Gringo Gazette

Gringo Gazette

Ecological Patrol Attacked By Fishermen

The crew of one of 12 vessels operated by Sea Shepherd fell under attack by poachers inside the Vaquita Refuge in the northern part of the Sea of Cortez. Sea Shephard is an international conservation society dedicated to saving marine wildlife. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans.

Dozens of angry fishermen in pangas raced alongside the Sea Shepherd ship Farley Mowat, hurling objects and attempting to foul the ship’s propellers with their illegal nets.

Sea Shepherd for months has been patrolling, removing the gillnets set by fishermen catching totoaba. Totoaba bladders are sold on the black market in China for up to $10,000 per bladder.

Nets used to catch totoaba are a threat to critically endangered vaquita porpoises, and Mexico has banned gillnet fishing but allows Sea Shepherd to patrol the refuge as part of an effort to save the vaquita from becoming extinct. (The vaquita population is estimated at fewer than 30.) Totoaba are also threatened with extinction, mostly because of the damming of the Colorado river where they spawn. And the crazy Chinese believe they are a treatment for fertility, as well as circulatory and skin problems. The Mexican government pays the fishermen to not fish, but they can’t pay as much as the profit from selling the fish.

Sea Shepherd said in a news release that the tense incident involved 35 pangas swarming around the monitoring vessel until the Mexican Navy  zoomed in to help.

 Part of the news release reads:

 

The Sea Shepherd ship approached the pangas where obvious illegal poaching was taking place, as totoaba fishing gear was detected being loaded into a boat. The poachers attacked by hurling lead weights, anchors, trash, dead fish and even Tabasco sauce at the vessel and its wheelhouse windows in addition to Molotov cocktails they hastily prepared. They also sprayed gasoline at the ship and poured gas in the sea around the vessel.

Poachers then dropped one of their illegal gillnets in front of the bow of the moving Sea Shepherd vessel in an attempt to foul the ship’s propellers. Five angry poachers boarded the Farley Mowat and looted multiple objects from the vessel’s deck while it was temporarily immobilized.”

Sea Shepherd crew used fire hoses to keep poachers from entering the ship, while calls for assistance were made. Navy sailors stationed on the ship were under orders not to fire on the fishermen.

The fishermen began to disperse as a Navy helicopter arrived overhead. As the Farley Mowat got under way after its propellers were cleared of netting, the vessel was met by a Navy ship and the situation was brought under control. It was not clear if any arrests were made, or if anyone was injured.

Stated Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson: “Sea Shepherd will not be deterred by violence. Our mission is to prevent the extinction of the vaquita porpoise and we will continue to seize the nets of poachers in the Vaquita Refuge. Sea Shepherd salutes the quick responsiveness of the Mexican Navy in defusing a dangerous situation”.

What’s Going On In This Country?

Shooting. Despite campaigns and laws against shooting up, New Year’s revelers continue the tradition of firing guns at the stroke of midnight. And if you don’t have a gun, police in Sinaloa will lend you one, which proved fatal for a seven-year-old girl in Oaxaca after she was struck by a stray New Year’s bullet. The little girl and her family were seated outdoors and preparing to enjoy a New Year’s Eve dinner when she appeared to faint.

At about the same time that Vivian was hit, two local police officers loaned an automatic rifle to a New Year’s reveler, so he could join the fun and fire shots into the air. The two are under investigation after a video of the incident surfaced. After the video appeared, they were relieved of their weapons and put under investigation. Don’t expect more than a slap on the wrist.

General Motors has retaken the title of No. 1 automaker in Mexico after an eight-year hiatus inflicted by Nissan.

The United States manufacturer made more than 801,000 light vehicles in Mexico by the end of November last year, a 9% increase over the previous year. It was also the top auto exporter from Mexico, with over 775,000 of its new vehicles shipped out of the country. Japanese automaker Nissan, which was Mexico’s largest between 2011 and 2017, made 717,100 vehicles in the first 11 months of 2018, a 9% decline from the previous year.

GM on a roll. The numbers are a reflection of GM’s renewed manufacturing focus in Mexico and the difficulties faced by Nissan due to a contraction of the Mexican auto market. By increasing its production capacity in Mexico in the past two years, GM thumbed its nose at President Donald Trump. To add to Trump’s consternation, GM announced it plans to manufacture new models in Mexico, including the Chevrolet Equinox SUV, the GMC Terrain and the Chevrolet Blazer.

The new trade agreement late last year between Mexico, the United States and Canada will bring changes to the North American auto sector and push up manufacturing costs in Mexico, but GM and other U.S. manufacturers are well prepared. Among the changes agreed to in the new pact, known as USMCA, are an increase to regional content levels to 75% from 62.5% in order for a car to be given tariff-free status, and a requirement for 40% of content to come from high-wage areas where workers earn at least US $16 per hour.

The trade agreement, which may or may not pass Congress, will replace the 25-year-old NAFTA at the start of 2020. Or not. That $16 wage is about as likely to happen as Mexico paying for the wall, but by that time, if Trump is still president, he won’t be paying attention to the art in this deal.

Gas grief. The same night President López Obrador reported the pipeline that runs from Tuxpan to Azcapotzalco was fixed, it was breached again. “It was working and at 11 o’clock at night it was broken again, and it is being repaired again; I am informed that in an hour the supply will be re-established. As I have said, let’s see who gets tired of this bullshit first.” OK, so he didn’t say bullshit. If you want a word-for-word quote, you can learn Spanish and listen to him yourself. He gives press conference every morning at 7 am, which is carried live on Youtube.

This week, another pipeline was vandalized for three consecutive days. Security will be reinforced along the main pipelines of Pemex, and President AMLO announced new special bases chock full of soldiers ready to charge out and arrest the fuel thieves. Ja! Even a cat knows better than to expect to see that. There will also be aerial surveillance, he said. “Since yesterday and today begins surveillance in air force helicopters in all pipelines and special bases are being created every certain distance.” Forever? 9,000 extra soldiers and guarding the pipelines. For how long? The thieves will just lay low until AMLO gives up on this silly game.

More gas grief. The federal government’s fuel theft strategy has not only stranded motorists unable to get gasoline, but ships are stuck as well: at least 60 oil tankers are stranded in Mexico’s principal ports, unable to unload their fuel because Mexico is afraid to send the fuel they already have through the pipes. There are not enough tanker trucks to distribute it.

Rosarito Calendar of Events

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 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.

January 30, Wednesday, 1 pm: Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Bingo at El Pescador Restaurant. Multiple games/cards/ prizes. www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com.

February 1, Friday, 1 pm; Susanna’s Wine Pairing Auction to benefit the Baja Scholarship Foundation. $45 (pre-paid only) includes wine pairing, tax, tip, and raffle ticket. Also 50/50. Donate at PayPal at: www.bajascholarshipfoundation.org.

February 3, Sunday, 2 – 9 pm; Super Bowl Fiesta Party at Ortega’s Buffet. $15. Reservations suggested. $.79 domestic beer special. Facebook.com/ Ortega’s Buffet

February 6, Wednesday, 1 pm; Flying Samaritans Chocolate Fondue Fest at Las Rocas Hotel. $20 Reservations required! All proceeds benefit Flying Sam’s Rosarito. SusanSmithz@hotmail.com; 1-858-240-2360 (US); 661-100-6066 (MX). www.flyingsamaritansrosarito.org

February 8, Friday, 10 am; Cruz Roja Primo Tapia monthly meeting at El Pescador Restaurant. Public invited. www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com.

February 9, Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm; Second Saturday at Puerta al Valle in La Mision. Local artists, entertainment, and food. Free entrance. Facebook.com/Second Saturday La Mision.

February 9, Saturday 3 pm; Culinary Cinema series presented by Black Cross Wines at Moncy & Wally’s Place. Reservations required. $35 general seating or $40 reserved two front row seats. Includes “Mex/Med lunch and cocktail. Facebook.com/ Black Cross Wines.

Baja Neighbors Are Different

BY GEORGE JOBB

Neighbors here in the Baja can easily cross a broad spectrum of humanity. Anyone who has rented or owned down here for a few months or years undoubtedly has many stories about their neighbors.

A friend stopped by for morning coffee yesterday, standing high up on my deck, taking in the view of the adjacent neighbor’s yard. He observed that that was the largest hookah pipe he had ever seen! I gave him a “hmm,” and said I didn’t know what he was talking about. But when I peeked over, I saw It wasn’t a hookah pipe at all; it was what I would consider a large commercial still that they had built on their terrace. It obviously had just gone up in the last couple of days, since I hadn’t seen it before. The still itself stood about six feet tall, maybe seven. The girth at the bottom was about the size of a 45-gallon drum, but it was round and made of copper. They also had a copper bucket with a coiled copper line for cooling and condensing. My neighbors had put some time into this. I started getting flashbacks about all the movies or TV series I’d seen about moonshiners, and thought that maybe they were doing some filming, and that I was just overreacting. But I don’t think so, because usually things are pretty much what they appear to be. Judging by the five 25-pound propane tanks there, they were about to go into business!

I’m from Canada, and my parents at times used a still to ferment mash leftover from making wine which was turned into pure alcohol. Usually a liter or two at a time at the most. I also used to purchase a liter of moonshine about once a month back in the days when the kids were still in diapers and I was living from paycheck to paycheck. The Serbian who sold it to me was a regular workout partner. He brought the recipe with him and his family from the old country, a recipe made from raisins; it was quite tasty at about 70% alcohol. That’s a  pretty good kick for $10 a liter.

But this still of my neighbor’s was obviously designed to produce five or 10 gallons at a time. Normally you would do this on a farm or ranch or somewhere less populated. Perhaps up in the hills, because there’s usually a heavy odor given off by the process. Also, if there’s a problem with the pressure release valve. they tend to explode. As you’re dealing with 100% alcohol, it tends to catch on fire easily.

I prefer not to be the teller of bad news to the new tenant, who appears to be a Gringa hippie girl, but a condominium in this high-density area is not the place to install a commercial still. I’m not sure at this point how this is going to turn out, as I’ve only told one of the gardeners that this is probably a dangerous situation, and perhaps he should let the neighbor be aware of it. Perhaps she might want to get a more rural rental house in a less developed area for her startup business. Even in  Baja you still need some common sense.

It’s been five days now and nothing happened so far. The still is still there, cooking away.  Maybe I should just knock on her door and see if she’s going to have a tasting.

Fuel Theft Brings Much Of The Country To A Standstill

Over on the mainland, where gasoline is delivered through underground pipes, there are gas shortages at the pump because the pipelines are being tapped and siphoned illegally. By the time the gas gets to its destination, it’s down to a trickle.

Thieves have taken so much fuel that the President of the Republic has closed the pipelines and tanker trucks guarded by federal police and soldiers are moving the fuel. But there are not enough tanker trucks, even though an extra 3500 have been pressed into service. Fuel is bound up in ships and pierside storage tanks. “There is no shortage of fuel in the country,” swears the president. “The problem is all in the logistics of getting it to the stations.”  Baja doesn’t have a dog in this fight, because we are not connected to the grid of pipes; our fuel comes here barged over to Rosarito, then delivered to us by tanker trucks or directly imported from the US by tankers too.

But the fuel shortage in places on the mainland is a crisis. It’s been going on for a couple of weeks, so delivery of critical goods have not been made, and store shelves are becoming empty. People are not getting basic needs like food and diapers, and are suffering the collapse of public transportation. Mobile police protection is impacted as police can’t get fuel for their vehicles and many officers are turning to patrolling on foot, horse and bicycle.

And from the other side, we have a “no apology” narrative of how and why the fuel thieves have grown this activity into a career. First, the how:

Alberto and his accomplices now go out “at two or three in the morning to avoid [the police and military] operations,” explaining that everything’s “calm at that time.”

Alberto learned his dangerous and illegal trade in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, while working with the Zetas drug cartel. He explained the entire pipeline tapping process. Pemex’s “no digging” signs make the pipes easy to find, he said, explaining that they are usually buried just a meter or so underground. Once a pipeline is located, Alberto gets to work to perforate it, with three halcones– hawks or lookouts – positioned strategically to warn of any approaching authorities.

“First you solder on a nipple . . . then you put on a carbon steel valve and a clamp . . .” he explained. Once the pipeline has been pierced, the fuel shoots up into the air, Alberto said, “. . .so we immediately have to connect a hose to start to fill the tanks.” The pipeline picador, who has 10 years’ experience in Puebla, Veracruz and Tamaulipas, said he has never received any instructions or assistance from employees of the state oil company, Pemex. “They have nothing to do with it, one just learns how to do it,” he said, adding that the method he uses to tap pipelines is safer and faster than the method they used 15 years ago.

Asked what he does if the authorities arrive during the course of his work, Alberto responded: “If they’re very close, well, we run.”

Each pipeline tap, which Alberto can complete in just half an hour, yields enough fuel to fill two 30,000-liter tanker trucks.

This expert driller, who works with different gangs of fuel thieves, charges 5,000 pesos (US $260) for his services.

The drivers of the tankers filled with the illicitly obtained fuel earn between 500 and 1,000 pesos (US $26 to $52) for each load they transport, Alberto said.

Fuel from San Martín Texmelucan, which is located about 40 kilometers northwest of Puebla city, sells for 10 pesos a liter. At legitimate stations here, we pay about 19 pesos per liter.

Three pesos goes to the owner of the land where the pipeline was perforated, three pesos goes to security expenses, and the remaining four pesos is profit for the thieves themselves. Part of the security cost is men roving on motorcycles to alert criminal gangs of the whereabouts of authorities.

A large portion of the population of Texmelucan is involved in the illicit fuel trade in one way or another. If the owners of land where pipelines are located refuse to grant access to fuel thieves, they are routinely threatened. Some landowners who have declined to cooperate have seen their properties set alight while others have been killed. At other times authorities have arrived to arrest thieves as they’re sucking out the fuel, only to have to deal with women and children thrust out in front of the confrontation as human shields. Most of these are not forced; people in these towns are complicit in the fuel thievery.

Fuel theft is estimated to have cost Mexico $5 billion at today’s exchange rate during former president Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. Our current president has drawn a red line with this illegal activity, willing to put his followers through some pain to stop it. But combating the crime is one of the biggest challenges faced by the new federal government.

Gangs involved in fuel theft often clash with authorities and each other, causing the homicide rate in some parts of the country, such as Guanajuato, to surge. People are dying over a liter of gas.

Countering the statement from the President that we have no shortage of fuel, that it’s only logistics, is the Wall Street Journal’s report that Mexico imported 45% less gasoline from the US in the first 10 days of January, compared to last year. But the period in which they were cut back partially coincides with the fuel shortage the government has explained is the result of López Obrador’s decision to close several major petroleum pipelines as part of the strategy to combat fuel theft.

A report published by The Wall Street Journal cited data from Houston and New York-based ClipperData which shows that under the new government, seaborne gasoline imports from the United States’ Gulf Coast have averaged  a 28% decline on the quantity of U.S. gasoline imported in December 2017 and January 2018, when former president Enrique Peña Nieto was in office, according to ClipperData.

However, our ports are stuffed with gasoline, and can take no more. The tanker trucks simply can not distribute it nearly as fast as pushing it through underground pipes can accomplish.

There are other factors that appear to be contributing to the prolonged fuel shortage.

The Wall Street Journal claims the shortages have laid bare the inefficiencies of Mexico’s refineries. According to Pemex figures, the nation’s six refineries operated at a daily capacity of 46.1% last year through November. Monserrat Ramiro, a commissioner on Mexico’s Energy Regulatory Commission, said the current crisis is the result of years of insufficient investment in logistics infrastructure such as storage tanks, pipelines and fuel terminals.

President López Obrador, who has pledged to “rescue” Mexico’s oil sector by upgrading existing refineries and building a new one on the Gulf Coast in Tabasco, has said repeatedly that the current gasoline shortage is due to logistics rather than a lack of supply.

Monserrat Ramiro wrote on Twitter, “Mexico’s gasoline supply is paralyzed by closed fuel pipelines, but there are other factors: Pemex refining and downstream infrastructure are a mess, AMLO has stopped importing U.S. light crude, that is necessary for mixing with Mexico’s heavier crude)

Now that the pipelines are empty, the huachicoleros (fuel thieves), drill the pipelines not for milking, but to damage the pipes and prolong the shortage to force public opinion to pressure the government to stop fighting them. The criminals intend to take citizens as hostages in the situation, with the intent of making the government resigned to their illegal practice.

But AMLO was elected on the platform of ending corruption, and he is saying now it’s time to draw that red line and suffer for a little while, in order to show who’s boss in this country: The citizens or the gangs.

A poll by the newspaper Reforma confirmed  73 percent chose to fight and 18 percent chose to give in to the corruption. For now. If this shortage drags on, those numbers could reverse.

And the huachicoleros could succeed if they manage to continue sabotaging the empty pipelines. Many more people will prefer to have gasoline despite the fact that Pemex continues to be robbed, so for the authorities it is a race against time to restore acceptable levels of supply.

Everyone is saying this is temporary, but how long can those 9,000 soldiers be deployed along the pipeline, and how long can those helicopters be hovering over the pipes? And what happens when they’re gone? The huachicoleros will surely be back for this easy career. The one thing that will stop it isn’t even under discussion: putting these thieves in prison for a long time. This is all about impunity. The realistic expectation that getting caught is not a big problem. Without a reliable and honest judicial system, this is never going to end.

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Cooking Like a Mexican

BY ALEJANDRA BORBOLLA

Buñuelos

December in Mexico is about eating, sharing and caring. One of the most important things about Mexican food is dessert, and even though I don’t write much about it, I think it’s a good opportunity now, calorie counting being tossed to the winds and all.

Buñuelos is a recipe as old as colonized Mexico. One of the oldest known recipe books belongs to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a poet, dramatist, scholar and nun who was born around 1651. Her mother was a creole, and her father Spanish, but they did not have a large income. From when she was a little girl, she was hungry for knowledge, mostly self-taught from burying her nose in whatever book she could find. She also taught herself to read when she was three years old, or so the story goes. This was a time when girls were not allowed to go to school. Her mother knew she was bright, so she sent Inés to Mexico City to live with relatives. She was called to be a lady-in-waiting in the court of the viceroy’s wife.

A few years later, she was at the point where she either married or became a nun. So, she became the latter. We don’t know what was going on on the boyfriend front, but apparently not much. She joined the barefoot carmelitas but only stayed there four months, because she became sick. After recovering, her stark room at her new convent became the meeting point for intellectuals and poets, and Luisa Manrique, another viceroy’s wife (who, rumor has it, had a huge girl crush on María Inés). In her room, she also performed scientific experiments and had an amazing collection of books.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, woman with too many names was a poet, a dramatist, a scholar and a nun who invented  buñuelos, which got her on the 200 peso note. But didn’t get her a husband, which oversight got her into a convent.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, woman with too many names was a poet, a dramatist, a scholar and a nun who invented buñuelos, which got her on the 200 peso note. But didn’t get her a husband, which oversight got her into a convent.

Sor Juana was well known for many things, most of those controversial. Most men who were in the same niche as her would publish “pseudonymous” letters trying to convince her to stick to her religious duty rather than using her brain. She wrote mostly poetry, about love, erotism, (She’s a nun, what does she know? Possibly her reason for going into the convent should be looked into.) She also wrote about morals and psychology. (One of her most important poems is written in tiny mice type on the 200 peso note, along with her portrait, which we’re hoping was taken on an unusually bad day).

But today we’re talking about this iconic woman because along with her other talents, she was a great cook. Her recipes were perfectly aligned with poetry, and delicious. Her culinary expertise, however, started at her family’s home back when she was a little girl, before all the nunsense. (haha, see what I did here? Nun-nonsense? I’m hilarious!)

The cooks at the hacienda kitchen were indigenous women from Oaxaca, so she grew up with both Spanish and indigenous cuisine.

Buñuelos de rodilla are a special buñuelo, which grandmothers used to shape with their bare knees, literally. In the olden days, buñuelos were actually called “puñuelos” because they were kneaded with the fists, called puños. The heritage form this dish comes from Iberian Christians, aka Spaniards, who had several recipes, including cheese, rice, pulque and milk.

Buñuelos were invented by the working class of the southern Spanish peninsula looking for a cheap, sweet, warm treat they could have in the winter when the economy wasn’t exactly thriving.

Every state has its own buñuelo recipe, ranging from bright orange colors, sugar coated or syrup, fried in lard or oil, served in corn husks or in paper. (Remember what I keep telling you: Mexican cooking is very regional.) Buñuelos are a sweet treat that is usually found around the church square of cities and towns, sold by street vendors at special times like Christmas, revolution day, independence day, day of the dead, etc.

In Oaxaca, buñuelos are eaten on a plate that will be thrown and shattered on the floor later, once it breaks in a million pieces, a wish will be granted for the next year. It’s not every state that observes that tradition.

Big batches are the usual when making buñuelos, because even though they are very cheap, it is very much worthier to make a lot of them at one time, because it’s not like people are going to eat just one, trust me.

To compliment this recipe, I’ll give you a short, sweet drink too, which is atole de masa, a thick hot drink that is not too sweet to balance out the flavors. Atole and buñuelos go together like mash and gravy. This is a completely Mexican drink, which was made ceremoniously by the Aztecs, and some rural communities still drink it in their every day lives. Sometimes, a cup of atole is all they have throughout the day, until they come home to have a hearty meal. The main ingredient is masa, the dough that is the base for tortillas.

For the Buñuelos:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

2 cups of sunflower oil

4 oz of water

½ stick of butter

½ teaspoon of star anise

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 pinch of salt

1 pinch of cinnamon

How to:

Shift flour and sugar together, along with the salt and cinnamon.

Heat up some water in a pot, and add the star asnise. This liquid will be what gives buñuelos their signature taste and fragrance.

Add the butter to the dry ingredients, preferably at room temperature and start mixing. Using your hands will be faster and easier. Wash them first.

Once the butter and flour are mixed together, start adding tablespoons of the anise water, slowly, until a firm and homogeneous dough is achieved. The perfect consistency is when the dough is not sticky anymore, and is stretchy.

Leave the dough to rest for ten minutes, sprinkle with a lot of flour to prevent a crust from forming.

Once the ten minutes have passed, form little balls about the size of a lime, to make the buñuelos. (I’d recommend to slather some oil on your hands)

With the help of a rolling pin, form the buñuelos (You can try and shape them with your knees, but I don’t think you’ll make it.

Once you have formed the buñuelos, and are about as thin as a folded paper, you can start frying them.

Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Atole de masa

Ingredients:

½ cup of masa, can be store bought or made from maseca.

4 ½ of warm water or milk

1 stick of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

2 small cones of piloncillo or 1 cup of sugar (it’s not meant to be sweet, but you can add more to your taste)

How to:

Dissolve the masa in a cup of milk or water, depends on what you’re using.

Simmer the rest of the water or milk in a deep pot, and slowly add the dissolved masa.

Add the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar or piloncillo and bring to a gentle boil.

What’s Going On In This World?

Uncle Sam to the rescue. The U.S. government is pledging $10.6 billion in public and private funds toward economic development in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in an attempt to address the causes of migration from the region, the U.S. State Department has announced.

The investment will include partnerships with the private sector;  $4.8 billion will be spent in Mexico and $5.8 billion in northern Central America through 2024, according to a joint statement from the State Department and Mexico’s Foreign Relations Ministry. Mexico is pledging $25 billion in the region over the same period, the statement said.

Much of the U.S. funds had been set aside since 2017, but the Trump administration will request approval from Congress for an additional $180 million for assistance to Mexico.

“Overall, this is very good news for Mexico,” said Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in a joint statement. Well, no kidding!

Mexico to the rescue. Over the next five years, the Mexican government plans to pitch in $30 billion to Central American development. Their goal is to keep illegal aliens from heading north towards the United States border, and trampling through Mexico to get it done.

BTW, close observers (like us), noted that Mexico tried very hard to stop the migrant caravan from swarming into Mexico. Their forces were simply overwhelmed by young men leading the charge with Molotov cocktails, sticks, and stones. Is it any wonder that these migrants, who can barely read even Spanish, and don’t know what’s going on in the States, thought they could storm through the U.S. border, also? They were misled by their so called “leaders,” who call themselves human rights workers.

Wall grief. The White House border wall is more expensive because of our slapping tariffs on steel imports. That allowed domestic steel plants to raise their domestic prices by the same 25%.

Tecate’s cash in jeopardy.  Mexico’s 121 so called “magical towns” might not receive any federal money in 2019 because the program that funds them has been cancelled. Our own Tecate is one of those magic towns. The average magic town gets about $240,000 U.S. per year, depending on how good a deal they swung when they first were dusted with the magic pixie dust.

Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco confirmed the end to funding for the program, along with chopping the entire federal tourism budget down to nada. Our new President wants to spend the entire bag of money on his 1000 mile tourist train through the jungles of the Yucatan.

Fake news in Baja. A criminal gang is targeting business owners in Baja with an extortion that threatens to spread fake news about them if they refuse to pony up. More than 100 business owners as well as professionals such as doctors and lawyers have been targeted.

The demands come with the threat that if they don’t pay, false information will be spread about them online. Stuff like they have criminal records for drug trafficking, weapons offenses, robbery or other crimes.

Last week the suspected leader was arrested. He had allegedly posted phony information about business owners and politicians on a website masquerading as an online newspaper called Noticias de México. It is thought that the criminals were obtaining information about their targets from social media.

Preliminary investigations into the modus operandi of the extortion racket indicate that its members initially contact their targets through email, offering to sell them online advertising. The targets are left with a telephone number to call. The telephone numbers of those who call are recorded and passed on to the extortionists who then begin their scam. Their fatal stupidity was that they spread the scam into San Diego. This brought the FBI down on them like a ton of bricks. They were then quickly busted.

Many years ago the Gringo Gazette South was extorted in a similar scam. 24 Horas, a TV program very similar to 60 Minutes, was in Cabo to film a story on the town. Yes, in those days it was actual film, not video. They were filming. The crew approached the publisher and demanded $50,000 USD or they would say “bad things” about the paper. The “bad things” turned out to be a reporter holding up the paper and saying we said negative things about Mexicans. Because most Mexicans can’t read the paper, they believed it. This was about 20 years ago and we still get Mexicans who refer to that. Also, the story went around town so much and got distorted and enlarged to the extent that many don’t remember where they heard it, they just believe that the paper says negative things about them. This latest extortion scam is very serious, and fake news of this kind can have lasting effects.

President attends Mayan ceremony. President AMLO is asking for Earth’s permission to build his tourist train through the jungles of the Mayan peninsula. This is in lieu of the customary conservation permits. The ceremony was for limpia, to rid them of “bad vibes.” Hey, we don’t make this stuff up, it just seems like it!

The ceremony also included the placing of offerings in a hole in the ground. Among these were a chicken, a bottle ofpozol (a fermented corn dough and cacao drink) and 12 bottles of a local aguardiente, a distilled alcoholic beverage. The ceremony was intended to ensure the president’s first big infrastructure project is finished without incident.

“We have to ask for permission from the Earth, because we eat from her and we walk on her,” said the state Secretary for the Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples, with a straight face. In a speech after the ceremony, President López Obrador recalled that former president Porfirio Díaz had been able to lay 12,000 miles of track during his decades-long dictatorship, suggesting he ought to be able to lay the 1000 miles of track required for his Maya Train. With a straight face.

More energy, please. Mexico’s oil and gas collapse is an immense problem, because Mexico is the fastest growing OECD energy user. Expected economic growth is a solid 3-5% per year, and oil and gas supply is only 85% of the country’s needs.

Oil revenues have dwindled down 40% from a decade ago.

For natural gas, Mexico’s most vital source of energy, falling production has meant soaring reliance on. U.S. shale gas. Over the past 10 years, the strategy has been to displace fuel oil with natural gas. Today, gas accounts for over 60% of the country’s electricity, and Mexico gets nearly 65% of its natural gas from the U.S.

This increasing reliance on the U.S. has Mexican leadership concerned because the U.S. has plans to export huge amounts of liquefied natural gas to all corners of the globe. China and India and others want U.S. gas, and we hate standing in line.

Pemex woes. Mexico’s military has taken control over key fuel installations. 57 facilities will be protected by the Army and Navy: six refineries, 39 storage terminals, and 12 pumping stations. New President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to fight corruption and fuel theft within and outside government-run energy company, Pemex.

According to Pemex’s own estimates, the losses from fuel theft over the past three years have reached US $7.5 billion.

“This is the theft of national assets, of public funds, of money that belongs to all Mexicans,” Lopez Obrador said. On Friday, the Mexican army swooped in, but unionized workers were blocking access to some of the sites.

Three Pemex officials, suspected of having facilitated fuel theft, had already been arrested for the alleged crimes. The three Pemex officials have been sacked and will be facing criminal charges, Mexico’s Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said at Lopez Obrador’s news conference on Thursday. Ha ha. These accusations will be swept under the rug at the end of this news cycle when no one is looking.

Illegal, amateur taps on Mexican pipelines jumped by 45 percent annually between January and October 2018.

Apart from rampant fuel theft, Pemex also has to cope with declining domestic oil production, which in October is one of the lowest monthly production rates since 1990 when records began.

   In related news. Also in the works will be construction of the Bocas refinery in Tabasco state and the cross-country railroad which will connect the Pacific Coast with the Gulf of Mexico and give the shippers an alternative to the Panama Canal, the president said. All they have to do is unload it from the ships, load up trains, choo choo across the country, then load the stuff on a different ship. Bam! They’re there!

Calendar of Events

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 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.

January 9, Wednesday, 9:30 am – 4 pm; Customer Satisfaction Workshop for Restaurants, Hotels, and Hospitality Industry at Poco Cielo Lounge in La Mision. $50 in advance or $69 at the door. www.BartBerry.com; https://youtu.be/dLcYbbk7YTY.

January 12, Saturday, 11 am; Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos 2019 General Membership Meeting at El Pescador Restaurant near Puerto Nuevo. Election of new Board members and annual reports will be given. You don’t need to be a member to attend. Free. www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com.

January 17, Saturday, 1 – 3 pm; USBC Monthly potluck at La Maroma Bar (across the street from Burger King, North Rosarito). Bring a dish for eight. Host: Kathy Hutzler, bajafossils2@gmail.com.

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