Tijuana-Tecate Passenger Train Announced

Mario Escobedo, head of the state economy and tourism office, said that the Tijuana-Tecate passenger train is already on the works with an initial investment of 136 million USD for a 17 miles section.

He stated that the train would be a secure, sustainable option to connect with Tijuana and Tecate, with seven stations and two terminals. A minimum of 30,000 passengers are expected to use the train every day.

This project should not be confused with the already present tourism train that goes from Tijuana to Tecate (pictured above).

Initially, the project considered a route to Ensenada. And although the plan hasn’t been cancelled, Escobedo stated that “it’s not a priority right now”, mainly because the current state government administration will only last two years and will not be able to finish a project of such magnitude.

Plans to Renovate Binational Park on the Border Launched

BY JACKIE BARSHAK

“Build That Park” organizers launched a 12-month long public education and design development campaign to raise awareness and solicit input for a proposed bi-national park along the Mexican/U.S. border, where California meets Baja along the Pacific.

Hugging the boundary of the wall in Tijuana, the site is home to Friendship Park and the binational garden of native plants, which serves as a gathering site for a community advocating unrestricted access to both sides of the border. To the north, on the very southwestern corner of the U.S., 1.5 miles south of San Diego, a wildlife refuge inside Border Field State Park forms the perimeter to the other side of the border wall. On these and other expanded sites, including the bull ring to the south in Tijuana, chief architect James Brown envisions a park embodying values of peace, friendship, cooperation and security.

During the year-long design phase, input will be solicited from stakeholders, community activists, artists, designers, grassroots organizers and first nations people. Engagement with the public is key to formulating conceptual design plans that will be unveiled on August 18, 2021, the day marking the 50th anniversary of Friendship Park.

Building parks in cities sharing frontiers has historical precedent. At the US/Canada border crossing, green lawns and flowering gardens of Peace Arch Park, straddling British Columbia and Washington State, gives rise to a dramatic white arch, a symbol of peace, honoring the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812. On the Mexican border, the white stone border marker in Tijuana’s Friendship Park stands as a monument to the end of the 1848 U.S. Mexican war and the signing of The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. “The terms of that treaty have relevance to building a park on the border today”, said James Brown, “reciprocal benefit, cooperation and security for both countries outlined in that historical treaty are the values guiding the new park design”.

The design process will draw on a peoples’ history and the collection of personal stories woven into a visionary plan for the park. There will be international competitions for the design of vertical gardens, outdoor event spaces, interpretive centers with conference rooms, trolley terminals and pedestrian walkways, among other structures proposed in the building plans.

Spanning the two frontiers, the binational garden will encompass an expanded area, with greater opportunities to link shared ecosystems divided today by artificial political boundaries. Binational cooperation of the landscape will enhance control of exotic invasive plants and restoration of native flora. “After 15 years of working in the garden”, said Daniel Watman, founder of the binational garden, “and dreaming that some day the garden would outgrow the walls and end militarization, I’m ecstatic about the prospect of expanding native flora across barriers to bring people together and form collaborations that will improve the region we share”.

The fate of two countries sharing a border are linked. A binational park on the Mexico/U.S. border can serve as a model and living symbol of peace between the two nations, exemplifying what can be achieved through cooperation and collaboration.

Visit www.buildthatpark.org for more information about the project and to learn how you can help.

Baja California’s Gastronomy Brings Together Top Chefs in Tijuana

Hospitality, good music, flavorings, and gastronomy defined the first edition of Sabor a Tijuana, where 25 international chefs participated and shared their knowledge and culture through their dishes.

“Tijuana tastes like the arms of a mother who extends them to everyone who comes here so that they can do well,” said Miguel Ángel Badiola, president of the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Spiced Foods Industry (CANIRAC).

Chefs from different countries like Spain, Germany, the United States, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Mexico, from some of the top restaurants of the world, that have won Michelin stars and Repsol Suns, participated in the event.

“The fact about these chefs coming to Tijuana for the curiosity of what Baja California represents in the gastronomic field, not just to the local community but the international, it makes us feel proud,” president of Canirac said.

Sabor a Tijuana involved eight months planning with the idea that the participant chefs would be cooking only with local products, also making the biggest aguachile of the world, a paella contest rated by experts from Spain, as well as the laboratory “Metallica Vive la Vaca”, which consisted of roasting meats from different exotic animals.

Another characteristic from this gastronomic meeting was the installation of a 360 kitchen for attendees to witness the complexity of the elaboration of different dishes just like Oscar´s Calleja, head of Annua Restauant (winner of two Michell Stars and two Repsol suns) considered to be one of the driving forces in today´s kitchen.

The main reason for the event is to promote the gastronomic offer of Tijuana, Baja California, Badiola insisted. Also, to promote the goodness of local products, and recalled that Spanish chefs compared the event to Madrid Fusion in Spain, which is held in Europe.

“A dish can convey beauty, happiness, complexity and culture. With that slogan in mind, the festival was created were Tijuana and its gastronomy were the protagonists”, concluded the Canirac president.

Xano Saguer and David Lopez from Spain; Alvaro Clavijo and Harry Sasson from Colombia; Palmiro Ocampo from Peru; Paco Mendez and Berenice Madrigal from Mexico, as well Oscar Calleja from Germany, just to name a few, completed the guest list.

More than 45 stands and food trucks of food, wine, distillates, beer, and souvenirs, as well as conferences and other activities, completed the experience in the esplanade of the Caliente Stadium, which gathered, according to the organizers, more than 15 thousand spectators.

Tony Botella from Spain, added that the particularity of the region makes it enviable to many.

He pointed out that there are ingredients from sea and land, making Baja an endearing part of any chef´s kitchen.

Meanwhile, Michel, one of the attendees at the first edition of Sabor a Tijuana, said: “The attendance was very good, considering that for Tijuanenses these are complicated days because in December they spend a lot; however, I hope that this is not the first and last time of the festival. It has been a very good experience.”

 

In numbers:

  • 8 local chefs
  • 17 international chefs
  • 15 workshops
  • 12 conferences
  • 15,000 attendees

 

SOURCE: Milenio Diario

PHOTO: Sabor a Tijuana Facebook Page

Baja Burns!

Wildfires have been a common sight in Baja for years, but we had never seen something as extreme as what has been going on for the last couple days.

Severe heat and dry Santa Ana winds have caused dry vegetation to burn.

4 people have been reported dead, 2 in Tecate, 1 in Tijuana, and another one in Rosarito. Almost 100 houses have been lost to the fires, most of them yesterday, which was the day that had the worst Santa Ana winds condition.

About 50 families were evacuated from Real Del Mar, which was impressively affected by the fire.

Incredible enough, two persons were detained for causing fires that, in one case, resulted in one death. One was detained in Rosarito and another one in Tijuana.

For a couple of hours on Friday, both the toll road and the free road were closed because of the fires that were making driving there dangerous.

Authorities are recommending drinking lots of water to and of course avoid being near fires, sometimes it doesn’t look as bad until its too late.

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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Curls for days

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Astronomical Views in Tijuana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexican Immigration Is Checking Your Status

A few checkpoints and even some raids have been set up by the Mexican Immigration Office in Tijuana in order to check the immigration status of foreigners living here.

Alejandro Ruiz, head of the office in Baja California, stated that these efforts were initiated because of the massive influx of Central American immigrants that got here in recent months, but that they were not limited to them. Any foreigner that passes through an immigration checkpoint will be asked for its documents, and Ruiz says that these operations will continue for months to come. Although there have not been any reported deportation of US citizens this might be an excellent time to consider legalizing your status here. At the time authorities are being lenient with people that have expired permits but are they are said to be following up on their renewal.

Alexander Magnum, the coordinator of the Foreign Residents Attention Office in Rosarito, stated in FRAO’s facebook page that it was important for all Americans living here to have legal residency documents in order. He is gathering signatures from foreigners to try and lower the USD 1,200 minimum income requirement for temporary residency to $900.

Although the process of getting your temporary or permanent residency in order is not as difficult as it is in the US, most foreigners never start the paperwork since immigration laws were not really enforced around here.

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. ,

Que Pasa In Baja?

Germans interested in our wine. A group of Bavarian businessmen visited the wine valley last week in order to analyze the production potential of the area and the possibilities of collaborating with local wineries on different projects.

Specifically, local wineries were invited by the German company Nuremberg Messe to participate in upcoming beverage fairs from the Bavarian region that will include a section of international wines this year.

The executives visited several local wineries, including Roganto and Decantos, and also had a chance to enjoy the wine museum.

Baja safe for tourists. But very dangerous for criminals, at least that’s what our state tourism honcho, Oscar Escobedo, is preaching around Baja. He also stated that Baja has a lower crime rate among tourists than the state of California in the US. When asked about the spiking murder rates, he was quick to give the now official response “the majority of those cases are from folks in illicit activities.”

Off-road museum still no go. The controversial off-road museum in Ensenada still hasn’t been able to break ground, even though the state government says that the project is funded and the construction project done.

The state is saying that the project needs to be executed and managed by the local business groups, focusing on making the museum self-sustainable from ticket sales or trinkets sold at its gift shop.

The museum has been controversial because a big part of the community in Ensenada is against the project. The biggest issue is that the building would be just next to CEARTE, the local art museum, in a piece of land that was initially destined to build classrooms for art students.

Meter wars go on. Ensenada doesn’t make up its mind regarding the placement of parking meters around downtown; first the council approved the proposal to put up the meters, and now, after a contract has already been signed with a private company, the city is saying it wants to back out of the deal because of the enormous backlash they got from the citizens of Ensenada.

At this point, it’s cheaper to just install the parking meters and let the contract run its 18-year course than to pay the millions of pesos the company will demand if the council prohibits its operation; but of course, there is a political cost of approving such an unpopular move that no one wants to pay.

Baja Speaks English. That is the name of an initiative presented by congressman Carlos Torres, with the support of educative authorities and business groups, for concrete actions to take Baja all the way to the number one in the list of states with higher percentages of bilingual folks.

“Today, there is a language that can open doors to our kids and young boys and girls. A tool that allows us to even the opportunities between the privileged and the ones that have had less opportunities”, said Torres.

Baja California is the 57th region in the world with the most people that are able to speak a foreign language; Mexico as a country is 14th on the list.

Torres stated that a person who is fluent in English has the opportunity to earn 30% more than his non-bilingual counterparts.

The program will consist of a special set of benefits for companies that offer English class scholarships for its workers, and also by providing these benefits to English-language schools.

Hell breaks loose in San Felipe. After the Navy “accidentally” shot a Totoaba poacher in San Felipe, several fishermen protested violently at the Naval base and the protection agency office by burning cars, pangas, and buildings. Two more people were shot when protestors started throwing Molotov cocktails at the naval base buildings.

Fishing for Totoaba has been illegal in San Felipe for several years now because of its protected species status, and also because the area is declared as a protected space in an effort to save the Vaquita porpoise.

Better think twice about that beach bonfire. Rosarito officials from ZOFEMAT (the ones in charge of the federal zone at the beach), stated that they will be coordinating with the local police to crack down on beach fires; they are saying the activity is now prohibited because of the high level of contamination that the fires leave on the beach.

They also said that 110 new trash cans are being installed in local beaches so tourists can easily take their trash to the can and not leave it in the sand.

We’re going to be rich! A new initiative by state congressman Alejandro Arregui will allow citizens to collect damages when something bad happens because of the condition of the road.

If the law is passed, you will be able to sue the local government if you bust a tire, or your suspension when you fall in one of those enormous potholes that abound around here.

If that doesn’t seem far fetched, Arregui also proposed that the government has to take into consideration the amount of money “not earned” because of the time lost due to the accident, and says that it all has to be resolved in a maximum of 30 days by city or state officials.

If this initiative passes, our cities will go broke in 5 minutes, probably 2 for Ensenada!

Luxury Living In the Heart of Tijuana

Tijuana has been historically overlooked by expats moving to Baja who until recently favored almost exclusively beachfront properties. With Tijuana’s rapid business growth and its newly-found vocation as one of the country’s hottest gastronomy hubs, that trend is changing; and now, every day we’re seeing more and more Americans choosing to live in Tijuana to take advantage of its big city feel and especially its closeness to the United States.

Dalias by Hacienda offers a guarded, double-gated community nestled inside one of the most sought-after, and safest communities in Tijuana: Hacienda Agua Caliente. Well-known for its park, and beautifully kept gardens, Hacienda has been able to improve the quality of living of its residents since it opened more than 20 years ago.

Residents here don’t have to worry about the inconsistency on city services as Hacienda provides its residents with its own trash pickup service, street cleaning, public lighting, sewage maintenance, and water pumping as well as gardening of common areas.

Designed by the award-winning “Anonimous” (sic) architectural firm from Mexico City, every home in Dalias makes perfect use of each foot of space.

Two basic models are being offered: Glow and Golden, although variations of each can be chosen. The Glow model features 2,950 sq/ft of construction, two-story, 3-bedroom homes with 3-½ bathrooms, while the Golden model offers 3,800 sq/ft of living space, also offering 3 bedrooms but with bigger spaces, 4 complete bathrooms plus 2 half-bathrooms and a gorgeous game room on the third floor. Both models have  fully-equipped service rooms on the lower floor and spacious outdoor patios and carports.

The way these houses have been perfectly designed in a way that takes advantage of natural light in every corner is impressive, and gives each property a special positive feeling.

Its location is unmatchable, being just 15 minutes from malls, the border, Caliente stadium, and  Campestre Golf Club. Dalias is right in the middle of everything good going on in Tijuana.

Houses range from $340,000 to $560,000 depending on the model, lot size, and finishes you choose. With less than a year on the market and only 28 properties left, the remaining properties are not expected to last long.

In-house direct financing is available from 30% down, with the rest to be paid in 10 years; qualified individuals can also get a loan from local banks that could be paid in 20 or more years, with a much lower monthly payment.

If you’re up for an interesting living space, right in the middle of one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, Dalias is definitely the place for you.

To learn more, please visit their website at www.haciendaaguacaliente.com or call them at (664) 397-7621. Mention the code GNHAC01 when you call; that will get you a free $100 USD Starbucks card if you qualify for an appointment.

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