On top of the rock

On top of the rock
Our Cliff

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Wednesday Nights

Many of our guests make sure their trip here includes a Wednesday night. Why you ask??

OF COURSE!!!! It's because every Wednesday it is "all you can eat pizza" at The Sand Bar.

Not only is it all you can eat...it is good!!!

When traveling into Pescadero look for this sign.

We arrived this past Wednesday, with my mom, and like the other weeks we have gone there we are one of the early birds...but not as early as our Policia! They LOVE the for-them-totally-free-pizza. Knowing them all by now, we gladly pull up next to their car and pose for this photo.

What awaits us when we arrive is a freshly baked pizza! What they do is make them all from scratch, one at a time....and they keep coming as long as someone is there eating them. Our favorite is pepperoni and jalapenos. They made shrimp and pesto, vegetarian, sausage, cheese, pineapple and bacon....pretty much anything you want. For an Italian like Maurice to love the pizza, you know it HAS to be good.

I took this shot of Keith, Sharon, Maurice and mom, at our table, on the sand floor, under the gigantic mango tree. We have to beware of falling magos at The Sand Bar.

The crowd is sparse as we always arrive early since they have two for one drinks until the sun sets. We LOVE June...not so happy in December.

A few other regulars are here early to take advantage of the 2-4-1 and to beat the rush of pizza eaters that arrive later in the evening.

Soon the rest of the regulars arrive. We know most of the people here, at least by sight. Most of the people here on Wednesdays are gringos, just like us.

Gabe, our fabulous bartender always takes good care of us, often times sending us home with a plastic cup! Can't do that too many places! Here is tries to control the pizza crowd!!!

One guy is really sad when we leave. Who will drop their crust on the floor for him when we are gone??!!

So there you have a quick re-cap of our Wednesday nights. Two more sleeps and we will be pulling in their parking lot at 5:30. We will see you there!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


For the last year I have heard about Marcos. He is a potter that lives in the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains and sells his wares to many of the gringos here. Our friends Keith and Sharon have tried to get us to head up there to see his goods on many occasions but it never worked out until yesterday. My mom is here so we thought it would be a great opportunity to drive up, meet Marcos and contract him do some work for us.

Marcos’ place is only 11 miles into the mountains, but these 11 miles take about an hour to get through as the dirt road is very rustic, even though it is one of the better ones we have found. Just to be safe, Keith called ahead to make sure Marcos would be there for us.

We arrived to find a very charming, only Spanish speaking Marcos, his brother, his brother’s wife and his sister there waiting for us. His home was typical in many ways except he had hide drying on the fence and pounds of meat drying all around the kitchen area. This we had not seen before. The place was spotless, albeit rustic. My mother asked him now long he had lived there and he looked rather shocked. In his 60 plus years this is the only place he has lived. When Keith asked him how often he “heads down” to get supplies, he answered hardly ever. Why would he?.. he asked, when everything he needed was there.

Maurice figured he would last about a week!!

Our intention was to have Marcos make 110 pottered light holders, or sconces, for the lights on our terracing. When Maurice showed him the cardboard prototype of the sconce we wanted made, Marcos said it may be difficult because there were "esquinas" which are corners. He explained, of course in Spanish, that the curve of the things he makes is what gives them the strength they have. We know people here that have ALL of their dishes made by Marcos. They are STRONG and very durable. Anyway, he asked how many sconces we needed and Maurice told him 100.

100!!! He LAUGHED!! His brother laughed. His brother's wife laughed. He sister laughed!! 100!!! This guy makes each piece by hand. He makes each piece of pottery by digging the clay from the earth, mixing this with hay and the other things you need to make pottery, then he molds each piece by hand. No wheel. No equipment. Only a container of water and his hands! I am guessing 100 light sconces sounded absurd to them all. I can not even imagine how long that would take this one, single guy, to do them. How would we have known!! What stupid gringos, huh??!!!

Oh well, our trip was not lost. I finally got my first "Marcos pot". It is a lovely casserole. Sharon also added to her already established collection.

Now the bad part!! I do not know where my head was at cause I did not even think to take pictures while we were with him!! I AM SO UPSET ABOUT THAT. No pictures of the hides, or his “studio”. NOTHING!!!

When we stopped for our picnic, the realization hit me!! NO PHOTOS FOR THE BLOG!!! GEES!!!
Well, here is one of me on our picnic, with my pot. At least you can see how beautiful it is.

Our day ended here.

Eating egg salad sandwiches and drinking beer. We found Keith and Sharon's perfect picnic spot a wonderful way to end our first, of hopefully many trips to see Marcos, the famous potter.

When you plan a trip here make sure to bring some bubble wrap cause you also may want to pack a lunch and head up to meet Marcos. For $50 you can go home with a spectacular memory of your trip to the Baja.

P.S. You may even see bees the size of humming birds!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It’s all about the "fight"

Over the weekend we had a lovely couple here. What we learned from them is that they are working on their relationship. They have agreed to make a commitment, and are now trying to see if they can create a future together. They are slightly older than some couples attempting this and find they are having challenges as both of them are rather set-in-their ways. They have both been single all their lives.

Looking to me and Maurice for conversation, not advice, they shared some details about some the things they have encountered with each other. One of the hardest things that have had to deal with is arguing. They seem to be constantly “at each other”. They do not think that couples should NOT argue...and of course, nor do I. I think it is virtually impossible to really love someone and not argue with each other at some time. Emotions are always high when you love and sometimes these emotions burst open and there is conflict. What I tried to explain to them is it is not the arguing that is the issue; it is HOW you argue.

I really think that when a couple starts learning about each other one of the most important things they need to learn is “how” each other argues. What do I mean by “how”? There are many ways to disagree and some of them do not have to be destructive. If you can leanr to "fight" constructively, then the rest of things fall into place. These are my rules.

Do not try to hurt the other person. Do not use words like, “You are....” These words place blame on the other person and immediate makes them defensive. I have seen people fight and their only goal is to hurt the other person. This only creates bad feelings without resolution.

Do not throw up things from the past. When someone trusts you with their secrets the worst thing you can do is use them against them in a fight. Talk about a quick way to dissolve trust! Would you confide in someone, no matter how much you love them, if they throw these confidences in your face during an argument?

Be respectful. I guess this goes along with the first two things I said. If you do not try to hurt your partner and have respect for who they are and their thoughts and wishes you can disagree without consequence.

Do not think about winning. Whenever you argue with ANYONE and your goal is to win or to change their mind so they are “right” like you are, you will never be happy unless the other person looses to you. How healthy is that?? If you care about someone enough to be friends or partners with them make sure you care enough to not have to change them into who you want them to be. Equal partners’ means you both are entitled to be right..and no one needs to win.

YA YA….I know what all of you who know me are thinking!! ME GIVING UP WINNING!!!! Yes, I love to argue and discuss and REALLY want everyone to be as smart as me, but alas, I have learned this is not possible. So I graciously try to let others FEEL they know something, when I know they really don’t have a clue. O.K. JUST KIDDING. It is a blast to argue politics, religion etc...but my rules are not about these things. They are about making sure that when you commit to someone you do as little as possible to undermine a relationship that will always need effort. Positive and supportive effort. Not destructive, hurtful efforts.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know except that is was an interesting discussion with them and I really think it was enlightening. All these rules are things that I, too, need to be reminded of so I thought I would write them all out so I can refer to them mentally when Maurice is driving me crazy! O.K. JUST KIDDING, again..kind of. Really, if one person reading this gets just one point off of what I have written then I am glad I took the time.

Now go hug the one you love.

P.S. Retro is running around like the puppy he is! All better...AGAIN!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Many more than 9 lives...I hope

We have the best dog! Retro is so playful, sweet and such a smart animal. He understands every word we say to him...whether he chooses to listen and accommodate our requests is still really up to him. I guess that is just the puppy in him...time will tell. You would think for an animal that is so smart that he would not be so dumb!!

Since we have had him, which is 14 months now, he has seriously hurt himself 6 times.

Remember this little guy (O.K. maybe not so little...he weighs 70 pounds and stands over 3 feet tall) was rescued from the streets so I am sure his first two or three months gave him a resilience that most animals and even some people do not have. The first injury he experienced with us was a large cut/bite on his back leg. We did not see it happen, but we think he got into a fight with another dog. Well you can imagine how I reacted. AHHHH....poor Retro. I rubbed peroxide on it...I kept awwwing and oohing while I rubbed his poor little tummy. He eventually healed of course, but a nice scar mars his lovely leg.

Next he took after a rabbit that he saw running by our place. Did he exit through a gate? Of course not, he took off through the newly installed barbed wire fence (Barbed wire to keep cows and burrows from eating our plants) I happened to see it happen. He screamed and dropped down on the ground...rabbit be gone....and when I ran over, yelling for Maurice, I saw blood. His underbelly and chest was cut open and on the fence were remnants of his fur and skin. IT WAS HORRIBLE. More peroxide, more petting, and a trip to the vet. There was nothing he could do, really. We were told to keep him clean. Thank heavens he could not lick it or it may not have healed, but heal it did. He now had more scares to add to his leg bite.

Often he would come around with cactus spines stuck in his feet. He would try to get them out with his mouth and on occasion the spike would get stuck in his tongue. Now that is interesting. Every try to get a cactus spike out of a dog’s tongue? You cannot use your fingers…THEY HURT. Often it is a two man job…Jesus and Maurice. Jesus to hold him, and Maurice, using a rag, to pull them out. I would just cringe yelling DON’T HURT HIM!!! Of course they are not going to hurt him!! He also often comes with new cuts and scrapes. Whether they were from the fence, or cactus, we do not really know. Slowly we have watched more scars on his lovely body. One of the scariest for us was when he cut his eye. Again...a trip to the vet. I was not here so Maurice took him. Luckily it did not "take out" his eye but whatever it was it cut his eyelid and under his eye. The effect is kind of like permanent tear drops. The vet gave him drops to stop infection in the eye, and this too has healed.

Next there is his broken toe. How do we know it was broken? Because when he was running after an unknown animal I heard him scream and fall down. His third toe on his back left foot was perpendicular to his others; clearly broken to us. The vet is now supporting his cousins and brothers children with our visits, but off to the vet we go. Again...there is really nothing he can do. He can cast it; if we wish, and take X-Rays, but he does not suggest it. It is broken and will heal. He gave him a shot for pain and home we head.

Now we have a problem. Retro runs all the time. His favorite thing to do is chase our Kawasaki Mule up and down the cliff. Of course you cannot have him doing this while limping on three legs so Maurice taught him to ride on the seat, like a passenger. He loved to leap up there, sit down, and watch as he was driven up and down the cliff....the King of his domain. After about a month his toe got better and then we had to BREAK him of the habit of riding in the Mule. Guests would be shoved aside so he could have his seat. He is a big guy so he can shove pretty well when he wants to.

Just a couple of weeks ago he showed up with fresh slices all down the back of his front right leg and under his neck and the top of his chest. O.K.....no peroxide...no oohs and awwws...just a quick look, a quick pat, and a "ARE YOU STUPID OR WHAT!!!" comment. I told Maurice that we may not have this guy long the way he keeps hurting himself, but he will sure have a good life while we do.

Then yesterday he gets his back left leg...the one of broken toe fame...ran over by the Kawasaki Mule. GEES!!! Back to OOHHHING AND AWWWING!!!! He chases that stupid Mule all the time and somehow he got his leg under it. It is cut and bleeding but we can hardly believe it....it appears it is not broken! He is limping around here on three legs..again! He is not eating. His nose is dry. He looks at us with sad eyes. But...we do not think it is broken. We may take him to the vet tomorrow but he is back riding on the Mule. Today we took him down, and up. I think this is the best part for him. He is back being the King of the hill....now this King has a swollen leg/foot, but Maurice thinks the accident re-set his broken toe as it does not stick up quite so much!!

Talk about 9 lives!!! This is really a lucky pup....or unlucky and stupid...either way, we love the guy!! He is a real gift to us...and to our vet!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hotel Casting 2011

We heard that there is an American company looking for B&B's or small hotels to highlite in an upcoming program. Here is what we were sent:

An award-winning television production company is searching for charismatic individuals behind America's small hotels, inns, and bed & breakfasts. Whether you've left a high-powered career to pursue your dreams, or you're taking over a decrepit property and turning it into a five-star operation, if you have an interesting story and a big personality, they want to hear from you! To be considered, please provide:

•Your name, occupation, and name of your hotel/inn
•A brief bio
•A few [non-returnable] photographs
•Your best contact phone number

Here is our request.....wish us luck...after all, Mexico is in North America, right??!!

Six years ago my husband and I bought 2 1/2 acres of land, on a cliff perched above the Pacific Ocean, in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Our dream was to build a small boutique hotel/B&B. We wanted to create a place, like no other. One that our guests would come to and find beauty and peace. Over the next 5 years we built a road and had an environmental impact study done to see if we could in fact even develop the already purchased land. We built pilas for water storage, as we had no access to water. We put in solar, since there was no electricity, We dealt with many bureaucrats along the way, all who spoke Spanish. We both quit our careers, sold everything we owned and moved to Mexico. We spent all of 2010 building a property that everyone said could not be built. "There was no way to bring materials up to the top of the cliff". "It is not possible to put in a road with such steep curves and switchbacks and through all the granite and limestone". "We would not be able to have a pool because the property sat on granite". " Are you people crazy?" Even our realtor told us not to buy that land since it could never be developed. We heard endless reasons WHY we would not be able to pull this off. But, pull it off we did. We have created a spectacular place. One that can not truly be appreciated unless you are sitting here, on top of the world and looking out over the 360 degree vistas. To the east are the Sierra de la Laguna mountains and to the north, south and west is the Pacific Ocean.

We are the owners and sole proprietors of Arriba de la Roca, officially opened in February 2011, with a ribbon cutting ceremony, by the mayor of Todos Santos. Todos Santos is famous for Hotel California, which the Eagles sang of.

I have been writing a blog about our adventures here, since I left my advertising career, in Toronto Canada, back in December 2009.


My husband who is a pilot, an electrical engineer and also taught dance, came to Mexico a year before me to get our life here established.

Our business web site is www.arribadelaroca.com I am attaching some pictures of our place, as well as of my husband and me. Since we live full time in Mexico you would need to dial our number using the country code. Please dial 011 52 1612 149 2639. An alternative number is 011 52 1612 139 1624

I am excited about this opportunity and also excited to introduce new people to our dream...Arriba de la Roca.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Shelby Branzanti

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Becoming “Franks”

After two wonderful weeks visiting family and friends, I arrived back at Arriba de la Roca yesterday...just in time for pizza night at the Sand Bar. No, I did not cut my trip short so I could be there; in fact I ended up staying longer than I first thought, just so I could fit everything in. I could not have added one more thing to my time away. I certainly “packed in some life” while I was gone.

My friend Maxine wrote that to me before I left Mexico. She said, “We are going to be packin’ in some life while you are here, so you better rest up.” Those words made me think about how many days and weeks go by that we do not really live, or pack in any life at all. We only just exist. Between work, family, and other obligations I know that sometimes it is all we can do just to get through an entire day; and then hope that we get enough sleep to make it through the next one.

You may think it is easy for me to say but I think we should all try to do what Maxine suggests. If we can look at each day as a chance to “live” instead of just needing to get through it and “exist”, our life will become fuller and more satisfying.

My friend Jackie gave me a book called “God Never Blinks”. The book’s title is in reference to the author’s life. Regina Brett had such a bad life before she hit her 40’s she thought God had blinked when she was born, thus missing her existence. This book was put together from her weekly newspaper column which talks about 50 of life’s most important lessons. Lessons she learned in her 4th and 5th decade of life. One thing that really stuck in mind was a lesson she learned from a housepainter named Frank.

Whenever Frank thought, or spoke, he replaced the words “have to” with the words “get to.” This reminds Frank to enjoy and appreciate his life.

I think we should all become “Franks.” Tomorrow when you wake up and think about that ½ hour or hour drive to work do not think “I have to drive to work.” Instead think, “I GET TO DRIVE TO WORK!!”

When you have to pick up groceries before you rush home to cook dinner before you take your son to soccer practice, have a paradigm shift. Think to yourself how lucky you are to be able to be there and consider the fact that you GET TO shop and GET TO cook for your family and you GET TO take your son to soccer.

This works for everything. Absolutely everything.

Try it tomorrow and I think it may lighten your load a little bit. Maybe this will give you a chance to “pack in some life“, instead of just existing in it.