Ren Drake

Ren Drake

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.

American Football Coming to Rosarito

When many of us were preparing to gorge ourselves Super Bowl Sunday on hot wings, pizza, and beer, more than 400 slightly more athletic individuals (some in Lucha Libre masks) participated in the “Donate One Yard 5K Run Trot Walk” from the currently-being-renovated Hotel Festival Plaza to the Hotel Castillos Del Mar, and back.

Did you know that Rosarito is the only major city in Baja without a dedicated American-style football field?  We don’t even have a plot of land large enough to be used as a regulation football field, with stands and parking. Francisco Beltran, President of Student Athletics A.C., is trying to remedy that with his “Donate One Yard” fundraising campaign and events.

Francisco, head coach and founder of BajaFootball.org, was joined by Ricardo Cabralez, Alderman of the Youth Sports Commission, Jesus Gastelum, Director of IMDER, and Manuel Esteban Padrez, Manager of the Hotel Festival Plaza, in welcoming participation in the 5K, or to donate to the cause.

Many American expats in Rosarito are from the Pacific coast where the only “Friday Night Lights” we remember are those on the tops of police cruisers when we were up on Mulholland Drive or cruising on Van Nuys Boulevard. But Friday Night Lights were important to a big part of the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to that again? (No, I’m not talking about cruising Van Nuys Boulevard).

It has been shown that participation in sports makes for better students, and at a time when sports is being driven from schools, other after-school sports are even more important. Francisco’s passion comes from playing American football since he was 14 years old, and continuing in a San Diego high school. He attended college in Monterrey and obtained a degree in Sports and Training.

The cost of a square yard of field is $62 (US) which includes the turf, a base of gravel and sand, and labor. The total amount needed is about $600,000, so there is a long way to go, and major sponsors, such as local businesses are being sought to help out.

There are three divisions of players (8-10, 11-12, and 13-14 years of age). Individual player sponsorships are also available at $43 per month, which coves one player’s complete fees, uniform, and equipment. You can even choose the player by going online to the bajafootball.org website. Player sponsors will be kept updated on a player’s performance, not only on the football field, but also in school as well.  And one-time donations of any amount are appreciated, and will be used where needed most.

To be honest, some of the money being collected now is funding the preparation of a US 501(c)(3) certification. Francisco knows that Americans are much more likely to write bigger checks if there is the possibility of a tax deduction involved (or is that just me?).

The Rosarito Tigers football team started one year ago. It’s been found that a major challenge is not only a monetary one, but one of culture. The community, and Mexicans in general, don’t understand American football and its importance. Why try to improve on soccer, right? Little by little American influence is creeping into Mexico, making American-style football more acceptable, but it’s slow-moving. In the future other nearby cities will come compete with Rosarito teams. Local games are scheduled to begin in mid-March.

For more information on upcoming events and fundraisers, contact Francisco Beltran at www.Bajafootball.org.

Popotla Is Not Just Another Trailer Park

Most Rosaritenses know of Popotla Restaurant and the surrounding campo, but what makes this campo stand out is their Homeowners Association, which raises money throughout the year not merely to use on their property, but to benefit charitable organizations in Rosarito.

This year, two personal scooters donated to the HOA from Cruzzin’ Mobility Scooters of Palm Desert, California were auctioned off at the Popotla HOA’s Fourth of July and Labor Day party events.

In addition, cash donations were made by HOA Board members, including President Michael Holliday and Secretary Chris McGuinness, a little before Christmas to the Rosarito Club de Ninos y Ninas (Boys and Girls Club), and the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito and Primo Tapia.

The Homeowners Association raises funds throughout the year in a multitude of ways, including the annual Super Bowl pool and park parties on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, chili cook-offs, auctions, etcetera. Businesses in Rosarito and San Diego are solicited during the year for goods and services, or event tickets. 50/50 raffle tickets are sold at every HOA event, which adds to the coffers. The Board then meets quarterly, assesses the results,  and decides how the funds will be distributed.

You may be asking yourself where the idea for this philanthropy came from. When the Popotla HOA was formally established in 1983, “charity work” was actually written into their Charter. Chartered as a Cultural Deportiva in Mexico, the Popotla HOA focuses on improving community relations through the support of local charities. Since the Club de Ninos y Ninas and Cruz Roja organizations were given preferential status this past year, the Board may authorize donations to any worthy Rosarito charitable organization for their end-of-the-year donations. Past donations have also been awarded to the Rosarito Bomberos, as well as annual holiday bonuses to the park’s employees.

We all have organizations near and dear to our hearts, especially at this time of year. Many of us belong to HOA’s, so let’s take a page from the Popotla HOA handbook and think about giving back to the community, by organizing charity fundraisers within your HOA or neighborhood group.

Pictured in the photo are Board Members Penny Hill, Jewel Donathan, Rosy Torres (Club de Ninos y Ninas President), Jim Zigler, Michael Holliday (PHOA President), Chris McGuinness, and David Atkinson.

Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Hosts General Membership Meeting

The Board of the Primo Tapia branch of the Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americans invites the public to join them for their 2019 General Membership Meeting Saturday, January 12, 11 am at El Pescador Restaurant (just north of Puerto Nuevo). Coffee, tea, and sweet pastries will be offered during the meeting and El Pescador Restaurant will be open for lunch after the meeting.  There will be several mini-raffles sprinkled throughout the meeting, between the reports including financial, ambulance, and Thrift Store totals. You won’t believe how much money this little store donates to the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital an ambulance service each month.

The Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Board is seeking new members and persons interested in joining the Board in a variety of positions, including Membership, Technology, and Fundraising.  Some of next year’s fundraising events include a Paella Fest sometime in the spring and the popular Oktoberfest event in October. They wish to thank this year’s sponsors: Judith Douglas Spa, La Mision Fitness, Blue Gallery, del Valle Café, The Shack, Ollie’s Pizza, Happy Hour, Encanto, Splash, Mision Viejo, and Sprouts Chula Vista.

Even though the official title of the organization includes the word ‘’Americanos,’’ the Board and membership is open to all, including Mexican nationals. And the Cruz Roja Primo Tapia is actively seeking Mexican residents  as well as foreign residents to join the Board of Directors. Technically, we are all “Americans,” right?

One big change for 2019 is that all monthly meetings  at El Pescador (held the second Friday of the month at 10 am) will be open to the public.

Whereas, membership dues will remain at $20 per person annually, there will be several membership options available starting January 1.

You say you aren’t Board Member material? he Cruz Roja Primo Tapia Thrift Store is in need of volunteers to keep this venture able to support the hospital and ambulance service; even a couple hours a month would help tremendously. If a monthly commitment doesn’t work into your busy schedule, please consider volunteering for one of this year’s special fundraising events.

You do not have to be a current member to attend the general meeting. Membership forms will be available, and processed on site. And if you aren’t a member yet, why not? If the 50% discount on ambulance service to the US border (valued at $100 or more) isn’t inducement enough, remember that all visits to Rosarito’s Cruz Roja Hospital are discounted 10%. In November I walked into the Hospital without an appointment, was seen by a doctor who diagnosed an ear infection, wrote a medical scrip, gave me an injection to prevent an allergic reaction to mosquitos that I needed for an upcoming trip…all for about $5 US.  What a deal!

For more information, please see the Cruz Roja Primo Tapia website: www.CruzRojaPrimoTapia.com, and check out some of the Thrift Store’s best deals on Facebook at Cruz Roja – Primo Tapia Thrift Store.”

So, What Is the Baja Blues Fest Doing With All That Money?

In November, the Baja Blues Fest President Jackie Alameda presented checks to the children’s organizations benefiting from this year’s annual Blues Fest event at a luncheon hosted by Bobby’s by the Sea.  Checks in the amount of $4,000 (USD) were presented to Rosarito’s Friends of the Library, the Los Angelitos Orphanage, and La Mision Children’s Fund/BECA.

Bev Wilburg, representing La Mision Children’s Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization, stated that the money would be used for the La Mision food bank, which feeds over 1,000 children. Once a month, families pick up a small parcel of beans, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, cooking oil and flour,  the cost of which is about $12. In November and December, families also received a small amount of chicken. On the last Wednesday of the month, Rotary members help to portion and bag these foods for the families. It costs about $1200 (USD) monthly to make up these tiny bundles. Thanks to a sustainable water system that was donated to the group, they are recognized as the only clean, potable water near Ensenada, in case of emergency.

Teresa Savala, representing  the BECA scholarship organization, discussed the schools and their needs in the La Mision area. There is currently a waiting list of students interested in high school. Parents are getting more involved in their children’s education, and more classrooms are being constructed. The money awarded today will be used for tuitions. The fundraising event “Fandango” funds about 90% of BEA’s needs, but BBF’s annual check really helps.  Although BECA is not a 501(c)(3) organization, they are now partners with La Mision Children’s Fund and are under the same “umbrella,” working closely together.

The Mexican government does not fund either of these programs. Books are considered a luxury and unaffordable for most families in Primo Tapia and the neighborhoods in the hills. Authors Darren and Ruby Perman, along with the Baja Blues Fest, donated 20 copies of their children’s book “Wookivoo” to the LMCF/BECA. The Rotary of La Mision has been an excellent partner, but they can’t do it all. For those wishing to help, donations of clothing, foodstuffs, toiletries and sanitary supplies may be left at the La Salina Bar/Restaurant in La Mision.

Friends of the Library past President Susan Shea informed all of us that a UNESCO study rated Mexico in last place in reading, of the 30+ countries studied. That’s sad, but not unexpected from a country that expects students to graduate from the educational system at grade 7! The Friends of the Library promotes reading, not only in libraries, but in schools and in the home. Book donations service all five Rosarito area libraries, a pop-up mobile library that operated in the Reforma last summer, and a new reading room at CEART. FOL has just raised the funds to purchase a bus to be outfitted as a bookmobile, and the funds from the Blues Fest will be used to outfit this new bookmobile. Other forms of income are the spring Home and Garden Tour and the Holiday Home Tour before Christmas.

Los Angelitos was the singular orphanage to benefit from this year’s BBF. Ed Perry manages this home of 20 wards of the court in the Rosarito-Tijuana area, children with nowhere else to go, assigned by the Department of Social Services. Here they enjoy a non-institutional family-style quality of life. The children spend most of the week in their home in Tijuana in order to be closer to their schools. They spend weekends and vacations in their home in the hills between Rosarito and Tijuana in a much healthier atmosphere. Ed receives no government money but operates with donations from friends, the Rosarito Beach Christian Church, and his own monthly Social Security check. About 90% of the operating costs come from angels in the United States. The orphanage does not host fundraisers throughout the year. Mari Cruz, who grew up at Los Angelitos, is in her third year of university, earning a degree in Business Administration, and was very thankful for the opportunities provided to her.

For those keeping score, there wasn’t quite as much money available for the charities in 2018 as in years past. This year there was a major reorganization of powers at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, host hotel of the Baja Blues Fest, and the Hotel’s Board of Directors is now managed by Hugo Torres’ five children. Apparently they, and the HOA of the Rosarito Beach Hotel Condos, are not as charitable as patriarch Hugo has been. The use of the hotel grounds ran more than $8000 (USD) more than last year, and next year is looking even more dismal. Reportedly, the RBH declined to help defray some of the costs that they had helped to pay for in the past. As many of Rosarito’s community organizations have discovered, the RBH is harder to deal with now, and not quite as charitable as they have been in years past. But life goes on.

Needless to say, the BBF Board of Directors is searching for new venues for the 2019 music fest. The Friday night Meet and Greet Music Jam and Dance may be held at a location different from Saturday’s Blue’s Fest. The new venue does not have to be a hotel, as long as it is in the Rosarito area and has lodging nearby for the musicians and out of town guests. The new site will be a better opportunity for vendors and food purveyors, who were severely limited in their offerings this year, not being allowed to serve anything but desserts and sides. No flames allowed meant no spiral cut potato on a stick for me. I want my skewered fried potato…or six. The Blues Fest Board has decided to suspend the Sunday jam session (at least for 2019). This would save the cost of one day’s lodging, food, and venue rental.

The BBF Board is also seeking local businesses and community members as sponsors for bands (lodging, food, transport, etc.) or other costs related to the Blues Fest. Now is a good time to get involved with the Baja Blues Fest. It’s important to keep this an annual cultural destination. The BBF Mission Statement proclaims “promoting northern Baja as a safe and fun place to visit, bringing the residents from the northern and southern boundaries of…Rosarito together.”  Their purpose is to raise money for qualifying charitable organizations that cater to children in Baja California, “expand the cultural activities of our (Rosarito) area.” BBF’s tagline says it best: “Helping Kids with ‘The Blues’.”

Rosarito Informs Expats About Future Plans

Several representatives from the City of Rosarito met with the local citizens at the monthly FRAO (Foreign Relations Attention Office) breakfast meeting in November to discuss the future of Rosarito. The commissioners are taking opinions from foreign residents on matters that affect them. Mayor Mirna Rincon has made an effort to consult with foreign residents during her term in office, seeking their opinions on matters that would improve Rosarito. Known as the “Urban Development Program of Playas de Rosarito,” the effort is only in its initial stages, and the results of residents’ opinions today will make a difference in the in the direction of Rosarito’s short- and long-term future.

The survey is available online in Spanish at www.implanrosarito.mx. To obtain a copy in English please contact the FRAO office via email at FRAO@rosarito.gob.mx or through their Facebook page. The City would like to collect everyone’s response before the Christmas break, so get a move on! The City wants to hear from you.

Representatives from IMPLAN (the City Planning Commission) and COPLADEM (Committee Planning for Municipal Development) gave presentations on the future of Rosarito. Mayor Rincon was unable to attend, as she had her hands full with a few new “arrivals’’ in town. It was her wish to “put in touch the foreign community with the government of Rosarito, and vice versa.” But she has placed great importance on making Rosarito comfortable for Mexican and foreign residents, and that all cultures are to be celebrated. The security of Rosarito’s residents is of utmost importance, but there are other areas of concern.

The City, State, and Federal entities have a planning framework equal to the Constitutional extents of government; City is three years, with State and Federal being six-year terms. These are all short term planning periods. Urban development plans and programs have a planning framework of 15 – 20 years, exceeding the periods of all elected officials. This is sometimes where projects get a bit screwy. Let me direct your attention to the Machado Bridge. I’m not sure where the current “plan” came from, but I saw a rendition many years (and two mayors) ago, and the site showed a beautiful Los Angeles style cloverleaf of on and off ramps… totally maneuverable.

About that bridge… at this time the City is waiting for the State and Federales to fix the bridge, its ramps, and bring the whole area up to safety code. The Mayor and the City of Rosarito will not accept the bridge until everything is fixed and made usable, including handicap accessibility. The importance here is that the City does not want to be held liable legally for problems associated with the bridge. This is what the “hold up” has been; a big stalemate.  In the meantime, the City is being punished and people are getting hurt with the mismatched road markings and directions.

Other problems cited by residents were the deplorable shape of roads in the Primo Tapia/La Mision area of the city and the green plastic headlight-diverting barriers set up between Rosarito and Puerto Nuevo. Any roadway, signage, or traffic concerns may be directed to City Hall and the Roads department, or by contacting the FRAO office.

Regional and State planning include the planning for the two basic areas of Rosarito, the Playas de Rosarito Urban area which is about 27% of the physical area, and the Primo Tapia Population Center, including a new side bridge, which is basically everything south of the ‘’city’’ and incorporates the remaining 71% of the “suburban” zone. I’m not sure what happened to the remaining 2%…just blame it on the New Math.  On the horizon is a new branding of the Primo Tapia area, “Rosarito South”, which will be receiving upgrades in the future (one of the long-term plans). And in case you are wondering, the City of Rosarito includes six districts, 19 sectors, 69 boroughs, and 116 neighborhoods. A detailed map is available in the Planning Office, but it is nearly impossible to decipher.

The City’s new policies are focused on population growth, which globally could potentially double by the year 2050. Currently there are nearly two million inhabitants in the Tijuana area (which includes Rosarito), and another 3.2 million in San Diego, which means over five million people in the bi-national metropolitan area.

The Rosarito administration unveiled 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the New Urban Agenda, which include focus on the family unit, food production, education & literacy, intelligent urban planning, and sustainable power sources. Human principles being focused on include equality, democratic transparency, urban safety, accessibility and environmental sustainability.

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