In the winter of 2005, my husband Raul and I became the owners of Rancho La Bellota (la-bay-o-ta), a 2,800 acre horse/guest ranch located just 40 miles south of the Tecate, Ca. Border in Baja California, Mexico.
Prior to buying our ranch, we were working at another ranch for 10 years, in partnership with my husband’s uncle, Uncle Kiki, until his untimely death, in the winter of 2002. After that, life at the ranch was not the same and we began to contemplate the possibility, a dream really, of owning our own ranch someday. We knew we wanted to continue the ranch life style that literally changed the course of our lives for the better.
Finally, after three years of searching, we heard about an abandoned cattle ranch for sale, and went to take a look. The land had plenty of water, fire wood, quiet canyons, beautiful oak groves, and it was nestled within a secluded valley which was perfect for what we wanted to do there. Raul and I were aware of the great financial risk involved because we didn’t have money for such a purchase. After many long discussions, well into the late hours of the night, we decided to follow our dreams and we sold just about everything we had to put together a down payment for the land.
We knew in our hearts we couldn’t ignore what brought such happiness into our lives. The lessons we learned about life, people, and ourselves were no match to any school of learning in the world. The people we met over the years, the friendships we developed, the outdoors and horses were what we enjoyed most. They fed our souls and we both knew we wanted to continue this way of life for as long as we possibly could.
Some people are skeptical when it comes to these matters but I believe we are here on this earth for a significant purpose. Life has a peculiar way of leading us towards that purpose but often we aren´t listening, and we chose an alternate route. It may take years for someone to discover their purpose while others discover it early in life, and some, never do.
When I first laid eyes on La Bellota in November of 2005, I knew instantly, it was the right place for us. Was it luck this property appeared at just the right time? Was it luck the property owner handed us the deed to the land before we gave him a down payment? Could it be for some reason, the universe gave us a push in the right direction?
In December of 2005, we made the deal. By January of 2006, we were camping in freezing weather inside a makeshift canvas tent Raul built. I was cooking meals over and open fire and even though our fingers and toes were numb most of the time, we loved it!
Now, ten years later, at the end of the day, I often sit at the table outside the kitchen and listen to the silence. In front of me, the silhouette of the mountains, their gigantic form gradually disappears as night draws near. The cabins, the vineyards and vegetable garden fade from view, the darkness surrounds me. I hear the hungry, knickers of horses and rhythmic breathing of my dogs as they lay peacefully sleeping at my feet. A few years ago, I never dreamed Raul and I could ever own such a beautiful ranch. Sometimes I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
My vision for La Bellota, was for it to be a place where we could share the happiness this lifestyle has brought us, with other people. Soft candle lit rooms, warm wood burning stoves in the winter time, bright starry skies, horses and the outdoors have a profound affect on people who are frazzled with busy lives. Sometimes it’s hard to find such a place where we can find balance, and inner peace. In the natural world, the world of nature, it´s much easier to let down our guard and be ourselves. I wanted La Bellota to be this place. In my heart of hearts, I knew the profound affect it has on me and how being close to nature has healed me in many ways.
These days it is so important we take time to re-connect with ourself, the beauty of nature, and all it has to offer. I´m proud to say La Bellota has become such a place. It´s become a home away from home for everyone who visits us. People may come to us as strangers, but everyone leaves as family and friends.
Raul insists it was his childhood memories at his uncle´s ranch, and the time he spent with Uncle Kiki that he grew to love the ways of ranch life, and horses. That, combined with my life long love of horses, and the outdoors encouraged us to take the first step on what was to be the greatest adventure of our lives. Raul has a picture of Uncle Kiki hanging on the wall in the cantina at La Bellota. Whenever someone asks about the man in the picture, Raul grins from ear to ear, pours a round of tequila, and begins to tell the story of Uncle Kiki and why he admires him so.
It may be hard to believe, but dreams do come true. I also believe, when our prayers are answered, we should give something back in return for the blessings we receive in life. I intend to uphold the promise I made to the land at La Bellota when I saw it for the first time.
I remember standing beneath a quiet oak grove as I promised to bring as much positivity as possible directed to the greater good of all who came there. To this day, everyone who visits La Bellota leaves feeling less stressed, more optimistic about their lives, and ready to tackle the days ahead. La Bellota is a portal into the past where we re-discover our strengths, accept new challenges, over come our fears, and most importantly, we re-establish our connection to the wonders of life, and with each other.