Que Pasa in Cabo?

BY: DAVID FLORES

Local biologist awarded. Graciela Tiburcio is a young biologist who has devoted 21 years of her life to protecting endangered species in Mazatlan, La Paz and Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico. 16 years ago she moved to Cabo San Lucas where she first directed the sea turtle protection program of Asupmatoma, a non-profit turtle hugging group.

The city hired her a few years later to run the government’s program to protect sea turtles and in that capacity she started an education program that involved beach resorts in the protection program, developing dozens of nurseries where eggs deposited by turtle mamas were guarded 24/7 by the local hotel security staff.

Most of the local schools were also involved in the program, and during hatching season kids learned about the several species of sea turtles that come back every year to deposit their eggs. The kids get to toss the newborn turtle babies into the sea when they’re ready to go. 

Creating these programs earned Tiburcio the individual category Award to Ecological Merit from Semarnat, Mexico’s environmental protection ministry.

Uh oh. At a recent city council meeting, Councilwoman Cristina Medina brought up the idea of suspending Chileno Bay’s construction permits, saying the sprawling upscale residential project is slipping on fulfilling their obligatory donation of  public works to the community. Developers fees here are pretty casual. Instead of paying high fees to pull the permits, the developers are supposed to donate some infrastructure somewhere. It was suggested that the Chileno Bay developers do something like expand the public parking lot,  or relocated the city water pipes that cross their land, and, most importantly, how about that big old Olympic pool that’s pending, as soon as somebody decides where.

The council called Daniel Urrea, the developer’s representative to explain. Urrea apologized profusely and said it slipped through the cracks and would be taken care of  in a Mexican minute.  A second meeting was scheduled for next week.

New hospital. But not for everyone. The Los Cabos City Council approved the donation of 60,000 square feet  for the construction of a hospital for ISSSTE members. That’s the acronym for the government health system for government workers. Only bureaucrats get patched up at those hospitals. Ground breaking day will be announced in a Mexican minute.

Airport traffic expected to soar. The Los Cabos International Airport is operating five percent below traffic volume for the same time period last year; however, it is expected to end the year with a record breaking number of 3.6 million passengers flowing through the facility. .

This has allowed airport operator, GAP to continue investing, and they have reported that repairs at terminal 1 will be finished in October. Building the private terminal will be expanded which will allow the airport to welcome double the number of private aircraft. In addition, the group is investing $1 million in new, modern equipment for its fire department. Would it be pushy to enquire why they can’t keep toilet paper in the bathrooms? And why did it take a good six months to fix the escalator? That was a hike up those non moving stairs with luggage. It just doesn’t give off a positive first impression of Los Cabos.

Pacifica resort expansion Pueblo Bonito Pacifica in Los Cabos has entered its second phase of development, 10 years after its opening of phase one.

The adult-only, all-inclusive property, 10 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, is adding two towers totaling 47 rooms, including a presidential suite and six suites with private pools. Room count when the project is completed will total 201 rooms.

These two buildings, named the Quivira Club after the nearby cliff-top Quivira Golf Cub, designed by Jack Nicklaus, will offer enhanced room amenities, and each floor will be staffed with a butler. A third new building will include a Mexican-Mediterranean restaurant on the first floor, an oceanfront gym on the second floor and a VIP lounge on the third floor, accessible from the Quivira Club buildings via a sky bridge. Targeted completion date is October 2016. During the expansion period, the latest technology will be used to control dust and noise, according to Enrique Gandara, vice president of sales and marketing. Latest tech? You mean watering the dirt twice a day? Well, it does work, although it’s not real high tech.  Current Pacifica services and amenities, including pools, spa, restaurants and bars, will not be affected during the expansion, he said. That is a very tranquil resort, with no children allowed, and it is heavy on the mind body thing, with lots of mediation tossed in. No children allowed.

Cabo Villas grows too. The time-share resort on Medano beach will begin construction of yet another building this year, going from the initial 142 to over 300 rooms and suites overlooking Cabo Bay. Yikes! The land already appears to be fully built out, where are they going to put the additional 158 rooms? Well, the Cabo Villas have served notice to the owners of the Baja Cantina Beach Club right in front of the timeshare high rise that they need to get out when their 10 year lease is up in December. Chris Erickson, spokesman for the family that owns Cabo Villas refused to tell us what his plans were for the beachfront property that will be vacant when he beach club leaves.

It’s raining! The rainy season, which is normally short here in the desert  began early this year. Last Sunday, a heavy rain fell on San Jose, accompanied by thunderstorm and lighting. A boat anchored at the Santa Maria Bay was struck by lighting, which fried most of its equipment leaving only one engine working – which allowed the guys to limp back to the Cabo marina for shelter and repairs.

Several streets in San Jose and the fourlane toward the international airport were flooded due to water running down the normally dry riverbeds, while Cabo San Lucas remained mostly dry, hot and humid.

The southern part of La Paz was flooded, along the Forjadores Boulevard, which is the one you drive on when coming in from Cabo. Several vehicles got washed away for a few hundred yards, some with at least 10 people inside. Some people had to be rescued by city and state police, as well as firemen.

New desalinization plant planned. After months of begging, finally Mexico’s national water commission, called Conagua, approved spending thousands of dollars to study the feasibility of building a second desalination plant in Cabo San Lucas.

As much as $650,000 is authorized to perform four different studies to build the second phase of a desal plant in Los Cangrejos barrio, north of Cabo on the Pacific side. Cabo lacks natural water sources, so they have to pump water from San Jose and from the existing, half-functioning desal plant. As many as 40,000 people are constantly suffering from lack of regular water supply, having to resort to purchasing loads from water trucks at a cost of $5 per gallon. The no good desal plant bought from Spain, has been a loser since it limped to its own opening.

Although the San Lazaro dam in San Jose will contribute an additional 20 gallons per second, the need for Cabo is 50 gallons per second – and it is growing, with more and more people moving over from the mainland. The cost of the new desal plant is estimated at $34 million.

Grow a pair! The long battle to stop the Los Cardones gold mine in the Sierra La Laguna took an unusual turn last week when the document moving approval of the mine operation was signed by Socorro Fiol, the La Paz director of urban and ecological development.

As soon as the document became public, local residents led by the Citizens Front for the Defense of Water and Life marched on city hall to confront Ms. Fiol. Challenged by mine opponents to explain why she had signed off on a land-use change to permit the Los Cardones mine to go ahead, Fiol Manriquez said she had been pressured into doing so. She claimed that municipal general secretary Marco Núñez Rosas had pressured her into signing, but told mine protesters and reporters she intended to revoke that approval. City officials end their three-year term this December. Yup, that’s what we like in our elected representatives, weak chicks who can’t stand up for themselves, let alone for the good of the city. Sigh.

Americans picked on. Well, it’s our own fault. Since American credit cards have not changed to the chip system as Europe and most of the rest of the world has, thieves in Mexico are targeting tourist destinations so they can rip off the old fashioned cards they carry. They are more at risk of becoming victims of card skimming because the magnetic fields on the back of their cards are less secure than the more modern chip-based cards used in the rest of the world.

New chip cards and readers are coming to the U.S. but the process is a slow one. Merchants have been given an October deadline to replace their readers or assume responsibility for the cost of fraud from phony cards. The banks don’t want to switch to the new system because the chip cards more to manufacture. It’s actually cheaper to take the hit when a card gets compromised.

We’ve seen plenty of cloning of cards, and skimming, too, especially at the ATM in front of Mega in San Jose. That one is notorius and Mega, who is happy to take the rent for the machine, will do nothing about it. Skimming occurs when the bad guys insert a card reader into the ATM slot where your card slips into. Your transaction goes through OK, and you never know  that’s where you lost control of your card.

Good bye to Baja Cantina Beach Club.  The only adult hang on Medano beach, the only restaruant that doesn’t blare music at teenage levels, is getting kicked out of their spot in December when their 10 year lease is up. Cabo Villas spokesman Chris Erickson won’t say what they’re planning for that location, just that they want it back. Pleeeze not another beach blanket bingo place. For now the food is probably the best on the beach, and even the service is not bad by local standards, so enjoy it while you can.