Admitted speculation on my part. I guarantee others out there know more.
Then there is the bustle.
Streets here appear busier. The downtown core has traffic. Okay, not exactly Highway 101 Silicon Valley calibre — I thank Bacchus from Clos Pegase from Napa for that… not sure why, but I like the winery and Jan Shrem. Retailers appear to be doing better. At least a few times we had trouble parking at El Pescador, the equivalent here of a Safeway. Sure, yes, anecdotal. But I’ve been coming here for six years now, and there were times in the not so recent past when “Ghost Town” came to mind.
Talking to local shop owners reveals similar sentiment. Gustavo, owner of the recently expanded (and gorgeous) new showroom in Loreto, suggested to us that things are looking better. Furniture is a great barometer. People build or buy homes. Then they fill them with ticky-tacky, including couches, beds, etc. We’ve all been there. Then, interest rates go up, money tightens, and — kaboom — housing shock. Loreto Bay can count itself fortunate to have withstood this most wicked of downturns.
Whale of a time on the Pacific
About those whales then…
Well like I said in yesterday’s update, the footage from today’s whale watching outing will either astonish or underwhelm. Well, sorry to report it’s the latter. Maybe it was the full moon (which will be at a 20-year peak from what I’m told on Saturday). Or maybe the whales were camera shy… I came with full-on Canon T2i rig, shotgun mics, tripod, etc. Call it a Portable Pacific Scorsese. The results though are about as lame as you’re likely to ever see. I was hoping for a Mean Streets-like interpretation of the López Mateos and ended up with Ishtar with none of the cinematics. Dramatic shots of the Panga puttering along. Me trying to pretend I wasn’t freezing. Loni adding extended color commentary… um… where are the whales?
We did in fact see a mother and her baby minutes after we first shoved off. It was fantastic hearing the blow hole and seeing these beautiful creatures only meters away. We should’ve stuck with them. Instead we ventured out into the increasingly choppy waters. We never saw another whale again.
There is a mighty fine ending to this otherwise banal story. It all starts with the fish tacos. You’ll find some of the best — anywhere in the world I decree — at the little Tecate huts all lined up neatly next to the whale watching business stands. I experienced a nirvana that perhaps may never be duplicated. Ice cold Tecate. Camaron (shrimp) Taco. Pescado (fish) Taco. Fresh condiments… pure bliss.
Loni ordered some kind of plate of fresh fish and stuff (foodie term). We walked out with a bill of about $11 US. The service was excellent. Highly recommended: Mariscos Guille.
Don’t Forget: Turn off your headlights!
This whale watching trip almost ended in disaster. On the trip across the Baja peninsula, as we made our way from the Sea of Cortez on the Eastern side to the Pacific Ocean, the skies became grey. Then mist and fog surrounded our little four door rental as I tried to avoid potholes. So I flipped on the headlights (good). Later I parked the car and we headed on our whale watching adventure. But, the homey ginger forgot to turn off said headlights (bad). When we returned a few hours later: nada. The alternator would not even engage or click.
So I had to go looking for jumper cables.
In Ottawa, my hometown, this would be easy-peasy. Here, not so much. I received many negative reactions. I thought we were Major League 3 screwed. Until a local took matters into his own hands and polled the entire surf-side community. Just when all hope was lost, a guy with a decidedly Scooby Doo looking VW-style old van said “Si” when given the universal hand-waving jumper-cable up-and-down hand motion. Not only did he have cables, he was able to walk his batter over to our rental car. Minutes later Loni and I were headed back to Loreto, but not without a subtle wifey poem… ode to the Clint; the one that also thought a dash of hand soap would work fine in the dishwasher the night before. Speaking of economies, who said life was bubble free?
Tomorrow: Adventures in gardening (aka time to rip-out the Loreto Bay builder standard landscaping and have local Loreto business do it right)… more wine stories? Internet access…?