La Paz, The City of Peace, What I like and Don’t Like After Eleven Years in Paradise!

Boats pulled up on the beach along the Malecon in La Paz

When people observe the life of another person, it is through the filter of their own perceptions.

We all do it.  Haven’t you caught yourself saying something like: “They are so lucky, look where they live, they have more money than I, they must be so happy?”

When guests arrive to check-in to our  HoneyMoon Hut, they are weary from the plane trip and often the drive up from Los Cabos. But they see the view, hear the waves, the swish of the palms, and they are hooked.

After a day or two of our extraordinary sunrises, fire-y sunsets, romantic moon rises and have been swimming and sunbathing naked, they wonder why we want to sell our home.

They envy our lives. My husband walks to work along our beach. I write, and blog, sell real estate and have lots of friend. From the outside in my life looks perfect.

And as I was lying on the massage table on my terrace yesterday, I felt rich.  I had just had a long, luxurious massage and salt scrub. It was breezy, so we had gentle waves lapping the shore.

What a gorgeous feeling to lie there totally relaxed.  And at that moment, the full meaning of “paradise” filled my soul.

So here are 10 things I love about La Paz

  1. The people
  2. Beaches, beaches, beaches
  3. Wonderful affordable healthcare
  4. Tranquility and safety
  5. Those sunrises, sunsets and moon rises
  6. Sunday breakfast with friends at La Marmolera
  7. Root Beer floats at Tailhunter
  8. Nine months of a glorious climate
  9. Free Internet hotspots around town
  10. The culture of courtesy and respect

And here are some things that drive me crazy:

  1. Summer Hell heat and humidity ( August 15- October 1)
  2. Litter (there is a big recycling campaign in the schools, it is getting better, but it is still ugly.)
  3. Nutty drivers that do not heed traffic signs or rules
  4. Stray dogs ( or the  owners that don’t neuter their dogs, or care for them)
  5. Confusing Cell phone contracts and charges ( but I still love my iPhone)
  6. Potholes
  7. The bureaucracy
  8. Lack of good quality clothing at a reasonable price
  9. How long it takes to get things done, see #7
  10. No NPR and PBS

As I look over both lists, the good things clearly  outshine the bad things. And the sun is rising, the bay is calm, the air cool and the sharp salt-sea smell all remind me why I live here.

Another Convert to the Cult of Apple; I love my iPhone!

Shipwrecked iPhone! What a better way to show off my new baby then among some old Baja bottles and local shells

“Does it have an off-switch?” asked my friend Julie Sheehan. “Not that I have ever seen.” I replied.

We were having our weekly tete-a-tete over cappuccinos-extra hot, no milk, foam only and a  mini-muffin split between us.

“And” I said, “they can never be more than a finger length away.”

We were looking at Gari-Ellen’s iPhone. She was paying for the coffee and did not hear us. We sounded like two primitives seeing a Coke bottle in our jungle for the first time. You know, like the movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Anyway, I had been thinking about taking the plunge to switch over to an iPhone. They look like a lot of fun and I hankered for one. Coming from Silicon Valley where new technology and gadgets are as important as a new pair of shoes, and having techi-geeks for kids and grandkids, I felt woefully behind the times without an iPhone.

That week my Flip Camera died, and the next day my digital recorder gave up the ghost. To replace the two single-function gadgets would be half the cost of an iPhone, and I would need a still camera and a phone. That’s a lot of junk to schlep around.

As an investigative reporter and a real estate agent, I need to travel light.

So I did it, I went to Telcel and bought a new iPhone. Well I had earned  a lot of points and did not pay full price. And they put the difference on my monthly contract. I am paying a little more monthly, but what an amazing tool/toy!

And in the last three weeks it has become indispensible.

Last Tuesday evening I was going over a purchase offer with my sellers. We wrote a counter –offer, but my scanner was being uncooperative, we needed to respond quickly since the buyers were getting on a plane to Seattle in the morning. So I took a photo of the contract then attached it to an email using my iPhone for all functions, sent it on to the buyer’s agent.

And like every other convert to the church of Apple, I say to all that will listen: “I don’t know how I ever lived without it.”

I can keep my documents in the Cloud, and us Air Print. It’s a camera, a calendar, it has a GPS and it’s an iPod.

I have downloaded apps to make it a flashlight, which I used to read the purchase offer on the way back to my clients home ( my beloved was driving), oh and I love the mirror app, since I have to  use eye drops every hour which often make my eyes tear,  I can quickly check to see if I have Tammie-Fay eyes.

And now they want me to turn it OFF! There is a movement afoot in Mexico asking everyone in the nation to turn off their cell phones for two days. We are occupying cell phone companies-virtually-in an effort to bring our pricing on a par with the US.

I just don’t know if I can do it…can you?

Coffee. The Elixir of Life

This is how my double mocha is delivered at Cafe Gourmet on 16h de Septiembre

Coffee! Just hearing the word, and I can smell that dark, sweet and rich aroma. Just say the word, Coffee, and I can taste it, hot, and strong and wonderful. Coffee, the elixir of life!
Coffee. There was a pot always brewing at our house when I was growing up. We used to joke and say our family coat of arms should have a hand passing a coffee cup.
Coffee. Even as I write this, I have a steaming mug of coffee at hand.
On our last day in the old country,( eleven years ago now) the owner of our local espresso shop said all of our purchases for the day were on the house. “ Well I do want to pay for the twenty pounds of coffee beans I just ordered.” Said I.
The owner was adamant: “ Absolutely not, this is our gift to you. You got out of the rat-race! Enjoy Mexico.”
And so we drove down the peninsula to La Paz, the truck was loaded to the gills. My coffee grinder, coffeepot, filters and mugs were at easy reach.

My daughter's name is Melissa, and she and I love to have coffee together. This sign is on a party salon in the La Posada neighborhood.

We knew about two espresso shops in La Paz, but we were not sure if they sold whole beans, and we- well I – wanted to be prepared.
One shop, Café del Tropico sold whole beans from their family finca in Vera Cruz, and their coffee was divine. They closed up shop about five years ago and decamped back to Mexico City.
We tried roasters here and there in La Paz, but were never 100% pleased.
When we have US or Canadian guests coming down to stay at the HoneyMoon Hut, we ask them to bring us some Starbucks, Verona Roast, whole bean ( decaf). But recently I re-discovered Café La Choya in La Paz. A tiny shop on Colima Street a few block past the police station.
There are no words to describe the elixir they dispense. That is where I buy my beans. Their location is not so conducive to meeting friends and clients. But the owner is charming and has 4,000 followers   including me  on Facebook!

This tiny shop is sparkling clean, they have their own roaster and their own blends. I love their coffee!

Espresso cafes have sprung up all over La Paz. Some are good some are passable. My drink of choice is known at many of the cafes in town, and the baristas just confirm if it is a caliente (hot ) or frio ( cold) coffee day.
My friends and I meet regularly at one of the couple of shops we call home. And when I make an appointment with my accountant, he asks: “At your auxiliary office?” And we both know which café that is!

My friend Gari-Ellen and I meet here to discuss the latest editions of her paper the Baja Citizen. I can never remember the name, so now we never call it by the right name. It is Sunspot, Sunflower, Sundance and on and on.

Coffee. Revolutions have been planned in the “Penny Universities” the other name for coffee shops, great novelists have been aided by the creative kick of caffeine, business deals have been struck, and romances bloomed and friendships were forged over a couple of double mochas.

Palm Tree Removal, The Not So Easy Way! A Tell-All Video.

First there were nine, then there were seven

There were nine stately palms that formed a dramatic backdrop to my house. They stood century over the  bare lot for  near to  30 years. When we  finished  the construction of our home we turned our eyes to the landscaping.

The palms had been painted once a long time ago and the trunks were discolored. So we painted them white from the ground up  about 45 inches.

They looked fresh and crisp and  old-timey tropical resort-like. A few weeks later we had a hurricane that blasted away the white paint! Not to be deterred, we  asked our gardener to paint them again. And they stayed nice and white for a few years. When they started to fade again, we  decided to wait till after Hurricane season.

Well we had no hurricanes, and the season had safely passed and our maid wanted extra work. She is a single mother supporting her 5 year-old son and her grandfather who raised her. She  is about to complete her teaching degree. We want to support her efforts any way we can and she said she likes to paint.

So the trees are crisp and white, but their numbers are only 7.

Our most dramatic  two trees are really a double trunk both rising some 20 plus feet and both slightly slanted like  the perfect tropical trees you see in travel posters.

A palm blight  hit our neighborhood, and the magnificent double palm died.

Fearing that it would come down on our house or the neighbor’s we asked our gardener to take them down. He hired someone to cut them down to  about the top edge of the white paint.

Then he and his son hacked, and chopped and dug at the roots and  only exhausted themselves, they could not budge the critters.

So he found two guys with a pick-up and more nerves than brains and more cerveza in their veins than blood. They assessed the situation, and went off to find a chain.

After hacking, chopping, digging, and then yanking the palms with the chain and the truck, they actually in a fit of frustration smashed their truck into the palm to dislodge it. And they broke their tail light!

So here is the video: