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What Mexico Has Taught Me

BY THE UNKNOWN GRINGO

Now What?

For decades I wondered what I would do once I retired from being a contractor.  I started an IRA on the advice of my tax accountant in the 1990’s and saved money when I could.  Especially since I knew my Social Security checks weren’t going to be a lot because I was self-employed for so many years.  And I didn’t start taking those payments until I turned 70 last year in order to maximize the monthly amount.  I retired five years ago but all my dreams were put on hold while I took care of my father.  I dreamed and dreamed.  And ended up taking only short trips to Ensenada then just day trips to Tecate.   No flying back down to Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Puebla, or elsewhere.

I was a family care-provider for over 16 years, first taking care of my mother then my father. ( I learned a whole new trade and probably am qualified to be a nurse’s aide.)  My father passed away last December at the age of 99.  I moved as fast as possible in emptying their house, cleaning it, painting it, and selling it.  It took four crazy months but now I can start to do things again like I used to years ago.  What will that be?

Years ago I told myself I would eventually move out of the San Fernando Valley here in the Los Angeles area to get away from the summer temps that routinely hit the 100’s for weeks at a time.  It’s miserable for me and the cat and it’s only getting hotter.   I am NOT the kind of person who can tolerate staying trapped indoors with the AC going at least 12 hours a day.  I like …. no ….I NEED to be outdoors.  A lot.

And I love Ensenada.  Living there, close to the water, where……what?…..it rarely gets above 85?   That sounds like heaven to me and has for years.  Fog?  Cold mornings?  Lots of drizzle?  Bring it on!!  I lived in Oregon for years and only got tired of the hay fever up there.  Cold doesn’t bother me.  High heat does.  And, yes, my body handles high heat VERY WELL since I sweat like a broken faucet as my body protects me.  When I was a kid on the playground people constantly asked me why I was crying.  I was sweating.   Give me the beach!!

Being fairly close to the border just 70 miles away and then not far from the two large Kaiser-Permanente facilities in San Diego sounds good at my age.  And over the years I’ve asked several members of the ex-pat community in Ensenada if they are happy with the quality of health care locally.  I like what I’ve been told.  I was once driven to an ER there with the tip of my finger gone and was treated well.

After my dad died I looked on Craigslist just for the hell of it and found a nice trailer for sale in a gated community on the beach just above Ensenada.  Four hundred dollars a month rent and that included electricity and internet.  The trailer had California tags and had a covered patio and metal shed next to it.  But….. it was too soon to make a jump like that.  I was dealing with the house.  And, it was on the second row of trailers and not right on the beach.  (The front row probably would have higher rent.  It should.)  But, it was a deal I could have afforded AND walked away from in the future if I needed to.  Versus buying a house.

So, now, I’m really thinking about what is best for me.  I think I will continue to stay at my hotel there but start looking at rentals.  Hold off on buying for now.  I have always been a tourist down south.  My questions are…… Do I want to live there?  Or just enjoy it one week a month?  Or two weeks a month?  What?  As a tourist I’m eating fried shrimp tacos every day and pounding beers and mezcal like a frat boy.  Do that every day for weeks at a time and I’ll be a blimp in XXL shorts.  Or will staying at the hotel one or two weeks at a time prove that I’m really a tourist at heart?  Will I get bored eating salads and reading books in Ensenada when I could just do that here?

And, should I sell my house in Los Angeles and get a place in San Diego that has me bouncing across the border with ease and very close to Kaiser-Permanente?  Plus, I really do love my house.  I just don’t like where it is.  It has thirty years of ME in it.  The backyard with all my fruit trees is a slice of heaven for me.  Am I going to plant new fruit trees somewhere else and wait ten years before they look kind of good?

Or get a new place east of San Diego off of Hwy 94 so I can easily cross the border at Tecate and enjoy that nice town, the drive to the Guadalupe Valley, and a quick bounce to a small rental or my hotel in Ensenada?  But….. then……be further away from Kaiser?  Because at my age, while I am still in good health, I am starting to think I need to make decisions that will make sense ten to twenty years from now.

What will I do?  Dunno.  But I’m telling myself to go SLOW so that I hopefully don’t make any dumb decisions.  I’ll keep you informed as I learn what Mexico has to teach me about myself.

The Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race turned 70 this year. Read more on this edition's Que Pasa in Baja column.

Que Pasa in Baja?

Finally! Santa Anita Territorial Dispute Resolved. The governments of Ensenada and Playas de Rosarito have begun the process to officially transfer the administration of the town of Santa Anita to Rosarito by the end of 2024. This area, which has been at the center of legal and administrative disputes between the two municipalities since 1995, is moving towards resolution. The official page of Playas de Rosarito reported ongoing meetings aimed at transferring community accounts and ensuring Santa Anita residents will soon be able to handle their civic duties and taxation within Rosarito’s jurisdiction. The transition involves the exchange of information on commercial permits, land use, and cadastral data among other administrative details, led by Rosarito’s Syndicate. A public ceremony will soon announce the official transfer, marking a significant step in resolving this longstanding territorial conflict.

Economic Boom from the 76th Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race. The 76th edition of the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race was not only a thrilling sporting event but also a financial windfall for the region, with over 100 sailboats participating and generating more than 1 million pesos in local economic impact. This race, held from April 26 to 28, saw competitors from the U.S., Mexico, Spain, the UK, Germany, France, and several South American countries, underscoring its international allure. The local hospitality sector, including hotels and restaurants, greatly benefited from the influx of visitors, adding substantial revenue to Ensenada’s economy. The race also marks the beginning of Ensenada’s peak tourist season, which includes off-road races, the Vendimia wine harvest festival, concerts, and destination weddings. This year’s race saw 126 sign-ups with 108 actual participants, and the weekend was supported by over 120 volunteers who helped make the event a success.

Baja California Faces Severe Colorado River Water Cuts. The Permanent Forum on Binational Waters has issued a stark warning: the upcoming cut in Colorado River water allocations to Mexico in 2024 will exceed the annual water usage of all Baja Californian cities reliant on this source. According to research by professors from the University of California and Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), the cut will amount to 263 million cubic meters. This figure surpasses the combined annual water consumption of Ensenada, Mexicali, Tecate, Rosarito, and Tijuana, which is about 235 million cubic meters. Furthermore, 2025 promises even sharper reductions, with an additional 346 million cubic meters withheld. This sequence of cuts, which started in 2021, will reduce Mexico’s Colorado River water by 33% compared to the allocations established in the 1944 treaty. The cuts are linked to the water level at Hoover Dam; lower levels mean more severe cuts. While some of the withheld water is recoverable by 2026, only 37% will actually return to Mexico, with the rest utilized by the U.S.

Baby Owls Found in Rosarito Office. In a surprising turn of events, the staff at a factory in Rosarito discovered six baby owls in the human resources office, prompting an unusual rescue operation by local firefighters.

On a typical Tuesday morning around 10:00 AM, the call for help came from Manufacturing, a local factory nestled in the Lucio Blanco neighborhood on Balbino Obeso Street. The human resources manager stumbled upon the little owls and quickly reached out to the firefighters for assistance in safely handling the feathered foundlings.

The owlets were promptly taken to a veterinary clinic managed by Francisco Ayala, a well-respected figure in the community and former president of Rosarito’s Veterinarian Association. According to Ayala, the owlets were barely over a week old and needed immediate care.

To provide the best environment for their recovery, the decision was made to house the baby owls in a residential setting temporarily. Here, they could be closely monitored and fed until they were ready to grow their full plumage. Once mature enough, the plan is to move them to a wildlife refuge located in Ensenada.

Ayala explained that owls are primarily nocturnal feeders, and currently, the rescuers are feeding them meat. However, he noted a concerning detail; two of the baby owls showed little interest in food, a potential indicator of health issues that will require close observation.

New Rules for Tinted Windows and Public Drinking in Rosarito. The local government just rolled out a new set of rules that are about to make life a bit easier for those of you sporting tinted windows. Starting now, you can cruise around with your windows tinted without sweating over fines or being pulled over, as long as your tints aren’t too dark. Think California-style rules, and you’re on the right track.

But that’s not all—Rosarito is also introducing a more laid-back vibe in its tourist zone. You can now sip your favorite drink openly in designated streets and even on public transport within this area, no hassle. This move aims to keep the festive spirit alive and kicking, without the nagging interruptions for enjoying a drink.

The move aims to avoid unnecessary fines by the local police, which only amount to extra opportunities for extorting our precious tourists.

Ensenada Gears Up for Bluefin Tuna Tournament. This May, Ensenada will host the exciting “Baja Bluefin Tuna Tournament,” boasting a prize pool over $45,000. The event, set for May 10-12, aims to position Ensenada as Mexico’s tuna fishing capital, with more than 50 teams from around the globe expected to compete. The tournament promises significant economic benefits, with an estimated $6 million impact on the local economy. Organizers and Baja California’s Fishing Secretary highlighted the event’s potential to showcase the region’s prime bluefin tuna migration season, making it a unique and strategic fishing contest. With stringent catch limits to ensure sustainability, the competition aligns with conservation efforts while offering impressive prizes for the winners.

What Mexico Has Taught Me

BY THE UNKNOWN GRINGO

Taxis in Mexico. 

I’ve previously written about taking the municipal buses up and down the coast from Ensenada. I’ve used them to travel north to my favorite breakfast spots, afternoon beer pubs, or breweries and then south down to La Bufadora early in the morning before the crowds arrive. They are easy to use and incredibly affordable. Plus, I get to enjoy the scenery and leave the driving to Pablo or Carlos. However, I’ve also occasionally taken taxis in Mexico and found them to be a great asset, despite my limited Spanish skills. There’s just one minor issue I’ve encountered, which I’ll explain later.

Taking a cab from my hotel to the auditorium or gymnasium where lucha libre wrestling events are held is straightforward. I’ve done this in Puebla and Oaxaca. Simply tell the driver the name of the venue, mention “lucha libre,” and he’ll know exactly where to go. Agree on the fare before you enter the cab and then you’re off. Always carry your hotel’s business card with you. After the event, there will be several taxis waiting outside the venue. Approach them with your hotel card and negotiate the fare you prefer. Bingo.

In Guadalajara, I frequently take taxis to visit the outlying neighborhoods. Tonala, known for its daily open-air market and pottery specialization, also boasts numerous pulquerias where you can sample the pre-Hispanic fermented agave drink, pulque—a taste of history in a glass. The drink, slightly less potent than beer, is often flavored with fruit to balance its natural tartness.

Zapopan is home to the Huichol National Museum. The Huichol tribe is renowned for creating stunning art pieces using beads or yarn on flat wooden boards or carved figures. I own several pieces that always capture my attention when I spot them in shops. Like Tonala, Zapopan also hosts a daily open-air market.

Tlaquepaque is celebrated for its hand-blown glass, upscale gift shops, fine dining, and the vibrant El Parian at the town center where wonderful free public events take place. Venture off the main streets on foot, and you’ll easily find a glass-blowing shop to observe artisans at work. Don’t forget to carry your hotel card for the return trip.

Once, I took a taxi with a friend from Guadalajara to Tequila, about 30-35 miles northwest. We rented the cab by the hour after negotiating with a driver outside our hotel. Opting for back roads over the main highway, we enjoyed the changing scenery from urban to rural, passing through neighborhoods and fields of blue agave. We visited several distilleries by simply showing up and knocking on their doors, enjoyed a fantastic lunch in a scenic outdoor restaurant overlooking a vast canyon west of town, and even treated our driver to a meal. The day was nothing short of spectacular.

In Tecate, I once discovered a large scorpion statue made from rock and metal that wouldn’t fit on my bicycle. After returning my bike to my van across the border, I walked back, hailed a taxi with a large trunk, purchased the sculpture, and managed to transport this impressive piece across the border, joking with Customs that I was importing a giant agricultural pest into the States.

However, the best ride was in Oaxaca. I wanted to explore the mezcal-producing areas around Santiago Amatlan and visit the famous rug-weaving village of Teotitlan del Valle. I hired a driver by the hour at the town plaza, and we headed south. We visited palenques where agave is cooked, crushed, fermented, and distilled. Arriving unannounced, we were welcomed warmly and purchased several bottles to take home. After a delightful lunch, which I shared with my driver, we visited the small village to meet the weavers. I fell in love with a wool poncho that a weaver promised to send to Los Angeles after their annual festival, the Guelaguetza, but it never arrived. I still wonder what happened to it. The village also houses a lovely museum. Our return drive to the city was relaxed and contented, and I made sure to tip my driver generously.

My only advice: always agree on the taxi fare before getting in. If possible, ask a few drivers in the same area to ensure a fair price. Once in Guadalajara, a driver tried to charge me “600 pesos” for a short ride, taking advantage of my limited Spanish and assuming I didn’t understand the currency value. This was when the exchange rate was ten pesos to a dollar—clearly an attempt to overcharge what he thought was a naive tourist fresh from the airport with newly exchanged pesos. I refused and found another driver who agreed to a more reasonable fare of fifty or sixty pesos. Always carry a map, your hotel cards, a pen and paper, and negotiate the price beforehand. And don’t forget to end your ride with a hearty “Gracias, amigo!”

Que Pasa in Baja?

Nearshoring Influences Ensenada’s Port. Hutchison Ports EIT in Ensenada, Baja California, is experiencing significant operational shifts due to nearshoring, as Asian manufacturing firms move closer to North American consumer markets. This trend has already impacted the terminal positively, with over 50% of the volume coming from maquiladora industries, according to Javier Rodríguez, the general manager at EIT.

The Multi-Use Terminal (TUM) at Hutchison Ports primarily serves businesses from northwestern Mexican cities like Tijuana, Mexicali, Tecate, and others extending to Ciudad Juárez, many of which directly connect to industrial markets in Southern California and Texas. In response to the increased demand from nearshoring and the general industry, the port is undergoing an expansion to enhance capacity and efficiency as part of its master plan.

This expansion, budgeted at 2.3 billion pesos, includes a 300-meter dock extension and the installation of advanced, sustainable technologies like a super post-Panamax crane and electric yard cranes. Set to increase static capacity to over 7,500 TEUs, these upgrades not only boost operational efficiency but also align with Hutchison Ports’ NET Zero strategy, aiming for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Progress on Tijuana’s Infrastructure. The Tijuana elevated viaduct project has achieved a 16.30% completion, announced Brigadier Engineer Constructor Raúl Manzano Vélez. He highlighted the placement of the first column, signaling noticeable progress ahead. Although the completion date remains unspecified, adjustments are being made to accommodate the terrain and residential areas without compromising existing homes.

During a phone call in President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s morning conference, Manzano Vélez reported on related infrastructure efforts, including a 160-meter advancement in the tunnel between El Soler and Cañón del Matadero, and a 67% completion of the Otay II checkpoint and its access viaduct. The latter project, expected to be equipped by the end of the term, has 1,700 workers in two shifts working extended hours to meet deadlines.

Additionally, the rehabilitation and modernization of the San Antonio de Los Buenos wastewater treatment plant are underway, with 80% of the area cleared for new construction. This plant, set to treat about 33% of Tijuana’s wastewater, is on schedule to complete by September, promising to meet national standards for water quality.

Tijuana’s Tinted Windows Reform Stalled. Six months have passed since the Tijuana City Council approved a change to allow medium and low-intensity tinted windows for citizens, but the reform hasn’t been officially published yet, delaying its activation. Ex-councilwoman Georgina Arana Cruz, who championed the reform, pointed out the lack of publication in the State Official Gazette as the reason for the hold-up. Despite repeated inquiries to the Secretary-General of the Government and the mayor about the delay, Cruz has received no response. The reform aims to permit lower levels of tint for public use, reserving the darkest tints for police vehicles, to reduce extortion incidents which have even affected individuals with medical conditions requiring protection from sunlight. The publication has been further delayed by requests to clarify the definitions of tint levels, which remain unresolved.

Budget Cuts Impact Rosarito Projects. Rosarito will face a significant financial setback as it anticipates a reduction exceeding 30 million pesos in federal and state funding this year. This shortfall has forced the municipal government to cancel three planned infrastructure projects to balance the budget. The Treasury reported that a recent meeting with state finance officials confirmed the reduced allocation, which is 36 million pesos less than initially budgeted. Efforts to mitigate these cuts had already led to the cancellation of two other projects involving the refurbishment of local government and social services offices.

Additionally, the planned renovation of Bonfil Boulevard, which included sidewalk, lighting, and equipment upgrades worth 30 million pesos, has now been scrapped due to funding constraints and costly proposed changes by the local water commission. The municipality also faces new financial burdens, such as a 20 million pesos annual payroll tax and the loss of a 7 million pesos compensatory fund, prompting further budget adjustments, particularly in social and cultural expenditures.

Rosarito Beach Corridor Nears Completion Amid Permit Uncertainty. In Rosarito, a nearly completed corridor along the beachfront has sparked concerns, as municipal authorities have not confirmed whether the Quinta Pacífico development has the necessary permits for its construction. The project includes a nearly 3-meter-high retaining wall that was built over a year ago, disrupting pedestrian access, especially during high tides. This development led to numerous complaints, and it was revealed that the municipality was unaware of the construction permits, finding only a legal injunction filed by the developer, with no further legal progress reported.

The corridor, dubbed a “tourist corridor,” now features stairs and a cemented pathway delineating the beach area designated to the development. According to a security guard, the pathway restricts public access to the sand. Funded privately, the corridor’s execution and authorization remain ambiguous, raising questions about public use and oversight.

Baja Boosts Sport Fishing. During the “Day at the Docks” event in San Diego, an aquatic sports gathering, the Baja California Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sepesca BC) promoted sport fishing opportunities in the region. Alma Rosa García Juárez, head of Sepesca BC, was invited by Ken Franke, president of the Sportfishing Association of California, to highlight Baja California as a prime location for both relaxation and fishing adventures.

At the event, García Juárez introduced the official sport fishing website for Baja California, www.bajasport.fishing, which features a comprehensive calendar, federal procedures, top fishing spots, and service providers in the region. She also announced that this year, 13 fishing tournaments are scheduled across various locations from El Carrizo Dam in Tecate to Cedros Island and Ensenada.

Highlights include the “Dos Mares” tournaments in San Felipe and San Quintín, offering over one million pesos in prizes, and the “Reinas del Mar,” the second women-only tournament in the state, to be held in Ensenada’s bay. Additionally, the successful “Baja Bluefin Tuna Tournament” is set for its second edition in Ensenada this May.

Baja is a Leader in Job Creation. Baja California ranked third nationally in job creation last March, adding 25,659 new jobs across various economic sectors, Governor Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda announced. Citing data from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) for the first quarter, she emphasized that the state contributed 9.7% of the 264,959 jobs created nationwide during this period.

Highlighting efforts to improve living standards, nearly half of these new jobs were permanent positions, making up 47% of the total. Ávila Olmeda pointed out that the agricultural sector, particularly in Ensenada, was the largest job generator, followed by significant contributions from Tijuana and Mexicali.

Kurt Ignacio Honold Morales, head of the Secretary of Economy and Innovation (SEI), noted that agriculture continued to lead employment growth, followed by manufacturing and social services. He praised the impact of large enterprises in generating employment, reflecting a robust effort to bolster Baja California’s workforce and economic health.

Que Pasa in Baja

Minors to get COVID vaccine in Baja. This past October 1st, Alonso Perez Rico, head of the state health office stated that they had already started registering kids from 12 to 17 years old with comorbidities that make them more susceptible to serious infections.

The acceptable diseases that would allow minors to get a vaccine are chronic cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, kidney disease, teen pregnancy, spleen disfunction and others.

Perez Rico didn’t say when they were going to start with the vaccination, and he also did not provide with a timeframe on when healthy kids would be vaccinated.

Ensenada Mayor Under Hot Water. Armando Ayala, Ensenada Mayor, has landed himself in hot water because of his forced advances to the municipalization of the water company.

When the subject was debated in the local council, the municipalization was rejected with 8 votes against and 7 in favor; but just a few minutes after the vote, the mayor called for a new meeting, but he “forgot” to inform his opponents about the meeting. In this completely illegal new meeting, the municipalization of the water company was approved.

Now seven of those eight affected councilmen and women are demanding a trial against mayor Ayala which has already passed its first step which was the approval in the local council.

The Water Company Gets Their Electricity Cut Off. Tijuana’s water company was left without electricity for a week, after the federal electricity commission (CFE) decided to cut their power because they said they were owed over 8 million USD in past due bills.

The head of the water company, Eli Topete, confirmed that their power was cut off but said that they had reserves for 40 days to supply water to the population.

Topete said that their reason for not paying the bill was because they were being charged a “potency” surcharge in excess of the electricity they used and were trying to sort it out.

Fortunately, the state and the CFE were able to strike a deal 7 days later and they were able to turn the lights back on.

About 5,000 tires found at sea. A collaborative effort has taken place in Campo Kennedy, in the Punta Banda area of Ensenada where about 5,000 tires were found in the bottom of the sea.

With the help of 100 divers, 200 of these tires were taken out of the sea, with a couple thousand more still laying there.

Jorge Arturo Cruz Gayoso, coordinator of the environmental group “The sea is for everyone” stated that they have no idea who is responsible for all the tires there but that there is a space of about 500 square meters, with anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 tires.

Cruises are back! After 19 months of absence, cruise ships are finally back in Ensenada. This past September 29, the Miracle cruise ship from the Carnival cruise line, docked in Ensenada inaugurating this new season of cruise ship arrivals.

The miracle came from Long Beach, California, with a total of 1,265 passengers and 934 crew members, about 67% of its capacity.

Cruises were an integral part of the Ensenada economy, and many businesses that catered to this sector only had to close their doors during the pandemic.

Baja relapses with COVID-19. Even though Baja California is the State with the highest vaccination rate in all of Mexico, it is also the only one that went back to orange from yellow in the epidemiological stoplight this week.

Alonso Perez Rico, head of the state health office, stated that the higher rate of COVID-19 disease came because of the lower temperatures that came on recent days.

Perez explained that the state is getting ready for the cold season, which is expected to bring lots of COVID-19 patients with severe cases.

Plate in CEART honors Jorge Luna. In order to remember and honor the work in favor of the childhood and youth of Rosarito that late Jorge Luna did, a plate was installed in the Graphic room in the CEART museum in Rosarito naming the room after him.

The room was the one that master Luna used for his classes, and an exposition of his work is being organized before the end of the current administration.

Costco buys an ambulance for the Cruz Roja. A brand-new ambulance, totally equipped with all the bells and whistles was bought by Costco Mexico and donated to the Cruz Roja in Ensenada.

Costco informed that this donation is part of their commitment with the communities where it does business and that since 2007, they have donated a total of 16 ambulances to different delegations of the Cruz Roja Mexicana.

Costco started operating in Mexico 29 years ago and has a membership base of 5.7 million in 39 stores in Mexico.

Wine Valley gets protection from state judge. The different wine valley winemaker associations received great news this week when a state judge approved their demand to force the city of Ensenada to apply the Zoning Regulation for the valley, which has been a little less than a recommendation for the current government.

The zoning regulation prohibits the development of housing projects, event regulations and the sale of small lots, all of which have been on the rise on the past few years, making the winemakers protest because of the water crisis that the valley is already suffering.

Ask a Mexican

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? 

Día de la Madre is coming up soon, and not many people know where this tradition comes from. The celebration started in 1922. May was picked because it is the month of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. And the 10th because, back in the day, payday was every 10 days. Other sources say the first Mother’s Day happened in Oaxaca in 1913 when the wife of a Methodist deacon found an American magazine where there was an article about Mother’s Day and decided we needed it in Mexico too. Mexico was the first Spanish-speaking country in America to celebrate Mother’s Day with the first monument in Mexico City, built in 1949. Mother’s Day is so important in Mexico that most businesses give mothers the day off, schools make festivals and host breakfasts and gifts are typically given, although nowadays it is frowned upon when household items or appliances are given to moms. 

Luisa Armada, 25, accountant. 

I like to take my mom and grandma for breakfast, somewhere nice with good food, and it’s obviously my treat. Then I take them for a small shopping trip. I get them whatever they need for themselves and we have lunch and chill at my house. I try to make this day super special since they were both single mothers and I think they deserve the entire world. 

Carlos Perez, 63, farmer. 

I take my wife out to dinner a day before or a day after, because the day of, everything is packed. She loves to cook though, so it’s hard for us to ask her to take a break. Last year my kids saved a lot of money and gave her a spa package, but she took so long in going that it expired. This year I don’t think I’ll take her anywhere because of the pandemic, but my kids will probably think of something to do to make her day special.

Josue Gonzales, 29, media manager. 

I love pampering my mom and I don’t wait for Mother’s Day, but I usually plan something different. One year I took her to a spa and dinner, another year we had a picnic at her favorite beach, and this year I’m taking her on a flash vacation to see her girlfriends who live away. 

Josefina Chavez, 45, receptionist. 

My kids always make me breakfast in bed and we just hang out, they deep clean the house one day before so I don’t have to do anything, and my girls give me massages, facials and do my nails. I miss it when they were little. They would make a small dance or performance and it was really fun. 

Daniela Hernandez, 21, student. 

This year we are getting my grandma, aunts and mom all together at the ranch and all my cousins and I are having a big lunch and a performance. The pandemic has been hard for them since they couldn’t see much of each other, but most of them are vaccinated. The men in our family will take care of the food and we will do decorations. Each family has a big present for each of their moms. 

Cristina Villa, 43, hairstylist. 

I am a mom now, and I invite my mother to my house where my kids celebrate us. They usually make breakfast and we do some sort of activity. My mother really enjoys taking out picture albums and telling stories, she loves braiding the girl’s hair and we all have a good time. My kids have now made a rule that we can’t get appliances for Mother’s Day, so they give us chocolate, wine, self-care stuff and clothes.

Que Pasa in Baja?

Solar power park coming soon. Our state government announced this week that a new solar power park will begin construction in the “Laguna Salada” area of Mexicali as soon as the elections pass in June.

The federal government has already given the go ahead and issued all necessary permits for the park, which will allow Baja California to be energy independent from the interconnected California grid.

The investment will be made by a private company called Next Energy, which will then sell all the energy produced to our state at a lower price than the one being paid to the CFE, this will allow the state to save over 3 million USD per year in energy costs.

Low turnout for COVID-19 vaccine. The state health office announced that there has been a lower-than-expected turnout for the vaccination of the 50-59 years old group. In Ensenada, it was announced that only 8,500 persons came for the vaccine on the first day with even lower turnouts for the remaining days.

A total of 250,000 persons have been vaccinated in the state of Baja California, 6.57% of the state’s inhabitants that has a current population of 3.8 million.

Baja Governor in Top 3. According to the 14th ranking of Mexican governors by the Campaign & Elections magazine, Jaime Bonilla, governor of Baja California, was ranked in the third place of the most approved governors in Mexico, with a 67% approval rate.

The first place went to Mauricio Vila Dosal, governor of Yucatan with a whopping 71.9% approval rate, followed by Queretaro’s governor Francisco Dominguez with 68.5%.

Bonilla was the highest ranked governor coming from the Morena party as the first two came from the PAN party.

U.S. – Mexico Trade Breaks Record. The combined import-export figure of commerce between the U.S. and Mexico reached a staggering $56.9 billion in the month of March this year, a figure never seen before for one month. It represents a 17 percent increase over February this year and 13 percent over March of 2020. Thus, Mexico ended as the biggest commercial partner of the U.S. this quarter, above Canada, Japan, Germany, and China.

Baja Recovering Fast! According to the Statistics and Geography Institute of Mexico, Baja California won the second place of national growth with a 3.7% increase in economic activity compared to the same October-December quarter of 2019.

This data puts Baja as one of the fastest States in the country to recover from the pandemic hit, as most states in the country are showing no increase in economic activity or even a decrease.

It was also noted that Baja California was able to get 3.3 billion USD of private investment during 2020, signaling a sustainable economic growth for our state.

The Wish to Move to Mexico is Growing. As reported by the online magazine Expats in Mexico, the interest to move to Mexico is growing among Canadian citizens. The magazine conducted a survey and found that 54 percent of the respondents said they were highly likely to move to Mexico, up 5 percent over their 2019 survey. Unfortunately, we did not make the favorites places list which, they stated, are Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, Los Cabos and Merida and Playa del Carmen in the southern Quintana Roo state.

Major Cruise Development Planned for Ensenada. Mexico’s ITM Group and Carnival Corporation are teaming up to develop La Española Village, a cruise ship terminal that would feature Mexican gastronomy with casual and fine-dining food and beverage outlets, wine tasting, music, and other live entertainment. And an expansive adventure park tentatively dubbed The Isle at Ensenada would be packed with activities for children and adults such as a river ride, hot springs, bubble rapids, pools, tequila and chocolate experiences and the replica of a historic exploration ship.

The 25 million USD project is expected to begin construction in October of this year with completion targeted for the summer of 2023. ,

Que Pasa In Baja?

Table dance converts to a restaurant overnight. After a decision from the local city council in Ensenada to refuse to allow table dances to reopen yet, the popular table dance “Hot Fox” switched all its outdoor signs to “restaurant bar”, in a clear effort to bypass the council decision and open its doors.

Representatives from the Ensenada government stated that “Hot Fox” is not yet capable of operating under the “restaurant bar” category since it’s not as easy as changing the signs to be allowed to open as a “restaurant bar”. In order to be classified as such the business needs to have special permits and prove they actually have a kitchen and offer prepared foods to their patrons.

Tijuana Mayor Announces Leave of Absence. Arturo Gonzalez, mayor of Tijuana, surprisingly announced that he had submitted a leave of absence effective next Wednesday because he is interested in participating in the internal process of choosing a state coordinator for the Morena party.

He emphatically denied that he was leaving his post because of the many allegations by Governor Bonilla criticizing his work in the city.

He stated that the governor has repeatedly tried to discredit him and uses illegal tactics to diminish his odds of winning the governor’s seat in the coming election.

Both the Governor and Tijuana Mayor come from the Morena party, but they have not been able to get along since May.

Big Investment From Sempra Energy. Most of Baja’s construction and engineering sectors have expressed their excitement over a $2.3 billion dollar investment that Sempra Energy is planning for the expansion of its current operations in Baja.

It is estimated that at least 30% of this investment will be spent hiring local companies, providing a much-needed source of revenue to businesses that suffered greatly from the pandemic.

The new facility will process natural gas brought from the US, mostly Texas, to liquify it and export it to the Asian markets.

The investment will be made over a 4-year period, with an estimated $50 million being spent every month. For comparison, that is approximately the same amount as the total annual budget for the city of Ensenda.

Ensenada Starts Issuing Ecologic Fines. A total of 17 fines have been issued by the recently-created Ecological Police, mostly for pouring sewage illegally, excessively loud music, abuse or neglect of pets, vandalizing cars in the street among others. Oswaldo Portillo, head of the Ecologic Police, stated that the fines were issued in just a 6-day period.

Violators have 5 days to appear before the judge to appeal their case or pay their fine, which can be up to $140, depending on the case.

Reports to the Ecological Police can be made directly to the 911 phone number, where operators will then pass on the report to the police.

San Pedro Martir Sierra National Park Reopens. Starting this past October 8th visitors are again allowed in the San Pedro Martir National Park, along with the usual precautions.

Mario Escobedo Carignan, head of the state economy and tourism office, said that the park will be open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and those visitors wishing to stay overnight must make advance  reservations by phone at (646) 172-3000 ext. 3229.

Don’t forget that face mask! In order to register your vehicle, you will have to apply at the receptionist there, and they won’t allow anyone into the park who isn’t wearing a mask.

U.S. / Mexico Border Not Opening This Month. After several social media news sites announced that the border was finally opening for non-essential travelers after 7 months of being closed, authorities from the Customs and Border Protection office have stated that the information is false and they do not have a date to reopen the border yet.

On September 30, chancellor Marcelo Ebrard stated that the US had agreed to open the border only when the border states were declared to be in the green, regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

Couple arrested in Frank Aguilar’s disappearance. State police apprehended Fanny “N” and Santos “N” regarding the 7-week old disappearance of Los Angeles fireman Frank Aguilar.

They were stopped on the road to Rosarito and in a preliminary inspection they were found to have in their possession Frank’s Bank cards. When asked about it they denied even knowing Frank.

Authorities have already stated that Frank met with Fanny at a house in Mision del Mar, where Santos and she had planned to kidnap him.

The suspects have refused to give any statements to authorities, and they are being charged with “forced disappearance” until Frank is found.

Que Pasa in Baja?

Baja prepares for Influenza. Even though COVID-19 cases have been consistently decreasing lately in our State, the regular flu season is about to begin, threatening the public with a health challenge of its own. Alonso Rico, head of the State Health Office, already announced they have been preparing for it with a fivefold strategy, which consists of vaccinating all members of the “at risk” population for this year’s influenza strain; making sure the hospital infrastructure is functioning properly: ending the exchange agreement between hospitals that allows people to go only to the facility they are affiliated to; ensuring the availability of a  consistent supply of medicines; and lastly, providing the presence of qualified medical personnel for December.

Government cracks down on fake documents. Our state government stated that it has found a great number of fake drivers licenses, mostly Type C, which are the ones needed by drivers of vehicles used for public transportation.

Officials said they are being sold in the “5 y 10” area in Tijuana, for around $2,000 pesos. This is more than what it would cost to get the real thing; however, a requisite to get this kind of drivers license is to have no criminal records, and most of the people that buy the fake ones have them. Add “Possession of a fake government ID” to that record!

Governor and Tijuana mayor clash again, this time over the closure by the state government of a storage facility where the local DIF kept the food packages that are distributed in the poorest areas of town.

The State Government closed down the facility because they said “expired candy” was found there.

Consequently, the city of Tijuana announced that about 3,500 citizens that receive a food package every week will not be able to get them.

Magdalena Bautista, head of DIF Tijuana, stated that the act was retaliation for the bad relationship that the Tijuana Mayor and Governor have had in the past.

Ensenada mayor passes the hat in Cali. In a three-day tour of the counties of Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego, Armando Ayala was able to get donations with a value of more than $2 million USD.

Among the things that he was able to get for Ensenada were two 2002 Kenworth trucks for use by the city garbage collection service, three Vactor trucks for the city water company, a fully equipped ambulance and two 32-passenger buses.

During the tour he also officialized Ensenada’s intentions of sistering the cities of Pico Rivera and San Diego.

Police Chief in hot water. Adrian Ortiz, head of the police department in Ensenada, landed himself in hot water after he jokingly stated that “after taking the weapons away from police personnel, crime rates lowered.”

Several police officers protested outside of the public security building expressing their outrage over Ortiz’s comments.

They are demanding a public apology from him, because they claim that the already beaten-down image of the police force was even more damaged and now it’s from the police chief himself.

For his part, Ortiz said it was all a misunderstanding and that he never meant the statement that way.

Baja’s COVID risk color improves to orange.  The “stoplight” that measures our risk factor was changed from red to orange this week, this means that now businesses will be able to have a 50% occupancy instead of the usual 30%, with the exception of supermarkets which are now allowed to have a 75% occupancy with the usual precautions. Kids are now allowed into businnesses also with the usual precautions.

Bars and event venues will continue to be closed.

Governor Bonilla stated that the federal government is strongly pushing towards changing the “stoplight” to green so the economic reactivation starts sooner.

Alonso Perez Rico, head of the state health office, reminded the popullation to use their masks at all times in public places, a noticeable decrease in the use of it has been seen.

Que Pasa In Baja?

Tijuana-Tecate Passenger Train Announced. Mario Escobedo, head of the state economy and tourism office, said that the Tijuana-Tecate passenger train is already in the works with an initial investment of $136 million USD for a 17-mile section.

He stated that the train would be a secure, sustainable option to connect with Tijuana and Tecate, with seven stations and two terminals. A minimum of 30,000 passengers are expected to use the train every day.

This project should not be confused with the existing tourism train that goes from Tijuana to Tecate (pictured above).

Initially, the project considered a route to Ensenada. And although the plan hasn’t been cancelled, Escobedo stated that “it’s not a priority right now”, mainly because the current state government administration will only last two years and will not be able to finish a project of such magnitude.

Ensenada Mayor Under Hot Water. Armando Ayala Robles, mayor of Ensenada, found himself in hot water this past week after local councilwoman Brenda Valenzuela protested about how he has been stamping his name in cement while still fresh in several public works.

Valenzuela stated that article 134 of the Mexican constitution clearly states that a person in public office cannot publicize himself in the public works they perform. “It’s also a very bad parody of the Walk of Fame in Hollywood”, said Valenzuela.

Baja Launches Tourism Campaign. In order to reactivate the local economy, which is being severely affected by COVID-19, the state of Baja California launched a promotional campaign named “Disfruta Baja California & Drive South” to attract tourists from California and Arizona.

“We are preparing for, when the time comes, promoting our state’s natural, cultural and gastronomic richness, in order to attract tourists that can drive over here and increase traffic to the most important tourist sites in Baja”, said Mario Escobedo, head of Economy and Tourism for the State.

The main objective of the campaign is to support the tourism sector in its reactivation, as well as to make people want to rediscover Baja or visit it for the first time.

Abandoned Ship To Be Unloaded Soon. The “Triumph” cargo ship, which has been abandoned since 2017 in the coasts of Ensenada due to a lengthy legal battle in England, is being finally unloaded soon, the Mexican Navy announced.

The Triumph has been reported to contain 47,000 tons of bauxita, a rock that is processed to obtain aluminum, and about 270 tons of high sulfur fuel. The ship has been all over local news lately as it was discovered that it has been slowly sinking due to the lack of maintenance.

It has been reported by local environmentalist groups that if the ship would completely sink, and the cargo and fuel would spill, a dangerous ecological disaster would ensue in the Ensenada bay.

Independence Celebrations Will be Online. The different independence celebrations in the cities of Baja California will be performed without public attendance, but will be available for viewing live online on social media.

Every year on September 15th, independence is celebrated with the traditional “grito” or shout, where mayors, governors and the president of Mexico go out to their balconies of their city hall and shout “Viva Mexico!” in front of a huge public audience that goes on to enjoy several cultural shows and dine on  traditional Mexican food.

On September 16th, a civilian and military parade goes through the most important streets of our cities, but this year it will be severely limited due to the pandemic, so authorities are encouraging people to watch it online instead.

Mexican Army Seizes Drug Load Valued at $16 million USD. Soldiers from the Mexican Army seized a massive load of  various drugs in the La Rumorosa area in Tecate.

The illicit drugs were found in an uninhabited area about 6 miles south from the town of La Rumorosa.

The army reported that 1 ton of crystal meth was found, along with 6 kilos of powdered fentanyl and 5,000 pills of that same drug. About 5.3 kilos of heroin and 4 gallons of marihuana (THC) oil were also found.

The army stated that the bust would considerably affect the financial structure of local crime organizations since the total street value of the drugs was about $16 million USD.

The drugs were found abandoned on a dirt road when the military was doing a surveillance drive through the area. No arrests were made in connection with the drugs.

No in-person classes for Baja. Governor Jaime Bonilla stated this week that students will continue with virtual classes at least for the remainder of the current school cycle, which continues until July 2021.

He said that public schools will use this time to maintain and improve school facilities.

Baja California has 639,452 students registered for virtual classes, from K to 12.

Labor Day increases hotel occupancy. There was a slight increase in occupancy in the Labor Day weekend of 11%, much less than the normal increase during that weekend, but a much needed increase for our area.

About 194,000 tourists visited our state, and brought just about $40 million USD to local businesses.

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