Que Pasa in Baja?

BY: OLIVER QUINTERO

Tourism on the rise. We’re just starting the season and already our governor, Kiko Vega, is saying we’re up 11% compared to last year. Then how come everyone’s crying the blues about business? Maybe we just like to complain.

Hector Rosas, representative of the State Tourism Office, said that his office has supported events as a sustainable way to increase tourism in the state.  “We are working together with the private sector in order to deliver a better tourism product to our visitors and generate more interest by potential tourists”,  said Rosas.

Big fire in Sierra de Juarez. For an area that doesn’t have a forest, we sure came down with a big forest fire. Since June 20th Sierra de Juarez has been burning. Let us do the math for you, so you don’t have to go get a pencil and paper: That’s 18 days.  The fire has been declared a federal emergency since two days into the burn because that status brings in dinero from the state and feds to pay the firefighters.  Around 40,000 acres of pine trees, grass and shrubs have been burned so far, heavy emphasis on the grass and shrubs. The military, along with municipal, state and federal workers pitched in to stamp out the fire, authorities even brought experts from Durango to help. The fire left a lot of destruction of our precious grass and shrubs, but, since the area has a very low density of houses, only lit up one house.

Two new political parties. Like we need more! Last week two newly formed political parties obtained their official registry from the electoral council. These new parties are only registered in our state, so they are not allowed yet to do any business outside Baja Norte borders. Their names are “Peninsular party of the California” and “Municipalist Party of Baja California”.

In order to create a political party in this state, you need at least 2,500 affiliates in your party from all the state, which these two newcomers surpassed by about 1,500 for the first one and a little more than 500 for the second one. Some people say that creating political parties is a good business because you get money from the government at election time in order to promote your candidates. It’s not like they think they are going to win, right? They actually hope more to sway the more popular candidates’ policies.

And since we’re on the subject, another thing about political parties: This election cycle that just passed, and there were six candidates that were elected with no party affiliation. This pissed off the main parties so much that they quickly jammed through a law making that illegal in the future.  Those parties don’t want anyone getting elected that isn’t beholding to them.

Watch out for manta rays! Roberto Calderon, who’s with the local public university, said that during the summer season about  four unlucky people are stung by rays every day on local beaches. He said the sting from the ray is designed to rip the hell out of the skin on its way out and leave venom inside. Ouch

His best recommendation if you get stung is to go to a lifeguard or a doctor since they are trained to deal with this kind of bad stuff. He said the worst wounds were from people that didn’t go to a doctor after being stung and it got infected.  And no, do not pee on it, that’s an urban legend, and didn’t we just address the issue of infection?

San Diego Zoo does the Wine Valley. Did you know we have a small zoo in Guadalupe Valley? It’s called the Jersey Park, because it’s owned by the Jersey milk brand.  They have lots of different play areas for kids, a couple of pools and a train. Just last week San Diego Zoo workers made a friendly visit to the zoo in order to support it, teaching new techniques to their Mexican counterparts on how to care for the critters and programs to improve the living spaces of the more than 64 species that call this zoo their home.

Perla Jimenez, park coordinator, said  they have a very good collaborative relationship with the San Diego Zoo. “This trip down here  we received very good comments from them because of the good care we are taking of the animals. It’s very motivating for us that they like to come here and help us,”  she said. For more info go to http://www.zoologicojersey.com.

We got a say in tourism now . Baja has been named a governing member of the council of tourist promotion of Mexico. This is a big deal as only eight states have this status. It  allows Baja to decide where and how to invest resources to promote Mexico as a tourist destination.

“It’s an honor for us to be part of this select group, which demonstrates that we are doing good things here in Baja. Basically now we will be at the meetings with the tourism secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu, where the strategic decisions to promote our country are made,” said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, head of our state tourism office. And, of course, our guy Oscar will be there to make sure we get our fair share of tourists directed to our state.

Our budget for promotion here in this state is about $800,000 dollars while the budget for the national council is about $34 million USD.  Oh boy, we can hardly wait to get our hands on some of that loot.

Good holiday for us. The 4th of July holiday was good to us. Kiko Vega, our governor, is saying that we got at least $6 million more than last year from tourists who came here, for a total this year of around $56 million. He also said that we hosted around 212,500 tourists during the weekend. Business associations from Tijuana and Ensenada reported an increase of somewhere between  20% to 30% in sales over last year. We’re on a roll!

New bike ride. The organizers of the Rosarito-Ensenada bike ride are bringing us a new ride that is being called Ruta del Vino. The route starts and ends at the Guadalupe Ranch in the Guadalupe valley, with a glass of wine included. The ride is 37 miles long and should take you from two  to three  hours to finish, unless you’re a real wimp. Around 6,000 participants are expected.

Water for the farmers. Governor Kiki Vega has announced letting bids for the construction of a desalination plant in San Quentin just south of here.  It’s the first project to be developed through a program of a public-private partnership.

The growth of this agricultural area has been stunted by a diminishing supply of ground water as the huge influx of farms has drained the groundwater below the level of sustainability. Currently San Quintin farms can barely get 135 liters of water per second from various wells, but demand is 218 liters per second. The new plant is designed to generate 250 liters per second, with the possibility of expanding this capacity to 500 liters per second.

 The Gov pointed out that 10 years ago there are one third as many acres planted now then were planted 10 years ago, and this impacts employment which impacts the economy of the state. He said with the desal plant we will be able to recover arable land.

There is also a desal plant in Ensenada that’s under construction.

Workin’ the crowd. Rosarito’s Cruz Roja  volunteers were the top contributor of all organizations to this year’s Cruz Roja Collecta. Those are the people wo stand in the streets shaking their buckets at you as you drive by.

We, (what, you weren’t out there? Shame on you!) collected over $5000 U.S. to donate to our local medical industry. This money all stays in the community, paying for our ambulance service and  hospital. Way to go!

Oh no! The government of Baja California, through the state Ministry of Tourism, thinks Rosarito needs a shot in the arm and they think they have just the prescription.

They are fretting over the high rise condo buildings that were abandoned during our Time of Troubles a few years ago. Many of them have sprang back to life now that the Gringos love us again and investment capital is back, but many are still mired in legal and financial wrangling.

Now the wise guys at the tourist buereau have cooked up a scheme to get the buildings vibrant again, and economicaly viable. They’re calling their scheme timeshare. Sigh.

Chinese anyone? No? Too Soon? Yes, too soon. Last month several Chinese restaurants in Tijuana were caught serving dog. When health department officials, (they have those in Mexico?) went into the kitchens and the backyards, they found dog carcases and still live dogs penned up in cages. They were all shut down. Now seven of the 25 restaurants that were closed have already re-opened their doors to the public.

So far 85 percent of the restaurants have opened again. Of the 25 businesses fined for various infractions, 17 are open again and four more are still burying Rover and scrubbing the kitchens. The other four have taken no steps. We’ll just wait a bit longer, meanwhile we’ll enjoy a good plate of Mexican.

Happy birthday to us. 20 years ago Rosarito Beach became its own boss, breaking away from Tijuana which it was a division of then. 

Way back in 1983 a committee was formed to invesitgate the feasability of breaking away, and eight years of negotiations later, in 1995, the State Congress authorized the legal formation of Playas de Rosarito.

The governor of Baja California, (that’s our state, Bunky), was Ernesto Ruffo who appointed Hugo Torres, owner of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, as the first mayor. Torres was instrumental in the breakup, as he felt our tax money went on a one way ride to TJ, and we were not seeing enough in city services to explain our high tax base.

To commemorate this historic event, there were a bunch of parties you didn’t get invited to. They were boring anyway, as mostly they were a stroll down Memory Lane, with various government officials congratulating themselves on how far RB has come since she broke out on her own. And now she’s all grown up.