On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Last night, just before sunset I saw my first whales of the season. Last year I saw my first one on November 1st, so this is 9 days earlier.

Since whales are mammals they breath air and so must return to the surface at regular intervals to get a breath. This is waht I saw last night....their breathing and blowing out of air. There appeared to be 3 of them as there were 3 spouts moving south. Once in the Sea of Cortez they give birth. These babies will stay with their mothers for over a year and feed on her milk. They begin their migration back to Alaska shortly after they are born.

Friends saw a school of porpoise yesrday, too. I figured since whales belong to the group of mammals called Cetaceans, along with dolphins and porpoises, then they all must be coming back. The waters are getting cool enough for them now. Love this time of year!!!

Ocotber 21st. My first whale sighting of the year. January and February are really the best months to observe the largest number of whales in migration. We have rooms available. Come and see nature at its best!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Old home week

Ever wonder what that expression means? No, me neither. It is an expression people use when they refer to an experience from the past...I assume. They use it whether that experience involves a day, a night, or an actual week.

I guess my reference to “old home week” should actually be called “old home month”. Maurice and I decided we needed to have an additional pool patio. The one we have is not big enough when we have many guests, and seriously a little too intimate to put 6 strangers together on their pool loungers. We have learned everyone likes to be around the pool so the other areas we have set up for lounging are never used...thus, the need for more space.

Last week some of our original building crew began the month long project. “Here they go again”...schlepping re-bar, bags of cement, concrete blocks, wheel barrels of sand and gravel, all the way to the top of the cliff. Here I go again, reveling in their strength and hard work, especially in the heat! Gees, they are amazing.

Senor Backhoe Retro is back, delivering the sand and gravel, as is Jose. Since these guys built, Arriba de la Roca, they deservedly have some type of “mental” ownership. Walking around, checking everything out, getting water, hooking up electric, looking in the windows. Gone are the days when they would never think of walking into our kitchen...cucina, to them. In they come. They use the bano and laugh and smile all the time. They call our dog Retro “loco” since he barks at them endlessly, and they always wave goodbye when they leave.

I am happy. This whole thing, besides being a smart business decision, is fun for me. I love having them around again. I enjoy their singing, their spirit and their dedication...but I guess I could say that about almost every local I have met here. Mexicans here are good!

Two weeks ago a couple that was staying here drove north of La Paz to a place called Pichilinqua. They were on an isolated area of beach road when their axel broke and their tire fell off. Some local guys came by and not only offered to help to move the car, but they leant them their phone so they could make all the calls needed to remedy the situation; which in their case meant a new rental car. The guys then stayed with them, just in case they may have the need for the phone again. Our guests were blown away!!

Afraid of coming to Mexico?? I promise you that you will never have one second of concern when you are in our area of the world. Besides the incomparable beauty, the people here are kind and good. You will love it, as well as our new pool deck...I guarantee it!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Read and Read some more..

It has been over two weeks since I did a posting. The heat of summer has been upon us, forcing us to make good use of our pool. I can not imagine being here without one. In the beginning it seemed like such an indulgence. We have learned it is a “must” during this time of the year. Many days I just stand in it and read; Slathered in sunscreen, with a big straw hat on my head.

So what have I done for the past couple of weeks beside swim? I have read. A few weeks I started re-reading Michael Connelly’s “Harry Bosch” books. We have most of them and it had been numerous years since I had read them so I began again. Incredible what you forget! I would think to myself, this sounds familiar but I do not have a clue what is going to happen in this book!! I do not think it is because of “age” as some people say. It is because I have so much inside my brain that some things get shoved to the back and I have to bring them forward again. I tell Maurice this is because I am SOOOO brilliant!!! I think he doubts me.

I have also been introduced to a series called “The Zion Chronicles”. There are five books in this series and I am now on number 4. Set in Israel, right after WWII, these books document the struggle between the Palestinians, the Jews, and the governing British, after the United Nations decided to give the Jews back their homeland. Historical fiction, they are thought provoking and a great series.

Now I just finished the sequel to “Pillars of the Earth”, by Ken Follett. “The World Without End” I have had for a few years. Since it is over 1000 pages I never wanted to commit to the time it would take to read it. Last week I said to myself, you are reading 5 books a week…oh brilliant one…Read this one!!! Stupid logic left it on the shelf for a long time!!! Again, it was another great book!

Since I did not want to turn my blog into a “book club” meeting I have not done any postings. Rest assured Maurice and I are great and really enjoying these lazy days of summer. It is quiet here and many folks are gone until October. We are getting reservations for the upcoming season and are looking forward to welcoming new guests here. If you have no plans come join us at Arriba de la Roca this American Thanksgiving. I am cooking a turkey and we are offering every third night of your stay at no charge.

We even have a great book library for you to delve into while you are here!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I think your pants are on fire


Hurricane Greg, bearing 80 mph winds, is 340 miles south of the tip of Baja California, the Miami-based center said earlier. The hurricane, rated Category 1 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, is moving west-northwest at 21 mph and may strengthen further without endangering land, before weakening tomorrow


Greg, which formed as a tropical storm Wednesday, was located in the eastern Pacific Ocean about 340 miles (545km) south of Baja, California, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said .

And from 2pm today from WEATHERUNDERGROUND, which tracks storms minute to minute....

The intensity of Greg has likely plateaued and is not expected to change much in the next 12hours. Beyond 12 hours...Greg is forecast to move over increasingly cooler waters which will cause steady weakening.


Today at 2pm when this news above was posted on Weatherunderground Maurice and I were cleaning the pool. It was hot and not much wind. We are expecting some guests here tomorrow so I had already watered the plants and swept the terraces. Maurice was busy down below. We had really wanted to get the pool done so this was the last thing we were going to do today, before we had lunch and relaxed. Well about 3 o’clock it started getting windy and Maurice moved the plants around the pool inside our great room. He said that soil was blowing in the clean water. O.K. About 30 minutes later it was getting windier and windier and I asked Maurice to check the computer to see if we had missed some weather report. He checked and told me no...we had not missed anything. Well, as the wind intensified and the cushions started blowing, and the umbrellas blew over, and the leather deck chairs also blew over, we figured something WAS going on.

From all we read apparently Hurricane Greg is far from us…no need to worry about any effects here. I THINK NOT!!! All these weather reporters need to be here in the southern Baja. We actually had two of our lights blow right off the outside walls…and they were screwed on. The pool water is blowing all over and it sprays you as you walk by. The ocean is in so much turmoil that there is not a speck of it that is not blowing, heaving and moving...there is no calm. The windows, shut so we are baking inside, are shaking and wobbling. I am imagining that man, you remember him from your childhood, you know the one with those big cheeks?? He is up there somewhere blowing down at us so hard that his face is beat red!!

I just walked out to check on things, even though most of what we have has already been tucked away, and I felt like my face was getting sandblasted! Maurice is huffing and puffing with Retro following him around…neither one of them has “happy heads”. Maurice is checking and re-checking every little thing.

So much for Hurricane Greg not effecting land! I am so glad I swept and cleaned everything up today!! Glad we cleaned the pool!! Gees what a mess!! I think I will take some pictures and send them to those weather guys. You know, the ones with their pants on fire!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why everyone loves this guy!!

Thanks to one of our guests, Jacob, for capturing Retro's personality in this photo.

With his "happy head" who could NOT love him!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Pacific

We live on the ocean. I have never lived on the ocean before and many of the things that I now associate with the Pacific came as a surprise to me.

The never ending ebbing beach. Yes, we have tides and undertows and natural breakwaters, but what I have seen in my year and half by the sea is that the beach changes and morphs daily. I tell our guests to be aware of the sand and the beach. Notice where the surf hits and how high the beach is from the waves….because tomorrow it will be different. Between June and November we loose about half the beach’s sand...it is pulled out to sea. From November until the following June, it all comes back.

Seashells. No, not the seashells surprise me; it is the lack of seashells that surprise me. You have to search long and far to come up with a pocket full of shells...no matter what time of year. The good thing about this is that the sand is fine, smooth and easy to walk on.

The color of the water changes as much as the ebb and flow of the beach’s sand. One day it is brilliant turquoise and the next it is dark navy. I am learning the color is dependent upon the weather. Be it here or 300 miles from us, all weather effects the colors we see when we look at the ocean. The colors can change from hour to hour also, depending upon the strength and the position of the sun.

The sea creatures and fish are miraculous. Of course when the whales are migrating it is a sight like no other. But when we see a school of dolphins playing down below, or hear sea-rays flapping and flying through the air it is dreamlike. Sometimes there are 100’s of silver fish that take turns leaping out of the water while they travel north of south. Maurice tells me there is a predator in the water and they are leaping out to try to avoid being eaten.

Rainbows. Sometimes, when the sun is just right, and the waves are breaking, just before they hit shore, you can see rainbows in the tide. Vibrant colors dancing on top of the surf.

Salt. Every single things is covered in salt. ALWAYS!! I have sanded metal objects that sit in our house and sprayed them with lacquer to keep them from rusting. There is a salt film on everything we own. To keep the windows clear is a constant battle. The mist from the sea is invisible, but always there. We are 50 meters above the sea. I cannot imagine how much worse it would be if we were at sea level.

The waves never end. The intensity changes, but they never stop. I know this is a given, but to watch them is almost hypnotic. Sometimes gentle and subtle and other times they hit the beach and the cliff below us so strongly that our windows…bathed in salt...actually shake.

The crabs on the beach are Retro’s toys. He chases them and plays with them. I revel in their numbers. It is not that I view the crabs themselves but when the surfs recedes there are 100’s of bubbles in the wet sand, at the base of which is a buried crab.

The sunsets. No matter what time of year the sun sets right in front of us, into the oean. The ocean swallows it up and you can almost hear the water sizzle as it goes down.

All these things now define “seaside” to me. The surf, the sand, the salt, the fish, the crabs, the waves, the colors. BUT, think...what is missing? Really think about the times you have been to the ocean, or by the sea, what is missing in my observations?

I did not realize the answer either until about two weeks ago. When you are at the ocean there are always seagulls. Have you ever been by the sea and not had sea gulls squawking and flying above you? Of course not.


We never had seagulls here, so to me I never thought about them NOT being here. Then two weeks ago, when Mary was here, they just came. I am not sure from where?? I am not sure how long they will be here, but here they are. They fly above us and squawk. This makes me smile! NOW...I truly do believe we live by sea.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The storm before the wind...or the storm that made the wind…Or Dora Dora Dora.

On Friday of last week, we had rain. It was amazing! A good 45 minutes of solid, warm, refreshing rain. The rain is rare right now as it is still a little early in the season. We figured it was probably the result of Hurricane Dora that was down on the west coast of the mainland.

After the rain stopped the sun came out and that night we experienced some of the most spectacular sunset colors we had seen here. The reflection of the already set sun onto the shifting clouds that were still in the sky was a photographers dream. I, not being a photographer, did my best...

Saturday, after a colorful sunrise, I drove to the airport in Cabo.
Sharon rode with me as she has a flight to the U.S. and I was going to pick up my friend Mary who was arriving from Minneapolis. (To learn about Mary read “Mexico 1982” posted July 2nd, 2010) I was excited that Mary was coming to see us! She had not been here for a year and we were VERY far from done last time. I swept, and vacuumed, and “poofed and floofed” the house. I was ready!!!!

After I picked up Mary we did the normal Costco and Wal-Mart stops, calling Maurice along the way to see if he needed anything. He appeared to be getting more stressed each time we spoke. He explained it was getting really windy and that there were lots of flies in the house. He said we should pick up some fly strips; you know those obnoxious gold colored sticky strips that you may see hanging in old restaurants or hardware stores. He said the fly spray we had was not working. The thought of hanging these ugly, gross strips in our house horrified me, but I looked for them anyway cause he sounded in such “need“. Happily, I could not find them.

Maurice called again saying he was bringing in plants because the wind was really picking up. He said a pool chair blew in the pool. He was very frantic sounding. We didn‘t really concern ourselves as there was no weather at all in Cabo. It was sunny and warm…no wind.

On his third call he said the flies were carpeting our bedroom floor. Did we get the fly strips?? How close were we to home? I told him no, we did not find them and that we would be home in about 20 minutes. We still could see or feel any wind….of course he must be exaggerating, right?

Finally, about 10 minutes away from our place we noticed the ocean was filled with white caps. The sand from the road that was under construction was blowing all around us. The truck was shaking slightly from the winds. WOW!!!

What was going on!!!

Finally, I get Mary to the gate of Arriba de la Roca. I had been so excited to show her everything. We were having grilled salmon for dinner……

But oh my!!! Opening up the iron gate was such an effort! It seemed that the winds were blowing about 100 mph!! It was insane!!! How were we going to bring the luggage and supplies up the cliff???? What was happening??

Maurice had gone on line and found out that hurricane Dora was about 200 miles directly west of us. Hurricanes are graded by their wind speeds and categorized accordingly. Dora had dipped under 74 mph so it had been downgraded to a tropical storm, he said. So it was no longer “Hurricane Dora” only “Tropical Storm Dora”. I cannot even imagine if it would have been a full-fledged hurricane! No wonder Maurice “sounded frantic”!! I would have been screaming like crazy!!!! GET HOME!!! Or…Aunty Emm…TOTO!!!!

When we finally got up on top I found our main room is open and it was filled with plants leaves, stems, and dirt that had flown in, and yes, flies. I have never in my life seen so many flies in one place. It was creepy and totally gross. They were everywhere!!! To open windows and doors meant more flies and wind. To close the windows meant being jailed in a hot room with 100’s and 100’s of flies.

Maurice had been busy!!! All the lawn furniture, umbrellas, decorative planters, was either laid down either flat or inside our house. Sadly, we lost two cushions down the cliff! There they were perched in the abyss, never to be touched again.


We got stuff put away as much as we could. Then we decided to set up lawn chairs in the doorway of our main room and watch the wind. We pushed the doors open as far as possible and we sat there drinking margaritas and trying not to freak out.
After a couple of hours we decided that Dora was not as bad as we thought it was and that we could still dance a little. The wind was not strong enough to blow us off the balcony so we danced up a storm...so to speak!!!!! By then we were drinking wine and decided there was no way I was making salmon!! The flies were crawling everywhere!! The thought was absurd!!! I threw a quick snack together, flapping my arms about me like a crazy kook, and we kept on drinking and dancing!!

I had told Maurice there was not a chance we were sleeping in our room. Thank heavens Mary’s had been totally closed up, but ours had been open in the beginning and Maurice was not exaggerating when he said the floor was a carpet of flies. So he closed it all up and sprayed a can of fly killer inside. By the time we went to bed, I vacuumed up 860 dead flies, with only 100 remaining. EEWW!!! Nevertheless, we did sleep in there. I guess by staying up until one in the morning and sampling most of the alcohol we had in our bar we were actually able to sleep.

On Sunday we all woke up to a calm, lovely day here at Arriba de la Roca. We had lost some plants, destroyed by the winds, but really we were otherwise fine. A few hours of clean-up and it was like Dora was never here. Except for our headaches, and the pictures we have of our palms laying perpendicular to their planters, our first Tropical Storm was almost like a dream.

So much for giving Mary a lovely welcome to Arriba de la Roca. So much for the poofing and floofing!!! Well, for sure, it will be a trip that none of us will forget!

P.S. Maurice actually climbed down the cliff the next day and rescued our cushions! Can you see him down there??? Seriously, I was so nervous that I thought I was going to puke just looking at him!!

Or maybe that was the cocktails form the night before!! :)