I believe sometimes the universe puts things together for you. This is the case with Kyle and me, and our newest business adventure. We recently purchased a rental property in the Mirador called El Gato Negro Casitas. I had noticed 3 little casitas on a raised lot during one of my morning walks. I was intrigued with the property not only because it was so cute but because of the name, El Gato Negro, as you all know I’m a cat lover. One day Kyle came home and told me about a nice property with three small homes that he saw for sale around the corner from his job site, Casas del Sol in the Mirador. As he was telling me about them, I realized it was the same casitas I had seen. We reached out to the owners and set up a meeting to find out more about purchasing the property. When we got to the meeting, we discovered they were John and Marge Fleming, two of the original realtors from the 1990’s in Puerto Peñasco. It turns out John Fleming was the driving force behind bringing the MLS system to Rocky Point. He was a realtor in Tucson and recognized the need for realtors here to get organized and work together. He got together with Jonni Francis back in about 2002 and they went door to door talking to the other brokers in town and eventually started PP Area which was the first formal Association of Realtors in Puerto Peñasco.
In getting to know John and Marge better we learned we were not just purchasing a rental property, but also a piece of Rocky Point history.
Marge first came to rocky point in 1965 with some friends from church. When she met John in the 70’s they started coming down together, caravanning with several other families from Tucson. Initially they camped in tents on the beach and eventually bought a camper van for their travels. In the 70’s the far edge of town was where the Shrimp Plaza is now. Once you got to that point you had to let some air out of your tires to keep going because it was a sand trail, and you had to keep moving or you got stuck. Back then there was no 4-wheel drive. It was inevitable that someone in the caravan would forget and hit the brakes and get stuck in the sand and so everybody had to stop and dig that vehicle out before they could keep going. They stayed at what they call “Jose’s place”, which is where the Mayan Palace is now.
Marge was born and raised in Cleveland OH. She moved to California to study English at Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, she moved to Tucson, AZ and became an English Professor at the University of Arizona.
John grew up in New York City in “Hell’s Kitchen.” He got tired of the hustle and crowds in New York and so he moved to Minnesota where he lived on the Great Lakes. Eventually he decided it was too wet and too cold so he moved to the hottest place he could think of Tucson, AZ. John and Marge met on a blind date through friends and got married in 1973. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this March.
Fast forward to the 1994. After vacationing together in Rocky Point for over 20 years, they noticed Plaza Las Glorias Hotel was being built, and that got their attention that something was happening to their quiet little fishing village. So, in 1994 they opened up a print shop in the Old Port and started publishing a monthly paper called “El Futuro” where they wrote stories about real estate and restaurants in town.
In 1997 they purchased a lot in the Mirador. They chose the Mirador because it was the center of all the action in Puerto Peñasco; there was really nothing built yet on Sandy Beach. They chose a raised lot because it was safe from flooding. They wanted something close to the beach and close to the center of town. They wanted to build a high-tech home that was energy efficient and could be built quickly. They found a company in Mexicali who made 3D Panels which were large 8×4 panels with foam interiors and metal mesh on the outside of both sides of the panel. They had these panels shipped to Rocky Point and worked with architects and engineers to design their casitas. The first two casitas were completed in two months. The 3D panels are assembled and then cement is blown into both sides, so the structures are four inches of foam with one inch of cement on both the inside and outside of the home. This makes them extremely durable to withstand all kind of natural events and also extremely insulated, so they are very energy efficient. A testament to this is they remain virtually the same today as when they were built in 1997.
Q: John and Marge: How did you up with the name El Gato Negro for the casitas?
A: We didn’t want a generic name, we wanted something that would stand out and attract attention. (Which it obviously did since that name caught my eye as soon as I saw it). John has a background in marketing and chose the black cat because it’s easy to capture on paper, and for printing, black and white is easier and economical. A funny story, after they named the casitas and formed their corporation, they learned there was a brothel in Mexicali with the same name. We got a chuckle out of this and decided if anyone got their locations confused they wouldn’t get what they were expecting when they arrived, but at least they’d have a nice place to stay.
Q: John and Marge: What is your favorite thing to do in Rocky Point?
A: Go to the beach. Initially going to the beach was all you could do here, and that’s what kept us coming back. Now they also like going out to restaurants for great food. John’s favorites are La Curva and Cocina Express. Marge likes Lolita’s and says they have the best chile rellenos. She also likes La Casa del Capitan.
Q: John and Marge: What is the most important Spanish phrase to know?
A: Marge: Como se dice? (How do you say …)
A: John: Cóma está? (How are you?)
Q: Any other tips?
A: Go slow in Sonoyta. Go very slow!