Ren Drake

Ren Drake

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.

Blues Against Hunger Super Jam

Unless you’ve been absent, or hiding under a rock, you all know about the weekly Sunday blues jams at Bobby’s By The Sea. Prepare for a huge blowout all day on August 3, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. At least eight groups will be joining Sweet Sixx and the Wild Pack for a day of blues music, all dedicated to fighting hunger in the Rosarito area by supporting Hearts of Baja children’s orphanages and people in the hills.

This talent comes from all over Baja as well as Alta California and Mexico  City. Martin Tramil, who participates in Tuesday blues jams in SoCal and the Tsunami Band of Punta Banda, will join composer/musician Miguel Korsa of México City, the principle guitarist of blues band Real de Catorce.

Ensenada’s Deja Blues Band plays in the style of Eric Clapton, B B King and Muddy Waters. San Felipe’s own “Rock Soul Band” of rock, blues and Latin music, is one of the most popular bands on the east side of the peninsula.

More known to Rosarito residents is Palaco Blues and the Trevolts, who recently played at Sunday blues events at Bobby’s by the Sea.  Palaco Blues,  with their “fusion of blues, funk and rock, reinforced with a harmonic sound” was a big hit in northern Baja. The Trevolts are a rock/blues band originating in Tijuana with a diverse repertoire. They were headliners of the FestiArte in Tijuana last month, and have played in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Pachuco Blues, featuring lead singer and guitarist Ismael Vidal, is always a Rosarito favorite, playing venues from Rosarito’s own restaurants and bars, such as Splash and The Shack, to the Tijuana Jazz and Blues Fest.

But headlining as they do tirelessly every week is Sweet Sixx and the Wild Pack; “two guitars having fun” featuring “blues, swing, and whatever else tickles their strings” playing old school classics, jazz and even some rockabilly. Weekly they invite musicians and locals to share the stage with them and jam. The August 3rd show will be a little more structured, and who knows what Sunday will bring? It’s always a whole lot of fun! In 2015 Sweet Sixx and the Wild Pack traveled with the Blues Against Hunger Society, and added a “Brewers and Blues Tour” in the western  United States and Baja.

Tickets are: $10 with the donation of one or more non-perishable food or toiletry items, and $15 without donation. But hey, make a donation! Bags of rice or beans, cans of food, feminine articles, soap, shampoo, everything is needed. They are aiming for 1000 pounds of donations that day. Join the Blues Against Hunger Society and get $5 off your ticket price AND a free T-shirt. Tickets are available through the Blues Against Hunger website. Online sales end on July 31st, so get a move on people!

And special VIP seating is available for those of you out there with heavy wallets — come on, you know who you are! A VIP table for eight is available for $300, which includes an eight-bottle bucket of beer or one bottle of wine or one bottle of champagne. This also includes table service for food and drink. VIP singles are available for $40, which includes all services and a bottle of beer.

Everybody else is self-serve for the day.

If you want to learn more about any of these groups they all have their own Facebook and “www” pages. The important sites to know however are www.bluesagainsthunger.org and www.heartsofbaja.com. Or contact Blues Against Hunger to become a volunteer for the day. It’s not too late. People are always signing up and dropping out for good reasons up until the day of the event. And your presence, whether it be in the audience or a volunteer is truly needed AND appreciated.

Helping Kids With the Blues Once Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Shelter Needs Your Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The deficit situation has not improved in the subsequent years.

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

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

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

All other donations are welcome any day, any time.

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

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

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

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

 

Photo from El Vigia

Rosarito Offers Help to Expats with Disabilities

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

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

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

Glitz and Glamor Come to Rosarito

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

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

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

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

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

There will be a different show each month until November, then after a brief hiatus, during which Nannette will be creating new shows and costumes, the show will return to Mata Ashta next spring.  And Ms. Barbera is always looking for new talent to add to her shows. In addition to looking world-wide for new acts to include into future shows, she is looking for local talent. So if you are a performer of any kind (musician, singer, juggler, comedian, magician…the list goes on and on), please contact her via email at nbarbera2@yahoo.com with a description and video of or link to a video. For more information, email stevemataashta@gmail.com, or phone 1-702-809-1482 or 1-714-606-2646.

Rene’s Reopens In New Location

It’s baaaack! There was much celebration this Semana Santa (Easter Week for you Gringos) as the door was finally opened at the new Rene’s Sports Pub with a grand opening three-day celebration this weekend.

For all you newbies, Rene’s Restaurant and Bar was a Rosarito institution, opened in 1924, and the first operational business in the Rosarito area (yes, even before the Rosarito Beach Hotel). The original Rene’s closed its doors several years ago and was later reborn as a casino.

Rene’s was my first Baja bar. After purchasing a house there (right behind the bar) I returned nearly a year later and the bartender remembered me and my drink of choice. I lived in the campo at Rene’s for many years (no drinking and driving for this lady!) That was one brilliant bartender!

Rene “Chato” Ortiz is now continuing the legacy with Rene’s Sports Pub now on Rosarito’s main boulevard, across the street from the Rosarito Beach Hotel, between Banorte and the ice cream parlor. I asked Rene why he decided to open at this location and he replied that he wanted to be in “the historical zone of Rosarito.” Smaller and more intimate than the original, there is comfortable indoor seating for 25 – 30, but all seats have an excellent view of the many televisions, all tuned to a variety of sports (Judge Judy available upon request). Hence the “three-day” grand opening… there simply was not enough room to allow everyone who wanted to participate in this important event to be accommodated in just one day. Outdoor seating will also be available for diners/drinkers.

Speaking of dining, Rene’s opens at 8:00 am (until 9 pm) with a variety of Mexican favorites including soups, birria, beef, and fish tacos, chiles rellenos, and chicken and pork tamales. The bar opens at noon for your imbibing pleasure.

Joining Chato at the bar is Rene Jr and cousin, Oscar Ortiz. And some old familiar faces will be joining in the fun, but you have to stop in and see who they might be. Specialty drinks and Happy Hour times are being determined now (hey, did I mention this is a brand new bar?)

Drop in. Reunite with old friends. I’ve visited several times already (researching this article of course), and always run into an old timer like myself.

Rene explained he is “coming back to the brand” of Rene’s by opening here, close to the original location. But look for a second locale in the future. Rene is contemplating another (bigger) bar with a craft brewery theme, partnering with local craft breweries.

Parking isn’t great, so grab what you can. But don’t grab the blue handicap space unless you have an official placard, and stay out of the designated spaces of nearby businesses. Cops are cracking down on unlawful parking.

Cruz Roja is Calling

“La Cruz Roja… Te Llama”, Cruz Roja…It Calls You. That is the motto of the 2019 national Cruz Roja Colecta, continuing through May 30th.

The Colecta officially kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital by Hospital President Sergio Conrado Hernandez. Unveiled was a new addition to the stable of ambulances and a new Critical Care four-bed unit, created at a cost of $2,900,000 pesos. Funds for these entities were obtained from the 2017 and 2018 Colectas. Phase 2 of the hospital upgrade will be to renovate the hospital lobby area and purchase another ambulance and rescue equipment.

Dubbed the “Red Room,” specialized doctors and medical staff will provide surgical interventions that they were unable to perform until now.

Each year the Cruz Roja hosts a kick-off breakfast, allowing the larger donations to be delivered in person along with a delivery of the Annual Report. In 2018 there were 12,794 “urgencies” (visits, costing about $857,125 (USD). There were 5,740 ambulance calls (with a minimum cost of $50 per trip every time they leave the station), and 450 higher level rescues.

Volunteers are the lifeline of the Rosarito Cruz Roja hospital. The Damas (Mexican volunteers, always smartly dressed in their navy blue uniforms) raise money throughout the year and host a pre-Christmas Bazaar at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, with all proceeds benefiting the Rosarito hospital. Volunteers of the two American volunteer groups raise money throughout the year by the operation of two thrift stores, one in Rosarito, near Waldo’s, and the other on the boulevard in Primo Tapia.  These two groups hold numerous fundraisers throughout the year, with all money going to the local Cruz Roja organization. In fact, a special “shout out” went to the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos groups who were both well represented at the breakfast, and who also donated over $7,000 (USD) that morning.

The Herm Pena Paramedic Foundation raises money throughout the year and has provided uniforms and equipment for the Cruz Roja Rescue unit. A second major fundraiser is being scheduled for later this year in San Jose, California.

Remember, these are the people who can save your life! But they need your money in order to continue their operations. Cruz Roja is funded by your donations. Although they do receive a few pesos from property tax payments and car plate registrations, that’s not nearly enough. They receive no funding from the Mexican government.

If you have had the opportunity to visit Rosarito’s Cruz Roja Hospital in the last ten months, you’ve undoubtedly heard the banging of hammers and the racket from power tools. As a recent walk-in patient to Cruz Roja, I can personally attest to the great care I was given after a misdiagnosis by my American doctor. Cruz Roja discovered what was actually wrong with me, and after one afternoon of treatment I started to recover.

I know a lot of us don’t like to carry a lot of change. It gets heavy! My suggestion is to keep a handful of dimes and pesos in your car door or ashtray (you aren’t still smoking, are you?!). Now you will have something to drop into the bucket every time you encounter a Cruz Roja volunteer. And I know some of you are zipping through the unmanned toll gates, so you have a few extra dollars you won’t miss.

For additional information, contact locally the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito and Primo Tapia (www.cruzrojaprimotapia.com and on Facebook: Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos Rosarito), or the national organization at www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx.

Ed. Note: Altough this article refersto Cruz Roja’s Rosarito chapter, the  “Colecta” goes on in all of Mexico. Don’t miss the chance to support them if you see them shaking cans in your city.

It’s Quinceanera Time Again!

Have you (or a member of your family) a gently used party dress that could be up-cycled into a Quinceanera dress for a local soon-to-be 15 year old? Would you like to donate a new dress to a really great cause?

The Quinceanera (15th birthday) is an important event for Mexican girls transitioning into adulthood on that special day. The CEIB Reggio Emilia AC launched an Empowering Teen Girls Program in 2015, focused on vulnerable teen girls. The Quinceanera is a “graduation” from their course of study in the program which focuses on health, human rights, entrepreneurship, ecological awareness and much more. The grand evening date has not been finalized, but will be in April or May.

Sponsors and volunteers are always needed. For information on donating resources, time, or cash, please contact Centro Educativo Integral Bilingue Reggio Emilia AC at their Facebook website. Registration will open in November for courses running December through April of next year for qualifying teens. For more information on becoming a part of this cultural occasion, please call 661-850-0325.

Friends of the Library Has a Lot Going On!

The Friends of the Library have been busy this winter. For years the FOL has realized that much of the local population does not have access to local libraries. Last summer, a pop-up library was opened two days a week in the Reforma area and met with some success, but this only aided a small segment of Rosarito. The FOL Board then set their sights on obtaining a mobile solution and settled on the idea of obtaining a bookmobile.

After many months of searching for the right solution, they located a small bus in the United States that could be successfully converted into a mobile reading vehicle. After many months (and many dollars), the bus was approved for entrance into Mexico. Much thanks to Len Merson and the FOL Board members who spent a lot of time and money on getting the necessary approvals for the bus’s import to Mexico. But it is still just a bus. Much more money is needed to convert the bus into a mobile library.

And some of that money comes from unusual places. Leonardo Galvan, a young man in Canada, sent his uncle, a member of the FOL Board, $100 Canadian that he earned while house sitting “so hopefully you can get some stuff with that,” when he heard about the multiple fundraisers that the FOL was hosting.  Now if a child donates his hard-earned money to another far-off country (even if it is Canadian), we locals can pull together a few dollars for the effort.

On March 30th, the Friends of the Library will hold a gala at CEART (current home of said bus and future bookmobile), introducing Rosarito to sculptor, Pancho Jimenez.

If that name sounds familiar, it is because the sculptor is the son of author Francisco “Panchito” Gomez, whose books Rosarito has been reading for many years now, and the subject of the Copa Panchito reading tournaments held each spring.

The Gala concludes the Celebration of Literature, Arts, and Culture event March 28th – 30th, which includes the 2019 Copa Panchito Finale with Author, Dr. Francisco Jimenez at the Plaza Municipal; an Academic Forum on “The Transformative Power of Education and Literature” on the 29th, and a “Meet and Greet” with Sculptor Pancho Jimenez and local artists before the Gala on March 30th. Complete information on these events may be found in the Gringo Gazette Calendar section.

The Gala will be preceded by photos taken on the red carpet in the CEART courtyard. In the foyer, Hors D’oeuvres prepared by the renowned Plascencia Group and Dessert by Brown Dog Gelato, will be offered with wine and other beverages prior to the Ceramic Sculpture Exhibit ribbon cutting. Tickets to this event are available at the FOL website, www.friendsofthelibrary.com.mx.

Sole exhibitor in the main gallery, Sculptor Pancho Jimenez, holds an MFA in Sculptural Ceramics from San Francisco State University and exhibits mostly in the San Francisco Bay area, but has also been exhibited in universities, private galleries and civic spaces. He has been featured in the Ceramics Monthly, and “art ltd” proclaimed his solo show at Santa Clara’s Triton Museum of Art “one of the Top Ten Best in Northern California.”

Pancho Jimenez began working with clay at a young age. With a background in history as well as art, some of his influence comes from the ancient ruins of Mesoamerica. Jimenez’s work assigns meaning to symbols which is apparent in every piece in his exhibition.

His work is comprised of several series including the “Head Series,” influenced by pre-Columbian Olmec Heads; “the “Carved Series,” displaying meaning he has found in the ruins of ancient Mexico that captures the “mystery, that ‘eternal presence’ of ancient art forms”; and the “Memory Series” depicting dense carved geometric and organic designs sometimes found in ancient art. He has graciously (and lovingly) conveyed many pieces of his extensive collection to Rosarito especially for this event. Jimenez has donated one piece to be raffled off to one of the lucky VIP ticket-holders at the Gala.

But that’s not all. Another new addition to the Reading Program of Rosarito is the new public reading room at CEART Rosarito, dedicated on a gloomy rainy January 31st. The ribbon-cutting ceremony included dignitaries including Mayor Mirna Rincon, and Rosarito IMAC and CEART department leaders including Xochitl Contreras, Marco Nunio, and Armando Gonzalez, who is also the VP of the FOL.

The new Reading Room was painted, furnished and decorated by the Board of the Friends of the Library with artwork and furnishings from their homes. Additional bookshelves are being built for the adult portion of the reading corner.

The books in the collection include modern favorites, the complete Harry Potter series and the books of Francisco “Pancho” Jimenez. Whereas the books are of interest to readers of all ages, they primarily focus on younger-aged readers. The reading corner has become so popular that many new books are needed, especially for the younger children. Attendance to the CEART reading corner starts when the building opens in the morning and the last reader is ushered out at closing time.

Originally funded by the FOL, Marco Nunio’s office will begin funding 7000 pesos per month through CEART to hire a full time person to staff the reading corner. But this funding may not be permanent so the fundraisers may help to support this position as well as fund the bookmobile, purchase books, and other programs the FOL sponsors.

Tickets and $20 memberships to the Friends of the Library may be purchased online at their website, www.friendsofthelibrary.com.mx. Their monthly meetings are held the second Wednesday of every month and are open to the public. For more information, please visit their website. And remember their motto: Read today for a Quality of Life Tomorrow.

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