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.

Blues Against Hunger Super Jam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everybody else is self-serve for the day.

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

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

Helping Kids With the Blues Once Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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’.”

FRAO Office Brings Charities Together

Representatives of several of Rosarito’s charity organizations gathered together in the last FRAO (Foreign Residents Assistance Office) meeting to speak a few words regarding their functions. Robin Gunther was concerned that Rosarito’s 2012 Animal Law was not being enforced, which stated that tiny puppies would no longer be sold along the roadside. Baja California Spay & Neuter educates children in animal care, so that they are more aware of how to treat dogs and cats. To this date more than 20,000 animals have been spayed or neutered by this organization, and they receive no money from the City.

Susan Smith informed all about the Flying Samaritans mission to provide health care to over 300 persons a month who cannot obtain health care anywhere else. All doctors and volunteers are just that, volunteers. All money is from memberships, donations, and special events. Jackie Alameda mentioned that the Annual Baja Blues Fest provides funds for education, food, and transportation to many of Rosarito’s children. They also help with documentation for those deported into Mexico with no identification paperwork.

Jim Henshaw, soon to be elected to President of the United Society of Baja California (USBC), identified this group as being the hub of charities for the Rosarito area, and that the Society supports two students in medical university at this time. Mary Moreno, president of Cruz Roja Voluntarios Americanos of Rosarito described that all money received from the Rosarito Thrift Store goes to the Rosarito Cruz Roja Hospital and ambulance service and have just expanded the size of the store. Jeff Failing of Rosarito Sister Cities informed everyone that Sister Cities has been around since President Eisenhower’s creation in the 1950’s, and fully operated by unpaid volunteers, supplying police cars, vests and accessories to the police department, and books to children, pairing Rosarito to Cities in the US and around the world.

Dolly Duff took a few moments to introduce everyone to the DACA Dreamers Assistance Project that focuses on women and young adults who have been deported into Mexico with absolutely nothing, including identification, but primarily asks them to voluntarily deport themselves; and offers them housing, mentoring, job placement and skills to allow them a life in Mexico until they can legally return to the United States via Visa in the future. Mavourneen O’Brien mentioned a few words about the Club de Ninos y Ninas who supervise about 80 children aged 6 – 12, in the afternoons who have no other supervision. Volunteers with a hobby, talent or passion to share are encouraged to spend an hour a week sharing this entity with the children. They are now totally solar-powered.

FRAO meets every month, 10 am on the third Thursday at the Calafia Titanic Room (except December). The FRAO office is located on the ground floor of City Hall, room 108, open Monday – Friday, 8am – 3pm; 661-614-9600, ext. 1080. The office can help you with services including obtaining a driver’s license; residency, answer legal questions, and solve problems.

One of the main motives for this assembly was for foreign residents to complete a five-page survey entitled the “2018 Public Consultation.” Questions covered the topics of development in housing, business, government, and other factors. 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.

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