Ren Drake

Ren Drake

Time to Vote, Expats

Voting materials from the United States have already started appearing in your mailboxes. If you have not already done so, request your mail-in ballot NOW. Perform your due diligence and research on candidates and propositions quickly, then promptly return your ballots via US Mail. There are instructions online for those of you who would like to personally drop your ballot in an official ballot box, should you decide not to trust the US mail service to deliver it on time. This applies mostly to those registered in California and Arizona, unless you really feel like taking a bit of a road trip. And you may always return to your state of residency to vote in person at the polling address listed on your ballot, even if it is a “mail in” ballot. Most states just have a special form or book to sign that you elected to personally drop off your ballot instead of returning it by mail. Although the border is closed to unnecessary travel, voting is your constitutional right. For our local residents who are registered to vote in the state of South Dakota, please allow for ample driving time.

Some readers were confused by all of the websites I listed in my first article. The best link to use for all voter information is www.FVAP.gov. I hope this helps!.

Consumerism in Mexico Catches Up

There has been a lot in the news lately about junk food sales in Mexico. Earlier this month, Oaxaca’s Congress passed a law that banned the sale of high-calorie drinks and junk food to minors (those under 18). The “ley anti-chatarra,” or “anti-junk food law” was approved by all but one of the lawmakers. Shortly thereafter Adan Lopez Hernandez, Governor of the state of Tabasco, stated that he will introduce a similar bill to the state congress.

At the end of last year, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed a ruling that certain pre-packaged foods and non-alcoholic drinks would now carry a listing of calories, and amounts of sugar, salt and fats, within a black octagonal symbol appearing on the front of the product. Any ingredient that is in excess of the Health Secretariat guideline will appear in white lettering. After approval in the Senate, it was declared that additional ingredients would include GMOs (genetically modified ingredients), in a “direct, simple, visible, and easy-to-understand way,” according to the lawmakers.

Some of these products are cookies, jams, preserves, soup, evaporated milk, and pre-packaged chips. So much of what is sold in markets are packaged from bulk, and these products are not required to have the warning, although they are as bad, or worse than the commercial products, including small packs of nuts, tamarind candies, and sugary caramel sweets.

An additional warning on products will inform shoppers of the risk of developing diabetes, cancer, heart problems or obesity. Recently, caffeinated products and artificial sweeteners were added to the list, with warnings that these products should not be consumed by children, and cannot include likenesses of celebrities, cartoons, or cute pets on their labels.

These new guidelines are not directed to a small percentage of the Mexican community; three out of four Mexicans (about nine million people) experience obesity and diabetes. According to MexicoNewsDaily.com, the Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell declared that “67% of those who have died from the coronavirus in Mexico had chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or cardiovascular disease…associated with the consumption of junk food.” Oaxaca’s health services department claims that 28 of every 100 children aged between 5 and 11 are overweight or obese,

Some companies have already begun including these labels, but there is a grace period until March, 2021 before all companies must be compliant. And not everybody is in favor of these new labeling regulations. The National Agricultural Council (CNA) fears that the warnings would “negatively affect the economy” by scaring consumers. Obviously, food and beverage organizations are against anything that may prohibit consumers from purchasing their products.

Like the US, Mexico added new taxes to the products deemed the most harmful; but just taxing these products more does not discourage consumers from purchasing them. President Lopez Obrador launched “awareness campaigns” to inform the Mexican community of the harmful effects of a diet high in calories, fat and salt.

The tax increase of junk food and cigarettes is expected to bring an additional 62 billion pesos (about $3.1 billion USD), according to ElUniversal.com. st

Small mercados are already experiencing a decline in sales. One study showed that 150,000 of Mexico’s “corner stores” closed the first half of 2020, with the threat of another 50,000 closing each month. These closings are not solely due to the slump in junk food sales. The coronavirus had much to do with the closure of shops of all kinds in 2020. A large percentage of products sold in OXXO markets are snack foods containing high levels of sodium and sugar.

To outlaw the sales of unhealthy foods, which hurt the small businessman most, is only one side of the challenge. Perhaps commercials featuring candy, cookies, sugary cereals, and beverages should be banned too, just like ads for cigarettes were banned in the US in 1970.

Many ask if these new laws will actually help anyone. Minors may be unable to purchase these items, but their parents still purchase the products for them, regardless of the tax increase. Junk food is cheap, and healthy food such as beef, fish, fruits, and veggies costs more, especially since COVID put a crimp in the processing and shipping of certain foods.

Mexico is not alone in the fight against unhealthy consumption. Other countries that have already instituted programs such as this one are Peru, Uruguay and Chile. As of today, at least ten Mexican states are considering similar bans, including Puebla, Tabasco, Colima, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Sonora, Guanajuato, and Baja California Sur. MexicoDailyNews.com reports that “Federal legislators from four different political parties planned to propose a nationwide ban on the sale and marketing of junk food to children.”

The state of Nuevo Leon is going a bit further, working on initiatives to amend the state health law, a law on children’s rights, and another to prevent obesity in all age groups, citing obesity as a nationwide epidemic.

Voting… Your Privilege, Your Right

Many (5.7 million) US citizens live outside the United States, and 2.6 million of them can legally vote. In Mexico alone, there were 64,852 Americans of voting age in 2014.  Many of these expats don’t realize that it is perfectly legal to vote in United States elections even though they no longer live on US soil. As a US citizen, if you hold the right to legally vote in the US, you have the right to vote anywhere in the world. Americans living on foreign soil are allowed to vote for the offices of president, state senator and the local representative (based on the physical address used while living in the United States) while living full time outside the country.

Absentee ballots play a critical function in the outcome of federal and state elections. Several sitting senators and representatives were elected only after all absentee ballots were tabulated.

It’s easy to request an absentee ballot. You may request a ballot at www.VoteFromAbroad.org. Select your home state from the list and make note of the important dates listed on the site. Each state has different “due” dates for each election. For example: For the November 3 general election in the State of California, registrations to vote must be postmarked by October 19; ballot requests must be received by the office by October 27; and completed ballots must be postmarked by November 3 and received by the third day after the election. To determine whether or not you are still registered to vote, enter the personal information requested on the home page and if you’re registered, you’ll be directed to a voting site.

Some states drop names from voter rolls when a certain number of elections were missed without a posted ballot. Some states require a periodic “check in” with your local office every four or six years. If you neglected to reply to an official notice from your (US) local election office, they may drop you from the rolls. Some states will remove the names of anyone who does not vote in the previous Presidential election. Do your due diligence and make sure prior to October 1 that you are legally able to vote.

If you have registered for absentee voting your ballot should arrive by early October for the November 3 election. If mailing within the US, return the ballot by October 27. If outside of the US, mail in the ballot by October 13. And if you do not receive your ballot in time, you may fill out the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) from www.FVAP.gov. Print, sign, and send this ballot directly to your State Election Office.

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) www.FVAP.gov has conducted an Overseas Citizen Population Analysis that consists of who can vote, characteristics of overseas voters (ok, Mexico is not “overseas”).

In 2014 elections 93,000 absentee ballots, representing just 4% of eligible voters, were received. The rate of return on ballots depends largely on the country where the expat is living. For many of us in Baja, we receive our US ballots in our US mail which is delivered regularly, and return it promptly. But there are many of us who leave it in our “in” box until we find it during spring cleaning. The top three reasons for not voting were people faced absentee voter issues; potential voters felt “out of touch” with their local or national community; others had no particular candidate preference.

Ballots should be mailed to either your US home of record (physical address) or your mailing address in the US.  It’s ok to use an old home address. The last place you legally lived in the United States is your “home address,” Even if it has been torn down to build a Walmart. (Just don’t use it as the address at which you want to receive your ballot).

You may request registration information or download a federal postcard application at the FVAP site. Follow all the requirements. This IS a federal document. If online isn’t your thing, you may contact them at FVAP – Department of Defense; 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 05E22; Alexandria, Virginia 22350-5000. Phone: 1-800-438-8683; email: vote@fvap.gov.

You may wonder why I am writing this article so far ahead of the November election. FVAP suggests requesting your ballot for this year’s general election by August 1, if you are not previously registered to vote by mail. You must be at least 18 years of age and absent from your voting residence. For individual state information and voting procedures, go to: https://www.FVAP.gov/YOUR STATE NAME HERE. There are PDF downloads, state voting guidelines, your state election website, and a list of local election officials.

Your home state may allow for electronic voting. For information and formatting correct for your home state, send an email to ets@fvap.gov, or call 1-800-368-8683 for information regarding completing and faxing your ballot electronically.

Another voter aid site is UOCAVA, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act under the auspices of the US Department of Justice. Enacted by Congress in 1986, this includes all members of the US Armed Services, Merchant Marines, their families, and was expanded to include “US citizens residing outside of the United States.”  This site has many of the same services as FVAP.

www.OverseasVoteFoundation.org will also provide information on voting, registration, election dates and deadlines, voting requirements by state, a Directory of Election Officials, candidate information, and a help desk.

Also, the US Consulate is available in Tijuana/Otay Mesa, and can help with your voting problems and needs by providing information. There is a very good driving map on their webpage, https://mx.usembassy.gov. Their mailing address is American Consul General; Box 439039; San Ysidro, CA 92143-9039. The Consulate can provide information but you cannot vote at any US Embassy or Consulate.

If you would like to claim a new legal residence, you should contact a Judge Advocate General Officer or legal consul to ensure there are no illegalities.

Do your duty. It’s your right…your privilege.  Remember YOUR VOTE COUNTS!

Support Your Local Locals

When Mexico declared a “public health emergency” in March, all non-essential activities were suspended through May. Then June. Now, perhaps through the summer, in many areas. Many of our local restaurants, places of business, gewgaw dealers, beauticians, etc. are still closed. Sadder still is that many of these establishments may never reopen.

Many of you, myself included, are still hesitant to return to normal – or “new normal,” to resume shopping, travel, and dining out.

There are many ways, however, that you can help keep our local economy alive:

Shop locally. Decrease the number of your cross-border shopping forays, and accept the local varieties of goods and servicers that we often substitute by patronizing Costco, Walmart, Home Depot and other American invasions to our culturally diverse enterprises.

If you are not yet ready to brave the elements and dine out, or prefer preparing your own meals, you can always “pay it forward.” Consider purchasing coupons or gift certificates at your favorite local eateries. This will help to ensure that they will still be around when you are finally ready to de-quarantine yourself.

If possible, keep your home workers employed. If you feel uncomfortable having non-family coming into the home, consider donating to those you employed prior to March.

You can also create “care packages” of food, clothing, educational supplies or other useful items to orphanages or food kitchens.

You can also offer “propinas” to people whose services you normally take advantage of when not in quarantine, like stylists and manicurists.

Always reach out to friends and family. Your weekly poker and game days may have been temporarily suspended, but stay in contact via phone, text, email, or even a Zoom gathering (these have been becoming more and more popular to keep people connected without exposing each other to unnecessary danger).

Many of us are in one or more of the high-risk categories, so it’s best to be prudent rather than reckless when it comes to our health and the health of those loved ones around us.

They Thought They Could Do it and They Did!

In my travels I have never experienced a community so involved in helping one another old/young, native/foreigner, human/animal…as Rosarito, and the communities at its borders.

One such group is Mujeres Para Mujeres (Women for Women), established March 16, 2018. About 50 ladies attended the inaugural gathering and continue to meet on the 8th of every even-numbered month with “Potlucks for a Purpose.” The times and days of the week vary in order to allow everyone  to attend, allowing for those who may have monthly meetings at scheduling conflicts.

I met with Board members Carol Council, Mary Contreras, Valerie Russell, and Barbara Acosta for an update of how the organization was progressing. These four met about a year ago in an effort to find ways that women could share their talents and skills and empower other women. The goal was to be of service and support “with” people, not “at” people; creating and extending relationships for a better community. “More can be helped if more become involved.”

They explained that Women for Women is a multicultural organization dedicated to “meeting the needs of girls and women in Baja,” with the target populations of teenagers, single mothers, victims of domestic violence, and those just striving to improve their lives. They seek  “to empower women to use their voices, acquire new skills, maximize their education, support other women, learn trades, and start businesses.”

On October 16, 2019 the Casa de Mujeres opened its blue door on Paseo de los Heroes in Santa Anita, south of La Mision. The Casa is open Mondays and Fridays from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Several 6-week classes are currently being offered, with more under consideration. Every encounter is valuable. A six-week Self Esteem class led by Joanna Wood started with 13 signups and only three show-ups. Of these three only one lady finished, but this singular student declared, “This class saved my life.” By using the tools she had learned, “I feel happier, healthier, and more peaceful now than ever.”

Most classes suggest a 20 peso donation, but the fee is waived for those who cannot afford the payment. English class with Rita Gullickson is at 10:30 on Mondays, with ladies learning English through simple conversation. The Women’s Creativity Circle meets Fridays at 9:30 for Movement with Laura Mandala an Arts (painting, drawing, collage, writing…) at 10:30 with Sue McDevitt. Classes are mostly in Spanish.

A Sewing Program connected to Casa del Sol Naciente and run by Rosa Martinez is offered to those actually seeking a career in sewing and fashion; it’s a 2-year, 6-days a week intense sewing program. Information and scholarships are available through MPM or email rosamartinez77@gmail.com.

MPM’s Home Health Care program, led by Mary Simmons, is partnered with Rosarito Beach Christian Church. This 8-week course provides skills for the home health care workers who aid those who prefer to stay home during illness.. Tuition is $100. Anyone wishing to provide a scholarship should contact Mary Simmons.

Mujeres Para Mujeres is starting a microfinance program, with the committee chaired by Karen Cebreros. They are currently researching ways in which to provide microloans to women for entrepreneurial and educational ventures. MPM has partnered with VIA International, which has positive experience in micro-lending with 100% payback of microloans worldwide. Helping to fund this program are Greeting Cards by Rhonda, on sale at Baja Mail in Puerto del Valle, near La Mision. The cards may be customized for particular occasions.

For more information, MPM cordially invites you to their next gathering, a cookie exchange Sunday, December 8th at 3:30 pm at La Jolla Condos (km29, across the boulevard from Fat Cat Restaurant). Bring three dozen cookies to exchange. Membership is not a prerequisite.  For additional details, contact ValerieMRussell@yahoo.com.

March 8th will be the 1st anniversary of MPM and elections for next year’s Board will be held. The group is always seeking new energetic members, Mexican and expat, especially from the northern area of Rosarito. I know many of us have been giving generously of our time and funds, especially after the spate of fires Rosarito has experienced, but please consider sharing your talents with this fine group of ladies. Do you have any ideas for a class or a workshop that would benefit local ladies? They are currently seeking a Membership Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Development Director, and Grant Writer… and a dozen folding chairs.

Donations or memberships may be paid through PayPal at MujeresParaMujeres2019@gmail.com. MPM is close to achieving their US 501(c)(3) non-profit status, making all donations tax-deductible. For information on any of the programs, classes, greeting cards, etc., please visit the Facebook page “Mujeres Para Mujeres Group” or phone 646-978-7507.

Consider coming out of retirement for this great cause. Gentlemen are welcome
too!

Dolls and Balls Toy Drive

The Heart of Baja annual 1000 Dolls and Balls toy drive has started! 1000 dolls, balls, and other toys are needed to help children of all ages enjoy Christmas, Donations will go to the children of local orphanages, and those on ranches, farms, and in the hills.

You may drop unwrapped gifts at Charly’s Place (k 37.5); Los Amigo’s Restaurant (k 30); Judith Douglas Spa (k 40); Click-on Mailroom (k 40.5); Vista Hermosa (k 43 – formerly Bobby’s by the Sea); La Paloma (k 28); Chubbies Restaurant; and Mata Ashta (San Antonio del Mar). You may even schedule a pick-up by calling 442-273-7348. If you don’t have the time or inclination to shop, donations may be made online at www.heartsofbaja.com. Remember, this is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, so all cash donations are tax-deductible on your US tax returns.

Do you shop on Amazon? Instead of going to Amazon.com, go to smile.amazon.com and enter “Hearts of Baja Children’s Homes Network” into your chosen charity. A percentage of your purchases will go to Hearts of Baja! How easy is that? Especially if you were going to order toys from Amazon anyway. Let’s help Rosarito’s children have a Merry Christmas!

Pulling Together After the Fires

In October, fires ran rampant through areas of northern Baja. Several areas of Rosarito were hit hard. This article will focus on re-building operations that have come to my attention as of the first week of November. There may have been additional fires, and certainly more sources of relief that haven’t yet come to light. But here’s what we know as of this writing:

We’ve already heard numerous accounts of individual suffering due to the tragic fires, so we need not reiterate those tragedies. Our focus here is to shed light on sources of relief and recovery.

The two main fire areas were in Rosarito in the Ejido Morelos/ Santa Anita del Mar area, about three miles east of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, where 20 – 30 homes burned. The other primary location is in La Mision, where approximately 40 homes burned, many of which were owned by expats.

One big difference is that most of the less fortunate Mexican homeowners do not carry home insurance, so when the home and/or car is destroyed they are left with nothing. Most of them work for mere pesos to begin with, and In many cases the fires destroyed their means and implements of income, such as food preparation utensils or house-cleaning supplies.

Here are the Facebook organizations that have come to my attention as of the Gringo Gazette publication deadline:

KSitas – on Facebook and www.ksitas.org; a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funds may be donated to https://ksitas.org/bajacampaigns. 100% of the money donated will go to building supplies and labor for rebuilding homes.

Colectivo Surf Brew Company (above White Horse Liquors) and local artist Jaime Carbo spearheaded this group. An auction of some of Jaime’s artwork is scheduled to aid the rebuilding effort. The first house is nearly finished, at a cost of about $6000 (USD). Their website is an excellent source of relief efforts.

Facebook: Baja Fire Victims – Led by Jackie Alameda (Of Baja Blues Fest) and Lisa Marlott, their group is working to rebuild 30 homes. They’re appealing to the public for food items, toiletries, diapers, building materials, medical supplies, blankets and sleeping bags. www.gofundme.com/f/baja-fire-Victims is their website. For more Information please call: 1-858-790-2380.

Facebook: La Mision Fire Relief Fund – and https://openarmsmexico.org. Led by Daniel and Heidi Elizarraraz, Directors. You may donate at the website through PayPal or with a credit card. Checks may be sent to Open Arms, PO Box 6605, Chula Vista, CA 91909. All donations are tax-deductible. Phone: 1-619-882-9001 or 01152-646-255-0858. Check their website for information on how to donate.

Kumiai Fire Relief Drive – to help our indigenous “first people” in the hills. Needed are non-perishable food, water, clothes, blankets, toiletries, wood, pet feed and cash. Drop off points are at Kumeyaay Community College, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday / Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Manzanita Activity Center Monday – Friday 10 am – 2 pm, and Viejas Recreational Center, Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm. Contact Martha Rodriguez 760-445-7726 for information. Also Grace Sesma, 720-363-6034, and Brooke Baines, US 1-619-519-8264.

I must caution you about Go Fund Me pages where you are not personally knowledgeable of the person in charge. These may be used for good or for evil purposes. If you know the person or group hosting the page, by all means feel free to contribute, but tragedy attracts creeps who take advantage of the situation for their own personal enrichment. Make sure you know your money is being used for the purpose you intended.

There will certainly be more groups forthcoming. Please share through your social media, or by personal reference. Much help is needed. You may also take donations of clothing, household goods, etc. to the local Cruz Roja Thrift Stores in Rosarito and Primo Tapia, which help our community year-round.

Thank you so much for your support of the community.

Fins Up! It’s 5:00 o’clock Somewhere

There is a new social club coming to Rosarito and Ensenada. Many of you may already qualify for membership even if you don’t know it. If you have a “laid back” attitude, you enjoy having fun with people who are a lot like you, and escaping to the beach is your lifetime goal (and let’s face it…we are HERE aren’t we?) then you just might be a Parrot Head.

No, I didn’t just insult your intelligence. Baja’s two newest Parrot Head Clubs (yes, there IS such a thing) are submitting their charter applications this November for inclusion into the Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc., which was created back in 1994.

Now, these clubs are not just another excuse to party. But as Chapters President Larry Norman explained to me, their tag line is “Party with a purpose.” And we can “party with a purpose while supporting our community and have fun doing it!” Over the last 16 years, Parrot Head Clubs have contributed $53.5 million to charitable organizations all over the world, and members have donated 4.2 million volunteer hours to their communities.

Larry described the Club’s Mission Statement is to “promote friendship and organized activities for people that share an affection for the tropical spirit of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and a desire to contribute to the betterment of our community and environment through a variety of volunteer efforts.” Just think, with all of the post-fire labor we all have been doing, those hours can be made part of our local Parrot Head charitable experience. The principle charities that will be supported by the Rosarito and Ensenada chapters are Hearts of Baja and Blues Against Hunger Society, which are charities near and dear to our hearts.

The first organizational meeting for the Ensenada chapter is 4 pm on November 12 at the Hotel Coral and Marina and in Rosarito November 14 at the Club at Number 18, Pikin Zip Line Park at 4 pm. Both meetings will be followed by a free three-hour concert by Mike Nash, one of Nashville’s top artists. Don’t worry if you miss the first meetings. The Parrot Head clubs will meet every month on the first Tuesday in Ensenada and first Thursday in Rosarito, with “It’s 5 o’clock” social hours to follow. Concerts will be performed every three months.

Mike Nash has played with Jimmy Buffet, Charlie Daniels, and Lynyrd Skynrd, to drop just a few names. He tours the United States, including Alaska, ever year in his motor home. Larry convinced him to come down to Baja as long as he was going to be in San Diego on his Stay Thirsty 2020 Winter Tour anyway.

I visited the Rosarito Chapter clubhouse, which is in Larry’s home and has been renovated into a club atmosphere complete with two indoor bars, comfy concert seating, fully stocked kitchen for food at the events, and (for sunnier weather) an outdoor bandstand with a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Membership is $20, and Larry hopes to have 40 Charter Members signed up during these first two meetings. But don’t worry if you miss the meetings as they will meet every month. Contact Larry at larrynormanctc@gmail.com or at US 1-619-554-2438 with any questions you have or to RSVP.  In time Larry would like to see more Parrot Head Clubs in Baja than in California (which has 6).

Some of you may still be asking “So why ‘Parrot Head?’” Originally it was said to be as “Dead Heads” followed the Grateful Dead, Buffet fans followed the message of Buffet’s music. For some reason unclear to me, these fans took to wearing stuffed parrots on their heads at concerts. So if this story has you humming “Margaritaville” right now, you just might be a Parrot Head.

Astronomical Views in Tijuana

I discovered something new this week – well, new to me. While driving the “Sentri route” through Tijuana, one passes all these green “El Trompo” signs featuring an illustration of a spinning top. El Trompo is an interactive museum in Parque Morales near CECUT and CEART Tijuana.

Coincidentally, Ms. Rosario Ruiz Camacho, Director of said Museum, spoke at the weekly meeting of the Rosarito Press Club AC, and revealed new major happenings at El Trompo.

On August 23rd, the museum inaugurated a new planetarium project, open to the public six days a week, but geared to primary and secondary students. Constructed by Planetarium de Torreon, the El Trompo planetarium salon measures nine meters in diameter with a 180-degree projection screen and has a capacity for 50 people per showing with accommodations for the physically challenged. The laser projector system is a state-of-the-art laser with 4K image quality, coupled with a Surround Sound digital system.

Some believe that to be a planetarium the location must include a telescope but in reality, a planetarium is a theatre for presenting educational programs about astronomy, and in this case, astronautics, “the theory and practice of travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere.” (Thank you, Wikipedia).

The primary functions of this ambitious project are the development of astronomical research, instrumental and technological development, and the teaching and communicating of science. El Trompo planetarium will be an innovative tool to foster the interest in the sciences, not only for educational scholars but for the general community as well.  Whereas the programming is geared toward students of the primary and secondary grades, this should not stop adults from attending.

Four films will alternate in the planetarium’s programming; “Tochitli: The Adventures of the Lunar Rabbit,” “Losing the Darkness,” “From the Earth to the Universe,” and “Mayan Arqueoastronomia (astronomical archeology): Observations of the Universe.” Other topics will include current astronomical research being done in Mexico, light pollution, Mayan myths, and other modern topics that will help us to understand our place in the cosmos.

This is the only planetarium in Tijuana and only the third planetary museum nationwide with this high of a quality projection system. El Trompo is open Tuesday through Friday 9:00 – 5:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 – 6:00. Astronomical programs are shown Tuesday through Friday at 2:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 pm. The most popular hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, and since programming is created to interest students (read: school groups), it could be a bit noisy during these hours. Admission for the general public is 50 pesos and the school package including interactive rooms is 45 pesos. Check out their informative sites at www.ElTrompo.org or on Facebook.com/ElTrompo.

Some of the major donors for this project are the Tijuana Rotary Club, Grupo Tress International, the Tijuana Development Council (CDT), Student Council of Science and Technology of Baja California (COCITBC), and the Business Trust of Baja California (FIDEM).

As Summer Draws to a Close Think “Sabor!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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