Birdsong in Baja


What shall I write in my blog today?
I am always talking about the gorgeous view from my terraces, and my office and my bathtub.
I never get tired of the colors and textures, and the ever-changing sea and sky and in winter the colors are pastel in morning, and silvery for part of the day. Very different from the fire-y summer mornings, and hot sun drenched azure sea.
This morning as on many mornings, the sound of gulls and other shore birds squawking woke me, long before dawn. The birds, sea and shore dwellers fly by all night and honk, and squawk. I love the sound.
One particular great blue heron flies right across our terrace and honks, loudly! He has no care that people may be sleeping inside. He loves the updrafts that the shallow X shape or our house create. And I assume that the honk is one of sheer pleasure. Although it does not sound much different from his imperious honk when he is chasing other birds from his feeding grounds…or waters, I should say.

There are some birds whose calls I have dubbed “Jurassic Park” sounds. They sound as if they are huge and calling from deep in a distant jungle. You know the sounds that are background for jungle movies? That’s what some of these birds sound like…and I am charmed.

There are over 60 identified species of birds living in our neighborhood. We are surrounded by a biological preserve. We have a pair of Great Horned Owls. They are huge, and their haunting “hoo-hoo” can be heard throughout the area.

This spring we heard a lovely birdsong that sounded somewhat like a burbling creek. We looked around to see where this sweet warbler was. To our amazement, a plain, scruffy black, bird was singing that perfect song. On the sill outside our eight-foot kitchen window were two of these plain birds.
The male, the one with the voice was strutting and preening for the not-so-interested female.
She would ignore him, and walk to the end of the sill. He would hop in front of her and puff up his chest and sing. She was not interested. She would turn and march to the opposite end. He would fly off and land in front of her and sing his heartbreaking song. This went on for days in front of this window. Showtime was just around our breakfast time, we would hear the first chirps, and drop what we were doing and head to the kitchen window.
Call us voyeurs. But we were also rooting for the little guy, hoping his beloved would accept his attentions. And finally, after many repetitions of the song, the puffing and preening, his lady love succumbed.

More than once I would hear the screeching of what sounded like a bird in distress. I would run out to the terrace with my binoculars, and there would be a baby osprey perched on a dead palm. Some baby, its talons were longer than my fingers, and it’s wingspan over six feet. I asked an ornithologist friend about this, and he said the bird had been pushed from the nest. It was able to fly and deemed ready to go out on its own by its exhausted , yet doting parents. It was screeching for mama or papa to come feed it. Mama and papa were clearly done with child–rearing, but baby was not happy. After an interminable time of pathetic screeching, the parents would fly by and coax the baby down and show it one more time how to hunt. The baby would learn to feed itself or die.
I have never seen a dead osprey on our beach or in the mangrove, so I believe that baby went off to feed, and soar, and mate and train babies of its own.

Soon I will write about “Eddie the Eagle’, that turned out to be a very sick baby osprey that turned up in our patio once many years ago.

Sexy, Exotic, Hawaiian Flower, Showing Off in La Paz Baja California Sur


Do you recognize this gorgeous, exotic bloom?
It is an anthurium, and it actually is native to Central and South America. Wikipedia says nothing about how it got to Hawaii, but that is how I think of it.
And Cecilia, a flight attendant friend of mine says cut anthurium are popular take home gifts for tourists leaving Hawaii. She has seen them specially packaged in small bunches for a lot of money and they are carried right on the plane.
Well, back to my anthurium.
My dear friend Maria gave me the plant for Christmas this past December 2011. It had much smaller leaves and was bursting with many blooms and some tightly rolled buds. I thanked her profusely, and wondered if it would survive my three-week Christmas vacation, with the maid caring for it.
To my surprise, it survived, and flourished. It had pride of place on our kitchen island where it was kissed by morning sun. But it grew so large and full, my beloved asked if I would consider moving it.
I was sure that moving it would mean certain death. But here is another picture showing how shiny and healthy the leaves are
And this is not the first time it has produced buds, here are two making their way out to the sun. It has been in constant bloom since December. It is still in the plastic pot. I am afraid to re-pot it and kill it. It s so healthy and shiny, and happily blooming, that I think I shall keep it right where it is!
One of the nicknames for the anthurium is the “boy plant”. Well it does have a big, yellow, penis, Uh, excuse me, it has a big erect, knobby spadix.

And when the flower starts to die, the red bract turns muddy green and the big, erect, spadix develops yellow bumps and lumps, I call it gonorrhea of the plant world.
I am sure my grandson Patrick aged 11, will just love seeing photos of this guy:

Before this bract withers and dies it will be covered with the yeloow bumps, which get uglier and uglier. The firts time I saw it I thought the plant was diseased! I am going to try to propagate the plant by laying the withered bract with it’s blistered spadix on a nice bed of potting soil. Stay tuned!

The La Paz Multiple Listing Service: A True Story for Sellers to Heed

By Susan Fogel


It happened in La Paz just a few weeks ago, and it is about the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

I have several nice properties in El Centenario and El Comitan. My colleagues make jokes about how I live in the desert, the boonies, or “way out there”. I invited them to see my properties and they said things like “some day”, “it’s a good idea” or “the next time I’m in your area I’ll make an appointment to see your properties.”

Others said if they had buyers for my properties they would be sure to show them. In other words, no one was going to make the effort to drive a mere 20 minutes even to see beach front and beach community homes, even though beachfront and beachview homes are in high demand even in this depressed market.

So back to the true story. I uploaded one listing to the La Paz MLS and encountered Internet issues. All I had to show was one listing. The next morning my phone rang and a colleague from La Paz said he was looking for an easy care, one-floor home with a pool and a view. And my listing fit the bill.

The agent and client came out within the hour. She liked my house, but wasn’t in love. I suggested that since she was here, she see another listing next door. That house is two stories, is high-maintenance, and has a slightly smaller pool. The would-be buyer walked in and said: “This is it!” I want this house, I love it!” She made a full-price offer that day and the transaction is set to close shortly.

What is my point? The agent said he was looking only on the MLS. He did not have the time to search individual websites, even if he knew whose sites to visit. If my listing had not been on the MLS, he would never have known about it. The MLS allows agents to post as many photos and videos as they want. A buyer’s agent can preview the property and contact the listing agent to get more information. Then she can put together a list of properties and email them to her client. It’s efficient and, because of the strict rules of the MLS, it is accurate. This also means that when homes sell, the prices are listed so that agents will have comparable properties that will support the price of your home to the buyer.

The very next day, I uploaded three more properties. Almost immediately after hitting “submit” I received an email from an agent in Loreto saying that she had sent all of my listings to her client in the USA that is interested in La Paz, El Centenario, and El Comitan.

“How did you get hooked up with a La Paz buyer?” I asked.

“He was searching my IDX pages,” she said.

Sellers, listen up! This is the key. Under the new IDX (Internet Data Exchange) system, buyers can type “La Paz homes for sale” into Google and La Paz real estate sites will pop up. They can click on the name of a page and those that are members of the MLS will have a search function on them that allows Susie Q. Homebuyer to search for homes in La Paz and the surrounding area. Now thousands of buyers back in the USA and Canada  and anywhere in the world, can look at YOUR house long before they book their flight to come to La Paz. They can narrow their search to just a few homes or they can expand out to other areas.

The “Loreto man” was fiddling around, looking at everything on the market, when he found La Paz and decided on our lovely town for his retirement.

And how do you as a seller get to have your house visible 24/7 to the entire world? It’s easy: (1) Contact an agent that is a member of AMPI (Mexican Association of Realtors) and the MLS. (2) Sign an exclusive listing agreement and they will upload your home with photos and a video.

So you will have one agent looking out for your best interests. And you will also have an entire sales force of other AMPI/MLS agents showing your home. Isn’t it a good feeling that your property is in the hands of professionals that subscribe to a high code of ethics and use the latest technology to sell your home?

It’s the Fourth of July; A Video with Danny Glover

Today is Wednesday the 4th of July. I meet three other women every Wednesday at Cafe Exquisito for coffee and conversation. The other three are Canadian. I am American and have lived here in La Paz, Baja California Sur for 12 years. As the years pass, American holidays and their importance fade.

Oh my birthday will always be the most important part of February. Thanksgiving is special to me and we share it with another couple every year.

And Christmas is a lot of fun here in La Paz, we have parties, go to parties, exchange gifts, then head north to be with our kids for the big day.

We were chatting about things in general and when school would be out, since one og u s is young enough to have kids in grade school. At that moment I remembered it was the 4th.

We have no special plans.

And that is OK. America has not lived up to her Constitution in years and these last 4 years with the racism and hate flowing from Congress, and the Tea Party there is very little in the way of celebration in my heart.
I saw this very moving video sent by Moveon.org they lifted it from:The Howard Zinn Facebook page
He is reading the words of a former slave, written 10 years before the Civil War. It is rlevant today especially to blacks, Hispanics, Women and Muslims:

The Yellow Beetle and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day*

My day started off beautifully last Thursday. My new glasses were finally ready.  I could now, read, write, sew, and drive again! It was a sunny day; I was wearing brightly colored gauze clothing. My leopard-print flip-flops showed off my bright red pedicure.

From the optical shop I was heading to a closing, and from there to collect some buyers, have lunch with them, and then show them pretty houses. Daisy, our little yellow Beetle had just been detailed and she was bright and shiny.

I made the left turn onto Cinco de Febrero from a side street; I was so happy to be driving and to be able to see again that I misjudged the turn and hit the divider and went up and over. Kaboom!  Down came Daisy. I could feel that the tire was flat. I limped her around the corner and parked.

While I was examining the flat tire and bent and gnarled rim, a kind man pulled up and handed me my hubcap. That was like a gift from the goddess. I had just replaced all four hubcaps. Each one had fallen off over a few weeks. I had waited six months for the VW dealer to finally get four. I asked him to help me with the tire; he said he had no time. I thanked him again for retrieving my hubcap and off he went.

I called the closing attorney and asked him to proceed without me. He said, “Just tell me where you are and I’ll send Jorge to get you.”  Easier said than done. THERE WERE ABOSOLUTELY NO STREET SIGNS TO BE SEEN. I asked a man walking by, he motioned that he did not know the street names. And he walked off. A few minutes later, he came back and said that I was on the corner of Independencia and Cuahtemoc.

Jorge found me in minutes. He set up the jack, pulled out the spare, and then hunted for the lug wrench, there was none! We had clients waiting to sign their closing documents, so we locked up the car, I patted Daisy’s rump and off we went.

We got to the notaria; I was hot, dusty, and thirsty. I asked for a glass of water and was told that this notario publico did not offer any services like that. I asked the receptionist for water. A few minutes later, Jorge, my savior came with a glass of water.

I texted my buyers to let them know I would be late. They answered that they would come and get me. I responded that it would not be long and I could get there in 30 minutes. Dream on. The signing went smoothly. That was the end of the good day.

The accident did not upset me so much as embarrass me. But it was the hours and hours of waiting that ruined my day. We had left the car in front of someone’s driveway. Jorge went to the door to let them know we would be moving the car as soon as the tire was changed. No one was home. The neighbor came out and said that the homeowners would not be back until four. But if they did by chance return, he would explain the situation and point out the ugly damaged wheel. We asked the helpful neighbor if he had a lug wrench, he said no, but there was a llantera (tire shop) around the corner. When we returned after the signing, we asked another neighbor if he had a lug wrench. He did, but it was for an American car and did not fit Daisy. We went to THREE llanteras before we found someone that would come to us in a timely manner and change the tire. While we were waiting, we saw a man washing a VW Jetta. We asked him if he had a lug wrench, he was not the car’s owner, but he went inside and asked and was given permission to lend it to us.  The wrench fit the lugs, but they were on so tight, that Jorge could not loosen them.

And then a hunched man with a leg brace came to offer help! I am not making this up. Jorge went back to llantera number three to check on their progress. He called me to say he was leading the tire truck to me. We agreed on a price, and Jorge was off. The tire was changed in record time. I paid the man, and hopped in the car. Daisy would not start!

The tire man helped me look for the invisible hood latch. By now I was tired, had not eaten, had to pee, and saw the time racing away. I finally found the hood latch. The New Beetles are wonderful cars. They are also completely computerized and we could not figure out where and how to attach jumper cables.

Thanking the goddess for the second time, this time for the magic of the iPhone. I was able to look up the VW dealer and click on their number and was connected at once. We called VW, they said, “NO! Do not attempt to jumpstart that car; it will destroy the computer!” Off went tire guy. I called the VW dealer back and asked for them to come and get the car.  They said they would send a tow truck.

“But you have to pay!”

“Of course I will pay, just send the truck.”

“OK, we will, but service closes from 1-3 so you need to talk to the sales department when you arrive with the tow truck.”

It was 12:30. By 1:30, no truck had come. I called the sales department of the VW dealer, after explaining what happened, where I was and that yes, I knew I had to pay. A tow truck was dispatched.

I arranged for a rental car, and the ever-generous editor of this paper came for me and also paid for the tow truck. I only had $200 pesos in my wallet. She took me to the VW dealer, dropped her kids at home, waited for my next call, and took me to Budget Rental Cars near the airport. It was well after 4:00 p.m. By this time I had eaten one piece of toast at home and two hairy cough drops I found in the car. No lunch, no coffee, no clients, and I still had to pee.

But here is how I overcame this Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day:

*In 1972, Judith Viorst, author and poet, wrote a wonderful children’s book called

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No good, Very Bad Day.