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Southeast of La Paz on the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez)

20141102_073026Just got back from a short trip out to El Sargento and La Ventana, two communities located on the Sea of Cortez about 28 miles east of La Paz on a gorgeous highway, BCS 286, which ascends to over 3500 feet above sea level through the Sierra Laguna foothills. Wow ….. it is simply gorgeous. A lush upper desert landscape dotted with signs for ranches, grazing horses, peaceful cows, and beautiful mountain scenery at every turn in the road. And of course, the signature of the typical Baja highway, very few shoulders to pull off on the road.

20141102_072310 The final stretch of road into La Ventana and El Sargento winds through a landscape not unlike the Sonoran Desert, with an abundance of large cardon cactus trees ( the compliment to Arizona’s saguaro cactus) and dozens of large raptor birds and vultures dotting the sky.

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The small La Ventana community is a 3 to 4 mile strip of lovely desert land along the Sea of Cortez that has been a mecca for kiteboarders and windsurfers since the 90’s. There are a number of schools where you can go to learn these exciting sports. The wind appears to be very reliable and comes up every day. La Ventana is a place for those who like to exercise and be outside. There is lots of hiking and mountain biking.  The area is dotted with homes, restaurants and small tourist hotels like the Ventana Bay Resort

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Click here for homes and lots for sale in La Ventana

A little further down the road, where the pavement ends, lies the El Sargento neighborhood, characterized by gorgeous panoramas of the sea and unique looking properties.

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Click here for homes and lots for sale in El Sargento

Impressive real estate in Los Cabos, my neighbor to the south …

 

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About 45 miles south of Todos Santos lies the tip of the Baja Penninsula where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. This is the Los Cabos area, comprised of the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Many of the prospective buyers I work with here in Todos Santos usually stay in Cabo while they are here on vacation. San Jose del Cabo is where the international airport is located and most of the resorts and hotels that visitors stay at are located along the 29 KM corridor along the tip of the peninsula.

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After a visit to Todos Santos and Pescadero, pretty “laid back” little towns by anyone’s standards, many of those people say they need to be in a more active urban environment. They want to be closer to more entertainment and shopping resources, around more people and would like to have the option to play golf or go sportfishing. The Los Cabos area has many neighborhoods that put you in that environment but still give you a sense of privacy and visual beauty, juxtaposed against the beautiful Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. What follows is a sampling of a few options to consider if you would like to consider the Los Cabos area for a secondary or primary home:

Rolling Hills Estates  

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Rolling Hills Estates is a hidden gated subdivision of over 6oo lots perched high above the Pacific Ocean that is only about 7 miles north of the town of Cabo San Lucas, just minutes from the highway. There are only a few homes that have been built in here. The streets are paved about halfway in towards the ocean. Prices for lots start at 39,000 USD and go up to 184,000 USD.  The entire subdivision is drenched in trees, cacti and wildflowers. Not a subdivision to be missed.

Click here for properties currently for sale in Rolling Hills Estates

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Palmilla

The Palmilla development is one of the older premier communities in Los Cabos and is comprised of two distinct areas, the neighborhood down by the ocean, and the neighborhood on the other side of the highway up in the hills.  Both of the neighborhoods are guard gated and have paved roads.

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Click here for properties currently for sale in Palmilla (by the ocean)

Click here for properties currently for sale in Palmilla (in the hills)

 

 

 

How close should I live to the beach ?

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When working with prospective buyers here in Southern Baja, there is always the question of  desired proximity to the beach for a residence, whether it be a vacant lot to build on or an existing home. There are many who do not really care about the ocean view, some even preferring a nice view of the Sierra Laguna Mountains over the Pacific Ocean. No problem … different strokes for different folks. The following things to consider are for those who want some type of ocean orientation:

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1)  Are you looking to simply “hear” or “see” the sand and the water” or do you want to be “in” the sand and water?  For example ….  a surfer the other day told me he would want to be no more than a 60 second dash to the shoreline if the waves are good. Some are quite content to be 5 or 10 minutes away for the evening sunset walk with the dogs and kids. And others would be happy with a twenty minute drive to the beach, as long as they can see the water from their rooftop deck or balcony.

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2)  What is your budget? Beachfront lots can range from the High 100’s to mid 300’s in the Todos Santos to Cerritos Corridor all the way up to $1.7 Million in the gated Diamante Community in Cabo San Lucas. Price points begin to gradually drop as you move away from the beachfront by “tier” . First and second tier lots are usually a five to ten minute walk to the beach. And of course there are lots just north of Todos Santos in Ahorcadita with gorgeous views of the ocean for under 20K but about a ten minute drive down to the water and without electric and water to the property (an added expense).  And remember …. you still have to factor in the cost of building if you are buying a vacant lot. Existing homes are priced in a similar manner, with homes right on the beach commanding a very high price point and homes further back being priced accordingly.

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3)  Have you ever slept right on the beach all night? It can be rather loud. I personally am not a person who could live right on the beach. I am a light sleeper who likes to sleep with open windows and find the crashing of waves to be a bit challenging. I currently live four tiers back and still here the waves but it is not overpowering. If you think you want to live right on the ocean but have never slept an the beach, you should spend a night somewhere close to the shore and see how the sound of the ocean affects you.

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Make no mistake about it …. the ocean and the feel and imagery it brings to us is a powerful and valuable asset. Just make sure to choose the way you want to orient your day to day lifestyle to it.

Post Hurricane Odile Thoughts ….

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The Category 4 Hurricane that hit Southern Baja on September 14th, 2014 was an extremely frightening event for me personally. There were gusts of wind up to 150 MPH directly over my house for about 7 hours. I am grateful to be living in a concrete structure like the one above. Most of the damage to my property was to things made of wood (2 pergolas) and clay (tile roof), which were blown apart and deposited throughout the yard and surrounding grounds. I did lose my chicken coop (but not my chickens, now running free and sleeping in the trees) and my tomato garden was without a trace the next morning. But I came through in pretty good spirits. It was a bit if a challenge being without electricity for 16 days but things are slowly returning to some kind of “normal”.

The towns of Todos Santos and neighboring Pescadero have rapidly regained a sense of order and community, due totally in fact to the spirit and sacrifices of the people who live here. Kudos to you all.

And a special thanks to all of the CFE workers from all over Mexico who came here and put in very long days to insure that our electricity was restored properly and safely.

The real estate market is alive and well here. The international airport in Cabo San Lucas opened back up this week which will begin to revitalize our local economy and provide an opportunity for new real estate business with both our foreign visitors and Mexican nationals.

Things are looking up. Hope to see you soon.

 

The True Value of Todos Santos Real Estate

Most folks walking into my office in Todos Santos these days, whether they are from Canada, the United States, Europe, or the Mexican mainland, ask me the same thing, “How is the market doing down here?” My answer is always the same, “Great ! This is a good time to explore your options”.

Does that mean that properties are selling for full list price? Occasionally. But 3-20% of asking price, depending on the property and the motivation of the buyers and sellers involved in the negotiation, is more common, much like anywhere else. And of course everyone likes to know what the price is “per square meter” and “how motivated are they?” Granted, these are obvious key value factors to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement.

But let’s not overlook another value factor that may not be as obvious, but for me, also looking for a property for myself, just as important ….  the “Psychic Value” factor.

I “feel” good living here. It’s a good fit for me. And I am here full-time.

I like getting up on a Monday morning, hopping on my old Huffy mountain bike and taking a casual 5 minute ride down to the sea, where currently there are whales popping out of the water not more than a few hundred yards from the shore …. and be the only one on the beach.

I like living in a town where people all say hello to each other on the sidewalk, with eye contact and a pleasant smile.

I like leaving the office around 5 PM and heading down to the beach to help release baby sea turtles into the Pacific as the sunset produces yet another set of indescribable colors.

I like living just south of the Tropic of Cancer, where, for me, it is a real struggle to be cold enough to wear a sweat shirt or long pants.

I like living where I can have a nice, tasty Mexican food dinner for about $7.50 US

I like that you can grow tomatoes all year long.

Sorry … I’ll stop myself now.

The point is, if you have any thoughts of owning property down here in southern Baja, embrace those thoughts, write down the type of lifestyle you desire here, what things will create that “good feeling inside”, that’s right, the “psychic value”, and make it an important part of your decision of what to look at and what to offer when you find that “perfect fit”. If that property really feels right, grab it. There may not be another “perfect fit” down the road later.

 

 

Going back in time 50 years ……. a new “happy place”

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I grew up in Northern California in the U.S. back in the 60’s and have fond memories of long lonely stretches of paved and dirt roads, deserted beaches, sleeping out under millions of stars with the sound of waves crashing on the shore, and not seeing anybody for miles and miles.  Now in Baja California Sur, Mexico, I have rediscovered those memories at a development in Rancho La Aguja called Playas Pacificas, just 3 hours north of the southern tip of Baja, or 1 hour northeast from the La Paz airport, along the sparkling blue Pacific.

This secluded 900 acre beachfront residential community is in its very early stages and is designed for those seeking a truly intimate experience with the sea and a pleasant degree of isolation while not being completely removed from the amenities provided within hours of a larger urban area.

Playas Pacificas is gated and comes with a number of special features and attributes, including an amazing large-scale organic garden, facilities for raising organic livestock for meat and dairy products, endless miles of hiking routes and undisturbed beachfront, a highly sophisticated water storage system from a private well, unparalleled deep-sea fishing on the Lusitania Banks, one of the richest untapped fisheries on the Pacific coast, full service electricity (part solar and part grid), a comfortable climate, year round swimming, surfing, surf fishing, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, birding and boating.

Lots vary in size from just over half an acre to over 4 acres, with prices ranging from $70,000 USD to $826,000 USD for one of the larger 3.25 acre super lots with 262 feet of beachfront. I have included just a few photos to give you an idea of the “feel of the place”. Please contact me if you or anyone you know think this may be a good fit for you.

2013-11-24 10.40.50The start of a large winter garden in Playas Pacificas

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #9: South Pescadero

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South Pescadero is the southernmost area of the Todos Santos MLS region and is a comfortable 30 minute drive down to Cabo San Lucas. This is the most undeveloped area at this time and is focused along the ocean side of the highway. There are two gated communities of Tortuga del Sol and Ranch Nuevo along with some private assorted parcels available closer to Elias Calles, a small town along the highway towards the southern end of this region. Currently, there are four homes available for sale in this area between $129,000 usd, for a 2-story 2BR1.5BA fixer-upper in Rancho Nuevo, to $425,000 usd, for a 2BR3BA 2-story home with a private tennis court and beautiful views of the Pacific in Elias Calles. There are additionally 16 lots for sale, ranging in price from $26,250 usd, for a 1/4 acre lot in gated Rancho Nuevo, to $7,900,000 usd, for an estate subdivision size parcel on the coast in Elias Calles that is just under 83 acres with approximately 1/4 mile of secluded beach.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #7: Pescadero

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Pescadero is largely an agricultural area approximately 7 miles south of Todos Santos  that has slowly become a popular residential option for many primary and second residence homeowners. Most of the development has been from the highway west to the beach.  Decent size parcels of farmland are slowly being transformed into mini estates, complete with groves of tropical palms, mangos, and many other fruiting trees.  There is also a growing commercial environment with small little restaurants popping up in and around town. Public access to the beach is readily available through a series of relatively smooth dirt roads. The Pescadero beach front includes San Pedrito Beach, a popular surfing location with overnight camping. Many have migrated south from Todos Santos to build as there is less development and it is quieter and  less populated. There is also a newer gated community right on the beach that contains some fairly large contemporary homes in a gorgeous beachfront setting.  There are currently 71 available parcels of land in the MLS in this area, ranging in price from $4M usd for a 392 acre secluded ranch in the hills east of town to a 1/8 acre parcel in the town of Pescadero for only $15K usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #6: Todos Santos

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Todos Santos is divided into little neighborhoods or “colonias”. The historic downtown “centro colonia” is an area of approximately 30 or 40 square blocks that is chock full of excellent street food, small shops or “tiendas” selling everything a person might need to survive in paradise, unique hotels and restaurants, and many historic and elegant old buildings that reflect a long and interesting history.  Around the central core district are a number of other colonias comprised of primarily small homes with a scattering of small grocery stores.  It’s very easy to make your way around town on foot. It is a perfect area for those who do not like to drive and are always looking for something interesting to see. Currently in the MLS, there are 10 lots available ranging in price from $20K usd to $147 usd and 7 homes priced from $129K usd to $297K usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #5: La Cachora

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La Cachora is a magical little strip of land that lies within easy walking distance to the north of downtown Todos Santos. It was a primary agricultural area years ago as water was easily pulled from the natural springs of the huerta directly to the south of it. There is still much farming that goes on there and in the late spring and most of the summer, you can find an abundance of mangoes along the road and have a friendly conversation with cows, horses and goats that you might meet along the way. It has a real pastoral feel and is characterized by a tranquil shaded dirt road that leads down to the ocean and a beautiful beach, where you will find one of the two turtle egg rescue and release stations here in town. As it is a small area, there are not as many properties available in here but there are still some possibilities. Currently, in the Todos Santos MLS database, there are 7 lots available for sale ranging in size and price from $1,654,777 usd for a fenced in 5 acres paradise to a small off-the-grid 1/4 acre lot for 12K. There are currently four houses available for sale from a lovely estate like home with a 25 meter lap pool in San Sebastian for $1.55M usd to an elegant hacienda style custom crafted home located in a private enclave on Camino del Pacifico for $680K usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #4: Las Brisas

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The Las Brisas area is very convenient for walking to local markets, restaurants, and actually walking into Downtown Todos Santos.  It is a little further away from the ocean though. There are currently 7 lots available for sale in the MLS from $17,000 usd to $147,000 usd and 8 homes, ranging in price from $99,000 usd to $322,000 usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #3: Las Tunas

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Lying slightly to the north but within minutes of downtown Todos Santos is the Las Tunas community. Las Tunas is within walking distance, with sidewalks on the main street, of at least a dozen or so small markets for food and supplies, A building supply and materials outlet, an auto parts outlet, an auto repair shop, and other amenities. There are more people living in the Las Tunas area than in the outlying areas of El Posito and La Pastora. The terrain is much more rolling and there is a lot more vegetation, a lot of which has been planted by the property owners who have moved into the area in the last 10 years, making it more riparian. There is also excellent access to the ocean and a turtle hatching sanctuary on the beach. The MLS currently shows 29 lots available for sale ranging in size between approximately 2.5 acres on the ocean front corridor for $1M usd to $12000 usd for a quarter acre lot much further away from the ocean in some fairly hilly terrain. Addtionally, there are 16 homes for sale in this area ranging in price from $1.55M usd to $129000 usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #2: El Posito

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El Posito is a little closer in to Todos Santos and is characterized by numerous open areas  with a wide variety of cactus and coastal shrubs. There is less agricultural activity and smaller lots with both ocean and mountain views. There are no amenities here but you are much closer to some smaller markets for food and general household supplies. There are currently 8 homes showing as available for sale in the MLS, ranging in price from 149,000 usd to 475,000 usd, and 36 Lot listings priced from 12,500 usd to 799,000 usd.

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La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor Area #1: La Pastora

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La Pastora, the furthest MLS area to the north, is still in the earlier stages of development and can be characterized by beautiful sandy beaches and groves of palm trees sitting like islands in large cultivated and uncultivated fields. There is quite a bit of agricultural activity out this way.  The terrain is fairly flat with hills that gently roll up to the east. There are still quite few large unsubdivided parcels here making it less desirable for higher density development.  You are about 4 miles, or 15 minutes, from downtown Todos Santos although there are markets where you can buy groceries and supplies that are closer. But there are no real amenities out in La Pastora. Of course, La Pastora beach has a reputation for being one of the best surf breaks in the area for advanced surfers.  For those who desire to be a little further out from the maddening crowd and are interested in possible alternative energy solutions such as solar, La Pastora is the area to consider. The MLS currently has one house available for sale for 38,000 usd. There are currently 17 residential lots available for sale between 10 acres and about a fifth of an acre with a price range from 480,000 usd to 18,000 usd

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The La Pastora to South Pescadero Corridor

The Corridor

There is a 22 mile stretch of coastal beaches, bluffs and foothills that comprise the area of the Todos Santos Multiple Listing service. It is a corridor that lies between La Pastora to the north (about 4 miles north of downtown Todos Santos) and South Pescadero, which is approximately 18 miles south of downtown Todos Santos towards Cabo San Lucas. The multiple listing service (MLS) can be accessed by clicking on the Todos Santos MLS link at the top of this page. You will see that there are 9 distinct areas to choose from.  I have chosen to write a little bit about each of these areas and give you some visuals so you have some idea of terrain, proximity to services and price range before you navigate into the available listings.

To be filled with pleasant distractions is to be a happy man …..

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July 27th, 2013, 5:30 am, Las Tunas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

This morning I managed to sleep until 3:30 am.   After a few cups of warm tea and a study session of Spanish for about an hour or so, I decided to wander down to the beach, about 10 minutes away on foot on an easily navigable dirt road with a bright moon and flashlight as a backup.

 I am currently watching a dog for someone. His name is Striker. He is a Norwegian Elkhound and extremely humorous. And he LOVES to go to the beach, any time of day or night. He is a “Roller” Wanna see?    “THE STRIKER ROLL”    So he of course agreed to accompany me on my early morning stroll.

As I walked in the moonlight, I found myself overwhelmed by the combined smells of a gentle salty sea breeze,  bougainvillea and hibiscus blooms and the hundreds upon hundreds of fallen mangos fermenting along the road. There were hundreds of stars out and I truly felt myself at peace with things.

 As I reached the shore, Striker of course did his routine “Roll” to get things started for the day and we set off down the beach. The waves rolling looked like of silver foil, glistening in the moonlight. About 200 yards from where we started, I thought I might have spotted a turtle on the beach. I put Striker on a leash and approached very slowly ….. only to discover what was left of a pelican long gone from this earth. I am not sure what happened to him (or her) but we said a few words in remembrance and headed back home just as it was starting to get light out.

On my second expresso now and am seeing this as a real positive start to my day.

 

 

 

Tortuga Magica en Rancho San Cristobal ….

2013-07-21-09.37.581.jpgJuly 21st, 2013, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Just got back into town after a wonderful overnight camping trip on the beach looking for mama turtles coming in to lay eggs on the beach in a place called Rancho San Cristobal,  just north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific Ocean. Gosh, I forgot what is was like to sleep directly on the sand just 100 yards form the pounding surf in a damp blanket. The last time I think was 45 years ago in Santa Cruz, California on a weekend surfing trip. It was super !!!!!

This last weekend I was with Francesca Dvorak and her husband, German, Co-founders of the Tortugueros Las Playitas A.C. organization  http://www.todostortugueros.org/ about 20 kids between the ages of 4 and 15, two volunteers from the states and some assorted other staff and parents. A great time was had by all, including a late night walk on the beach, where we came upon a female “Golfina” who laid 102 eggs up on the beach before gracefully sliding back into the sea. Check out my brief video of some of the highlights.

Highlights of a wonderful trip to San Cristobal with the Tortugueros Las Playitas Folks

Short Video Footage of Mamma laying her eggs on the beach in Rancho San Cristobal

 I just woke up ……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I install a positive force field, momma vaca on the loose, the “new girl in town”, and fresh organic chard from the garden

 

July 19th, 2013,  Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico

I would have to say this has been one of the best days I have had since my arrival here on the Summer Solstice, if there is such a thing as a “best” day here. They are all pretty good. Let’s put it this way. I haven’t has any “disturbingly “bad” days.  Even yesterday, when  I had to drive 120 miles round trip to La Paz to return a high speed modem because TELMEX discovered there was no available live line at my property … was a good day, because:

 1)    I discovered a great FM station on the way to La Paz, 98.3 FM

2)    I got lost in La Paz but found some really cool roads

3)    I got to practice my Spanish with lots of people in La Paz 

4)    I got to watch The Mark of Zorro there in Spanish on TV

5)    I saw a large herd of beautiful goats on the side of the highway

6)    I got back to Todos Santos and witnessed an incredible sunset

7)    I found 7 ripe mangos on the ground in front of my house

8)    I slept without ants crawling on me. (the best part of all)

 So, anyway, today, Friday, kinda went like this:

 6 AM  went for a run to the beach and back7 – 8 AM studied my Spanish / Future Tense Verbs

8 – 8:30 AM cooked an awesome breakfast of Huevos Rancheros with organic eggs and homemade refries, ate some mangos, had a pot of expresso

9-10 AM  had the last Spanish lesson with my professor, Guillermo Bueron, who is off  for a 3 month vacation to the interior of Mexico. He is a great guy and a very wonderful teacher. We had a good session. He stressed to me not to try to “memorize” the language, but go out and “speak it” to the community. Practice, practice, practice. Actually, I thing I am beginning to make more sense to the people around me. Of course (chuckle) that is my “perception”.

10-11:30 AM   Went home and took “Striker” ( the Norwegian Elkhound I am watching this summer) to the incredibly beautiful Pacific Ocean for a nice walk.

11:30-12:30 PM   Washed the Highlander with 2 large buckets of recycled dishwater and one bucket of clean hot rinse water. (It actually came out looking pretty good).

12:30-2:30   Studied my Spanish and read another chapter of “A Wicked War” by Amy S. Greenberg, a book about the U.S.-Mexican War (very disturbing)

 2:30 – 4:30   Siesta !!!!

 5 – 6 PM  Went to meet with my neighbor, Sue, and her family, down the road. Sue is going to start selling raw organic milk in about ten days. I went ot meet the Momma cow and the new calf, or “new girl in town” (I’m in love). Check out the video I took of her (and momma) 

The “new girl in town and a surprise visit from her mom”

6:30-7:30 PM  Stir fry with organic chicken, organic chard, other assorted vegetables, fresh iced jamaica tea, y de postre, el pan de canela de Panaderia de Todos Santos.

7:30-9:30 PM  listening to I-Tunes and writing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico …

Thursday afternoon, July 18th, 2013, Cerritos Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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Its about 2 PM and the day is filled with that beautiful Pacific silver gray feel. Not cold really, just a nice friendly, soft gray, with hints of an impatient sun just out of reach, 6 and 7 foot swells breaking off the point here, rights and lefts, but in by the shore, an elementary school style break for those learning to swim, ride and become comfortable with the surf  breaks. Nice sand bar here.

Sue and I have sponsored two kids for an organization here in Todos Santos called Tortugueros Las Playitas A.C., their mission statement is as follows:

Our mission is to protect, conserve and replenish the fragile marine eco-systems of Baja California Sur, Mexico. We place a special emphasis on Endangered Sea Turtle population recovery, habitat protection and environmental education in Todos Santos, Las Playitas and Agua Blanca.  With the support of our dedicated, hard working volunteers, and the generous donations of our sponsors there is hope to restore eco-systems and better balance our Pacific Ocean!

They are a wonderful group of people who I had the opportunity to meet with today during one of their Junior Lifeguard training sessions on the beach here in Cerritos. Check out their website at http://www.todostortugueros.org/  and please feel free to donate if you can. This is a very special gift to the kids involved and the people behind it work very hard to make it happen.  What follows is a brief interview/chat with one of the Co-Founders, Francesca Dvorak, on the edge of the water on Cerritos Beach.

An oceanside chat with Francesca Dvorak, Tortugueros Las Playitas A.C.

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Bumps in the road, sweat on the head and dirt in the hand ……..

 

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July 13th, 2013,  El Triunfo, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Hot, hot, sticky, hot, yes, hot, sweaty, hot, oh baby, hot …. But I am not troubled by heat, actually troubled by nothing today … well … there was that real Buh Uh Uh Uh mmm uh mm  uhM Mu Mu Mu Muh  Peee p  Y washboard road from HelI on the way to the Cactus Sanctuary, a  planned distraction from my desired destination for the day. I read that it was “a pleasant 10 minute drive from the main highway”. I turned around at the 20 minute mark, having gotten my quota of relaxing cacti during the drive in and an earful of cusswords from myToyota Highlander, which was absorbing most of the hits.  But I must say that I always enjoy the sound produced when you talk or sing while driving on a washboard road. It’s similar to that weird air pressure noise that happens when you are driving real fast with more than one window open. I wonder if anyone has ever recorded an album of washboard road songs?  Hey, I might have something there. Kind of like Box Car Willie. I can see it now:  “Wash Board Jeffrey sings all of your favorite love ballads from the 70’s”.  I did pause on the side of the road before starting back to have a long talk with the Highlander about possibly avoiding those kinds of roads in the future.

After making it back to the main road and making sure that I still had four wheels, I ventured further down the road to a small town of 357 people, El Triunfo, at about 1,585 feet above sea level.  It’s only about 45 minutes by car driving northeast from Todos Santos on the way to La Paz. You must go inland from the coast and take Highway 1 east towards the Gulf of California through the beautiful Sierra de Laguna Mountains.

When gold and silver were discovered back in 1862 in the Sierra Laguna Mountains on the Baja Penninsula, El Triunfo exploded in size to nearly 10,000 inhabitants from both Mexico and the United States. The mines and the facilities were wiped out in the early 1930’s by severe hurricanes, leaving the town without an economy. However, what the town was left with was a quaint and tranquil feel that is prevalent as you travel through stone streets and bridges, waiving to stray cows and nodding in respect to those who are still here. I walked around for over an hour and maybe saw only a handful of people.

One of the structures still left standing as a reminder of the industrious past is the large impressive 35 meter high brick smelter stack designed by the famous French architect, Gustav Eiffel, standing as a silent sentinel over this now very quiet and tranquil place.

And you must stop in at the Café El Triunfo, opened years ago by the previous owner of the Caffe Todos Santos. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is very, very, very relaxed. Don’t miss it.

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El Triunfo’s own Eiffel Tower

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Typical Bridge in El Triunfo

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El Triunfo street scene

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El Triunfo street scene

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El Triunfo street scene

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The infamous “Washboard Road from Hell’ on the way to the Cactus Sanctuary, El Triunfo

 

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The “Highlander” takes a stand and says “Uh, Yeah no”

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Ending the trip at Cafe El Triunfo with an expresso and a nice view

 

 

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July 14, 2013, Bastille Day, La Huerta Organica, Las Tunas, Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

I didn’t sleep much last night. Could have been in part due to the people playing Norteno music on a car radio until 3:30 in the morning down by the beach. It got fainter and fainter and fainter and then …. it just stopped. Maybe their battery went dead. Maybe they ran out of beer. In any event, It stopped, but I was awake.  So … I got up and put the finishing touches on my slowly simmering beans, made a pot of tea, turned on my computer and began working on my Spanish, which I will be fluent in by the end of the summer.

After about an hour and a half of past-tense verbs and repeating phrases into the computer, I found myself drifting off into a coma but managed to make it to my bed before dozing off for about 2 hours, which is usually when the hounds across the road begin to howl.

Although I only slept a handful of hours last night, I woke up at 7:30 am this morning with a big smile on my face for two reasons:

First of all,  my beans will be done and I can have some homemade refries with huevos organicos from my friend Eraida, the Organic Chicken Lady in Todos Santos.

Second of all, I am going to start helping someone down the road with her organic vegetable garden. Since leaving Tucson, I have been without a “plot” to tend. I will now able to get in the dirt and grow things again and it feels good. Today, I am just gonna weed and do some cleanup (too tired to do anything more complicated than that) and we will probably be planting things later this week. The site is only minutes from my house. So I am happy, as I will be coming home today with dirt under my fingernails and on my kneecaps.

2013-07-14 09.28.58When I pulled up to the plot, I received a message that the owner was gone for the day in La Paz but to feel free to weed to my heart’s content, which I did, under the watchful eyes of “Tiggy” the 10 year old Bull Terrier resident garden dog. What sweet thing she is. She of course had to inspect my Highlander for anything suspicious before I could proceed.

2013-07-14 10.08.31The thing that is so cool about this garden is that it has been tilled and worked for a long time and the soil is very naturally rich. It has a lot of clay in it which is good in this case as it helps hold the nutrients in the soil. The compost is like something you would dream about. So I am excited about getting some food to eat in the ground later this week. Stay tuned for more updates.2013-07-14 09.42.25

Coastal Beans

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Flowering Basil

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Looking out to the Ocean from La Huerta Organica

 

 

 

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Tiggy performs her guard duties

Pushin’ the paper, feelin’ the breeze, startin’ the compost, meetin’ the people …

July 11, 2013, Todos Santos, Cafelix Restaurant

You may have noticed that this blog has included very little about the local Real Estate scene here so far. And of course my intention and objective has been to integrate into the Real Estate community here as quickly as possible.  However, unlike in the States where the process of getting squared away to do that is very quick, there is a different “speed” that things transform at here, something I am slowly making  peace with.  Once I have my work visa, I will have access to a lot more resources and will begin to alter the focus of this blog. In the meantime, no point in not exploring the area and meeting as many people as possible. So that is my primary focus now.

Last week we caught some effects from Hurricane Erick, our first hurricane of the season. It was nice to receive a pleasant night of tropical rain for a night and then to go down to the ocean and watch the water churn for a few days. Very pretty.

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The beginning of the churning from the hurricane on Sunday, July 7th, 2013, Las Tunas Beach

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More churning from the southeast on Monday, July 8th, 2013, Las Tunas Beach

My Spanish Professor, Guillermo Bueron, here in Todos Santos at the Centro Cultural has sensed my craving for dirt, that’s right, I am a gardener at heart and desperately miss having my garden and getting dirty in it. So, he gave me the name of a person just down the road from my house who has a huge “jardin organico” which I am going to be working in starting this Sunday morning. I am so excited I even started my first compost pit at the house. Photo below.

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A move to the quiet side of town …

4th of July Weekend, 2013,

How nice to celebrate Independence Day this year without the Boston Pops and fireworks and also, being in the States. I have moved out of the downtown Centro Historico district of Todos Santos to an area slightly north up on a mesa by the ocean, Las Tunas. I will be here all Summer and part of the Fall. Nice and quiet at night, with all windows open to let in the sea breeze from the full-of-life Pacific.

Below are some photos of the area

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The Main Road into town in front of my new digs

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Bougnavillas along the road in Las Tunas

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Las Tunas Beach, Todos Santos

 

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No fireworks, just Mr. Sun

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Home to BBQ …

 

Wild horses and dreamlike waves couldn’t drag me away …

Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico, June 30, 2013, 3 PM

Not a whole lot to say here really, hard to describe in words how beautiful and special Playa Las Palmas really is to me. I can tell you though that it’s really easy to overshoot the road at KM post 57 and that may be it’s saving grace. Enjoy the images.

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Approach to the beach … almost there

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Salt marsh right before the beach

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Southern point, Playa Las Palmas

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Another shot of the southern point, Playa Las Palmas

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Looking straight out, Playa Las Palmas

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Looking out from the North point, Playa Las Palmas

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Self-Portrait, Playa Las Palmas

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Caballos, Playa Las Palmas

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Caballos, Playa Las Palmas

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Caballos, Playa Las Palmas

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A reluctant walk back to the car, leaving Playa Las Palmas

Sunday begins with good smells and no humidity ….

Sunday morning, June 30, 2013, Todos Santos

6:30 am, fog beginning a slow burnoff. The humidity has gone to La Paz for a few days though and the citizens here are happy to see it go. Going to study Spanish at the Caffe Todos Santos. 2013-06-30 08.31.53Working on the past imperfect and present subjunctive tenses. Yes they love their tenses in this country. No one on the street yet except a few people sweeping the streets and many street dogs. The dogs here are many and very street smart. And as I approach the door, I think I can smell freshly baked cinnamon rolls and muffins. I like Mexican baked goods because they are not real sweet. Just enough of a taste to bring a quiet smile to your face. Sun up now, time to head down to Cafelix where I can plug in and have a few eggs and some of Felix’s mom’s superb frijoles. Then, as promised, a trip back to Playa Las Palmas to see the ocean and the lovely setting that goes with it.

 

Awesome smoked marlin afterburn, studies in concrete, and ….. the “Secret Beach”

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Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico, June 29, 2013, 12:30 PM

More discovery today. First of all, thanks to the great group of people I shared a table with last night at Bruce’s Pizza Place in Las Tunas. I devoured most of a good sized smoked marlin, jalapeno, red onion and caper pizza that put me in a very pleasant state. So kudos to you Bruce! And then there were the folks that were there at my table. Our conversation covered quite a bit of territory over the course of three or four hours, but it was filled with laughter and good information the whole time. There were expats from all over the USA as well as folks from Canada, La Paz, and Todos Santos. Also, nice windless evening checking in at about 80 degrees or so.  And then when I left at 10:30 PM to drive home down the dirt road through Las Brisas back towards Todos Santos, I counted at least 3 or 4 little hot dog stands along the side of the road with people sitting in plastic chairs and enjoying the end to another perfect day. I’m stoked.

This morning I headed about 6 am to grab a double E @ Baja Beans and hit the dirt to look at lots to possibly build on for myself as well as learning the local real estate inventory.  Quite a few of the houses are built with concrete. Foundations, walls, ceilings, roofs, beds, shelving, etc. It’s readily available and easy to work with. I drove into a nice area in Pescadero that had some nice examples of this building technique. Photos are below:

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And there are always interesting and colorful entry points to many of these homes, like the one below, listed for sale in Pescadero with Ricardo Amigo Real Estate.

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And now, heading home for some afternoon appointments and perhaps an early evening glass of a local Baja Petite Syrah 2010 from the Valle De Guadalupe, I discovered the road into what appears to be a lush little “Secret Beach”. The road in is not easy to see from the highway. Very easy to miss. In fact, you could easily be airborne into the desert if you were going to fast. It is actually called Playa San Pedrito. It’s around KM post 57 Below are some photos leading to the beach, which I will be exploring further in detail tomorrow. Buenas tardes, hasta manana.

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Early morning fuel …

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So as I sit here peacefully in the currently windless world of Southern Baja, sipping on a superb and fruity tasting double expresso from Baja Beans, in the shade of mango trees heavy laden with fruit looking for a home, I have decided to stop wondering if this was a good idea.

Baja Beans is in Pescadero, about 10 minutes south of Todos Santos on the coast. Owned by some nice folks from Alberta, Canada. Good people here, good vibes, nice music, tranquil. Lots of surfing and organic farming. Check out their website http://bajabeans.com/

The Journey to Todos Santos, BCS, Mexico from Tucson, Arizona

The road south .... 200 miles to the next town

“Don’t drive down the Baja Highway” they said. “We’ve heard stories…” “The road is bad” … “It’s really dangerous” … “Aren’t you scared to go down there?”

Let me be honest with you. This is not a bad road. For the most part, it is just as good as the roads in Tucson. Oh sure, you have to watch the road all the time as there are no shoulders and the road is elevated from the ground in many sections. But I would trade all of that for the beauty and good energy that you receive once you are on it. Plus I thought part of good driving was to “keep” your eyes on the road. Kind of reminds me of how California in the USA was back in the 50’s and 60’s. Unpopulated, agrarian and untampered with. And friendly people everywhere, I mean everywhere. And no, I wasn’t scared. In fact I had the time of my life.

We took four days to get to the tranquil town that is Todos Santos here in Baja California Sur. What follows are some pictures on the way down. Enjoy

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North of Ensenada in Baja California Norte

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Plowed field in El Rosario, Baja California Norte

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Mountains in El Rosario, Baja California Norte

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Bees on a Goldmans Yucca in El Rosario

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The desert just outside of El Rosario

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Cardon forest between El Rosario and San Ignacio

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Rock formations on the way to San Ignacio

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The Mission at San Ignacio

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Grapes at San Ignacio

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The Gulf of California south of Loreto

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The La Cachora Road, Todos Santos

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Fruiting mango trees, La Cachora, Todos Santos

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And good mangos at that …

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Old friends on the La Cachora road, Todos Santos

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Made it !!, La Cachora Beach, Todos Santos