Dolls and Balls Toy Drive

The Heart of Baja annual 1000 Dolls and Balls toy drive has started! 1000 dolls, balls, and other toys are needed to help children of all ages enjoy Christmas, Donations will go to the children of local orphanages, and those on ranches, farms, and in the hills.

You may drop unwrapped gifts at Charly’s Place (k 37.5); Los Amigo’s Restaurant (k 30); Judith Douglas Spa (k 40); Click-on Mailroom (k 40.5); Vista Hermosa (k 43 – formerly Bobby’s by the Sea); La Paloma (k 28); Chubbies Restaurant; and Mata Ashta (San Antonio del Mar). You may even schedule a pick-up by calling 442-273-7348. If you don’t have the time or inclination to shop, donations may be made online at www.heartsofbaja.com. Remember, this is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity, so all cash donations are tax-deductible on your US tax returns.

Do you shop on Amazon? Instead of going to Amazon.com, go to smile.amazon.com and enter “Hearts of Baja Children’s Homes Network” into your chosen charity. A percentage of your purchases will go to Hearts of Baja! How easy is that? Especially if you were going to order toys from Amazon anyway. Let’s help Rosarito’s children have a Merry Christmas!

Pulling Together After the Fires

In October, fires ran rampant through areas of northern Baja. Several areas of Rosarito were hit hard. This article will focus on re-building operations that have come to my attention as of the first week of November. There may have been additional fires, and certainly more sources of relief that haven’t yet come to light. But here’s what we know as of this writing:

We’ve already heard numerous accounts of individual suffering due to the tragic fires, so we need not reiterate those tragedies. Our focus here is to shed light on sources of relief and recovery.

The two main fire areas were in Rosarito in the Ejido Morelos/ Santa Anita del Mar area, about three miles east of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, where 20 – 30 homes burned. The other primary location is in La Mision, where approximately 40 homes burned, many of which were owned by expats.

One big difference is that most of the less fortunate Mexican homeowners do not carry home insurance, so when the home and/or car is destroyed they are left with nothing. Most of them work for mere pesos to begin with, and In many cases the fires destroyed their means and implements of income, such as food preparation utensils or house-cleaning supplies.

Here are the Facebook organizations that have come to my attention as of the Gringo Gazette publication deadline:

KSitas – on Facebook and www.ksitas.org; a 501c3 non-profit organization. Funds may be donated to https://ksitas.org/bajacampaigns. 100% of the money donated will go to building supplies and labor for rebuilding homes.

Colectivo Surf Brew Company (above White Horse Liquors) and local artist Jaime Carbo spearheaded this group. An auction of some of Jaime’s artwork is scheduled to aid the rebuilding effort. The first house is nearly finished, at a cost of about $6000 (USD). Their website is an excellent source of relief efforts.

Facebook: Baja Fire Victims – Led by Jackie Alameda (Of Baja Blues Fest) and Lisa Marlott, their group is working to rebuild 30 homes. They’re appealing to the public for food items, toiletries, diapers, building materials, medical supplies, blankets and sleeping bags. www.gofundme.com/f/baja-fire-Victims is their website. For more Information please call: 1-858-790-2380.

Facebook: La Mision Fire Relief Fund – and https://openarmsmexico.org. Led by Daniel and Heidi Elizarraraz, Directors. You may donate at the website through PayPal or with a credit card. Checks may be sent to Open Arms, PO Box 6605, Chula Vista, CA 91909. All donations are tax-deductible. Phone: 1-619-882-9001 or 01152-646-255-0858. Check their website for information on how to donate.

Kumiai Fire Relief Drive – to help our indigenous “first people” in the hills. Needed are non-perishable food, water, clothes, blankets, toiletries, wood, pet feed and cash. Drop off points are at Kumeyaay Community College, Monday-Friday, 10 am – 4 pm and Saturday / Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Manzanita Activity Center Monday – Friday 10 am – 2 pm, and Viejas Recreational Center, Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm. Contact Martha Rodriguez 760-445-7726 for information. Also Grace Sesma, 720-363-6034, and Brooke Baines, US 1-619-519-8264.

I must caution you about Go Fund Me pages where you are not personally knowledgeable of the person in charge. These may be used for good or for evil purposes. If you know the person or group hosting the page, by all means feel free to contribute, but tragedy attracts creeps who take advantage of the situation for their own personal enrichment. Make sure you know your money is being used for the purpose you intended.

There will certainly be more groups forthcoming. Please share through your social media, or by personal reference. Much help is needed. You may also take donations of clothing, household goods, etc. to the local Cruz Roja Thrift Stores in Rosarito and Primo Tapia, which help our community year-round.

Thank you so much for your support of the community.

Paellas Event to Benefit the Recent Fire Victims

In a recent press conference Rubén Barrau, presented us with the “Paellaton” event, organized by business groups CANACO and CANIRAC, in order to provide support to all those who were affected by the recent fires in the region.

This event will present an approximate of 27 restaurants that will be offering paella; with several bands brightening up the event. In addition, assistants will have the opportunity to participate in raffles for free nights at participant hotels.

The cost of the tickets will be $350 MXN (about $19 USD) which will include a plate of paella and a glass of wine, with all the proceeds going to those affected by the recent fires.

Tickets may be purchased the same day of the event at the box office, which will be held this Sunday, November 10, 2019 at the facilities of Riviera, Ensenada Social, Civic and Cultural Center starting at 12:00 pm.

Luis Tirado, president of the National Chamber of Restaurants and Seasoned Foods of Ensenada (CANIRAC), mentioned that some of the restaurants which will be present on the day of the event will be: Agua de Vid, Cantera, Casa Frida, La 4ta, La Cevichería, Mesón de Don Fernando, as well as several wineries and more.

Accountant Marco Estudillo, also an organizer of the event, said that they will be extra careful on the handling of the collected funds, making sure they get where they are needed the most, in the most transparent way possible. All proceeds will be clearly inventoried and channeled to both the firefighters and more than 30 families that lost everything to the fires.

Finally, Jorge Menchaca, president of the National Chamber of Commerce of Ensenada (CANACO), emphasized that the idea of replicating the Paellaton each year could be an alternative to solve community problems from inside the society itself.

Fins Up! It’s 5:00 o’clock Somewhere

There is a new social club coming to Rosarito and Ensenada. Many of you may already qualify for membership even if you don’t know it. If you have a “laid back” attitude, you enjoy having fun with people who are a lot like you, and escaping to the beach is your lifetime goal (and let’s face it…we are HERE aren’t we?) then you just might be a Parrot Head.

No, I didn’t just insult your intelligence. Baja’s two newest Parrot Head Clubs (yes, there IS such a thing) are submitting their charter applications this November for inclusion into the Parrot Heads in Paradise Inc., which was created back in 1994.

Now, these clubs are not just another excuse to party. But as Chapters President Larry Norman explained to me, their tag line is “Party with a purpose.” And we can “party with a purpose while supporting our community and have fun doing it!” Over the last 16 years, Parrot Head Clubs have contributed $53.5 million to charitable organizations all over the world, and members have donated 4.2 million volunteer hours to their communities.

Larry described the Club’s Mission Statement is to “promote friendship and organized activities for people that share an affection for the tropical spirit of singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and a desire to contribute to the betterment of our community and environment through a variety of volunteer efforts.” Just think, with all of the post-fire labor we all have been doing, those hours can be made part of our local Parrot Head charitable experience. The principle charities that will be supported by the Rosarito and Ensenada chapters are Hearts of Baja and Blues Against Hunger Society, which are charities near and dear to our hearts.

The first organizational meeting for the Ensenada chapter is 4 pm on November 12 at the Hotel Coral and Marina and in Rosarito November 14 at the Club at Number 18, Pikin Zip Line Park at 4 pm. Both meetings will be followed by a free three-hour concert by Mike Nash, one of Nashville’s top artists. Don’t worry if you miss the first meetings. The Parrot Head clubs will meet every month on the first Tuesday in Ensenada and first Thursday in Rosarito, with “It’s 5 o’clock” social hours to follow. Concerts will be performed every three months.

Mike Nash has played with Jimmy Buffet, Charlie Daniels, and Lynyrd Skynrd, to drop just a few names. He tours the United States, including Alaska, ever year in his motor home. Larry convinced him to come down to Baja as long as he was going to be in San Diego on his Stay Thirsty 2020 Winter Tour anyway.

I visited the Rosarito Chapter clubhouse, which is in Larry’s home and has been renovated into a club atmosphere complete with two indoor bars, comfy concert seating, fully stocked kitchen for food at the events, and (for sunnier weather) an outdoor bandstand with a beautiful ocean backdrop.

Membership is $20, and Larry hopes to have 40 Charter Members signed up during these first two meetings. But don’t worry if you miss the meetings as they will meet every month. Contact Larry at larrynormanctc@gmail.com or at US 1-619-554-2438 with any questions you have or to RSVP.  In time Larry would like to see more Parrot Head Clubs in Baja than in California (which has 6).

Some of you may still be asking “So why ‘Parrot Head?’” Originally it was said to be as “Dead Heads” followed the Grateful Dead, Buffet fans followed the message of Buffet’s music. For some reason unclear to me, these fans took to wearing stuffed parrots on their heads at concerts. So if this story has you humming “Margaritaville” right now, you just might be a Parrot Head.

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.

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