Gringo Gazette

Gringo Gazette

Classifieds

Otay Vet VeterInAry Clinic in Tijuana/Otay area, offers vetenary specialty services. Go to www.otayvet.com or facebook. Ph. (664) 623-7999 CA Cell (619) 816-8415. (#26)

Mexico Liability Insurance with legal starting at $84 per year. 800 909-4457 or mexicoinsurance.com OB92215 (#26)

DO NOT RENT FROM TOM S. (AKA. BAJA TOM)IN LA MISION AREA Myself and 6 other tenants have been seriously ripped off and no deposits have been returned on long term rentals. This action is ongoing, take warning. (#TF)

FOR RENT Ocean Front mini resort in Rosarito County. One Bedroom Suite $800.00 USD. With A 6 month lease, fullly furnished. All utillities included and Direct TV service. Call Salvador at US. 619 467-0310 or Mex. Cell 661 850-4517 Photos: www.Airbnb.com/Rooms/691934 (#TF)

FOR RENT fantastic 180degree view, 3bd 2ba detached home. Includes washer, dryer, refrigerator and range. (714) 603 3269. Spanish or English. (#3)

RENT ENSENADA New house, 3Bedroom, 2Bath, carport, fenced, secure, near Costco, $600, No smoking 646-205-4128 (#4)

Estero beach resort Ensenada BCN home for sale Enjoy this renovated 2 bed 2 bath next to the estuary on resort grounds. Security gardens walking biking tennis swimming pools. Call or text 480 234 0663. $30,000 $550 a month ground lease.  Or azramblinrose@juno.com for pics (#6)

ATTN ROSARITO SENIORS: I can help with errands! Groceries, meds. Starting from $15/hour. Have my own car. References available. Call Elisa at (661)116-5408.

FOR RENT OCEAN FRONT CONDO Fully Furnished, EI Centro, Rosarito, 1Br, 2Ba, Balcony, Club House, Jacuzzi, TV, Secure Parking, Gated Community, NO SMOKING, Call 619-997-6444 or 612-1984 $800.00/MO.

FOR SALE Mobile Home IN Estero Beach Hotel and resort Ensenada BCN updated home for sale Baja 500 race start and end. Enjoy renovated heated and a/c 2 bed 2 bath next to the estuary on hotel grounds. Security gardens walking biking tennis swimming pools. Call or text (480)234-0663. $30,000 $550 a month ground lease. azramblinrose@juno.com for pics or see craigslist SD listing.

Professional Websites, Marketing & Business Consulting. TheBajaAdventure@gmail.com 661-131-3131

HOME FOR LEASE 2,000 sq/ft, 3BD, 2½BT, garage, heat and A/C. Alarm system. 1-story, no steps, ocean view, courtyard. In Mision Viejo. $1,500 monthly lease. Call John Murphy (619) 370-1291, (619) 488-1137. (#3)

House for sale. 1bd furnished. Rancho todos santos. 3 min walk to the beach. $10,000. Land rent $233 month. Ph. 646 1094289.

U.S. Tax Clock Stops While In Mexico

The IRS is going through tough times. In recent years, Congress “punished” the agency by providing it a super lean budget. The shutdown also left it with millions of unopened letters and mail. The IRS Ombudsman estimates it will take a year to get back to normal.

One of the things Congress did to the IRS was to require that inactive collection accounts be turned over to Private Collection Agencies. Those were old accounts the IRS felt had little collection potential. Off to work PCAs went, and we have some results. They are not very good at collecting. And when they were able to reach the taxpayer and the taxpayer wanted to set up a payment plan, somehow it fell through. I’ll add that it was tried before, and this time around it seems like yet another fiasco.

Why, you would say, do I take time to write about this? Well, for any of my readers that may have outstanding IRS debt, it is always important to know a few things. Generally, once the tax liability is assessed (imagine the entry in the government’s ledger “Joe owes us X dollars”), the government has ten years from that date to collect. So, it’s easy to say, “Why can’t I just wait this out if the debt is old?”

You should know the 10-year collections clock comes with that “exceptions apply” language we often see in ads. One you should know about: If a taxpayer is outside the U.S., the collection clock stops until the taxpayer returns to the U.S., then it restarts six months thereafter. Otherwise, it stops forever.  If, in the course of your conversation with one of these folks, they learn that you like real margaritas and tacos, instead of their north-of-the-border facsimiles, your collection file will be coded such that the debt will not expire.

The other consequence is that those debts continue accumulating penalties and interest. It’s not difficult to see how old tax debt can balloon up to the magic debt level that would make you eligible for passport non-renewal or cancellation.  You see, they have all kinds of persuasive methods.

Another way in which this can be addressed is through a payment plan that takes into account your living expenses versus your income, or through an offer in compromise where a sum is offered in exchange for release of all liabilities. Whether one or the other is convenient depends on one’s individual circumstances.

Orlando Gotay is a California licensed tax attorney (with a Master of Laws in Taxation) admitted to practice before the IRS, the U.S. Tax Court and other taxing agencies.  His love of things Mexican has led him to devote part of his practice to federal and state tax matters of U.S. expats in Mexico.  He can be reached at tax@orlandogotay.com or Facebook: GotayTaxLawyer.  This is just a most general outline. It is informational only and not meant as legal advice.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Teachers’ union goes nuts again.  The latest target of the teacher’s union members’ unhappiness with allowing their skills to be evaluated is the lower house of Congress, which they shut down. Camping out on the railroad tracks cost so many people so much money, that the tactic proved pretty unpopular. Nobody cares about Congress, so now they’re targeting them.

Stolen border fence. Some new barbed wire placed atop the border wall in Tijuana didn’t stay there long: it is now serving to improve security at several area homes on the southern side of the border. The wire was installed to reinforce the Mexico-U.S. border recently in response to the arrival of thousands of migrants in caravans from Central America. But the barbed wire is there no more, leading to the belief that thieves on the Mexico side removed it and sold it in nearby neighborhoods, giving residents protection from the border jumpers.

“We know about the theft of barbed wire because United States authorities have requested our help,” said Tijuana police chief Marco Antonio Sotomayor Amezcua. Houses near the border are now clearly protected with barbed wire of a similar size and what’s more, a type that is not sold in Mexican stores.

So. It’s necessary to protect one’s home, but not one’s country. Got it now. Not saying we understand it, just saying we got it now.

Shot over the bow. Canadian mining companies operating in Mexico should be on notice that the sector is going to face increased scrutiny on its environmental practices and treatment of Indigenous people, according to Mexico’s new ambassador to Canada.

“President Lopez Obrador has been very public about this, that we really want a strong, profitable mining sector – and Canadian mining companies are large investors in Mexico – but we expect them to operate in this country with exactly the same standards as they do in Canada,” Juan Jose Gomez said enforcement of Mexico’s existing laws will be increased under the government of new president Lopez Obrador.

The most pressing task when he gets to Ottawa will be the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, the text of which was completed nearly six months ago but has yet to be ratified by the partners.

No More Tourist Promotion. The private sector will assume responsibility for marketing Mexico as a tourism destination in light of the federal government’s decision to disband the Tourism Promotion Council (CPTM).

“It’s an effort that must be done together to promote Mexico as a country,” said José Manuel Campos. However, Campos didn’t reveal the size of the budget the new organization will have.

The government’s decision to disband the CPTM shortly after President AMLO took office last December has been widely criticized by members of the tourism and business sectors, including union boss Gustavo de Hoyos, who said it “makes you think that tourism has stopped being a priority.”

Well, yeah. AMLO would rather have his bullet train than tourists speeding into Mexico.

Dead turtles! More than 110 sea turtles have been found dead on beaches in Guerrero so far this month, causing widespread alarm. But a marine biologist says it’s a natural phenomenon that salpa, a zooplankton, sometimes carry high levels of toxins which, when they come in contact with the turtles, paralyzes and kills them.

In 2009 between 500 and 600 dead turtles were found and a similar number perished in the same way in 2016.

The biologist added that illegal fishing techniques, especially using nets in which turtles get trapped, have also been responsible for many deaths.

So far, dead sea turtles have been found in Coyuca de Benítez, San Jerónimo, Tecpan de Galeana, Acapulco and the Costa Chica region in Guerrero, all on the mainland.

Are You Outta Your Mind?? The government of Spain has “vigorously” rejected a request from Mexican President López Obrador that Spain apologizes for its conquest of Mexico that occurred about 500 years ago. López Obrador wants an apology for the indignities suffered by the native peoples during the period of the Spanish conquest.

2021 will be known as the Year of Historical Reconciliation when Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence and 500 years since the taking of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. It appears Spain will not be part of the festivities.

Rosarito Calendar Of Events

Every Friday (that is NOT a Mexican holiday) 11 am – 1 pm; Free beginner and intermediate Spanish Classes at the Palacio Municpal, through the FRAO office. Contact Roxanne for information: 661-614-9600, ext. 1080, or email: frao@rosarito.gob.mx.

Every Monday through Thursday, 9am – 12pm; Pickleball at Punta Azul Tennis Center. Cos: $1 court fee per person per day. Organized by Robert Canaan. BYO paddle and ball. Information: Facebook.com/ Rosarito Pickleball

Every Wednesday, 10am – 12pm; Adult painting class at IMAC Rosarito in the main park. Bilingual instructor. 200 peso registration/ 300 pesos per month. IMACRosarito@gmail.com; Facebook/imacrosarito.

Every Friday, 12 – 2 pm; Adult painting class at IMAC Rosarito in the main park. Bilingual instructor. 200 pesos registration/ 300 pesos monthly. IMAC Rosarito@gmail.com; Facebook/imacrosarito.

Every Sunday 4 pm. Cultural Sundays in the park. Local Mexican and American dancers and musicians.  At the IMAC in Abelardo L. Rodriguez park, west of Banamex. Facebook IMAC Rosarito. Free.

Every Sunday 2 – 4 pm at the IMAC Central Park (behind the Banamex on Juarez) Dancing for seniors. Salsa and merengue (among others) tunes designed to not throw out a hip. www.facebook.com/IMAC Rosarito

Second Sunday of every month, Pet sterilization by the Baja Spay and Neuter Foundation at the Centro de Diagnostico Clinico Vetrinario, ave. Queretaro #2331-3, Col Cacho, Tijuana. 200 pesos, 661-124-3619, or Robin at www.BajaSpayNeuter.org.

Last Sunday of every month, Jewish Chavurah. Gordon Kane – gordonmkane@gmail.com.

Every Monday, 10:45 am, duplicate bridge at Baja Gold Bridge Club, KM 42 at the Rosarito Beach Christian Church. bajagoldcoastbridgeclub@gmail.com.

Every Tuesday – Rotary Club meets at Rosarito Beach Hotel. 664-376-2620.

Every Tuesday 10am to 11am.  Chair Yoga – Rosarito Wellness, Healing, Living at IMAC Park, room 1 in Rosarito (behind Banamex). Improve Balance & Coordination.  Receive all the benefits of yoga in a gentle, Healing, Meditative yoga class where a chair is used for support and balance. Bring water, small towel and comfortable clothing. Instructor: Erendira Abel, Certified Holistic Health Specialist. $5 per class, paid at beginning of month. For registration and location:  (661) 614-6036 Mexico or (619) 632-2965 US. Email: wellnesshealingliving@gmail.com

Every Tuesday. 9:00 am. Board Meeting for Yo Amo Rosarito at Ortega’s Buffet. See what events are under consideration or volunteer to help plan and run upcoming events.

Every Wednesday, 7:30 – 9:00 am; Tai Chi classes with certified instructor Eugenio Encinas at Galeria Fausto Polanco Rosarito. 350 pesos per month. Alyce: 664-368-6733; Alberto: 661-125-9191.

Every Second Wednesday (except December). 10 am. Friends of the Library meeting at main library of IMAC building next to Abelardo Rodríguez Park. Promotes reading and literacy in Rosarito. www.friendsofthelibrary.com.mx. 661-612-3659.

Second and FourthWednesday, 1 pm; Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Bingo at El Pescador Restaurant. 6 games/ 2 cards for $5. Reduced price menu; Jamesphausmann@gmail.com; 1-623-217-9795.

Every Second Friday, 10 am; Cruz Roja Primo Tapia meeting is at Bobby’s By the Sea, open to the public. President: Dr. Mary Contreras: dr.marycontreras@gmail.com.

Every Third Wednesday of the Month (except December), Flying Samaritan’s General Meeting at Villas Del Mar (k 31.5). www.flyingsamaritansrosarito.org;  Susansmithz@hotmail.com; 1-858-234-2360; 661-100-6066.

Every Third Wednesday, 10 am, Meeting of Rosarito Sister Cities at City Hall, Fojadores Room, 2nd floor. Information and RSVP: FRAO@Rosarito.gob.mx.

Every Third Wednesday (except December) 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Flying Samaritan’s Outrageous Bingo at Popotla Jr. Restaurant (across from El Nido – formerly California Fresh), Food and Drink specials; free parking behind restaurant; Six games, 4 cards for $10; Karen: kajomc@yahoo.coojm; (US) 1-818-515-0067l (MX) 664-609-3419.

Every Last Wednesday, 11:30 am, Wellness Wednesday Workshop “Intentionally Aging Gracefully” with Erendira Abel at IMAC a Abelard Rodriguez Park (behind Banamex). $6, and pre-registration is required. Info: wellnesshealingliving@gmail.com; (US) 1-619-737-2453, (MX) 661-614-6036.

Every Thursday. 8:30 am. Local Board of Realtors (APIR) meets at Oceana Grill. Good place for buyers or sellers to find a Realtor

Every Thursday, 10:30 am, Learn Spanish “Naturally” with Erendira Abel at Rosarito Beach Christian Church. $5, and pre-registration is required. Info: wellnesshealingliving@gmail.com; (US) 1-619-737-2453, (MX) 661-614-6036.

Every Second Thursday. 10 am. Cruz Roja Volunteers, Rosarito Chapter General Meeting at Popotla Restaurant. www.cruzrojarosarito.org.mx; President: Mary Moreno, miqueridomx@yahoo.com.

Every Third Thursday. 10 am. General Meeting for FRAO, Foreign Residents Assistance Office. Open to the public. Calafia Hotel.  Speaker’s presentation. FRAO@Rosarito.gob.mx.

Every Fourth Thursday of the month, 12 pm, Baja Babes, the Rosarito Chapter of the Red Hat Society for ladies over 50 monthly luncheon. Each month a different restaurant. margit@prodigy.net.mx.

Every Saturday, 10:00 am at IMAC Central park. Chess for all ages. www.facebook.com/IMAC Rosarito.

 Every First Saturday. 10 am. United Society of Baja California (USBC) general meeting at Casa Blanca Restaurant, Rosarito Beach Hotel. Good info for the English speaking community of charitable, community service and social organizations. www.unitedsocietyofbaja.org. 661-614-1113.

Every First Saturday. Noon-sundown. Open Studio Art Walk, a free tour of galleries in Rosarito Beach Hotel commercial center. Meet artists at work in their studios. pacothepainter@hotmail.com

Every Third Saturday. 1pm. USBC, United Society of Baja California, monthly potluck dinner, at La Maroma sports bar, across from Burger King. Different theme every month. Usually live entertainment. Free. Membership $20 per year.

Every day but one day at a time AA Grupo Gringo meets daily #16 Mar Meditteraneo (two blocks behind Del Mar Beach Club). Saturday, 3:00; Sunday, Monday, Thursday: 10:00 am; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 6:00 pm.  Additional meetings in Cantamar (just south of the footbridge) Tuesday and Friday, 10:00 am.  661-614-1678.

April 3, Wednesday, 4 – 7 pm; Cocktail and Paint Workshop at Raices Baja International Cuisine in Puerto Nuevo. Provided by Art the Studio. Paint a lovely sunset. $30 includes all materials plus a welcome cocktail. Reservations required. 664-477-1716 or 213-268-7713.

April 4, Thursday, 2 pm; Doin’ Dishes with Isela. Paint a traditional Italian-style platter. $9 plus cost of ceramic item. De Colores Studio (k 40 – next to Bodega Santini’s). Tickets online through Facebook.com/ Doin’ Dishes with Isela, and at app.getoccasion.com. 661-104-0022.

April 7, Sunday, 2 – 6 pm; Tempest Trading T-Dance Party with DJ Tony (k 40.5). Craft beers, wine, BBQ, and pizza. Plenty of Free Parking. Facebook.com. Tempest Trading Baja.

April 11, Thursday, 10 am; Cruz Roja Rosarito general membership meeting at Popola Park Restaurant. www.cruzrojarosarito.org.mx.

April 12, Friday, 7:30 pm – midnight; Yo Amo Rosarito invites you to Noche Italiana at Villa Turistica (Calle Articulo Tercero and Jose Haros Aguilar – opposite Soriana market) Tickets:  $17 (US) or 300 pesos. Wine sold separately. Pasta, pizza, and salad. Entertainment provided by Maryam Malak.

April 12, Friday, 10 am; Cruz Roja Primo Tapia meeting at Bobby’s By the Sea. All members invited. www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com.

April 13, Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm; Classy Bag Affair at Bajamar Golf Resort (k 77.5) to benefit Baja Scholarship Fund. Live and silent auctions, raffle, Mexican buffet. Pre-paid tickets only $45 at www.BajaScholarshipFoundation.Org k38); or ZELLE E-payments (morrisk38@aol.com.  Checks & cash may be made to Ruth Rockwell at Bajamar, or to the Woods at Club Marena. ,

Pemex Rip-Offs

While the news of pipeline gasoline thefts has been in the headlines recently, the practice of scamming customers who are refueling at the gas stations is old news. In a place where the minimum wage is roughly US $5.25 a day, everyday transactions are opportunities for workers to supplement their income. Gas station attendants sometimes take advantage of those opportunities, and that’s why they are often sporting a big smile when a gringo drives in.

Opportunity knocks loudly when you pull your rental car up to the gas pump and tell the guy to “fill it up.”  Although many stations here have implemented “attendant controls” including required smartphone input of pump number, amount to fill and employee code, not all attendants will draw your attention to the pump to show that it has been reset to zero before they start pumping. You may be paying for fuel someone else already paid for, and those extra pesos are destined for the attendant’s pocket.

While the gas is pumping, attendants will quickly ask to check the oil. Say yes and pop the hood for the next opportunity: after a minute at the front of the car screened by the open hood the attendant holds up an empty oil container to show you the car took a whole liter. You’re feeling good for doing the right thing, but he likely didn’t show you the dipstick beforehand.  You didn’t need any oil; he just showed you an empty container he keeps on the side rack and charged you 150 pesos. Too late now, but at least make sure you ask for a receipt in case you get lucky and have a rental car company that reimburses the expense.

Whether you’re in a rental or your own car, paying cash for the gas opens a couple more doors.  The number one rip off by far is by “palming.” Palming happens when the gas station attendant sees you pulling US $50’s out of your wallet for your fill up, and he pulls a US $20 from his left pocket as he takes your 50 dollar bill in his right hand – all the while chatting you up about your wonderful stay here.  He’ll turn quickly to look at the pump to double check the amount and then turn back to you showing you the $20 and apologetically tell you it’s not enough. You immediately think you messed up because you weren’t paying attention (after all, greenbacks are all green) and hand him more.  That trick is big money.

Next on the hit list is expecting change from your US dollar payment. You’ve likely noticed that each gas station posts a sign with a single rate on it, for example, “CAMBIO 18.60”. That’s the USD/MXN exchange rate – the number of pesos they will give you for each dollar.  All pumps ring up in pesos.  The attendant sees your US dollars and keys in the 750 peso pump amount on his phone and turns the phone around and shows you $42.61. You hand him $45 with a smile and say keep the change.  You might do a quick mental calculation using an easy 20 peso conversion rate to rationalize the amount and figure it’s close enough.  Meanwhile, the attendant keyed in 17.60 (not 18.60) to calculate the US amount and has now supplemented his pay with your transaction by $2.29 plus the tip. The pay is good today.

Using pesos only? Palming also works with the local currency, by gaming the number of notes you hand over.  Pass the attendant two or more notes of the same denomination along with some change, and he may fumble and accidentally drop the handful and come up showing you that you came up short by 100 or 200 pesos, then it’s his word against yours. Get out more pesos.

Think paying with a credit card is a better bet? Think again, especially if the attendant takes the card out of sight to process. Always keep the receipts to remind you of the transaction dates and check your credit card statements for unknown transactions.

The gaming is not limited to individual attendants either. Pemex stations are privately owned, and the corporation or government isn’t diligent about measuring whether each pump is correctly calibrated to metering out the correct volume of gas for each transaction.  It is possible you are getting only 30 oz. of gas when a liter is 35 oz. A few station owners use this tactic, but you’ll never know which ones are and which aren’t unless you’re on empty and fill right up. If your tank holds 50 liters and gas is priced 20 pesos per liter, and the pump total shows 1,300 pesos, then the math doesn’t add up and you are being taken, again.

So to sum it all up, you’ll unknowingly donate to the local economy just by driving a vehicle. Who knew?  Best advice is to get those US greenbacks converted to pesos and pay attention to what you are doing. Get out of the car, look at the dipstick, watch the oil get added, count out your bills as you pass them over and take the time to calculate your USD exchange on your own phone.  And just before you turn the ignition key and drive off, count your change. Last time I gassed up the attendant tried to short me 100 pesos thinking I wouldn’t notice. When I called him out on it guess what he did? – He gave me that great big Pemex smile and handed me the extra 100 pesos. The best part of a good scam is you never knew it happened! Just keep smiling.

Semana Santa Is Just Around The Corner

BY EDGAR GONZALEZ

For American students, this time of  year  is related to the spring break, with all its holiday activities, including college kid drunkenness or simply a fairly sane beach vacation. But for many Mexicans, this time of  year signifies “Cuaresma”, which is the preamble for the “Semana Santa,” or holy week. This is a time for celebrating the most important events in the last days of Christ. Mexico is a Catholic country by tradition, though not by law; vernacular Mexican costumes and celebrations have deep connections to  Catholicism’s important dates.

The first important event most Mexicans celebrate on this date is the “Cuaresma”, or in English,  “Lent.” This is the time for spiritual preparation for Easter. The cuaresma is a 40 day event that starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on holy Thursday, just before Good Friday.

These 40 days represent the 40 days Jesus spent on the Judea desert praying and fasting prior to his final mission. We don’t fast for 40 days, but believers are supposed to fast on this special day. It’s ok to just have one meal and no red meat, but  most people barely fast and avoid eating meat on the Cuaresma Fridays. That is why in many Mexican restaurants during Cuaresma season Fridays, they offer special versions of their dishes that do not contain red meat. Fish is acceptable, and in the last century, the church included chicken as an acceptable meat.

On Ash Wednesday, people go to church to get a cross of ash drawn on their foreheads by the priest, while he pronounces the words, “You are dust, and dust you will revert to,” a custom that is credited to Pope Gregory I. The ash comes from the burning of the holy palms that were used the previous year on Palm Sunday. The use of ash in Catholicism is a custom that goes all the way back to the third or second (depending on the source) century but its roots come from the Jewish traditions.  The ashes symbolize the temporary passing of our existence in this world, and as a reminder that our place in Heaven awaits us.

This date also signals the end of Carnaval season. Carnaval is closely related to the Holy Week, for it is the celebration that happens just before all the fasting and sacrificing that is to be done to show repentance and worthiness.  Carnaval in Latin means “goodbye to meat,” so just before all the Semana Santa doings, and maybe to liven things up for the last time, people have the great party that is Carnaval, not unlike the bachelor party before marriage. This is a custom that goes all the way back to the Romans, who held huge banquets and other bacchanalian excesses.

As the Cuaresma ends, the Semana Santa begins. This Holy week is also a national holiday for the Mexicans regardless of religion. Mexico is now a secular country, so religious holidays are not official, but most schools in Mexico have at least a week of vacation for spring break. Some allow two weeks. The Mexican labor calendar lists three days as obligatory paid vacation from what you would call, for reasons I can’t fathom, Good Friday to Easter Sunday. This vacation almost overlaps with the American spring break, but most of the time it starts at the end of your spring break.

The date of Semana Santa bounces around like crazy because it’s based on astronomy: It’s the first Sunday after the first spring full moon. This year’s festivities start on Sunday April 14th and go all the way to the next Sunday the 21st, and Cabo will be crazy with vacationers from the mainland of Mexico this week. Many of them come over on the ferry and camp out on the beach to save money.

This holy week is meant to celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, and Palm Sunday is the day it all begins, as this is the day that symbolizes when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

Then we have the Holy Monday, that day Jesus drove the merchants from the temple. On Holy Tuesday, Jesus anticipates the treason of Judas. Then we have Spy Wednesday, on this day Cuaresma ends and Easter begins. This is the day Judas conspired to sell out Jesus. On Maundy Thursday He had the last supper and at the end of that night He was arrested. On Friday He is nailed up and killed and on Holy Saturday He is mourned. The celebration comes to a crescendo on Sunday, which is the day Christ comes back to life.

On Holy Saturday a lot of town churches present a play that represents the whole ordeal, which is called Via Crucis. They reenact the passion of Christ. Passion week is so named because of the passion with which Jesus willingly went to the cross in order to pay for the sins of the people.  This is an event that attracts a lot of people, believers and non-believers. The biggest Via Crucis in Mexico is the one organized in Iztapalapa in Mexico City. This Via Crucis has had in attendance a crowd of two million spectators and 3,000 amateur actors playing their parts.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Border emergency. You want to talk about a border emergency? Grab your passport and take a quick trip with me around the world. Look at the tensions between Israel and Syria. India and Pakistan. Iraq and Iran. Colombia and Venezuela. South Korea and North Korea. Now, closer to home, look at this relationship: United States-Mexico.

Thank goodness for good neighbors.

Can we have one of those? Groundbreaking took place Monday near Cancún for a US $312 million mall that will offer major brands. The Grand Outlet Riviera Maya will employ its “malltertainment” concept as nearly half the square footage will be allocated to entertainment attractions. The malltertainment concept consists of offering an all-round experience to the consumer. They even get an ice rink.

Construction started this week and is expected to take 18 months. There will also be a 7,500-seat auditorium, water features, an amusement park, a go-kart track described as the largest in the world and a hot air balloon ride. And three hotels.

Vanishing dolphins. Only 22 vaquita type of porpoises remain in the Gulf of California, a biology professor said yesterday, warning that the species could become extinct within months. The only place they can be found is the upper Sea of Cortez.

How do they know this? It’s a big sea, how can they be sure they’ve counted them all? Because 22 vaquitas were heard over a network of acoustic monitors. Ha! Maybe some vaquita were there and had nothing to say.

Vaquita huggers want more vigilance by the Navy but after angry fishermen who are accidently catching the little dolphins in their nets attacked a ship, Navy vessels have been too scaredy able to stop the illegal fishing.

Who doesn’t like Oxxo? Some residents of Oaxaca claim Oxxo is a threat to Mexico’s heritage. A movement calling itself anti-Oxxo, (less than imaginative but descriptive), erected blockades on several streets to prevent the mega-chain from constructing a new store in front of an elementary school. The group hopes to get all the locations in the city closed down. Members demand that the city government review every location’s construction permits and prohibit the franchise from opening more stores. Whoa, this is serious if they’re demanding permits. No way Oxxo, or any sophisticated chain spreads its tentacles legally.

At least five Oxxos are already located in the city center, which has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is a very cute town.

Electricity is terrorism now? For the second time this year the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) cut electricity service to the Acapulco water and sewer system, a move described by the water utility as “terrorism.” 600,000 residents were without water, no word on the sewer system, shudder.

The utility had been making daily payments, trying to catch up on the $3.5 million they owe. The day before the “terrorism” against the water/sewer system, they cut off the lights.

Walmart uprising. More than 8,500 Walmart employees in 10 states are seeking a 20% pay increase and a fat bonus. The mainly female cashiers and other low-ranking employees earn on average between US $7 to $7.50 per day, (minimum wage is about $5 a day). They are not enrolled in medical insurance or retirement, their union claims. This is illegal.

In addition, they charge that Walmart doesn’t respect the right to an eight-hour work day, doesn’t pay overtime in accordance with the law, discriminates against pregnant women, and has dismissed workers unfairly. Workers at 121 Walmart stores as well as 56 Sam’s Club outlets and an unspecified number of Bodega Aurrera stores are prepared to walk off the job and in some states they are supported by governors who have acknowledged the “abuse” to which Walmart employees are subjected. Uh, well, why didn’t they stop it then?

The threatened strike follows widespread job actions in several other states where thousands of factory workers have won 20% pay increases and annual bonuses of as much as US $1,650. And they got this within days. However, those were manufacturers who had big contracts to deliver product and would suffer badly if they didn’t deliver. Maybe Walmart can go a few days or weeks without selling a pair of socks.

Luxury Living In the Heart of Tijuana

Tijuana has been historically overlooked by expats moving to Baja who until recently favored almost exclusively beachfront properties. With Tijuana’s rapid business growth and its newly-found vocation as one of the country’s hottest gastronomy hubs, that trend is changing; and now, every day we’re seeing more and more Americans choosing to live in Tijuana to take advantage of its big city feel and especially its closeness to the United States.

Dalias by Hacienda offers a guarded, double-gated community nestled inside one of the most sought-after, and safest communities in Tijuana: Hacienda Agua Caliente. Well-known for its park, and beautifully kept gardens, Hacienda has been able to improve the quality of living of its residents since it opened more than 20 years ago.

Residents here don’t have to worry about the inconsistency on city services as Hacienda provides its residents with its own trash pickup service, street cleaning, public lighting, sewage maintenance, and water pumping as well as gardening of common areas.

Designed by the award-winning “Anonimous” (sic) architectural firm from Mexico City, every home in Dalias makes perfect use of each foot of space.

Two basic models are being offered: Glow and Golden, although variations of each can be chosen. The Glow model features 2,950 sq/ft of construction, two-story, 3-bedroom homes with 3-½ bathrooms, while the Golden model offers 3,800 sq/ft of living space, also offering 3 bedrooms but with bigger spaces, 4 complete bathrooms plus 2 half-bathrooms and a gorgeous game room on the third floor. Both models have  fully-equipped service rooms on the lower floor and spacious outdoor patios and carports.

The way these houses have been perfectly designed in a way that takes advantage of natural light in every corner is impressive, and gives each property a special positive feeling.

Its location is unmatchable, being just 15 minutes from malls, the border, Caliente stadium, and  Campestre Golf Club. Dalias is right in the middle of everything good going on in Tijuana.

Houses range from $340,000 to $560,000 depending on the model, lot size, and finishes you choose. With less than a year on the market and only 28 properties left, the remaining properties are not expected to last long.

In-house direct financing is available from 30% down, with the rest to be paid in 10 years; qualified individuals can also get a loan from local banks that could be paid in 20 or more years, with a much lower monthly payment.

If you’re up for an interesting living space, right in the middle of one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, Dalias is definitely the place for you.

To learn more, please visit their website at www.haciendaaguacaliente.com or call them at (664) 397-7621. Mention the code GNHAC01 when you call; that will get you a free $100 USD Starbucks card if you qualify for an appointment.

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