Que Pasa in Baja?

November 16, 2015 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Ensenada needs hotel rooms. The state tourism office released a statement announcing that Ensenada could get 25% bump in tourism if they just had more rooms. The average room rate went up about 5% this year because of the squeeze on rooms. A brand new, 60 room hotel is under construction right in front of the municipal beach on the boulevard, but besides that, not much construction is going on.

Oscar Escobedo, head of the tourism office, stated last year that Banyan Tree was going to build a new 200 room hotel in the wine valley but a start date has so far not been released. In fact, the project has been in the media since mid 2007, when it was announced that Banyan Tree and Monte Xanic winery had gone into cahoots to develop a luxury resort in their vineyard, complete with 40 pool villas, but 8 years later we still see no sign of any pool villas. Which is it, 400 rooms or 40 pool villas? More importantly, when are they going to build it?

Hot tip. With hotel rooms so tight anyone renting out all or part of their home on sites like www.airbnb could pick up some serious cash. You can even rent out one bedroom, and it doesn’t have to be a palace, anything that is clean and tidy rents on these sites. You just have to price it realistically.

El Sauzal protests. Remember El Sauzal? That’s the fishing town next to San Miguel, just a little north of Ensenada. Well, we just heard about a big huge enormous pretty sizeable 3,500 housing development near there, just behind the Pemex plant. This will be low cost housing, about 450 square feet, which is pretty chica. 

By the very next day the neighbors were already organizing to protest the proposed project, saying this will only bring problems to the area. (Read: poor people who rob). Well, they do have a point in saying authorities have proven incapable of providing services for the current residents of El Sauzal. They say sticking low income people in low income housing will only generate more lack of services.

Also, neighbors scored a couple points by saying that El Sauzal is part of the entrance to Ensenada and that a project of this kind will only negatively affect the image of the city, and that the land can be put to a lot better use. And that these poor people have just got to suck it up and move to the back of the bus, er, the barrio..

Baja economy on the rise. Carlos Bonfante, secretary of economic development, released a statement that Baja has been growing steadily for the last 3 quarters. This last quarter it grew 6.2%, positioning us as the Mexican border state with the best performance and the fourth best performing nationally.

An interesting fact presented was that the secondary sector (manufacturing, construction and mining,) and tertiary sector, (commerce, tourism and services,) grew 11% and 4% respectively while the primary sector consisting of agriculture, livestock farming and fishing actually decreased 0.2%. It seems like we are leaving behind the primary sector and opting for a value added economy, suggesting that the country is actually gaining in education and investment.

New tourist module in the valley. A permanent tourist information booth was donated by the Bodegas del Valle winery. The module will be located on their premises at KM 82.5 of the main road in the valley and will be staffed by students from a local private university.

The information booth will be open from Thursday to Monday from 11 AM to 4:30 PM year round. That’s why they’re calling it permanent.

Tourism officials said the cost of the kiosk was footed by Bodegas del Valle and the tourism office was providing the brochures to give out.

Ambulance trafficking. The federal police dismantled a cocaine trafficking operation and confiscated 38 kilos of the drug. An air ambulance which was supposedly waiting to transport a terminal cancer patient to New York was parked at TJ international airport and the “patient” arrived aboard a ground ambulance with 2 paramedics in attendance. When the 3 bags of the patient were sniffed out by police dogs, they found the cocaine. The pilot, copilot, 4 paramedics, and the so called cancer patient were all arrested. Well, a dying guy with 3 suitcases was a big clue. What did he need besides a pair of pj’s and a suit to be buried in? We’re just saying,

Toll-road to be reinforced. Finally, CAPUFE (the office in charge of the toll road,) has decided to reinforce parts of the toll road that have not washed out to China yet but are undercut by the ocean and are hanging on by just a few dirt clods. An investment of around $50 million USD was announced for KM 87, 88 and 90. Retaining walls and infiltration galleries are planned there, to let the waves come in without taking the road out with it.

Wine Valley wants magic. The tourism office and the city of Ensenada were looking for the wine valley to be designated a “Publo Magico”, Spanish for magic town. A magic town in Mexico is a special designation given by the federal secretariat of tourism to promote certain towns that offer visitors a “magical” experience. More than 110 towns already have this designation, which allows them to receive special resources from the federal government to promote and improve the town’s image.

Unfortunately for us there are certain requirements that are still not met by the valley to be designated magical. It will still need some work regarding the streets and the image of the town in order to qualify.

Oscar Escobedo, our state tourism honcho, said that although the wine valley was not designated as a magical town, for him it’s much more than that. He said “There are more than a hundred magic towns, but there is only one Guadalupe Valley”. Sound like sour grapes to us.

Marine taxi service. Fishermen in the Popotla village of Rosarito were called upon by the state tourism office to set up a transportation service for divers who are expected to start visiting the underwater park that will open this month. Authorities said that from around 250 fishermen in the area only 75 have boats, and of those, only 15 have the necessary requirements required by the harbor master to offer this kind of service. In the meeting it was agreed that officials were going to help the remaining boats to get whatever they need so they can also offer the service.

Killer deer in Mexicali. In a weird turn of events, a red deer from the Mexicali zoo killed its caretaker when he went into his pen to feed him. The Canadian red deer rammed against the zoo keeper just when he turned around on him, killing him instantly. Zoo authorities say that the man was well experienced, having worked there for 12 years now, since he was just 18. They also said no charges will be filed against the deer, as she was in heat and had become aggressive and that the guy should have known better than to turn his back on her and bend over. Yikes.