Gordon Ramsey, Gino D’Acampo and Tom Holland Spotted In Baja

It looks like it has been a busy week for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey and Gino D’Acampo, who were spotted by shoppers at Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana.

Mercado Hidalgo is one of the few typical 100% Mexican “Mercados” in Baja, they offer a wide selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, spices and almost everything you need to make a proper meal. The “Mercado” concept, which is very popular in mainland Mexico, offers products from several small businesses that most of the times are specialized in certain items. They are located in open spaces which make the consumer feel as if they were going to only one store instead of a couple dozen.

Chef Ramsey was seen getting stuff from the local shops and was later tagged by Tom Holland, who was fishing in Ensenada, in a picture of some pretty good looking lamb shanks plate.

 

 

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Another Dead Whale Beaches, Now In Ensenada

Herbe Ortega, head of ZOFEMAT in Ensenada (The Marine Federal Zone office), reported that another whale corpse was found in the Loma Dorada beach.

The animal was almost 50 feet long and weighted about 20 tons.

Authorities from the environmental office are already working with CEMEX on getting the required tools to move and bury the animal.

This is going to be a lot easier than the one in Rosarito last week since that one was in a very hard to access location.

Ortega stated that the whale was already dead by the time it got to the beach so he recommended people to stay away from the corpse in order to avoid any kind of sickness.

Source: El Vigia

Love at First Bark

Kyle, left, 1 year old; Sarah, right, 3 years old. A love story from Los Adoptables, the magic kingdom where dogs and cats find happiness, a safe and healthy environment, and learn that humans make good pets!

Contact Los Adoptables for information about adopting Rock or any of his friends at the shelter. Call them at: (646) 187 8693, email info@losadoptables.org or visit their website www.losadoptables.org.

Ode to The Baja Queen

By Mark Tuniewicz

If you’ve lived in Baja California for a while, chances are you’ve met her, heard her name, or participated in one of her many activities:  Tillie.  Matilda “Tillie” Foster, who arrived in Ensenada in 1978, has a long and fascinating relationship with Baja California.  After building a home in the expat enclave of Punta Banda (45 minutes South of the city), she served in leadership roles with La Sociedad de Vecinos de Punta Banda, which included helping to raise funds for the local volunteer fire department.

Tillie is a gracious hostess, having worked with the Hotel San Nicholas & Casino for 25 years, retiring from there in 2014.  She has worked with diverse professional groups over the decades, including the Chefs de Cuisine of San Diego, the Cancer Association of BC and the Paella Mas Grande & Paella Competition in Ensenada.  In the early 1990’s, she organized the 1st International Baja Roundup for Alcoholics Anonymous, and volunteered to serve as a PR ambassador for the city at various travel shows in CA, NV, and AZ.

In March of 2019, my wife and I had a chance to experience Tillie’s work first hand when, at the age of 86, year, she again led a group on a guided tour to Guerrero Negro, where we stayed with the group for two days, during which we all enjoyed a life-changing whale-encounter experience!  Having a 50-foot whale and her calf approach your small panga and allowing you to pet them is a  life-changing experience!  This was Tillie’s 25th year leading “Tillie’s Whale of a Time,” and her relationships built over those decades permitted us access to all the best service providers and optimum dates.

Since 2000, Tillie has also served as the coordinator between Ensenada and the Southwestern Yacht Club in San Diego, assisting with their regatta planning, now in its 52nd year.  She also is the Ensenada contact for Sharp Hospital (Chula Vista, CA) Global Patient Services, arranging for helpful medical seminars in our area. Beginning in 2004, she also organized the Ensenada chapter of the International Association of Red Hat Society, which hosted 3 international conventions during her leadership tenure.

Of course, Tillie’s contributions have been repeatedly recognized over the years.  Here are just a few examples:

2001:  Presented with the “Amigo de Baja California” recognition award, signed by then Gov. Alejandro Alcocer.

2003:  Received a Philanthropic award from the International Foundation of Ensenada, the Rotary Club Calafia, and CETYS University, for her contributions to a philanthropic culture in the City.

2011:  Named to the Baja Image Committee as representative of the American community in Ensenada, representing the City through radio interviews with Travel Talk Radio, etc.  In August of 2011, she received a recognition award from the Mayor of Ensenada for her contributions.

2012:   Recognition Award from The US Consulate General in Tijuana for helping the American expat community that resides and travels in Baja, and for serving as a “Warden” for our area.  Also, she received another award, this time from the Governor of BC Jose Guadalupe Osuna, for her role in promoting Baja California.

Tillie gathered with friends at a local restaurant for her birthday last month and enjoyed live music, food, and camaraderie, with each participant sharing their own personal “Tillie tale!”

While she may have slowed down a bit at age 87, Tillie continues to work at home as a representative of the American community.  Tillie says “I love Baja, and have adopted Mexico, her culture and her people as my 2nd country.   Baja is a wonderful place.”

Indeed.  A place made even more wonderful thanks to our own “Baja Queen.”  Happy Birthday, Tillie!

Mark Tuniewicz serves with Tillie Foster as a Citizen Liaison Volunteer, or “warden,” for Baja California in coordination with the US Consulate in Tijuana.  He resides in Ensenada.

Que Pasa In Baja?

How long will the new state government last? Boy, has this been a toughie for our state. The standard governor term for each of the states in Mexico is 6 years and has not been changed for many years. This year, though, it was decided (before the elections), that the new government would only last 2 years in order to merge our next governor’s election with the federal midterms. The reason behind this change was supposed to be an economic one, as our state would be able to have fewer elections. This was seen as a good move, since our state had a whopping 5 different elections in the last 6 years, costing us millions of pesos.

The move was approved by Congress a couple years ago, but just a week ago (and after Jaime Bonilla from Morena was elected governor), the congress reversed that change and said that the government was going to last 5 years instead of 2, merging it with another election.

This was seen as preposterous by the federal congress, which said that the people had voted for a 2-year governor, which was now being converted into a 5-year term, and they deemed it anti-democratic. Local congress representatives were accused of receiving a million dollars each from Bonilla’s team in exchange for their vote in favor of extending his term, which is an entirely plausible assumption, considering representatives from all different political parties voted in favor of the move.

After much fighting between the state and federal congress, the actual governor has stepped in and said he won’t support the change, making it difficult but not impossible for the 5-year term to kick in.

Federal congress has gone so far as to saying that our state congress should be eliminated because of their anti-democratic spirit. All of the congress representatives that voted in favor are being threatened to be fired from their political parties.

We have yet to see how this turns out, as the state congressional term ends this month and a new one comes in, which could reverse the measure.

I’m doing my part, what about you? Hans Backoff, head of Monte Xanic winery and the current chief of the local wineries’ association Provino, stated that wine consumption in Baja has increased to 9 liters per capita, per year, although our national average is just 1 liter.

For comparison, the United States drinks 9 liters, Chile and Argentina drink 15 and 20 liters respectively.

Tijuana taxi companies pissed off. Taxis from Tijuana have threatened the city of Rosarito saying that they will stop taking tourists there, in retaliation of $400 USD fines imposed about 3 months ago for working there without the proper permits.

The fines are a result of Rosarito taxi companies pressuring the city to crack down on foreign transportation services, claiming that it’s unfair competition for them. For their part, Tijuana taxi companies say that they are not breaking any laws, because they don’t pick up tourists in Rosarito, they just take them there; also, other cities like Ensenada and Mexicali do not have any problems with this, because they deliver the tourists who will spend their valuable money in the destination they’re taken to.

Governor-elect promises cleaner beaches. Jaime Bonilla, our newly elected governor, has just signed an agreement with San Diego County that will allow them to work together in projects to clean local beaches.

San Diego’s port commissioner said that they can support the future government with 15 million dollars in 15 programs developed by them that will help put an end to beach contamination that originates in Mexico but affects San Diego county directly.

Beaches in Ensenada ready for tourism. The clean beaches committee in Ensenada stated that all the beaches in the city are suitable for swimming this year.

Officials from the local environmental agency said that contamination in local beaches are well below the norm, saying that samples were taken from La Mision, Playa Hermosa, Pacifica, Monalisa and La Joya, and all passed the test without any issues.

The city is encouraging the general public to avoid smoking on the beach, as in the 2018 international beach cleaning effort, the most common trash found in the sand was cigarette butts.

No more “chocolate cars.” Yeah, I’ll believe it when I see it, but as of press time, the governor-elect Jaime Bonilla has stated several times now that he will fix the problem with illegal cars circulating here in Baja.

Nowadays is hard to see a legal car at any stop sign, especially in Ensenada, where some officials are saying that up to 90% of vehicles in the city are illegal (meaning they haven’t been imported or have current plates).

The problem has been left to grow worse for many years, as it will be a political blow to whoever decides to crack down on these cars. The only solution, which has been tried once before, seems to be making a special program to regularize illegal cars cheaply and after that start cracking down on the newly illegal vehicles. ,

Punta Banda: From Scandal To A Diverse Paradise

BY LEE ROY AMATE

In 1995, as an immigrant to Ensenada from Oakland, California, I was invited to be a partner in a leading Ensenada law firm. The firm had power of attorney for three of Mexico’s most powerful banks.  Including Bancomer, whose investment strategy was aggressively seeking foreign investment; this policy was exemplified by their marketing to international real estate buyers in the form of “bank trusts,” the only guarantee for ownership rights available to foreign property owners.

Bancomer contracted our law firm to conduct a title search to insure a trust contract. The developer, Carlos Teran, had signed a joint venture agreement with the “ejido” (a farming cooperative), which had illegally taken possession of the land to be developed.  Ejido lands are regulated by the government agency RAN, which determines the legitimacy of lands being classified as ejido land (as opposed to private or government properties).

Someone at RAN adjusted the map at a time Teran started his development to include the Punta Banda peninsula.  A false report of title was issued, with the intent to defraud the foreign buyer into believing the ejido had the legal right to transfer title.

At the same time, local county and state government officials turned a blind eye to the development of Teran, thereby avoiding the bureaucracy and the costs of completing environmental impact requirements, land use, and building permits.

After 20 years, the title demand came before the Mexican Supreme Court. The ejido, Carlos Teran and 200 foreign investors lost the case to the legal property owners – Jorge Cortina’s father and his associates. As a result, 90 million dollars of foreign investment was lost. Many buyers sacrificed most of their retirement savings for a dream house on the beach they could afford.

The biggest loser was Baja California real estate investment and the environment. Construction was done with no review of environmental damage. While the fear of Punta Banda lives on in the minds of foreign investors– it was an international scandal.

Cortina has survived all of this and has created what I call a cultural center for the southern bay of Ensenada. His father built the “Baja Beach Hotel” there, referred by many Ensenada residents as the “Cantinflas project”. The actor appeared at the groundbreaking ceremony but was never a partner in the project. Jorge, unlike his siblings and his father’s former partners, decided he would spend the rest of his life dedicated to making the peninsula a successful property.

A musician himself, Jorge’s business plan is deeply rooted in promoting music by local artists, who combine their talents with retired “world-class” U.S.A. immigrant musicians. Jorge does this to enrich the music scene and provide employment for restaurant, bar, home maintenance and security employees.

Beginning on July 25th and proceeding through the 29th, Jorge has agreed to sponsor a 5-day spectacle to help several local non-profit groups: Los Abuelos, an assisted living center for older Mexicans whose retirement income is not sufficient for a dignified life; Los Adoptables, a rescue center for stray dogs and cats; an orphanage; a fishing club and an amateur baseball team that is a pride of Punta Banda.

This 5-day fiesta-celebration will bring Rock and Roll, Latin Rhythms and Blues to celebrate the wealth of talent we enjoy in the Southern Bay. That should be enough for the price of a ticket, but there is more! A world-renowned magician from San Francisco, plus our local illusionist Magic Mike, will also perform. Tickets are reasonably priced at $10 USD. Food and drinks are discounted by 20%. Profits will be donated by Jorge Cortina to participating donor groups.

I am pleased to see this community come together! It is the largest enclave of foreigners living in Ensenada. They are a much appreciated “new demographic” by this old immigrant resident.

Because of the internet, they are younger professionals who can work from home on the internet, a demographic that is assimilating with school-age children into the fabric of Ensenada.

Ensenada has always has been a welcome home to immigrants, even to Chilangos like Jorge Cortina! Thanks my friend, your dedication is much appreciated.

 

Photo by: Statelife.com

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

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?

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.

Don’t Miss The Seashells and New Wine Festival

Like every year, the Seashells and New Wine Festival opens the path of the regional wine festivities and although it’s not an official “vendimia” event because it’s a couple months before, its organized by Provino (the same guys that bring you the official wine parties) and its definitely a “mustn’t miss” for the season.

This year, the celebration will last for a whole week (packed with workshops, guided tours, lunch and dinner events in Ensenada and the Guadalupe Valley), starting on Monday, April 29 and ending with the main festival on May 5th on the grounds of Marina Coral Hotel.

The seashells and new wine festival represents an homage to local ingredients, with different activities that take the public to know, first-hand, how local sea products are handled, transformed and paired with local wines, reflecting all the goodness that this vast region brings to our tables.

Tickets cost 900 pesos (about 50 dollars), and you can get them online clicking here https://festival-de-las-conchas-y-el-vino-nuevo.boletia.com/. A wine glass that you’ll use for tasting more than 120 different bottles of local wines is included. Food samples from participating restaurants are also available and don’t have any extra cost.

If you don’t want to get your tickets online, you can also buy them at:

  • Hotel Coral & Marina
  • Viñas de Liceaga
  • Bodegas de Santo Tomás
  • Finca La Carrodilla
  • Lomita
  • Maglen Resort
  • Madera 5
  • Cuatro Cuatros
  • Hacienda Guadalupe
  • Cava Maciel
  • Decantos
  • El Cielo
  • Hotel Misión Santa Isabel
  • Muelle 3
  • Corona Hotel & Spa
  • Corona Del Valle
  • Viajes Kinessia
  • Acuacultura Integral de Baja California
  • Tienda de vinos La Contra

You can find the full program for all the events, online at: https://provinobc.mx/eventos/.

Samples are limited, so make sure to get there early to try everything! See you there.

 

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