Las Gaviotas ResortLa Paz, Mexico
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A Little Bit of the History of our Community
Las Gaviotas Hotel & Resort and our family home, now Posada Colibri Bed & Breakfast, are located in the wonderful neighborhood known as Esterito, which translates to Little Estuary.
Just north of our location, near the windmill on the malecon, was an area where the sea met freshwater runoff from the surrounding land. The changing sand and sediment created a small estuary, and it was in this area that many of the resident fishermen chose to live.
A Fishy History
Las Gaviotas is built on the site of an historic fish packing plant. Its massive thick walled ice storage rooms saw an amazing amount of the bounty of the Sea of Cortez canned, packed, and trucked north from 1938 to 1996.
During the First and Second World wars two of the major exports of Baja were oil rendered from shark liver, which was considered a fine machine oil, and oil from sea turtle liver for its rich content in vitamins A and D.
The turtle oil was sent to U.S soldiers overseas to stave off malnutrition in the trenches. Lobster, oysters, clams and fish of all kinds were packed or canned and trucked north to the U.S.
Sadly, in just a few short decades over-fishing and exploitation ended the industry.
Our Family Home in Esterito
The rest of the neighborhood was made up of family orchards the size of city blocks, with mangoes, papayas, avocado and citrus trees.
Our family home was once part of a family orchard which occupied what is now the whole city block. It belonged to Chalo’s grandparents who both had huge extended families in the community. Neighboring orchards belonged to great aunts and uncles and now to cousins too numerous to count.
Chalo’s grandfather, Jorge Carrillo, educated in Los Angeles, California, was the youngest of 16 children and had 6 of his own. A newspaper man, he ran the local paper, The Baja California, from 1932 to1972.
To get the international news, Don Jorge would write it down in shorthand while listening to “The Voice of America” on short-wave radio. Then he would type it up on his old Olivetti type-writer and his employees would type-set into the wee hours of the morning. The presses would press, not roll, in those days, making international and local news available to the people of the city and the state.
Don Jorge’s large family home was behind our home and faced Madero Street which was then the address of choice for the important, fashionable families in the community. These were the owners of gold and silver mines, politicos, and local merchants whose ships brought merchandise from the mainland and elsewhere.
There was quite an international shipping trade in the old days and the ships even brought a few individuals from many of the world’s ethnic groups; the roots of our French, German, Italian Hungarian, Chinese families, etc. Ships were the only way to get from the Baja Peninsula to other parts of the world without spending months on horseback.
On Madero Street behind us was the only hospital, now the “Casa de Cultura”. The first gas station, three blocks away, is now the grocery store with the big red cow in front and belongs to the Aramburo family.
Renewed Interest in Esterito
Some of the beautiful Colonial-style homes of the neighborhood, once falling into disrepair, are now being bought and restored to better-than-new by outsiders. Several of them have been made into nice restaurants and art galleries.
The Ibarra family’s Pottery factory is nearby. One of the city’s restored theaters is within walking distance. There are galleries and restaurants in the downtown and all along the waterfront.
There are myriad places of interest to see when you are in La Paz, many of them scattered throughout the family neighborhoods.
The city of La Paz is relatively safe to walk at night and we ourselves frequently leave our car at home and take a walk, often to get someplace and just as often, simply for the pleasure of it.
We look forward to sharing our little corner of La Paz and hope you’ll come to appreciate the neighborhood we call home.