On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So many firsts

Over the past 6 weeks, we have had friends and family visiting us. Each of these visits has resulted in at least one first for us, and of course them as well.

First, there was my mom. Of course, you remember the picture of her in our pool, feet splashing in the water as we filled our hot tub and pool for the first time. She not only got to experience the filling of the pool, she also got to have the first swim.

Next, my sister Barbara was here. She also got to swim in the pool, but this was not a first for us, only for her. (She also did NOT get to swim in the pool for two days when our workers brought their entire families, complete with coolers, and kind of “took over” our pool. Two separate families, two different days, both uninvited, but that is another story.) My first with Barbara was that she and I got to see the first whaleS of 2010 during their migration. This was on November 1st.

Next my friend Jackie came. Her visit was filled with many whale sightings, and of course swimming, too. With Jackie, we had our first turtle rescue. Actually our first and last, as I have not seen a turtle on the beach since she left. We were also SO close to sleeping up on top. We even set up beds. Unfortunately, we had no water, toilets, or electricity, so the first sleep was passed on to.....

Our dear ex-Tottenham neighbors, Rick and Kate. During their visit here we “moved up”. (My last post “First sleep”) After one sleep with them in our bodega, Maurice was determined to get us up on top. So with no electricity, but toilets that flushed we hauled out candles and lanterns and slept “Arriba”.

Our final first was with Rocco and Donna. Rocco is Maurice’s friend who drove all the way down here with him from Canada in June of 2009. Rocco and Maurice worked together for 17 years and are totally simpatico. Donna and he are very special to us and yesterday, sadly, they headed back to Toronto.

We had many firsts with them. We had electricity! Maurice and I ran around screwing in light bulbs to determine which lights worked; many did not. (Guess we have to get those plumbers-who-are-also-electricians back here!!)

We still have no solar but Maurice “stole” electricity from the bodega’s batteries and that worked!!

We also had our first propane experiences: Propane in our outdoor kitchen so we could grill steaks on our new BBQ. Propane in our fireplace so we could eat by firelight, and propane in the firepots that line the edges of the pool and separate it from our living room. THAT WAS COOL!!!...and warm!! They give off lots of heat!

We also ate dinner at our dining room table.

We had music from my IPOD, plugged into our wall that was receiving an electric current from the bodega’s batteries! We were up until after midnight, which is almost another first in itself!!! We experienced what our home really feels like with guests...and no kitchen counters, or sink, or stove, or frig...well you get the idea.

So the next 6 weeks will be filled with a continuing list of firsts. By the end of that time, we should have Arriba de la Roca in full swing! We still have lots of details to finish, furniture to move in, and things to set up and buy. Each day holds a different surprise and a new experience to unfold.

I think life should always be like that, don’t you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First sleep!

We finally had our first sleep “arriba”. We have no electricity yet, but we do have flushing toilets so we made-do with some lanterns, candles and flashlights. The moon was one day from being full so the sky was really bright and we could see well, even without the candles.

Our Tottenham neighbors Rick and Kate were here for the big event. We set up some beds, threw some of our blankets on top and they spent the night in Pacifica. Of course Maurice and I were in our room. There are so many windows in our room and the view is so spectacular that I hardly slept. I kept opening my eyes and watching the stars change, and the moon set into the ocean. It was spectacular! Towards morning Maurice flew out of bed to look outside because we heard this “pounding-slapping” noise. WHAT THE HECK?? So Maurice went on a search to find the source. It happened to be rays jumping out of the ocean!! When they went back in they created this “pounding-slapping” sound. It was so loud we were shocked! Maybe it was the atmosphere this day but they sounded so close it was like they were in the pool!

I am sure we are in for many such surprises when we move on top permanently. We have been watching the whales migrate and the day I went to pick up Rick and Kate, Maurice had a show for about 45 minutes. Just below us he said there were whales, leaping, dancing, singing and blowing out air. He said he never saw anything like it. It was almost as if they were performing for him. This will continue until April as they head to the Sea of Cortez and then migrate back to Alaska. This is the furthest distance any mammal migrates, about 6,000 miles in total.

At night we will sit in bed watching the stars, listening to the rays leap in and out of the water, and see the moon set into the ocean. During the day we can view the whale show from our pool, while making splashing sounds of our own.


P.S. Just posted a few more pictures on Arriba de la Roca’s Facebook page. We should be open by mid December….keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 19, 2010



3 Sunrises and 26 turtles

My friend Jackie planned a nice 10 day vacation here at Arriba de la Roca. I am sure she expected to be sleeping in her casita at night, and swimming and relaxing during the day. What she did not expect was to be spending 10 nights on our fold-out sofa because we have not finished our project!!

Being a good sport, and a great friend, she was gracious and we had a wonderful time. We watched whales migrate to the Sea of Cortez, had pizza at The Sand Bar, got massages on the beach, visited LaPaz and Cabo, toured Todos Santos and we walked the beach every morning, watching the rainbows and the jumping fish.

Her last day we got up early so we could get our walk in before I had to take her to the airport. It was dawn and the sun had not risen over the Sierra da la Laguna Mountains when we took off for our walk. As we were coming back we watched the sun rise over the peak of the mountain range. It was beautiful. The funny thing is though, that when we walked on we lost the sun behind the mountains again and so we saw a second sunrise in a different spot. To be able to see three sunrises in the same morning we ran further up the beach to the shade so we could see this spectacle of nature one more time.

It was fun.

As we were nearing the end of the beach Jackie looked down and saw a turtle. It was a baby, newly hatched and trying to get to the ocean. The problem is that ATV’s had been on the beach and the turtle was caught in the tracks.
We picked it up and took it to the ocean. We were excited to have saved it!! Coming back, though, we saw more, and more of these babies! Every time we put more in the ocean, we found more. We saved a total of 26 baby turtles on Jackie’s last day in the Baja. It was a gift we could have never ever expected.

Everyday in life is unpredictable and we never know what to expect. When you experience 3 sunrises in the same day, and save 26 baby turtles you look up in the sky and shout, “THANK YOU!!!!”

Our life is full of blessings….my visit with Jackie was one of them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

OH MAN part 2....

Jesus has a job for 6 months, at least. When Maurice called him to find out how long he would be on his job this is what he told him. Where he is working right now they are building a house. We can not make this kind of time committment to him. For that reason Maurice did not ask him to come help him.

I beleive that he may be brought to us yet...just not right now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Today we ran into Jesus(pronounced HEY-SOOS)...of course there are 1,674,221 men named Jesus in Mexico but this particular "Jesus" is our Jesus. He wears a white hat, speaks "rapido Spanish", is very intense when working, and smiles in a subdued way when he is pleased about something. He is not a "normal" employee of Don Jose, our builder, but is hired when needed on his crew. For our job Jesus was here about 3/4 of the time. I would call him "the man in the hat" and Maurice always knew who I meant. You never see him without his white hat.

About 6 weeks ago Jesus was told he was no longer needed on this job. He came to us and thanked us for letting him work on our project. It brought a tear to my eye. He was one of the hardest workers we had and he was THANKING US for letting him work here. The next week we created additional "labor" by adding some stone walls around the parking area and Don Jose brought Jesus back. He is what they call an unskilled laborer. He works hard at what he is told to do but is not a skilled worker. For this reason he makes $2,000 pesos a week, or about $160. For us he worked 5 days a week, 8 to 10 hours a day so he made about $3 to $4 an hour, depending on the day. The skilled labors made between $2,200 and $3,000 pesos a week.

Now the job has ended here for all of these workers. We had a party for them and gave them an envelope with a bonus in it. The 10 guys, which we included Jesus in, that had worked here the entire time got more than the ones that worked here up until 6 to 8 weeks ago. After Jesus opened his bonus he came to our door to thank us. He had owed Maurice $500 pesos ($40) and he had this money out to pay him back. Maurice told him that he no longer owed him the money. The guy actually teared-up and I had to turn away so he did not see me cry. $40 can make a grown man cry! My word!! We are so blessed!

Strangely, all day today I kept telling Maurice to call Jesus and ask him if he could help Maurice carry all the solar panels and racking up on the roof next week. It is a two day job and Maurice cannot do it alone. Maurice said that Jesus had told him he got another job. I kept saying call him anyway....I can be a pain that way. So today in Todos Santos, we run into him. He smiles and comes to the car shaking our hands. Maurice asks him if he may be available to help him for a couple of days. He tells us that he now has a job but it is for little money. He is working 6 days a week from 7am to 3pm for $1100 pesos. OH MAN!! Can you imagine?? That is about $13 a day and about 1/2 what he made working for Don Jose! He would love to earn some extra helping Maurice but since it is far from us there is really no time.

So I start thinking of all the things we could have him do for us. We could keep him busy for at least 3 or 4 months and when we open for business maybe even longer. Yes, I know we cannot save the world but this guy has a family and is trying to make it on less that $90 a week!

We decided that we would "sleep on it" and if we still felt we could afford him and actually keep him busy we are calling Jesus tomorrow and offering to employ him for the next 3 or 4 months. We will tell him that if Don Jose can give him a job we would happily let him go back to work for him, but in the meantime he can work with us. We will pay him what he would make with Don Jose, not the $1100 pesos the person who is totally using him is paying him…or as Maurice says, “Gee some people really take advantage!”

Well since I am writing this at 1 am I guess I cannot "sleep on it". I just keep thinking of the tears in his eyes when Maurice told him his $500 peso debt was paid off....I cannot even imagine how he will react when we offer him a fair job at a wage he is used to being paid. No, we can’t "save the world" but we can try to help those in the world we live in...even if it is only one at a time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Integrity and honor

In the last few days I have had numerous discussions with other Americans or Canadians about integrity and honor. These conversations are a result of some of the issues we are dealing with now. Of course you know about the evil demon in our fairy tale world. He is still lurking in our shadows. He keeps trying to come up with ways to access what he thinks he is entitled to. Will he ever win? No, but, that does not mean we do not feel him in our sides….prodding and poking….this too, shall pass, and as of now it may have. Time will tell.

Next there is our kitchen “guy”. We were told that our installation was to begin on October 15th. This has been changed to the 23rd, then the 25th, and then yesterday. Each time the change comes with a promise they will really be here “this time“. Each time they do not show I have to call and call and call to find out they are not coming and to hear of another date they randomly pull out of their….well, out of somewhere. Now the new date is today. It is 8:50am. Our workers have been here since 7:30. No kitchen guys.

Some say “that is how it is down here”. I adamantly disagree. We have dealt with probably 40 different people in the building of our dream. To run into 2 that are lacking some integrity I think is a pretty good percentage. (I won’t even get into the story of the original guy from Oregon who wanted to do the project, but that makes three people...one from the U.S. He certainly had the least amount of integrity we have found yet.) I think if anyone, anyplace, tried to undertake what we have done here they may very well run into more people than we have that have caused them concern. The genuine work ethic and the integrity and sense of honor that all the others have, certainly outweigh these irritating few we have found.

How is it down here? It is sunny, even when there are clouds. It is fresh, even when there is no rain. It is free and easy, even when evil people prod and poke at you. It is peaceful, even when we feel anger.

We are so close to being done.

Here is a picture taken from our neighbor’s lot.

We now have railings, and doors and windows.

We have cabinets and showers with faucets.

We have water in our pool.
I have posted 24 pictures on our Arriba de la Roca Facebook page if you want to see more. And if you have not yet said you “like“ our page, please do.

We are almost done and when the process is complete we will walk away realizing how lucky we are to have built our dream here in Mexico and we will always appreciate the friends we have made here.