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.

Cabaret Casting Call

Ever wondered what it would be like to appear onstage with a really happening band? Sweet Sixx is in need of new entertainers to join them for their Baja Burlesque Show, a sexy variety show. There are several venues and dates; May 18th, June 22nd, and July 27th. Singers, dancers, comedians (c’mon, your friends think you’re funny), burlesque, magicians, jugglers, actors, drag performers, musicians, and more are needed! There will be several shows the first of which is May 18th, so you’d better get a move on. Dust off that trombone, polish those tap shoes, find that magic bunny that got loose in your house two years ago.

For more information, please email sweetsixxduo@gmail.com,  or call 686-230-9933. You may also leave a message at their Facebook site.

Labor Day Is Coming

Mexico’s lower house of Congress has approved a labor law reform aimed at ensuring workers can vote for their union representatives and their contracts. The changes are under discussion because they are needed in order to win the approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which was negotiated to replace the old NAFTA.

The bill now goes to the Senate and requires secret-ballot union votes and proof of workers’ consent for their own contracts. Mexico’s labor movement has long been stymied, and wages kept low by pro-government unions that sign contracts and organize plants behind workers’ backs.

For decades, unions — many of whose leaders were members of the old ruling party the PRI — were so secretive that employees often didn’t know that a union even existed at their workplace. Pro-company unions would sign labor contracts with companies before they even opened plants in Mexico. After a plant opened, like a new BMW assembly plant, the word would go out that there were jobs, and if you wanted one, you had to accept what your union had “negotiated” for you.

Since President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office on December 1st, there have been dozens of strikes in the northern border city of Matamoros, sparked in part by Lopez Obrador’s decision to double the minimum wage in border areas. That didn’t appease the workers, it just spurred them on to demand more, once  they saw realized how easily their pay had been doubled.

So they demanded a $1,700 USD bonus and got it, plus another series of raises. When they quickly got all this, the strikes spread and companies quickly caved in.

These manufacturing plants are in contracts to supply manufacturers in the States, contracts with big, big penalties. The strikes came so quickly there was no time to build up inventories and most manufacturers practice “just in time” inventory control, meaning there is no more than a few days supply north of the border. So, the plants here had to pay.

There are currently about 7,000 vacant jobs along the border, but until these strikes,  the plants had no stomach for raises; they had become used to paying the minimum wage of about $5 US per day.

Some say this is why Mexico is letting in all these Central Americans who will inevitably be waiting at the border to cross. The hope is that they will go to work there, depressing the wages with their numbers. But that hasn’t happened because charities have been housing and feeding them, causing them to lose any enthusiasm for working. Most of them sleep all day in the shelters rather than go to work for less than they’re dreaming of earning in the United States.

And that’s our Labor Day message for this year.

Mexico Demands Apology From Spain for Conquest

There’s big money in the apology-extraction business today, as compelling a mea culpa can be a prerequisite for demanding reparations.

So perhaps it’s no surprise that Mexico’s socialist president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador recently demanded an apology from Spain for colonial conquest. What is surprising in this age of the cowardly kowtow is Spain’s response:

Its foreign minister essentially told Mexico to pound sand.

As EL PAÍS reported Tuesday, “Mexico’s leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the National Regeneration Movement, recently sent a letter to the king of Spain, Felipe VI, urging him to acknowledge these abuses (of the conquistadors a half millennia ago) and to ask for forgiveness so there can be full reconciliation between both countries.”

In a release, however, the “Spanish government said it ‘firmly rejects’ the arguments contained in the letter, which was sent to the monarch via the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry,” the site continues.

“‘The arrival of Spaniards 500 years ago to present-day Mexican territory cannot be judged in light of contemporary considerations. Our brother nations have always known how to read our common past without anger and with a constructive perspective,” said the Spanish government in its statement.

American Thinker points out that Spain’s socialist ruling party might have had to respond robustly because it’s threatened by the conservatives in an upcoming April 28 election. Nonetheless, robust the response was.

To wit: Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that he “deeply laments the request by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador” and that, “obviously, Spain is not going to offer such an ‘extemporaneous apology.’”

“Just like we are not going to ask the French Republic to apologize for what Napoleon’s soldiers did when they invaded Spain. Or like the French are not going to ask the Italians to beg forgiveness for Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul,” he added.

Unsurprisingly, the leader of Spain’s conservative PP, Pablo Casado, went even further. Calling Mexico’s demand a “veritable affront,” he unabashedly stated, “I don’t believe in Spain’s black legend. Not in the one that was drafted centuries ago, and not in the one that the complex-ridden left is now trying to draft. We are one of the most important nations in the history of humanity.”

The first thing to wonder when considering Mexico’s demand is, who would apologize to whom? Mexico’s ruling class is largely of Spanish descent (and white), and the nation speaks Spanish and is of Spanish culture. It’s a bit like us demanding an apology from Britain for … what? Helping create us? Would we rather not be?

This brings us to perhaps the best way — the “best defence is a good offence” way — to counteract the apology mongers: The West should demand thanks.

Huh?

Consider that Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernán Cortés had conquered the Aztec Empire (in what would become Mexico) with 500 of his men — and approximately 100,000 natives from neighboring tribes. Why did they help the strange European aliens?

Because they’d been oppressed and brutalized by the Aztecs for ages.

So, question: Will Aztec-descent Mexicans apologize to almost everyone else?

(Oh, yeah, there’s no percentage in demanding such; they’re not a Mr. Money Bags.)

Note, too, that the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifice on a massive scale, tearing out victims’ still-beating hearts and hanging their body parts in the marketplace. Perhaps the West deserves thanks for ending such practices not just in Mexico, but the world over.

Yet more perspective is needed.

As I wrote in January: In truth, we all had ancestors who once were conquered or colonized. And the European tribes subdued by the Romans surely had many of the same complaints today’s grievance groups do: that their cultures were being trampled, their values eviscerated. Yet should we lament those Roman conquests and demonize Italians?

In reality, we’re all better off for the Romans having spread Christianity, Western civilization, and technology and having built infrastructure throughout Europe (e.g., roads, aqueducts, amphitheaters). We still today use much that they birthed, too, from our calendar to concrete to plumbing to sanitation to fast food to trademarks and beyond.

The Romans, of course, had gotten much from the Greeks and Etruscans. This Western civilization then spread to the rest of Europe; later to the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand; and to a lesser extent elsewhere, influencing and enhancing the whole world.

Thus did a Zambian man I knew once argue that African colonization was good; it’s why a fellow from India I knew despised Mohandas Gandhi (who was phony, but that’s a different issue), condemning the Indian leader for driving experts and expertise from the country. Shocking? These men understand how civilization spreads.

Consider also that when Europeans reached the New World and Africa, the natives were generally living stone-age existences. “Noble savage” suckers may romanticize this, but have no intention of withdrawing into the wilderness to live like the Sentinelese. They love the modern conveniences, luxuries, and prosperity the West birthed far too much. Thanks, anyone?

Moreover, whether it was the dominance of other tribes by the Aztecs, Africa’s Shaka Zulu, North America’s Lakota, Asia’s Attila the Hun, or some other entity, conquest, killing, and subsumption had ever been part of man’s history.

That is until the West finally put an end to it.

In fact, as of late, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion and annexing of Kuwait is evidence it likely would still be occurring today were the West not around to uphold Western standards.

Add to this the West ended slavery (where it could), cannibalism, and all other manner and form of age-old pagan brutality and, well, what can we say?

You’re welcome.

Surf’s Up!

Whenever there is a road race in Baja, it always begins in Ensenada. The prime area of Blvd Costero (especially at the Riviera, CEARTE and Museo Carocol) is blocked off, and that’s where the aficianados and the participants alike gather in preparation for the Baja 500, Baja 1000 or the newly reinstated SCORE transpeninsular races.

The hotels are booked solid from Rosarito south to Maneadero, the restaurants and bars are crowded with revelers, and traffic in the city becomes a commuter’s nightmare.

The end result is good business for the hospitality industry and an increase in tax revenue for the city.

The weekend beginning Friday, April 26th marked the beginning of the latest in NORRA’s cross-country desert races. By the time this paper hits the stands on Monday, April 29th, the drivers will be on their way from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas, in a very unique race, characterized by diverse classes ranging from antique classics (which may only be outfitted with original equipment – i.e., no special shocks or engine modifications) to balls-to-the-wall fully customized strictly competition jet-fuel guzzling monsters.

The race takes five days to complete. It’s a very expensive prospect. It costs $1,000 to enter. Visitors often bring their families and put them up in hotels. There is a big party at the end of the event that reportedly costs the hosts in excess of $50,000 USD to sponsor. And, of course, the vehicles themselves are expensive, and require maintenance crews, mechanics, spotters, etc.

All in all, it’s like a sailboat race for cars. Y’know, if ya got it, flaunt it.

But I digress. This article is supposed to be about surfing. Who knew that northern Baja (as well as points south) boasts some of the gnarliest surf spots on the west coast?

If you thought surfing was strictly a SoCal, Hawaiian or Australian sport, think again.

Not only does our beloved Baja have some seriously challenging and world-famous surf locales, it also is home to some of the most widely-respected surfboard builders on the planet.

Todos Santos Island, 8 miles east of the Ensenada harbor, accessible by 22-foot pangas or other seaworthy vessels, is flat during much of the year, but becomes a daredevil’s paradise each winter, when swells in excess of 20 feet come roaring in from the Aleutian Islands. Seasoned surfing veterans refer to the breaks at Todos Santos as “Killers.” That’s no joke. The body of one veteran surfer who lost his life attempting to conquer that swell was never found.

Surfers can be seen all along the coast of northern Baja, even at Playa Hermosa, where local surf veteran “Yi-Yo” (Alberto Castro) surfs every morning that swells are high enough to justify suiting up and paddling out.

In fact, there are 2 surf shops right near that beach, one, “Spot Surfo,” on Calle Floresta, between Av Pedro Loyola and Blvd Costero (directly across from the beach camp aptly named “Playa Todos Santos”), and the other, right around the corner on the Blvd, next door to the OXXO. Both shops are owned by the same veteran surfer, whose son is also an enthusiast.

There’s also a dive shop on Calle Macheros, one block off the Avenue: Almar Dive Shop offers equipment for divers and surfers, and also offers certified training for watersports enthusiasts who want to know how to scuba dive.

Not only that, Ensenada boasts some world-renowned surfboard builders, most notably the Arctic Foam Surfboard Factory.

Also, the Orozco Surfboard Factory builds boards for some highly regarded California manufacturers, among them the highly regarded Bessell Surfboards manufacturing enterprise.

The San Miguel Surfboard company is owned by Mario Medel, who prefers the casual living style of Ensenada over the high-stress environment of southern California.

He notes that with his visa, he can go to the U.S. whenever he likes. But he prefers his hometown of Ensenada, where the Gringos come to relax and enjoy the simple life.

Who can blame him?

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.

Tuesdays With Morrie

How much time do you spend dealing with money? You have to earn it, report it, pay taxes on it, spend or save it, make plans for it, donate it, teach your kids about it, have enough of it to retire, and ultimately spend a huge part of your life dealing with it. Is it worth it?

That is the core question that Morrie Schwartz, a retired sociology professor, discusses with his former student and current friend, Mitch Albom. After graduation, he began working as a sports reporter  for a newspaper and became very successful. Unfortunately, he became so obsessed with his professional career that he nearly destroyed his marriage. His wife felt neglected because of his obsession with his work.

Morrie, according to Mitch Albom’s famous book and the play of the same name, is interviewed by Ted Koppel for the TV show Nightline. Mitch happens to catch it. Plus he is at a turning point. His co-workers at the Detroit Free Press are on strike and consequently he is out of a job. That gives him time to reflect about what Morrie explained to Koppel, namely that most people spend too much time on things that don’t make them happy. He learned that focusing on who you love and nurturing that love is much more important than  the pursuit of money. As they say, “money cannot buy happiness.”

Mitch calls Morrie and arranges to meet with him every Tuesday, which he does for the next 14 weeks. Morrie, who has quickly advancing ALS, lasts that long but finally succumbs to the debilitating disease. Through it all Morrie remains upbeat and insists that ALS gives him time to reflect on his impending death. He has time to contact all those he loves. He can even fairly well predict the progression of his disease and the time he has left to reach out and communicate with all those people in his life who have meant so much to him.

For the Rosarito Theatre Guild’s production of Tuesdays With Morrie, we welcome two veteran actors, Jim Johnson and Colton Dennis, who play Morrie and Mitch respectively.  Jim is currently the Director of the Gallo Center Repertory Company.. The Center for the Performing Arts has, a 1,200 seat theatre which has attracted national shows, including “Cats”, “Evita” and “Shrek: The Musical”.

Colton Dennis is a very experienced actor, who, as a young man in his 30’s, is perfect for his role as Mitch. He is  an actor, director and co-artistic director of Patterson Repertory Theatre. He has performed with numerous other companies in the Central Valley.

Jim and Colton have performed several times together,  and their collaboration has resulted in a really stimulating one-act performance.

Performances are May 9th and 10th at 7 pm,  with matinees  at 2 pm on May 11th and 12th. For information call 664-631-3320 or visit www.rosaritotheatre.org. Tickets can be purchased through PayPal.

Gringo Gazette Writer Branches Out

Frequent contributor to the Gringo Gazette, Ren Drake Hill, has recently branhed out into the YouTube talk show scene. As the newest member of InfoNort, the online Rosarito-based news reporting organization, she along with local photographer Diego Knight host the weekly talk show “Baja Talk Time.” The 10 – 15 minute weekly broadcast features interviews with local people “in the know,” previews cultural, sporting and civic events, and provides important information specifically important to foreign nationals (Americans) in Baja California.

Baja Talk Time is produced by Denisse Carrion de Garrido and Crispin Garrido Mancilla of InfoNort, whom many will know from their frequent live news broadcasts between Tijuana and Ensenada.

New episodes of Baja Talk Time will air every Friday afternoon on YouTube as well as on the Facebook pages Baja Talk Time, Baja Living, InfoNort Rosarito, Baja Sports, and GringoGazette North.

Rosarito Pottery Studio Celebrates Local Kids

The local pottery studio “DeColores Mexico” which offers experiences, classes and workshops for creating beautiful, usable art, is providing one lucky kid each month (April, May, and June) a free birthday party for up to 10 people.

In order to achieve this, Gloria Robinson, co-owner of DeColores is asking the community to nominate a family who would not be able to afford a birthday party.

Please send your nominations in a letter with a recommendation of why they deserve this special birthday party! You can email your submissions to info@decolores-mexico.com

DeColores is celebrating its first year this coming June and the birthday party giveaway is one of the ways they are celebrating.

Children and adults can all have fun while enjoying the variety of activities they have to offer, like bilingual story time and paint, kids night out (where parents can enjoy the evening without their children, art classes, doing dishes with Isela (guided painting), wine and design night (our favorite!) and kids art camps during school breaks.

The studio is owned by three women who each have a different background and bring something unique to the table. Isela Rosales is the house artist, who develops class curriculums, teaches classes and designs art projects for children and community programs. Julia Mahon handles the business side of the studio, and Gloria Robinson coordinates marketing, public relations, and community outreach.

DeColores is located on KM 40 of the free road to Rosarito, in the Santini strip mall. Find out more about them on their facebook page or visit www.decolores-mexico.com

What’s Going On In Playa Hermosa?

Playa Hermosa is rapidly becoming much more than just a beautiful place to relax in the sun and frolic in the waves; it’s fast evolving into a multi-faceted complex of unique entertainment, shopping, exercise and industrial outlets, from the free public access beach to retail and industrial enterprises leased from the federal government.

The area with the most intense activity is along Blvd Costero, between Blvd Estancia and Ave Esmeralda. Costero (the “beach road”) connects points north, i.e., TJ, Rosarito and El Sauzal de Rodriguez, to the highway that goes all the way to La Paz or turns off onto La Carretera La Bufadora and the famous tourist attraction known to Gringos as “The Blow Hole.”

This area is being developed by some very creative individuals and groups.

One of the most visible enterprises is the shopping mall that is being constructed from cargo containers abandoned by the shipping companies. A conglomerate of businessmen leased the land from the federal government, and has constructed a complex of units that will boast cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques and other retail establishments.

The two towers above the second-story of the complex will have a space and planetary observatory that will be open year-round.

The mall will also have unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, the islands and the peninsula that is home to Punta Banda and La Bufadora.

The level of activity at the site has become very intense lately. The good weather is allowing for painting of the exterior to commence (the primer coat has already been applied, and the color coats have just begun to dress the place up). Wood floors have been installed, as well as staircases leading up to the units on the second floor.

CFE powered the place up months ago; the water supply is backed up by pilas and pumps, just like the ones used by the hotels in the area.

A sports complex is also planned, with a jogging track, basketball hoops, and a variety of exercise platforms for the fitness enthusiasts to tone themselves physically.

A safe  playground area for youngsters is part of the plan, and will provide a safe and protected environment for toddlers and young children to channel their energies.

Lifeguards will be on duty during times of peak activity, and Playa Hermosa is patrolled regularly by local, state and federal police. The fire department (“bomberos”) have mobile units manned by alert personnel with search and rescue capabilities; they even have surfboards!

Access to the area will be through a gatehouse manned by a federal guard (next to the VIP Market and BP gas station complex).

Another noteworthy activity at Playa Hermosa is the daily research and development of drones by the Bay Area company known as Cape. They also have leased the land from the federal government.

Cape also provides its coverage of the beach area directly to the local police department.

In addition to the drone coverage, the feds have their own set of cameras monitoring the area 24/7; the cameras and floodlights are powered by solar panels.

Across from the Navy Base, further east from the prime location of the Playa Hermosa entertainment complex, is the newly constructed City Express Hotel, which is nearing completion and will possibly be open in time for the summer tourist season.

A weekend buffet restaurant has been open on Costero for years, and a large construction project has recently begun adjacent to it.

If you haven’t been to Playa Hermosa lately, be prepared to be amazed. It’s already Ensenada’s most popular recreational site, and it’s rapidly becoming a  safe, sane and educational center for the entire family.

Of course, access to the beach is still free. You can enjoy the simplicity of it, and  take in the new developments at your own pace. Please remember to take your trash with you when you leave, and respect the environment that we all share and love.

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