Que Pasa in Baja?

January 25, 2016 Edition
BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Rain ain’t over till it’s over. Local meteorologists announce that we haven’t seen the worst of the rains that El Niño is bringing us. More rain is expected from the end of this month until march and they are expected to be stronger than what we have already endured.

The recently dumped on us in the last few weeks highlighted how unprepared we are to receive it, since here in Baja it doesn’t rain that much but when we do get it, everything floods.

In Ensenada alone more than 500 reports where received by the police for flooding, fallen trees, car accidents and various rain related mayhem. One of the biggest issues was that it was impossible to avoid the potholes in the streets because they were full of water and you couldn’t see them.  This slowed down traffic even more.  So, in order to help announce the potholes and as a protest, self-declared good Samaritans/activists were seen stuffing their discarded Christmas trees inside the potholes.

The water level in the Ensenada reservoir did rise, but it’s still a long way from a full recovery since it was, before the rain, at an all-time low. And there isn’t much infrastructure channeling the water to the reservoir.  Most of the rain was in basements and washed out to sea.

Last call to kill. Step right up, you wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity. Tourism authorities announced the hunting season ends soon so you will have to hurry if you’re into this sort of thing. It’s open season on Tweetie until the second Sunday of February. You can also shoot Wylie Coyote and Peter Rabbit but why would you?

Of course you can’t just get out your gun and start shooting the place up you need a hunting permit which is easy to get. For more information about hunting in Baja call Bernie Jr. at Bernie’s Insurance in Rosarito at 661-6121028 and 661-6130692. Bernie is the administrator for the Rosarito Shooting, Hunting and Fishing club and he has some serious knowledge about this subject. Tip: Bernie and his club can also tell you how you can legally own a firearm in Mexico.

Toll road starts cracking. Several motorists started noticing new cracks around KM 95 a few weeks ago, just a little more than a mile from where the road washed out to china 2 years ago.  The crack, which seems to be growing, first became apparent after the heavy rains we received.

Luis Mendoza, specialist in the subject and a scientist for a local research facility, said that Km 95 was one of the areas identified as active regarding the movements of the earth but said that these new cracks were more likely caused by the rain helping to settle the dirt that has moved from seismic activity. Well, whatever the cause, sal si puedes!

Although CAPUFE authorities swear up and down the cracks are not dangerous, at press time they had already started working on repairing the cracks which should probably be finished by the time you read this. Patch? Patch? Like put a road Band-Aid on it? There’s a reason they call that area Salsipuedes. It means get out if you can. No kidding.

Pothole crisis in Ensenada. As we already told you, (pay attention! The pothole problem in Ensenada got a hole lot worst with the rain. (No, we’re not illiterate, that was a joke). Mayor Gilberto Hirata admits that 90% of the local streets are damaged and they need just about 60 million USD to fix them all. Of course the real problem is that they only have about $6 million in the pot hole kitty. Do the math: 5% of the problem will be fixed with half of the money. The other half will be lost down the rabbit hole at City Hall.

You’ve got to pay those pesky bills. The National Water Commission (Conagua) office in Ensenada has been virtually abandoned since its electricity was cut off December 22 of last year. Turns out the local water department owes about U.S. $50,000 on the bill.

Nor is there money for office supplies. And field inspectors can’t get out to the field because there’s no money for gasoline.

The only expense that continues to be paid is employees’ salaries, even though they cannot work. The few staff in the office this week said payments have been punctual. But that money comes out of Conagua’s central offices.

This mess follows fraud charges last fall against the former communications director, Miguel Torres Ponce. It is alleged that his wife had her hand in the cookie jar.

The Ensenada office reportedly terminated Torres Ponce’s employment, although he claimed he quit after being offered another job.

Then Ledesma Romo himself decided it was time to go. He finished work December 31, leaving to follow “other aspirations.”

Office staff were not hopeful that the problem would be resolved any time soon. One report said other Conagua offices are facing financial problems as well, but Ensenada’s is the first to have its power cut off.

 

Chinese journalists visit us. Well actually Asian American as they all live in L.A. They are here to learn about the area to write about.  They were invited by the tourism office. Lily Ho was in charge of the tour and she said this was the first of many tours they have programmed for Asian American people to visit Baja.

The journalists visited Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo, the wine valley, La Bufadora, they went all the way down to San Quintin to visit a seafood processing factory, and then they crossed our state border to Guerrero Negro to see the whales.

The tour operator said the selling point of their tour is the whale watching. Good thing we are capitalizing on that with stops along the way.

Too bad about all the Chinese restaurants in Tijuana that were shut down for serving dog meat recently. Must have been a big disappointment for these Chinese people to miss that. They are probably the only people who will ever eat Chinese food in Mexico again.  

Kiko pow wows with tourism honcho. Our state governor, Kiko Vega met with our national tourist chief Enrique de la Madrid. The governor reported there was a lot of discussion about continuing to boost medical tourism and strengthening the film industry in Baja which has seen very good growth lately.

Zofemat cleans in Rosarito. The rains brought to the beaches tons of trash, weed (not the smoking kind) and even rattlesnakes, said Juan Manuel Armendariz, ZOFEMAT chief in Rosarito. On the last report he said that about 200 tons of trash was recollected and they were about 70% complete on the cleaning. And the worst rains hadn’t begun!

Tourism money coming. Our state governor stated that about $10 million will be spent this year for tourism and that about $ 4.3 is going to be spent in promoting Baja as a tourist destination and the other $6.4 is destined to improve or build infrastructure.

Oscar Escobedo, chief of the state tourism office, stated that the main segments that are benefitting by this money are adventure, conventions, medical, wellness and health, nautical and cruise ships, and wine & gastronomy. Sorry developers and Realtors, it looks like no tourism money is coming your way this year, but hey, let’s look at the positive side of the story:  if we can get more people here you have a chance to sell more of those units.

Ives Lelevier -sub chief of the state tourism office said they were expecting an 8% increase this year with Rosarito, Tijuana and Ensenada getting most of the benefit of course. Lelevier said the money that will be invested this year in tourism is historically the largest budget they have ever had.