Que Pasa in Cabo?

October 19, 2015
BY: DAVID FLORES

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Welcome aboard. Actually, we townies are not welcome aboard the cruise ships. They have guards to keep us off the tenders that take the hoi poloi back to the ship. However, a record season for cruise ships is expected, according to Hector Montaño, manager of API, the company that operates the Cabo San Lucas marina. More than 78 of these monsters will anchor in Cabo between this month and the end of the year.

Some days will see multiple arrivals, with two to three ships visiting at the same time. Montaño added that between this October and next May we will have hosted around 200 cruise ships. That’s about 700,000 pilgrims, who will leave behind an estimated $45.5 million in purchases of Cabo Wabo T-Shirts, assorted trinkets, tacos, lots of beer, and some margaritas.

Also, many people see our beautiful selves for the first time from these cruise ships and like us so much, they come back for their next vacation, staying a week or more. Then they buy a timeshare, so now they have to come back every year. The cruise ships are important to get that ball rolling.

Food fest in LaPaz. This Saturday, Oct. 24, La Paz holds its annual paella festival along the malecón from 8 p.m. till midnight, featuring live music. Tickets are 400 pesos (about $24.00) at the entrance to the event.

Paella is an ancient Spanish rice dish that originated in the city of Valencia. It is widely regarded as Spain’s national signature dish, as well as a regional Valencian dish so popular that the Valencians regard paella as one of their identifying symbols. Types of paella include Valencian paella, vegetarian/vegan paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella. But there are many others as well.

Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, and seasoning such as saffron, which turns the rice into a chirpy yellow color, and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. And don’t forget the snails. Paella’s got to have snails.

San Jose organic market. The San Jose organic market opens again Saturday November 7, and every Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm until they toss in the towel next spring.  The market is located at Huerta Maria, on the road to Las Animas, directly across from the Jockey Club, and just minutes from the back door to downtown San José.

If you are interested in being a vendor, fill out the application form on the market website: http://mercado.tmake.mx. If you were a vendor last year, you may log in to your existing account and fill out the application for this new season. The organizing committee is also looking for volunteers and is particularly interested in anyone who would like to provide workshops and entertainment. For more information, email info@sanjomo.com or look up www.sanjomo.com Cell. 624 108 4235, Office 624 142 0948. This is the mother of all the local organic markets and gets a lot of foot traffic. There is a map to it on their website.

The scoop on Cabo beach access. In Mexico, all beaches are public, says the law. No coastal land can be privately owned within 60 feet inland of the mean high tide line.

However, the growth of hotels and private home developments along the coast of Los Cabos has left very few beaches accessible to the people from the barrios. Cristina Medina,  until recently on the city council, launched while still in office an effort to recover all beaches and enforce the regulation that states that tourist developments must provide passage for local residents to access their beachs.

Medina and other city councilmen and women drove and walked to each beach in Los Cabos and discovered the following: the Medano beach portion between Villa del Palmar and Ocho Cascadas resorts is closed off by a private individual, who claims he has rights to the beach from the federal government. There is a legal battle for this portion, as it is also an arroyo (dry river bed), and is not supposed to be sold or leased to anyone. There is currently access, even by car, but only after you pay about $1.20, and do not even think about asking for a receipt.

Other beaches with no access are in front of the hotels Casa del Mar, Melia Cabo Real, Marquis, El Dorado, Cabo Colorado, Rancho Cerro Colorado, Espiritu del Mar, El Ganzo, The Welk resort, Pueblo Bonito Sunset, Diamante, RIU, Hacienda Encantada and Santa Carmela. The properties that do allow access are the Pedregal , Solmar, Finisterra Misiones de Cabo, Punta Ballena, Hilton, Cabo del Sol (limited) and The Cape.

Beaches that are easily public are Palmilla, Acapulquito, Costa Azul and Las Palmas in San Jose, along with Chileno, Santa Maria, Las Viudas and Medano in Cabo San Lucas.

Our new mayor Arturo de la Rosa and his city council members have promised that they will enforce article 45b of the urban development law for the state, which states that no one who owns property near a natural access to the beach can prevent anyone from entering, or must leave an open passage of at least seven meters wide. Sure, but every past mayor has promised the same and nothing has been done. However, now that the locals are growing more restive, it is expected that some change will take place. Or not.

The outgoing mayor has looted the city, stripped it pretty much bare of anything of value, and the people are whining about beach access. Sigh.

More Agundez grief.  Turns out former Mayor Tony Agundez gave more than 300 temporary workers permanent contracts just a few days before he left office last month. This in addition to a 1.2 million pesos (some $71 million USD) public debt he left us, the highest in the history of Los Cabos.

New Mayor Arturo de la Rosa and his staff have declared  those contracts illegal as due protocol was not followed, and are currently revising the city payroll. The workers’ union has agreed to a compromise, and it is expected that 500 city workers will be laid off soon. Also, the new mayor of La Paz has begun laying off employees. The total could reach 1,000 city workers that will be gone. Many in both cities will have to be paid severance, which could amount to millions.

 Why is your bar closed? Because in the waning days of Tony Agundez’s administration, the fiscal inspectors were taking cash payments for permits and stuffing it in their pockets. So some bars have signs reading clausurados on them while others are facing fines and interest charges.

Where’s the water? There isn’t much coming out of your tap if you live in the territory of the desal plant because it is not working again. No parts to fix it, no will to fix it.

Sad state of vehicles, offices. It is estimated that 80% of our police vehicles are broken down and abandoned in junk yards, many of them cannibalized for parts. Additionally, many garbage trucks are out of commission, which has caused an accumulation of trash in the streets of many neighborhoods of Los Cabos to the tune of 4,000 metric tons. Fortunately, Mayor Arturo de la Rosa was able to cut a deal with the dump truck drivers’ union, which has joined in the clean up effort, and the trash should be whisked away soon.

The hundreds of official vehicles, mostly medium and small sized sedans that city officials used, were rentals and have been repossessed by the rental company for non payment of fees.

And when the new mayor gained entry to the city offices, many of those offices were found to be looted or with significant damage caused by hurricane Odile a year ago and never repaired. Such is the case in the tourism office, police headquarters, the city theater in San Jose, and the cultural pavilion in Cabo San Lucas, which was condemned as dangerous.

Why didn’t the citizens object? Because they were fiddling around marching for beach access. Sigh.

Can we say it one more time? People generally get the government they deserve.

Foodie weekend.  Rancho Pescadero resort has announced two guest chef weekends, Nov. 12-15, and March 24-27. The weekends are full of activities like brunches, wine tastings, cooking classes and four course dinners on the beach, as well as the usual outdoor activities like mountain biking, fishing, surfing, horseback riding and hiking. Rancho Pescadero is a 29 suite ocean front hotel 45 minutes north of Cabo, on the road to Todos Santos.

You may sign up for the weekend package for $250 per person and if that sounds high, remember that includes a very prestigious Rancho Pescadero apron. No word on getting one of those cool tall, puffy white chef hats, you might be out of luck there.  www.ranchopescadero.com

Tourist development cancelled. Mexico’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) once again issued a resounding no to the massive Cabo Cortés coastal tourism project near Cabo Pulmo.

Although the environmental permit for the controversial project was revoked in 2012, the company behind it never gave up hope and never abandoned their legal challenge. As a result, last fall a tribunal court in Mexico City ordered SEMARNAT to revisit the decision by which the project’s permits were withdrawn. In effect this opened the door for the project to potentially move forward again.

SEMARNAT’s latest decision, however, closes this door once more – and this time it could be forever and ever, end of story, project dead, kaput, it’s muerto, move on.

The local community feared the development posed a threat to the fragile coral reef nine miles down the beach and launched a campaign to stop it. Although Cabo Pulmo is a very small community, thousands in Los Cabos, La Paz and other areas of Southern Baja were mobilized to joined them. And why not? These people weren’t doing anything important, like holding their mayor accountable for looting their city. Yeah, we’re pissed off about that, can you tell?

Lecture series. The first in the six part Todos Santos Speaker Series, “Exploring the Spirit of Baja California” will be held by Graham Mackintosh, explorer and author, on Friday, Dec. 4, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm at the Todos Santos Cultural Center in Todos Santos.

In 1983 Graham Mackintosh was a lecturer at West Kent College in England when he set out to walk around the entire coastline of Baja California. Emerging from the cactus-strewn wilderness two years and 3000 miles later, Graham returned to England to write the now classic, “Into a Desert Place,” which earned him the “Adventurous Traveler of the Year” award. Graham is an accomplished speaker with vast experience of 30 years exploring the Baja peninsula.

Donation of $100 pesos will go towards supporting the presenters’ missions. (Hmmm... don’t we all have missions? My mission is to spend the evening at Tanga Tanga, could I have 100 pesos for my mission, please? Why doesn’t he just say there’s a charge?)  Seating is limited. Doors open at 5:00 and the presentation will start at 5:30 sharp, no Mexican time, here, this guy is a Brit, so show up on time.  Advance tickets are available at El Tecolote bookstore in Todos Santos. Signed copies of his books will be available. To support Mac’s missions, we suppose.  http://www.grahammackintosh.com/Pages/default.aspx. For more information contact Kate Lewis jaymsi@yahoo.com, 612/145-0295.

Wanna learn about Baja flora? That’s plants and stuff. Sign up for the second in the six-part Todos Santos Speaker Series: “The Amazing & Diverse Flora of Baja California” by Jon P. Rebman, Ph.D., curator of botany, San Diego Natural History Museum on Friday, Dec. 18, from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Todos Santos Cultural Center in Todos Santos.

Dr. Rebman is a scholar and author of the Baja California Plant Field Guide. “Many of the plants from the peninsula and surrounding islands are distinctive. The doc will be sharing his extensive plant knowledge and his cool snapshots. Signed copies of his book will be available. Donation of $100 pesos ($120 at the door) will go towards supporting the presenters’ missions. Here we go again. What’s with these “missions”? Seating is limited. Doors open at 5:00 and presentation will start at 5:30 sharp. Advance tickets available at El Tecolote Bookstore in Todos Santos. Information: Kate Lewis jaymsi@yahoo.com, 612/145-0295. If you email Kate, ask her what’s with these mysterious missions. We suspect she’s trying to avoid saying the fees support these guys’ habits. We admit we’re slow to catch up on the latest politically correct speak.