As Summer Draws to a Close Think “Sabor!”

As summer starts to wind down – wait – did summer ever really show up this year? Well, August is on its way out and that means Rosarito says an official “good-bye” to summer, as we do every year, with the popular White Attire event, “Sabor de Baja.”

And folks, “white” means white. Eggshell MAY be tolerated, but men, khaki is not white. And ladies, some leeway may be given to straw hats if it means you won’t be passing out in the late afternoon sun and drenching yourself in merlot.

The 7th Annual Sabor de Baja will once again be held in the beautiful gardens of the Rosarito Beach Hotel on Wednesday, August 28th, starting at 6:00 pm. Sabor will feature 25 of Baja California’s preeminent chefs pairing their fares with Baja wineries and a few locally produced artisanal beers. Among featured bistros are Casa Plascencia, Raices, Viaje Oyster Bar, Sokuna, El Meson, and Silvestre. Tickets are still available online through PayPal at [email protected] All pre-ordered tickets may be picked up at the Will Call desk the night of the event.

Gracious hosts Bo Bendana and Dennis Sein originally created this event to promote Baja California’s budding gastronomy and wine industries and to promote northern Baja tourism. Sure enough, Gastronomes attend Sabor de Baja from all over Baja and several states of the US.

All attendees will receive a commemorative wine glass. Everyone will also receive a ballot for the selection of the evening’s People’s Choice Award. So as you are eating and drinking your way through the evening, make a note of your favorite pairing. It’s easy. All of the choices are written on the ballot and all you have to do is circle your selection and place your card in the ballot box.

There are two tiers of tickets on sale this year. VIP Gold tickets sell for $90 each, and holders of these are treated to early (5:30 pm) entry and reserved seating for the evening. Silver tickets are $70 and you take your chances with seating options. Now I don’t know about you, but I do most of my noshing while walking between food booths. This is NOT a family-friendly event, so all ticket holders must be at least 18 years of age. Live entertainment will be provided, with time for dancing a bit later in the evening.

A professional judging panel selected by chef Bo Bendana and her husband Dennis Sein will meet earlier in the day to evaluate all of the entrant’s food and wine or beer pairings. The Judge’s Panel will award the Best Wine and Best Beer awards, as well as the coveted Best of Sabor being awarded to the finest wine (or beer) and food pairing of the evening.

Remember, white attire is not a suggestion, so prepare your attire while summer fashions are still available. I will be attendance in a new white dress (as I do every year) because I had a run-in with a wicked glass of cabernet last year (as I do every year), and there was no removing those stains. My suggestion to you is to bring along a purse (or pocket) size spray of your favorite “wine erase” product. It’s that or your dress goes into a tie-dye vat for your next Woodstock remembrance party like mine did.

If you missed out and didn’t get your tickets in time, the next Sabor de Baja is already scheduled for Wednesday, August 26, 2020, so mark your calendars now.

Punta Banda: From Scandal To A Diverse Paradise

BY LEE ROY AMATE

In 1995, as an immigrant to Ensenada from Oakland, California, I was invited to be a partner in a leading Ensenada law firm. The firm had power of attorney for three of Mexico’s most powerful banks.  Including Bancomer, whose investment strategy was aggressively seeking foreign investment; this policy was exemplified by their marketing to international real estate buyers in the form of “bank trusts,” the only guarantee for ownership rights available to foreign property owners.

Bancomer contracted our law firm to conduct a title search to insure a trust contract. The developer, Carlos Teran, had signed a joint venture agreement with the “ejido” (a farming cooperative), which had illegally taken possession of the land to be developed.  Ejido lands are regulated by the government agency RAN, which determines the legitimacy of lands being classified as ejido land (as opposed to private or government properties).

Someone at RAN adjusted the map at a time Teran started his development to include the Punta Banda peninsula.  A false report of title was issued, with the intent to defraud the foreign buyer into believing the ejido had the legal right to transfer title.

At the same time, local county and state government officials turned a blind eye to the development of Teran, thereby avoiding the bureaucracy and the costs of completing environmental impact requirements, land use, and building permits.

After 20 years, the title demand came before the Mexican Supreme Court. The ejido, Carlos Teran and 200 foreign investors lost the case to the legal property owners – Jorge Cortina’s father and his associates. As a result, 90 million dollars of foreign investment was lost. Many buyers sacrificed most of their retirement savings for a dream house on the beach they could afford.

The biggest loser was Baja California real estate investment and the environment. Construction was done with no review of environmental damage. While the fear of Punta Banda lives on in the minds of foreign investors– it was an international scandal.

Cortina has survived all of this and has created what I call a cultural center for the southern bay of Ensenada. His father built the “Baja Beach Hotel” there, referred by many Ensenada residents as the “Cantinflas project”. The actor appeared at the groundbreaking ceremony but was never a partner in the project. Jorge, unlike his siblings and his father’s former partners, decided he would spend the rest of his life dedicated to making the peninsula a successful property.

A musician himself, Jorge’s business plan is deeply rooted in promoting music by local artists, who combine their talents with retired “world-class” U.S.A. immigrant musicians. Jorge does this to enrich the music scene and provide employment for restaurant, bar, home maintenance and security employees.

Beginning on July 25th and proceeding through the 29th, Jorge has agreed to sponsor a 5-day spectacle to help several local non-profit groups: Los Abuelos, an assisted living center for older Mexicans whose retirement income is not sufficient for a dignified life; Los Adoptables, a rescue center for stray dogs and cats; an orphanage; a fishing club and an amateur baseball team that is a pride of Punta Banda.

This 5-day fiesta-celebration will bring Rock and Roll, Latin Rhythms and Blues to celebrate the wealth of talent we enjoy in the Southern Bay. That should be enough for the price of a ticket, but there is more! A world-renowned magician from San Francisco, plus our local illusionist Magic Mike, will also perform. Tickets are reasonably priced at $10 USD. Food and drinks are discounted by 20%. Profits will be donated by Jorge Cortina to participating donor groups.

I am pleased to see this community come together! It is the largest enclave of foreigners living in Ensenada. They are a much appreciated “new demographic” by this old immigrant resident.

Because of the internet, they are younger professionals who can work from home on the internet, a demographic that is assimilating with school-age children into the fabric of Ensenada.

Ensenada has always has been a welcome home to immigrants, even to Chilangos like Jorge Cortina! Thanks my friend, your dedication is much appreciated.

 

Photo by: Statelife.com

Helping Kids With the Blues Once Again

The Baja Blues Fest returns to Rosarito Beach this August 9th-11th at Rosarito Beach Hotel to benefit these charities: BECA, Los Angelitos Orphanage, Friends of the Library, and La Mision’s Children’s Fund.

BECA, Benefitting Education and Community Advancement, supports students in the La Mision area, raising funds with the La Mision Children’s fund, providing scholarships to the children there.

Friends of the Library promotes reading in schools and in the home, and supports all five Rosarito area libraries with books, craft supplies, a bookmobile, computers and technology.

Los Angelitos Orphanage is a children’s home that provides a secure home and family-style living conditions to 35 children, ages 1 -18.

La Mision Children’s Fund offers food, shelter, clothing, education, and medical care  to those in extreme poverty.

The Blues Fest starts on Friday night with a meet-and-greet.

Gates open Saturday, August 10th, at 10:30 am. The first band, Tijuana’s JL Blues Project, starts at 11:15. Started in 2015, the JL Blues Project provides younger musicians a chance to play blues in front of a crowd. Founding performers have been playing for about 40 years.

At 12:15 pm, Stephanie Brown and the Surrealistics hit the stage.

The radiant Mercedes Moore and her band pair up with the spontaneous piano-playing of the smooth and sultry Taryn Donath at 1:30. The Mercedes Moore band has been described as “a dancer’s dream,” and who doesn’t love to dance?

After a short raffle giveaway, the Anthony Collins Band, aka the Fallbrook Kid, will hit the stage at 2:45 pm. Anthony, a young musical protégé,  plays in the styles of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

At 4:00 pm The Backwater Blues Band and Mike Schermer take the stage. They’ve been the Host Band of the Baja Blues Fest since 2012. Joining them is Deanna Bogart, who thrills the crowd with her “blusion” style of boogie woogie, blues, country, and jazz.

After another brief raffle session, Gino Matteo and the Jade Bennett Band offer a mixture of musical styles. Southern California’s Jade Bennet brings her own sound of dark, sultry, and smoky soul.

The final raffle offers the special strung junk guitar, created especially for the Baja Blues Fest by Steve Kinney.

The evening will culminate with a super performance by Tommy Castro and the Painkillers. This high-energy group from San Jose belts out soul, blues and rock, mixing Mexican and American styles from their hometown.

Sunday’s show features a more relaxing musical experience out in the garden, with the Sunday Jam. Musicians from all the groups and musical folk from around Rosarito all meet to jam on the Rosarito Beach Hotel’s back lawn.

A big “Thank You” goes out to this year’s volunteers. All essential positions are covered, but there is room for a few more vendors and sponsors.

Information may be found at www.BajaBluesFest.org. The Gringo Gazette is a proud sponsor of this event, and hopes that other local businesses will follow their example.

Different ticket options are available this year. A new VIP section guarantees under-the-canopy seating for Saturday, a T-shirt, concert poster, three waters and $5 in drink tickets, entrance to both the Friday night meet-and-greet, and the Sunday jam, all for $110. These tickets must be purchased in advance! Three-day General Admission is $75 per person, and the Friday meet-and-greet is $25. These, too, must be purchased in advance. There will be a finite number of people allowed into Friday night’s event due to seating safety restrictions. For the Saturday concert event, tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the gate. Sunday’s jam session is $15 whether purchased in advance or on-site, so bring your instrument/s of choice and join the musicians for a fun afternoon.

Over the years, the Baja Blues Fest has raised and donated over $91,000 – that’ US dollars folks – for charities that benefit the children of Rosarito. As a US 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, all donations made to this group are US tax-deductible. The complete break-down for distributions and yearly IRS forms are available at the Baja Blues Fest website. Talk about transparent!

Baja Blues Fest is a proud member of The Blues Foundation, whose mission it is to preserve the blues heritage, celebrate blues performers, and expand people’s awareness of the blues as a unique American art form.

There are still RBH room/blues fest ticket packages available by contacting the Rosarito Beach Hotel directly, A lot of those rooms look directly onto the stage area, so if you get a bit too much sun, you can take a short break and not miss a tune.  This year Baja Talk Time, with Diego Knight and myself, will circulate throughout the crowd, speaking with performers and spectators, taping a podcast or two. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Local Shelter Needs Your Support

The plight of asylum-seeking migrants has been dominating the news lately, with a focus on the conditions from which these people are fleeing to the conditions they face upon reaching the border between Mexico and the US.

Here in Ensenada, there is a shelter that has long been an oasis not only for migrants in transit, but also for any indigent members of society who may find their way to its doors.

Located in Colonia Bustamante on Calle Novena 691 (691 9th Street), between Revolucion & Benito Juarez (near the Los Globos shopping area), the shelter provides meals, hot baths and temporary shelter for these people.

The shelter is equipped with laundry service, as well as recreational area behind its two-story structure. Every resident is expected to maintain good hygiene, and is responsible not only for keeping his/her area clean, but also in helping in the daily chores of cleaning the kitchen and common areas.

Applicants are not accepted if under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  However, addiction therapy is one of the many services that the shelter provides.

Ana Maria Acosta Iglesias has been the administrator and caretaker of the shelter since its inception in 1996. In the subsequent 23 years of service, she estimates that it has served well in excess of 50,000 people.

In addition to religious services, San Vicente offers medical and dental care, development of social skills, discounts on city and state government services, such as bus tickets, insurance and immigration services.

In 2016, El Vigia reported that San Vicente ended the year with a deficit of $68,000 pesos.

Acosta has repeatedly requested that the Ministry of Social Development (a State Government agency), increase its donation of $20,000 pesos monthly (slightly more than $1,000 USD), but her requests have not been answered. She says that the amount has been the same since  the shelter opened 23 years ago.

The deficit situation has not improved in the subsequent years.

Currently, Albergue San Vicente has a program called “Empty Bowls,” which obviously refers to the challenges facing the institution in regards to providing enough food for its residents and applicants.

You can help Acosta’s humanitarian efforts by donating food, clothing, blankets and cleaning and maintenance supplies; money is also greatly needed to pay for building maintenance, services and administrative expenses. Or you can volunteer your time and help in the kitchen by preparing food, or by offering any service that may be your specialty.

Clothing donations are welcome on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, any time of day.

All other donations are welcome any day, any time.

Please drop by the shelter at the address above, or call for an appointment: (646) 192.1216.

Office hours are 10 am – 12 noon, and 4 pm – 8 pm.

Interviews for new arrivals wishing to avail themselves of the Shelter’s many services are conducted from 4:30 pm – 8 pm.

Please be a part of the solution for this humanitarian crisis. The need is great, but if everyone gives just a little, many will receive the benefits.

 

Photo from El Vigia

Rosarito Offers Help to Expats with Disabilities

Mr. Manuel Salazar Martinez, authorized by the 8th Regiduria (Council) of the 7th Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) of Rosarito Beach, invites all expats with disabilities to be included with the City’s program, “Together for Inclusion without Distinction” and to become part of the 2019 Census for People with Disabilities in Rosarito. This includes all types of disabilities, whether or not they be visible, physical or psychological. This program includes any ambulatory debility, deafness, heart ailment, blindness, need for portable oxygen, and more. You will need to have a letter from a medical professional detailing your disability and be able to answer some basic questions about your health history. They will provide information about the cards issued by the DIF department. This card IS different from the Senior Citizens card (TARJETA INAPAM) issued by INAPAM.

A representative will even go to your home to help you with the registration process, so you don’t even have to drive all over City Hall trying to find a parking place.

To register, or for more information, contact Mr. Salazar via email at [email protected], or phone him at 661-101-9065, or through Facebook at Manuel Salazar Regidor Inependiente. I suggest a phone call, as my emails went unanswered, perhaps because they were in English.

Glitz and Glamor Come to Rosarito

Does this story sound familiar? You’re tired of your job, even if you love it, and you decide it’s time to retire. You move (to make sure you won’t go back to work after a few months) to paradise. It’s beautiful, you love it, but you’re bored. So you decide to return to the job you love, but now in a new location. After all, there is only so much beach volleyball and tennis one can play.

This is what Nannette Barbera experienced, and “DIVAS…the Show” was born. Every third weekend of the month until November, a new variety show will be performed in the beautiful plaza of the Mata Ashta Restaurant located in San Antonio Del Mar, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 and 9:00 pm. The patio will be elegantly transformed each month with a new theme, décor, and mood. Future shows will include magic, comedy, burlesque, Motown, variety and more.

Performing on the domed stage the premier weekend is Ninette Terhart (direct from Las Vegas) and local talents, Theresa Mala and Tina Marie. Host Rick Rumbaugh will be on hand to entertain with his own brand of humor, but the main theme of these (and future) glitzy-yet-classy shows is to honor and empower women. And although there are two shows per night, each will have unique costumes (designed by Nannette), tunes, and performances, with each evening culminating in a slam-bang finale, and then dancing to a variety of music until midnight with a local DJ. And there is a special guest appearance, to be announced! This month, Baja Lori Chapin will be on hand to offer tequila tastings.

Nannette is no stranger to staging live entertainment. After 17 years with  Caesar’s Entertainment as Entertainment and Special Events Coordinator, she produced and choreographed  such stellar shows as “Dance Mania,” iCandy” and “Solid Gold Soul,”  as well as the television shows Star Search, Leno and Howie Mandel, among others, and now she’s brought her expertise and abundant energy to Rosarito. Her partner Buford King, who co-produces her shows, accompanied Nannette to Rosarito. When they discovered Mata Ashta after moving to San Antonio Del Mar, Nanette became the Special Events Operator for the property, and does much of its marketing.

Tickets are $20 in advance (PayPal.me/SteveSpradley or at Mata Ashta) and $25 at the door, which includes the show and your first drink. And this is a family-friendly show, so the kids get in for $10. But hey, if you come for the first show you can stay for the second on the same ticket. But that’s not the only great deal. If you mention the Gringo Gazette when purchasing your ticket, you get $5 off. And if you purchase your ticket at Mata Ashta any day before the show date you’re interested in, the Steve’s Special will include a raffle ticket entering you into a drawing for a $50 Mata Ashta gift certificate, to be held every Monday following the shows. Winners will be notified and their names posted on Mata Ashta’s Facebook page. Steve is the owner of Mata Ashta and head of promotions, so I guess he can offer any special he wants to.

There will be a different show each month until November, then after a brief hiatus, during which Nannette will be creating new shows and costumes, the show will return to Mata Ashta next spring.  And Ms. Barbera is always looking for new talent to add to her shows. In addition to looking world-wide for new acts to include into future shows, she is looking for local talent. So if you are a performer of any kind (musician, singer, juggler, comedian, magician…the list goes on and on), please contact her via email at [email protected] with a description and video of or link to a video. For more information, email [email protected], or phone 1-702-809-1482 or 1-714-606-2646.

Cabaret Casting Call

Ever wondered what it would be like to appear onstage with a really happening band? Sweet Sixx is in need of new entertainers to join them for their Baja Burlesque Show, a sexy variety show. There are several venues and dates; May 18th, June 22nd, and July 27th. Singers, dancers, comedians (c’mon, your friends think you’re funny), burlesque, magicians, jugglers, actors, drag performers, musicians, and more are needed! There will be several shows the first of which is May 18th, so you’d better get a move on. Dust off that trombone, polish those tap shoes, find that magic bunny that got loose in your house two years ago.

For more information, please email [email protected],  or call 686-230-9933. You may also leave a message at their Facebook site.

Labor Day Is Coming

Mexico’s lower house of Congress has approved a labor law reform aimed at ensuring workers can vote for their union representatives and their contracts. The changes are under discussion because they are needed in order to win the approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which was negotiated to replace the old NAFTA.

The bill now goes to the Senate and requires secret-ballot union votes and proof of workers’ consent for their own contracts. Mexico’s labor movement has long been stymied, and wages kept low by pro-government unions that sign contracts and organize plants behind workers’ backs.

For decades, unions — many of whose leaders were members of the old ruling party the PRI — were so secretive that employees often didn’t know that a union even existed at their workplace. Pro-company unions would sign labor contracts with companies before they even opened plants in Mexico. After a plant opened, like a new BMW assembly plant, the word would go out that there were jobs, and if you wanted one, you had to accept what your union had “negotiated” for you.

Since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office on December 1st, there have been dozens of strikes in the northern border city of Matamoros, sparked in part by Lopez Obrador’s decision to double the minimum wage in border areas. That didn’t appease the workers, it just spurred them on to demand more, once  they saw realized how easily their pay had been doubled.

So they demanded a $1,700 USD bonus and got it, plus another series of raises. When they quickly got all this, the strikes spread and companies quickly caved in.

These manufacturing plants are in contracts to supply manufacturers in the States, contracts with big, big penalties. The strikes came so quickly there was no time to build up inventories and most manufacturers practice “just in time” inventory control, meaning there is no more than a few days supply north of the border. So, the plants here had to pay.

There are currently about 7,000 vacant jobs along the border, but until these strikes,  the plants had no stomach for raises; they had become used to paying the minimum wage of about $5 US per day.

Some say this is why Mexico is letting in all these Central Americans who will inevitably be waiting at the border to cross. The hope is that they will go to work there, depressing the wages with their numbers. But that hasn’t happened because charities have been housing and feeding them, causing them to lose any enthusiasm for working. Most of them sleep all day in the shelters rather than go to work for less than they’re dreaming of earning in the United States.

And that’s our Labor Day message for this year.

Mexico Demands Apology From Spain for Conquest

There’s big money in the apology-extraction business today, as compelling a mea culpa can be a prerequisite for demanding reparations.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Mexico’s socialist president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador recently demanded an apology from Spain for colonial conquest. What is surprising in this age of the cowardly kowtow is Spain’s response:

Its foreign minister essentially told Mexico to pound sand.

As EL PAÍS reported Tuesday, “Mexico’s leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the National Regeneration Movement, recently sent a letter to the king of Spain, Felipe VI, urging him to acknowledge these abuses (of the conquistadors a half millennia ago) and to ask for forgiveness so there can be full reconciliation between both countries.”

In a release, however, the “Spanish government said it ‘firmly rejects’ the arguments contained in the letter, which was sent to the monarch via the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry,” the site continues.

“‘The arrival of Spaniards 500 years ago to present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations. Our brother nations have always known how to read our common past without anger and with a constructive perspective,” said the Spanish government in its statement.

American Thinker points out that Spain’s socialist ruling party might have had to respond robustly because it’s threatened by the conservatives in an upcoming April 28 election. Nonetheless, robust the response was.

To wit: Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he “deeply laments the request by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” and that, “obviously, Spain is not going to offer such an ‘extemporaneous apology.’”

“Just like we are not going to ask the French Republic to apologize for what Napoleon’s soldiers did when they invaded Spain. Or like the French are not going to ask the Italians to beg forgiveness for Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, the leader of Spain’s conservative PP, Pablo Casado, went even further. Calling Mexico’s demand a “veritable affront,” he unabashedly stated, “I don’t believe in Spain’s black legend. Not in the one that was drafted centuries ago, and not in the one that the complex-ridden left is now trying to draft. We are one of the most important nations in the history of humanity.”

The first thing to wonder when considering Mexico’s demand is, who would apologize to whom? Mexico’s ruling class is largely of Spanish descent (and white), and the nation speaks Spanish and is of Spanish culture. It’s a bit like us demanding an apology from Britain for … what? Helping create us? Would we rather not be?

This brings us to perhaps the best way — the “best defence is a good offence” way — to counteract the apology mongers: The West should demand thanks.

Huh?

Consider that Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernán Cortés had conquered the Aztec Empire (in what would become Mexico) with 500 of his men — and approximately 100,000 natives from neighboring tribes. Why did they help the strange European aliens?

Because they’d been oppressed and brutalized by the Aztecs for ages.

So, question: Will Aztec-descent Mexicans apologize to almost everyone else?

(Oh, yeah, there’s no percentage in demanding such; they’re not a Mr. Money Bags.)

Note, too, that the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifice on a massive scale, tearing out victims’ still-beating hearts and hanging their body parts in the marketplace. Perhaps the West deserves thanks for ending such practices not just in Mexico, but the world over.

Yet more perspective is needed.

As I wrote in January: In truth, we all had ancestors who once were conquered or colonized. And the European tribes subdued by the Romans surely had many of the same complaints today’s grievance groups do: that their cultures were being trampled, their values eviscerated. Yet should we lament those Roman conquests and demonize Italians?

In reality, we’re all better off for the Romans having spread Christianity, Western civilization, and technology and having built infrastructure throughout Europe (e.g., roads, aqueducts, amphitheaters). We still today use much that they birthed, too, from our calendar to concrete to plumbing to sanitation to fast food to trademarks and beyond.

The Romans, of course, had gotten much from the Greeks and Etruscans. This Western civilization then spread to the rest of Europe; later to the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand; and to a lesser extent elsewhere, influencing and enhancing the whole world.

Thus did a Zambian man I knew once argue that African colonization was good; it’s why a fellow from India I knew despised Mohandas Gandhi (who was phony, but that’s a different issue), condemning the Indian leader for driving experts and expertise from the country. Shocking? These men understand how civilization spreads.

Consider also that when Europeans reached the New World and Africa, the natives were generally living stone-age existences. “Noble savage” suckers may romanticize this, but have no intention of withdrawing into the wilderness to live like the Sentinelese. They love the modern conveniences, luxuries, and prosperity the West birthed far too much. Thanks, anyone?

Moreover, whether it was the dominance of other tribes by the Aztecs, Africa’s Shaka Zulu, North America’s Lakota, Asia’s Attila the Hun, or some other entity, conquest, killing, and subsumption had ever been part of man’s history.

That is until the West finally put an end to it.

In fact, as of late, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and annexing of Kuwait is evidence it likely would still be occurring today were the West not around to uphold Western standards.

Add to this the West ended slavery (where it could), cannibalism, and all other manner and form of age-old pagan brutality and, well, what can we say?

You’re welcome.

Surf’s Up!

Whenever there is a road race in Baja, it always begins in Ensenada. The prime area of Blvd Costero (especially at the Riviera, CEARTE and Museo Carocol) is blocked off, and that’s where the aficianados and the participants alike gather in preparation for the Baja 500, Baja 1000 or the newly reinstated SCORE transpeninsular races.

The hotels are booked solid from Rosarito south to Maneadero, the restaurants and bars are crowded with revelers, and traffic in the city becomes a commuter’s nightmare.

The end result is good business for the hospitality industry and an increase in tax revenue for the city.

The weekend beginning Friday, April 26th marked the beginning of the latest in NORRA’s cross-country desert races. By the time this paper hits the stands on Monday, April 29th, the drivers will be on their way from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, in a very unique race, characterized by diverse classes ranging from antique classics (which may only be outfitted with original equipment – i.e., no special shocks or engine modifications) to balls-to-the-wall fully customized strictly competition jet-fuel guzzling monsters.

The race takes five days to complete. It’s a very expensive prospect. It costs $1,000 to enter. Visitors often bring their families and put them up in hotels. There is a big party at the end of the event that reportedly costs the hosts in excess of $50,000 USD to sponsor. And, of course, the vehicles themselves are expensive, and require maintenance crews, mechanics, spotters, etc.

All in all, it’s like a sailboat race for cars. Y’know, if ya got it, flaunt it.

But I digress. This article is supposed to be about surfing. Who knew that northern Baja (as well as points south) boasts some of the gnarliest surf spots on the west coast?

If you thought surfing was strictly a SoCal, Hawaiian or Australian sport, think again.

Not only does our beloved Baja have some seriously challenging and world-famous surf locales, it also is home to some of the most widely-respected surfboard builders on the planet.

Todos Santos Island, 8 miles east of the Ensenada harbor, accessible by 22-foot pangas or other seaworthy vessels, is flat during much of the year, but becomes a daredevil’s paradise each winter, when swells in excess of 20 feet come roaring in from the Aleutian Islands. Seasoned surfing veterans refer to the breaks at Todos Santos as “Killers.” That’s no joke. The body of one veteran surfer who lost his life attempting to conquer that swell was never found.

Surfers can be seen all along the coast of northern Baja, even at Playa Hermosa, where local surf veteran “Yi-Yo” (Alberto Castro) surfs every morning that swells are high enough to justify suiting up and paddling out.

In fact, there are 2 surf shops right near that beach, one, “Spot Surfo,” on Calle Floresta, between Av Pedro Loyola and Blvd Costero (directly across from the beach camp aptly named “Playa Todos Santos”), and the other, right around the corner on the Blvd, next door to the OXXO. Both shops are owned by the same veteran surfer, whose son is also an enthusiast.

There’s also a dive shop on Calle Macheros, one block off the Avenue: Almar Dive Shop offers equipment for divers and surfers, and also offers certified training for watersports enthusiasts who want to know how to scuba dive.

Not only that, Ensenada boasts some world-renowned surfboard builders, most notably the Arctic Foam Surfboard Factory.

Also, the Orozco Surfboard Factory builds boards for some highly regarded California manufacturers, among them the highly regarded Bessell Surfboards manufacturing enterprise.

The San Miguel Surfboard company is owned by Mario Medel, who prefers the casual living style of Ensenada over the high-stress environment of southern California.

He notes that with his visa, he can go to the U.S. whenever he likes. But he prefers his hometown of Ensenada, where the Gringos come to relax and enjoy the simple life.

Who can blame him?

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