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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Paipai Indians Art


by Robin Waters

The Paipai Indians - also known as Akwa’ala - occupied the northern Sierras in the interior of the northern Baja California Peninsula. Their original territory included the lower Colorado River valley in the present day municipios of Enseñada and Mexicali, as well as adjacent areas in western Arizona, southern California and northwestern Sonora.

The Paipai first encountered Europeans when Sebastián Vizcaíno’s expedition mapped the northwest coast of Baja California in 1602. Later, in 1780, the Dominican mission of San Vicente was founded near the coast in Paipai territory. It became a key center for the Spanish administration and military control of the region. In 1797 San Vicente was supplemented by an inland mission at Santa Catarina, near the boundary between the Paipai and Kumeyaay territories. The main modern Paipai settlement is at Santa Catarina, a community they share with Kumeyaay and Kiliwa residents. Santa Catarina is located approximately 50 miles east of Enseñada, about a three-hour drive from San Diego.

These indigenous people have retained much of their traditional knowledge; and many of them provide for their families, as they have for thousands of years, by harvesting from their land natural resources such as yucca, pine nuts, honey and firewood, and by raising livestock and crops. Some of the Paipai Kumiai people earn their living by making traditional arts and crafts to sell, such as pottery, bows and arrows, and by weaving willow, pine and juncus baskets, including agave fiber carrying nets. Some of the men also work in Guadalupe Valley as cowboys or farmers, as well as on their own ranches.

Daria Mariscal lives in the Paipai community of Santa Catarina, Baja California, Mexico, and is an artisan in the traditional style of pit fired pottery. That is also where Daria quarries her own clay for each of her fired pots. She often teaches pottery making classes and has taught on the Viejas and Barona Indian Reservations in San Diego County; and hopes to introduce her workshops in San Felipe.

Daria also weaves baskets with juncos, palm and piñon pine needles. The sales of her pottery and baskets go toward the construction of a planned family museum and store in her community, to help the tribe.

Santa Catarina Paipai Kumeyaay Indian traditional arts and crafts also can be purchased at the Shumup Ko Hup “Dream Come True” Indian store. You can find Daria’s listing in the Artists’ Directory. The store is owned and operated by San Diego Kumeyaay Indian families, who currently are converting the business to online sales only at www.howka.com, telephone 619.573.991.

This California Indigenous artist’s authentic work is available in San Felipe to those who call Wendy Doman at 686-114-4976 or e-mail soleilsoul@gmail.com.

Kayak Rocky Point

After seven years of traveling Mexico, Roland and Tammy Mondragon decided Puerto Peñasco would be their new home and the home to Kayak Rocky Point, their new kayaking business. That was a year ago last month.

If you want to enjoy the waters of Puerto Peñasco in a personal way, providing memories and pictures to last a lifetime, Kayak Rocky Point offers every imaginable kayak opportunity from hourly through weekly rentals, group discounts, delivery for non-hourly rentals, guided kayak tours for snorkeling, sightseeing & swimming. “Our specialty tour is the Estero Morua, a large estuary just north of Las Conchas. It’s here we can ride the tide in and back out.”

Try kayak fishing or diving in the Hobie Outback SUV with the Mirage Pedal Drive system. It is medium size and weight with the pedal drive and has two water proof storage areas large enough for fishing poles and a exterior cargo area that is made to hold dive tanks. Just like an SUV!
They also provide snorkeling, skim boards & fishing equipment for sale or rent. Boat charters for sunset tours, coastal cruises, parasailing & bird island as well as all levels or distances of fishing or diving.

If you get to Puerto Peñasco, look up Roland and Tammy and tell them you want to see their SUV. Follow the main road BENITO JUAREZ to the OLD PORT/FISH MARKET AREA, they’re the entrance in the yellow building at the fork in the road.

For more information
or to place a rental by phone;
USA toll free: 866-687-2510
Cell phone: (011-52) 638-103-2038
Or e-mail us at kayakrockypoint@aol.com!

Free Diving in Rocky Point


By Rita Pizarro

Carlo Bonacci, is a Geriatric Neuropsychologist that spends much of his time with the elderly with mental problems and memory disorders and the other time holding his breath.

“Diving into the open blue water, feel yourself getting deeper and deeper, feeling the pressure of the water heavier and heavier on you, you are floating there and when you stop swimming and you continue to sink, but at a certain point you reach negative buoyancy which is freedom, like flying underwater.”

The proximity of Puerto Peñasco to Arizona and its less crowded waters, along with the local ambiance and character makes the area a favorite of Carlo.

Free Diving Areas:
  • “The Reef” just before Cholla Bay in Sandy Beach.
  • Don’s Pond, a little preserve with a lot of marine life.
  • Bird Island (boat needed, many charters available; see Kayak Rocky Point). Great structures and you can dive anywhere from 2 feet to 80 feet and see all kinds of life.
Carlo’s preferred fish is Sardinera, a good size grouper, or the abundant triggerfish. “We only fish for what were going to eat that day, we cook it ourselves or once in a while, we take it to a restaurant and they cook it for us.”

As a spear fishermen, you are intimately immersed in the environment and have an impact, the goal of free diving is to have the least amount possible.

• Don’t fish for Gulf Grouper in May when they’re spawning.
• Know your fish because many are endangered species with rapidly dwindling populations.
• It’s against the law in Mexico to spear fish with scuba gear.

Best to dive on the low tide swing, not on full or new moon, best time is half moon. “I like diving on incoming tide more than outgoing tide, on flat tides an hour before or after high tide or the hour before or after low tide.”
If you’re interested in getting into the sport of free diving, always understand the local conditions and take someone with you, and be aware of the tides and currents. The most important things is to get in the water and follow your curiosity.

Rita Pizarro is a Local Massage Therapist and Freelance Writer, special thanks to Tom Thomas, Home Inspector for the picture and edition, we can both be reached at 602 748 4134 or ritapizarro@gmail.com,

Fly-In Medical Aid for Baja

Photos and words by Robin Waters

The Flying Samaritans are a volunteer organization which operates free medical clinics in Baja California, Mexico. Doctors, dentists, nurses, translators, pilots and support personnel fly to clinics in private aircraft. Through a cooperative agreement with the University of Baja California, the teams are sanctioned as Invited Teachers. Flying Samaritans is organized in 10 Chapters, with currently over 1500 members, and serves 19 clinics.

In Northwest Mexico, the Tucson, Arizona Chapter works in El Rosario. The Modesto-Central Valley Chapter goes to San Felipe. The Palomar-Bonsall Chapter works in Rosarito Beach and has an Eye Clinic in Tecate. The San Diego Chapter flies into Valle de Trinidad, to name just a few chapters in the Northwest area.

The history of the Flying Samaritans began on November 16, 1961. San Diego County was socked in by a dust storm prompted by a severe drought. A magazine owner took off from La Paz, Baja California, Mexico in a twin-engine Beechcraft piloted by Aileen Saunders. In those days, travel by small plane in Baja was challenging mainly because of deceptively soft terrain that often precluded any take off after a forced landing, the absence of any radio-equipped airports below Tijuana and the lack of lighting at most landing strips.

Although the weather was good at La Paz, when they landed about three hours later in Bahia de Los Angeles, they were told there was a rumor of strong winds in the greater Los Angeles area. Forty-five minutes after taking off again, they encountered gusty sandstorms that blocked out Tijuana. Failing to pick up Tijuana or San Diego, Aileen decided to try for a landing in Ensenada. However, about three minutes before landing, the weather closed in completely and they lost sight of the ground as well as the 5,000 to 7,000 foot peaks in the area. They were finally able to climb over the storm. At this point, low on fuel, Aileen knew there were few landing options. She chose a clearing on the mesa top of a mountain outside the village of El Rosario, where they landed safely.

The plane had been heard circling and a villager drove up to retrieve them. He took them to Anita Espinosa’s local general store. Anita was half Pima Indian and half Italian and had been educated in a San Diego Mission school.

Mama Espinosa, as she was known to many, began to describe the devastation from the drought and the pitiless existence of the local people. She said she would be grateful for any clothing contributions, especially for the children. Not only were the people of the village impoverished; but many were unwell.

The next day, safely back in San Diego, Aileen and her friends began collecting donations for a return relief flight to Baja. On the Saturday before Christmas of that year, an armada of single-engine planes departed for Baja, every one loaded with toys, food, clothing and good will. Among the volunteers was a doctor. Once in El Rosario he was mobbed by needy people, and so was born the Flying Samaritans.

The vision of that first pilot, Aileen Saunders Mellott, and her untiring efforts to enlist volunteers, along with her valuable contacts with both U.S. and Mexican officials, facilitated the transport of equipment and supplies necessary to establish the original clinic at El Rosario and, later, the second at Colonet.

If you would like to become a member, a sponsor or donate to this wonderful group, you will find further information at: www.flyingsamaritans.net/international
or contact Walter J. Shimon MD 209-966-9596 or email: wjs41@aol.com.

Cruz Roja Mexicana to the Rescue

by Lisa Shannon,

SAN FELIPE CRUZ ROJA - Cruz Roja Mexicana, San Felipe is the only organization to provide Emergency Medical Services, answering 70 calls per month, on average. Ambulance response is the main assistance provided, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

On February 25th, 2008, in a formal ceremony with Mexico’s president, Mr. Felipe Calderón, San Felipe received eight ambulances for Baja California. A local dedication ceremony was held on March 14. The new equipment, worth US $2,800, was donated by the San Felipe Rotary Club. The equipment includes a new monitor-defibrillator, an oximeter, a complete laryngoscope set and other essential rescue items, including equipment for an Advanced Life Support Unit with general supplies as part of the ambulance’s supplies.

Currently, Cruz Roja is working on various projects under the leadership of Nefi Ramírez García, who started with Cruz Roja in September 1985. “I started at the Mexico City earthquake as a first time volunteer with Rescate de Michoacán,” he remembers, “but in 1990, I moved to serve as a Red Cross volunteer at Morelia Michoacán. This year I will celebrate 18 years serving in Cruz Roja Mexicana.” In April 2007, Mr. Garcia was invited to serve as the General Administrator or General Director of the local chapter (delegación).

Financial support comes from the “Monthly Donor Program,” a personal commitment to donate 100 pesos monthly. The program’s goal is 500 donors, or 50,000 pesos per month. This funds the ambulance crews, local radio dispatchers and full-time, professionally certified EMS personnel. An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification project is underway to train five local EMTs for ACLS certification.

Mr. Garcia says that the community can help Cruz Roja in one major way: prevention. “We like to serve, but we do not desire accidents. If people respect transit laws, use safety belts, wear a helmet on motorcycles and minimize risks at home, we will receive few emergency calls.”
Cruz Roja provides community training for CPR, Disaster Preparedness and First Aid. The organization’s funding depends upon individual and personal donations, which are necessary to support Cruz Roja because it is a socially-based organization and receives no governmental funding. Its operational costs are 110,000-120,000 pesos per month.

Contacting Cruz Roja is simple: for emergency calls, dial 066 from any cellphone or landline. Bilingual staff in Mexicali will take the address and report. The local telephone number (for emergencies and non-emergencies) is 686-577-1544. For non-emergencies, administration/public office hours are 9M to 9PM Monday-Saturday. Feel free to visit the administrative office and ask to see the accountability books, records, statistics and bank accounts; these belong to the community and are open to anyone wishing to see them to learn what Cruz Roja does with every peso it receives.

Cruz Roja thanks San Felipe for supporting this essential part of the community, and Rotary Club for donating the emergency equipment. This community deserves the most professional emergency response possible. Cruz Roja is looking to be such a provider, but it will take time, money and lots of help.

Donations can be made in person at the Cruz Roja medical office or by deposit into the CRUZ ROJA account. All checks should be made payable to CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE, I.A.P. or CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA, BBVA BANCOMER, Cuenta No. 0156279244 CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE I.A.P. Supplies, medical and EMS equipment can be donated at the medical or administrative office. More ambulance equipment is still needed: C-collars, backboards, first aid supplies, glucometers, newer defibrillators and vital sign monitors.
Emergency: 066 / San Felipe: 686-577-1544

Cruz Roja (Red Cross) to the Rescue

by Lisa Shannon,

SAN FELIPE CRUZ ROJA - Cruz Roja Mexicana, San Felipe is the only organization to provide Emergency Medical Services, answering 70 calls per month, on average. Ambulance response is the main assistance provided, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

On February 25th, 2008, in a formal ceremony with Mexico’s president, Mr. Felipe Calderón, San Felipe received eight ambulances for Baja California. A local dedication ceremony was held on March 14. The new equipment, worth US $2,800, was donated by the San Felipe Rotary Club. The equipment includes a new monitor-defibrillator, an oximeter, a complete laryngoscope set and other essential rescue items, including equipment for an Advanced Life Support Unit with general supplies as part of the ambulance’s supplies.

Currently, Cruz Roja is working on various projects under the leadership of Nefi Ramírez García, who started with Cruz Roja in September 1985. “I started at the Mexico City earthquake as a first time volunteer with Rescate de Michoacán,” he remembers, “but in 1990, I moved to serve as a Red Cross volunteer at Morelia Michoacán. This year I will celebrate 18 years serving in Cruz Roja Mexicana.” In April 2007, Mr. Garcia was invited to serve as the General Administrator or General Director of the local chapter (delegación).

Financial support comes from the “Monthly Donor Program,” a personal commitment to donate 100 pesos monthly. The program’s goal is 500 donors, or 50,000 pesos per month. This funds the ambulance crews, local radio dispatchers and full-time, professionally certified EMS personnel. An Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification project is underway to train five local EMTs for ACLS certification.

Mr. Garcia says that the community can help Cruz Roja in one major way: prevention. “We like to serve, but we do not desire accidents. If people respect transit laws, use safety belts, wear a helmet on motorcycles and minimize risks at home, we will receive few emergency calls.”
Cruz Roja provides community training for CPR, Disaster Preparedness and First Aid. The organization’s funding depends upon individual and personal donations, which are necessary to support Cruz Roja because it is a socially-based organization and receives no governmental funding. Its operational costs are 110,000-120,000 pesos per month.

Contacting Cruz Roja is simple: for emergency calls, dial 066 from any cellphone or landline. Bilingual staff in Mexicali will take the address and report. The local telephone number (for emergencies and non-emergencies) is 686-577-1544. For non-emergencies, administration/public office hours are 9M to 9PM Monday-Saturday. Feel free to visit the administrative office and ask to see the accountability books, records, statistics and bank accounts; these belong to the community and are open to anyone wishing to see them to learn what Cruz Roja does with every peso it receives.

Cruz Roja thanks San Felipe for supporting this essential part of the community, and Rotary Club for donating the emergency equipment. This community deserves the most professional emergency response possible. Cruz Roja is looking to be such a provider, but it will take time, money and lots of help.

Donations can be made in person at the Cruz Roja medical office or by deposit into the CRUZ ROJA account. All checks should be made payable to CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE, I.A.P. or CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA, BBVA BANCOMER, Cuenta No. 0156279244 CRUZ ROJA MEXICANA DELEGACIÓN SAN FELIPE I.A.P. Supplies, medical and EMS equipment can be donated at the medical or administrative office. More ambulance equipment is still needed: C-collars, backboards, first aid supplies, glucometers, newer defibrillators and vital sign monitors.
Emergency: 066 / San Felipe: 686-577-1544

Blues and Arts Forever!

The Second Annual Blues & Arts Fiesta was a huge success! The reviews are in and everyone agrees this was the beginning of something great for San Felipe. Changing lives through music and art.

“The Blues and Arts Fiesta was a lot of fun and great music and the artwork was beautiful. One of the highlights of the event was June Snow Castro, owner and editor of the “Gringo Gazette”, says Katherine Hammontré from Kat’s Korner (http://www.sanfelipe.com.mx/news/kats_korner.html). “Also honored Third Generation for their contribution to music in the last 12 years. “Good music - great people - good job Lion’s Club, John and Rachel Pack, Robin and Paco and all the volunteers who helped kick this event off. Good job!”

Randy Kerr of Blue Roadrunner (http://www.blueroadrunner.com/BluesArts2008.htm) said “Yesterday marked another of San Felipe’s forays into the area of music festivals. This one, following close on the heels of Woofstock, was closer to its phonetic precursor, having the spacious venue of the baseball field and by far the largest performance stage ever constructed in San Felipe. The sound system, with its rastra of speakers the size of boxcars, had the nearby hills beating like hearts.

“the benchmark for future music festivals. It was well marshaled, providing ample seating, lots of shade, adequate trash disposal, good parking and the scenic backdrop of our local mountains against providential blue skies.

Thank you to all the bands and artists, to everyone for attending. Thank you Friday night set-up crew Wayne Chiavacci, Paul Preppernau, Gene Jensen, Ian Thompson, Bill Cartwright, Bob and Debbie Lux, Dan and Audrey Coffman, Roger DeVaul, Mike and Dawn Miller, Rick Wagner, Robin Waters, Mary Shliff, Hal “Paco” Clark, John and Rachel Pack, Armando Rubio.
Octavio Ascolani for help with Tecate and Robin Waters, who started in September of last year locating artists.

Thank you to Jim and Shirley Moore for the extremely moving and memorable pre and post party, to Pam Pastore and Barbi DeVaul for facilitating incredible lodging for all the bands, to Denny Flannigan for keeping the show moving and fun and Bill Maine for great support on staging and production, Baja Productions for an amazing job on stage and sound and William Duclos of Versoleil Landscaping for making the stage look so good.

All our local officials for their support, Oscar Daniel Martinez Soto, Comandante, Policia Municipal; Francisco Javier Sepulveda Ornelas, Capitan De Bomberos, Encargado de estacion 15 San Felipe B.C.; Jose Ernesto oronel Robles, Presidente de consejo cruz roja, directiro local and Hazael Sierra Castillo, Delegado municipal, San Felipe B.C.

Thank you security team Gary Lewis and all The Scorpions for providing approximately 18 volunteers for security. They are a desert and mountain search and rescue unit based out of northern Nevada and a good number of their members live in Los Viajeros North, in El Dorado Ranch during the winter.

All the effort that John and Rachel Pack and the expense of all of the advertising they donated in “Mexico Living” or the dedication of Hal “Paco” Clark, who put all of the local sponsors together.
Thank you to Gary Dilley and Robin Kissee, Cliff White, Gary and Karen Lewis, Paul and Kathy Preppernau and virtually every other Lion member that worked so hard, performing so many tasks. The club roster shows that almost every member volunteered for more than one duty and over several days if not weeks or months. This was truly a giant group effort and we need to show our appreciation to everyone. From all of us, to all of you – thank you.

Centavo's Got The Blues

by Centavo

“I’d like to teach the world to sing....in perfect harmony”...... like that’s gonna happen....but after spending time at the Animal Rescue’s Woofstock and the Blues and Arts Festival here in San Felipe, it occurred to me that there are endless possibilities for re-inventing peace and harmony....well, close.

Any attempt to bring a blues concert to a town that’s had its share of the “blues” for centuries...well, it’s almost like a silly wake-up call. In fact, if history permits, we really don’t know the origin of the blues. We like to think it generated from slaves who sang their woes in a cruel world that had them picking cotton in the American South. So intensely personal were those kinds of blues lyrics that black musicians eventually made the blues their own. But the blues goes deeper than that. Early blues was patterned after the English ballad, and those of you who remember “folk music” can understand that those sad stories in song gave Americans a political conscience in the ‘60s.

Oops...flash forward....The Blues and Arts Festival. A SUCCESS?...By the time I got there, it was already apparent that the crowd was having a good time. Did they really need to know that they could play the blues with three simple guitar chords and three-line verses?....Nope. Everyone was content to listen to fabulous bands that broke our hearts with their pain...Yeah..They all had the blues..And the crowd was digging it!

Even before the bands began their sets, you felt that San Felipe had gone big-time. No parcan lights on a tee; the stage lighting rivaled any good traveling concert and I really appreciated the vegetation that dressed up the front of the stage. Nice. Now the best part......there was plenty of parking... It didn’t rain....... Melanie, who sang “Candles in the Rain” at Woofstock, did not show up...there was great art ...and BEER...no one licked or threw down their guitar (kinda missed that)..You could bring your dog... plenty of food...no one warned you about bad acid being passed around...and you could call your friends back in the States on your cell phone with....”Totally far-out concert..This guy was wailing on his harmonica..remember that concert in college when we....?”Well you can put your own words here.

It is beautiful that San Felipe is capable of embracing the generations of people who only want music, love....and a safe place to sleep.

And for those of us who bought cigars, photographs, sculptures and paintings at the festival....we are lucky. Smoking my stogie, I realized that I might have discovered another Picasso…all at the Blues and Arts Festival in the great town of San Felipe in Baja!

Leaving the festival, I remarked how well-behaved we were; we picked up our trash. I didn’t want the night to end. So my friends and I went down to the Malecon and tried to crash a Quinceanera. We showed our green wristbands from the festival, but they wouldn’t let us in. Weren’t they supposed to be good till midnight?

Go 2 Rocky Point For Fun & Health

For a thousand years, massage and yoga have been used to heal and strengthen. Many would say that they are the two best natural therapies available, working together to help chronic injuries. Massage will relax tense muscles and increase circulation, helping to detoxify and oxygenate the tissues. This allows repairing cells to reach the damaged tissue and heal faster, both reducing pain and increasing mobility.

In addition to strengthening and giving flexibility to an area, yoga can retrain the muscles injured by trying to guard an affected area. Yoga will also tone the surrounding area, helping to hold the spine, neck, hips and body in better alignment. Plus, it can also help you relieve stress through relaxation exercises and breathing techniques, bringing you an overall sense of balance and relief.

Rita has been involved in massage for ten years, with half that time spent in Mexico. Rita is skilled in various types of massage, including Swedish, myofascial therapy, sports massage, hot stone massage, prenatal massage, infant massage, and polarity therapy, as well as combined techniques. “I have learned throughout the years to customize the massage to the needs of my client,” she says. “For example, a muscular young man will get a very different massage from that given a senior petite lady, so being in tune with the needs of each person makes every massage unique.” Her goal is a therapeutic massage that both relaxes and provides stress relief.
Additionally, Rita has been teaching yoga for about 8 years, and practicing for over 12 years.
Rita and her boyfriend Tommy offer a wide variety of services, including vacation rentals, massage, home inspections, yoga, kite surfing, pet sitting and adventure camps. “It seems like a lot, but somehow it all fits our lifestyle,” says Rita.

The adventure camps started with giving kids something to do rather than watch their parents ride around in golf carts all weekend. “We take kids and families camping and out to the places that we like to go. We get them active by doing something new, making each trip and experience an adventure.”

Their explorations can take you to The Gold Mine, El Gulfo, The Pinacate Mountains, La Pinta, Galespi Stone House and even a secret spot. Rita explains, “We have many ideas to create a culturally enriching and physically demanding adventure for all ages.”
Tommy has been kite surfing for two years, and Rita for one. Peñasco is a great place to kite, especially Cholla Bay with the north winds in the winter months and all along the coast with the southerly winds in the summer.

According to Rita, there are sometimes good waves in Peñasco (yes, waves on the Sea of Cortez!), but most of the time the waves are small - good for teaching beginner surfers.
Puerto Peñasco is a great place to stay active and be outdoors. Rita and Tommy are both very active and interested in fitness. They have both practiced different sports and have tried various ways to stay fit. Rita is a pescovegetarian, meaning she eats fish and vegetables but no meat or chicken, which helps her stay healthy.

Rita offers a 10% discount on massage to anyone staying in her rentals, and
Tommy gives half-price kite lessons to their guests.

To see all that they have to offer, check out their web site. For more detailed information on a particular activity, http://www.go2rockypoint.com, e-mail ritapizarro@gmail.com, or call them from the U.S. at 602-748-4134, or in Puerto Peñasco at 383-8030.

La Spa de Peñasco

Six years ago last month, Tony Poteste and his wife, Jerri, moved from Anchorage, Alaska, where they ran a spa, to Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, to open La Spa de Peñasco at the Sonoran Spa Resort.

Just sixty miles south of the Arizona border, on the shores of the magical Sea of Cortez and surrounded by rolling sand dunes, is the Sonoran Spa Resort Rocky Point, an eight-story resort located right on the beautiful beach of Puerto Peñasco. Facilities at the resort include a restaurant, spa, three swimming pools, two hot tubs, tennis courts, a fitness center, a small store, a souvenir shop and La Spa de Peñasco.

La Spa de Peñasco is an independent business and has no affiliation with the
Resort other than location. La Spa de Peñasco is the only spa on the beach, an attribute that enables one of their most popular treatments: the “pedicure with a view” which features a pedicure area that looks directly out onto the Sea of Cortez. Also distinguishing La Spa de Peñasco is their extensive menu of discounted packages, which are very popular and of great value to their clientele.

There are several spas in the Puerto Peñasco area, but Tony says he has not found the atmosphere competitive: “The spa business has not been that competitive in the past, [since] the other spas in town cater mostly to locals.” According to Tony, the clientele of La Spa de Peñasco is connected directly to the tourist industry; the spa draws from all of the different resorts in the area. “One other spa has opened this year in another resort, but it is too early to say how competitive they will be,” Tony adds.

Whether you are looking for a simple pedicure while gazing out onto the waters of the Sea of Cortez, or want to experience an intense therapeutic massage, the services of La Spa de Peñasco are sure to accommodate you and your guests. Tony and Jerri invite you to renew and nourish your body, mind and soul at their new state-of-the-art facility.

Their website can be found at www.laspadepenasco.com. Here you can watch a video and view pictures of the facility. Appointments can be made in advance online.

San Felipe Hospital Saving Lives

In 2001, Dr. Lowell M. Somers and his wife, Caroline Thorsen, a nurse, built San Felipe Hospital, which was then known as St. James Infirmary. Their mission was to enhance the health and well-being of the residents of the city of San Felipe by providing excellent medical care.

In 2006, however, the hospital was sold to a new owner, Carlos Kuttler, because of ongoing administration difficulties. According to Carlos, the hospital was in fine condition when he bought it, but lacked good administration. Now Carlos is actively involved in running the hospital and can usually be found there during the evenings. “Since I’ve owned the hospital, I have personally seen several lives saved. One was that of a friend’s wife, who had a bike accident and arrived at the hospital in critical condition. Another was that of a man who had a heart attack and through a series of events was transported to a medical facility where the oxygen and medicine he needed were not available. Staff members of San Felipe Hospital were called to assist and they rushed to stabilize and transport him to a nearby ER.”

In two years, the hospital has improved in many ways. Ultrasound and MRI equipment have been added and much of the medical equipment has been replaced with newer and more advanced technologies. The hospital has a fully equipped ambulance for transporting patients to a hospital in Mexico in the event that additional care is required. It also has a fully functional surgery room, maternity and gynecology services, X-RAY, CAT SCAN, Mammogram, and Sonogram equipment, and a fully equipped laboratory. In addition, the hospital was recently approved to keep a blood bank on site. Future plans include hiring a resident intern, doubling the bed capacity, and providing assisted-living services.

The hospital’s services are available to both visitors and residents of Mexico who do not have health insurance. It accepts Escolar Insurance for locals and Viva America Insurance for foreigners. Patients who carry their own insurance will be reimbursed the costs incurred in hospital by their insurance companies.

Currently the profitability of the hospital is marginal, largely because of the lack of patients, but the hospital is in the process of making the public more aware of all the services it can provide. The members of the medical community could help immensely if they would bring their patients to the hospital first, instead of immediately transporting them to Mexican medical facilities.
The San Felipe Hospital is open during the summer for 16 hours a day, from 8:00 am to midnight, and for 24 hours a day during the rest of the year.

The hospital would be extremely grateful for your financial help. Please assist by sending donations directly to the hospital administration. In addition, English-speaking volunteers are always needed to assist with translation services.

Av. Mar Negro Sur No. 1285, Seccion Mar de Cortez, San Felipe Baja California, Mexico C.P. 21850, 686-111-5859.

SCORE Baja 500 2008

by Paco Clark

Race mile 114, not the beginning and certainly not the end - this part of the racecourse was new. A fresh trail bulldozed across a rocky canyon, up the side of the cactus covered valley and over the top of the summit pointing nearly 4,200 feet into the clear blue sky. Not a road really but a swath of rocks of all sizes and shapes that required great skill and patience to navigate a two or four wheeled race vehicle at the maximum speed up and over to a more frightening plunge down steep cliffs to the huge sandy wash and vast dry lake.

The Juan Gallo Race Team had pre-run the course the Saturday before and carefully staked out an area at the very peak of the summit situated in a saddle between two even higher mountaintops on either side.

Juan drove Smokey’s class 1600 car on the pre-run that day and Jere Hooper and myself chased behind in Jere’s Baja Bug. We pre-ran from race mile 44 to race mile 162 on that cool rainy day in Baja. Back to San Felipe where Juan continued working on the racecar to have it ready for contingency in Ensenada on Friday, May 30.

The moment all awaited was the starting line Saturday morning, May 31 for the green flag of the 40th annual Baja 500, the second oldest off-road race in the world. The oldest is big brother, the Baja 1000, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.

Jere and I arrived Friday morning to set up our pit with fuel, tires, and tools. Only one other person was at this section of the course, Crazy ‘Ol Bob from BFG Relay. We shared the precious little open area of the spine and rock strewn landscape summit for two days, just the three of us. Until sun-up on race day when a small caravan of motorcycles, quads and a Jeep loaded with people and supplies arrived. “Who are you pitting for”, we asked, “no one was their reply we just came to watch”.

In the middle of the middle of nowhere, high on a lonely mountain top in Baja – spectators! Wow! We all strained to catch the first glimpse of dust or the sound of the racers as they thundered into the far end of the canyon and bounced their way up the side of the mountain to our tumultuous cheers, waves, and thumbs up, the universal gesture of acceptance.

Only in Baja do people appear out of nowhere in some of the most remote desert and mountain landscape in the world to endure the stark naked terrain devoid of any creature comforts and cheer and party. The Baja 500 is so much more than a race - unless you experience it yourself – you may never know.

Mexican Dental Care with the Spa Treatment

In the United States dental treatments can cost up to four times as much as they do in Mexico. Americans, with and without medical insurance, are flocking to Mexico for dental care because dentistry in the United States has become prohibitively expensive for many people.

For a long time, Americans have been crossing the border for cheap medicines, flu vaccines, eye surgery, or specialist doctors; but now, dentists are in the highest demand and aspiring Mexican dentists are moving to border and resort cities to serve the ever-increasing numbers of patients.
“I think dentistry in Mexico is more ‘personal.’ At my clinic we care about every person, and we take the time and effort to make the dental visit a nice experience,” says Dr. Melina California Fierros Zatarain, or Melina, as her friends and patients refer to her. Melina is a dentist and the owner of California Dental Spa on Mar Caribe Sur, across from the ABC terminal in San Felipe.
Mexican dentists are raising the bar, offering posh services and the latest technology. “We have all the high-tech equipment and the best services, even better than many places in the States,” says Melina.

California Dental Spa’s services include autoclave sterilization, digital x-rays, intraoral camera, and ultrasonic sterilization. It also offers treatment services, including cleaning, white fillings, whitening, crowns, cosmetic crowns, permanent bridges, removable partials, dentures, extractions, root canals, and implants.

When you enter the California Dental Spa, the atmosphere and warm greeting immediately make you feel at ease. “The spa concept is something that I want to offer as an atmosphere to my patients; like aromatherapy, soft music, skin treatments and everything that could make the dental experience more pleasurable,” says Melina. The word has spread so rapidly that in just one year California Dental Spa has fast become the most popular dental clinic in the region.
In 2006, Melina came to San Felipe and St. James Hospital (now Hospital San Felipe), where she spent her first year before moving to into her own office. “My dreams are coming true. My office is growing, and now I have another dentist working with me.”

According to Melina, she fell in love with the art of creating beautiful smiles when she had her own braces treatment. “I love every area of dentistry. I do a lot of cosmetic dentistry, and I just finished a certification in implants.”

This summer, Melina and her boyfriend, David DesRochers, are opening an optical center adjacent to the dental office. “Traditionally, optometry and dentistry go hand in hand, so we decided to expand my dental office to offer optical services.”

“We have a qualified optometrist from the University of Xoxicalco in Mexicali. He has completed several courses and a fellowship degree from Pacific University College of Optometry and speaks fluent English,” says Melina.

As Americans continue to head south of the border looking for healthcare solutions, young aspiring dentists like Melina will continue to build clinics like California Dental Spa, giving many an alternative.

In the next three years, Melina hopes to provide more services related to the health industry with the same spa-like atmosphere.

“My favorite part of being a dentist is looking at my patients’ smiles; they get a different dental experience, and some of them get a totally different, beautiful, and healthy smile.” Melina smiles, “I enjoy my work. I always try to be a perfectionist and do my best. I even sing when I’m working...because I love my job.”

Baja Diamante Condominiums

A true rarity, Diamante Condominiums is a welcome departure from the traditional, hacienda style homes scattered up and down the Baja coast. Inspired by dramatic 360-degree views, Diamante Condominiums are sophisticated, modern, and designed to take advantage of the prime location between the Sea of Cortez, San Pedro Martir Mountains, and northern Baja's first Nicklaus Design Golf Course.

Located along the east coast of the Baja Peninsula, between the desert and the Sea of Cortez, Baja Diamante is a $2 billion project including: 17 beachfront villas, 40-condominiums, 101 custom-designed homes, an 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course with surrounding development parcels and a 350-slip marina. Baja Diamante features a private beach, a clubhouse, restaurants, tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a gym and spa, a palapa bar, commercial and retail space and proposed seaport village.

Award winning, international architect Gonzalo Gomez-Palacio is the mastermind behind San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa and Diamante Condos. A seasoned architect, Gomez-Palacio has designed homes all over the world including Mexico City, Italy, Peru, and the United States.

Gomez-Palacio is a professor of interior design for post-graduate direction at the National University of Mexico and his experience and creativity won him the Silver Medal at first Biennale of Mexican Architecture - the country’s most renowned architectural award.

In Baja Diamante development, homeowners relish in excellent features incorporated into each unit as well as amenities from Baja Diamante's very own San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa.

Features for Diamante Condominiums:
• Wiring for Satellite, Internet, Phone, Home Theatre, Alarm and iPod
• Central heat and air
• Travertine marble flooring
• High-end ceramic tile on floors, countertops and bathroom walls
• Granite countertops
• Marble terraces
• Stainless steel appliances
• PVC Cabinetry
• Solid wood doors
• Moen Fixtures or similar
• Personal Parking Spaces
• Views of Sea of Cortez and San Pedro Martir Mountains

Diamante Condominiums also include:
• 24-Hour Security
• Door-Step Elevators
• Underground Parking
• Guest Parking
• Storage Units
• Heated Pool and Spa
• Discounted Membership Fees

San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa- Established in 1992, the San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa are home to the best amenities in San Felipe. As a homeowner within the development, residents take advantage of the San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa's complete amenities including:

• Private Beach
• Food Delivery Service
• Housekeeping Service
• Indoor and Outdoor Pools
• Gym
• Spa Services
• Tennis Courts
• Restaurant
• Palapa Bar

San Felipe Marina Golf Resort and Spa features some of the finest beach side weddings in Northwest Mexico.

For added convenience and benefit, Baja Diamante's onsite property management will also rent your home while you are away. With all the amenities of a world-class resort at your fingertips, you won't have to spend time cooking, cleaning, or even renting your property. Now you can focus your time lying on the beach, playing a round of golf, or other activities such as tennis, horseback riding, fishing, or dining at one San Felipe's authentic restaurants.

www.bajadiamante.net

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

To The Top Home Elevators

When Jackie, an accountant and computer technician, and Marty Alameda, a self-employed businessman, decided to retire and move to Rosarito Beach in Baja, little did they realize that they would only be traveling and living a life of leisure for a short while. Having taken up residence in the community of Primo Tapia, a few miles south of Rosarito, they started to feel that there were some services which were lacking in the Primo Tapia area.

From this assessment arose the ownership and association with Click-On.com, an Internet café and business center offering U.S. mail, errand services, fast Internet connection, computer classes, photocopying and binding facilities and more.

However, five years later when the Alamedas met the Browns, things started to take a different turn. The Browns had been providing Extended Home Living Services for the past 17 years and understood the need for residential elevators. The Alamedas wanted to bring this offering to their community in Baja and so began the great partnership between the Alamedas and the Browns. This collaboration brought about the formation of the Mexican company called ‘To The Top Home Elevators, S. de R.L. de C.V’.

Today, To The Top Home Elevators is in the business of selling, installing, importing, maintaining and providing warranties for a large variety of residential elevators. These range from light commercial elevators to stairway chairs to dumbwaiters and more. Though the company represents various manufacturers from the US, Canada and Europe, Thyssen Krupp is the largest manufacturer with whom the company partners.

The need for a residential elevator is increasing each day. With smaller houses, there are times when a relatively small piece of land is built upon in order to accommodate three or four levels. With kitchens, living rooms and laundry rooms being on different levels, a residential elevator is not a means of avoiding exercise, but a necessity.

There are some who install residential elevators to increase the resale value of their homes. Others opt for this facility to prepare for the time when they will be older. Yet others feel the need due to the presence of an older member of the house or a handicapped person whom they need to take care of. The products and services of To The Top Home Elevators are not sought only by home owners. There are doctors’ offices, hospitals, private spas and private homes which have been serviced by this company.

Even though there is a large amount of growth that is expected in this area, To The Top Home Elevators does not really have any direct competition. The only competition comes from manufacturers of commercial elevators who do not specialize in residential elevators. To The Top Home Elevators is based on a chain drive unit which uses the counter weight system and does not require additional space or the use of Union installers.

With a small staff of about 3 people (with another to be added soon), To The Top Home Elevators believes in growing slowly. The area that they currently service is confined to ‘all of Baja’ because they believe that expanding too rapidly can be unhealthy and can weaken a company’s ability to service an area to the complete satisfaction of the customer. Even though there is a desire to grow and the market is ready, To The Top Home Elevators wants to take it step by step.

For more information about To The Top’s accessibility products, visit www.tothetophomeelevators.com.

For an appointment or estimate, contact Marty Alameda or bilingual Sales Executive Dra. Rebecca Curiel at Rosarito tel. (661) 614-1434, U.S. tel. (619) 342-2183 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, or e-mail: info@tothetophomeelevators.com.

La Fonda Hotel, Bar and Restaurant


Just 45 minutes south of the Tijuana border on the spectacular Baja coast, perched above a sandy white beach and overlooking the blue Pacific, is our long time favorite spot for locals and visitors alike, La Fonda Hotel, Bar and Restaurant. Now boasting an extensive new Spa, La Fonda still offers the Baja traveler a retreat to a piece of old Mexico. Rooms, each unique in nature and surrounded by tumbling Bougainvillea and banana palms, randomly dot the bluff overlooking 180 degrees of sand and sea. This is truly your own private piece of Paradise Lost.

Hotel La Fonda offers 47 charming rooms and suites, each unique, most with fireplaces. See the sea, hear the surf, watch the sunsets and kick back and relax from you own private patio or balcony. Time stops here. Let worries and cares wash out with the tide, and peace and calm enfold you in this ageless setting.

The La Fonda Restaurant offers a wonderful dining experience. Watch dolphins play in the waves, while you enjoy a sumptuous lunch out on the patio, complete with hand-made tortillas. At night, dine in the magical atmosphere that only La Fonda can conjure and watch the sunset. Lobster feasts, candle light, live music nightly, and the feeling that you’re being welcomed home has been bringing guests back to La Fonda for decades.

Not to be missed is the La Fonda Sunday Brunch. It is like nothing you have ever seen. Dish upon dish of steaming Mexican delicacies from Paella to pancakes, accompanied by all the Bloody Mary’s you can drink.

The beautiful new full service La Fonda Spa will complete your getaway or vacation. Offering an enticing array of treatments and services, many treatment rooms even have ocean views! Try their romantic spa bath for two, complete with champagne, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Their friendly staff consists of highly trained massage therapists, who effectively relax muscles, increase circulation and improve joint mobility using hot and deep tissue techniques. Before or after a massage you can enjoy a saunas and steam room.

And for the pet lover, Hotel La Fonda also has Kinda La Fonda, a pet-friendly hotel, mere meters away.

Hotel La Fonda is your perfect getaway vacation, just a short drive from the border. Reservations are suggested, as rooms are limited, and an advance deposit is required. We accept VISA and Mastercard. For reservations from the U.S., call 011-52-646-1550307 or e-mail Reservations@LaFondaBaja.com. Spa Appointments (011-52) 646-155-0394.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Kick start your day at Giuseppe’s


by Baja Benjamin

The instant I walked past the gate into the lovely garden patio area with fountain and walk-up service window I felt comfortable. French doors lead from the garden into the dining area and I was engulfed in the smell of fresh brewed coffee. I was ready to start my day.

Giuseppe’s coffeehouse on Fremont has one of best breakfasts. They make eating breakfast a complete pleasure, delicious food, friendly service, and comfortable environment. The garden murals on the walls and calming green colors make relaxing over my bacon, eggs, and yummy country potatoes a treat.

On my first visit to Giuseppe’s, I met Anita Bascelli and sisters Cristina and Norma Estrada along with cook Juan Alberto.

This was a good day for me, they had a buffet. I have never been a handyman, but I can build a great breakfast plate. Giuseppe’s had all the bases covered; bacon, eggs and yummy country potatoes, but today there were biscuits with sausage gravy, sausage solamente and pancakes, toast, plus more but it became a bluff after the sausage gravy.

I’ve not had Giuseppe’s for lunch, but if it’s par with breakfast, this place is one of the best. They provide free wireless Internet access and at a good speed and no pressure to eat and leave, just relax.

For the early bird, Giuseppe’s Coffeehouse is open at 7:30 am, which really is early in Mexico, but helps when you want to get a start on the day. On my second breakfast visit in the same number of months, I was kindly welcomed and served a perfect plate of bacon, eggs and yummy country potatoes.

I would highly recommend locals and visitors to start their day at Giuseppe’s Coffeehouse and with any luck I’ll see you there.

Giuseppe’s Coffee. On Fremont Boulevard, next to Black Dogs. Ph: (638) 383-5181.

The Baja Country Club

The Baja Country Club

When most people think of Baja – the last thing that may come to mind is a country club. But for those that know and love the natural raw rugged beauty of the Baja Peninsula and yet still have a place in their heart and social calendar for some of the more refined elements of life, there is much more.

Baja does have great beers and of course Mexican food, but also wine, world cuisine, music, entertainment and recreation to suit the champagne side of life as well. So whether you lean toward beer or champagne you can find it all in Ensenada, Baja California and what better place to start than at the Baja Country Club. Easily reachable by car located just 7 miles south of Ensenada on the Transpeninsular Mexico Highway 1 at KM 117.

Originally built in 1990 and designed by a former associate of famed golf architects Pete and Roy Dye, the 18-hole Par 72 championship, 6,859 yard golf course is situated at the end of a canyon that winds its way up the mountainside as gentle breezes from the Pacific Ocean fan the fairways and greens of Baja Country Club. Golfers appreciate the challenge of the Island Green, the double green, a desert hole for diversity as well as 12 acres of lakes. The condition of the course has suffered in the past under previous owners but now under Marena Management the Bent Grass greens are in great shape and are ready to roll.

Marena began working its magic on the project about three years ago to develop and sell
buildable lots and finished homes around the 18 hole layout designed as an integral part of the natural sanctuary of the valley and lakes in a unique micro-environment near the coast. The club house, snack bar, pro shop, locker rooms and showers are completed and in use while completion of a gym is pending.

Marena Development also has the Club Marena Condominium Complex in Rosarito Beach. The Baja Country Club is a sprawling 300 acre private gate guarded community and will ultimately have700 home sites. It is now in the second phase; each phase consists of 120 lots. 60 Homes have been sold within the first two phases, either completed or under construction. According to the developer customers are very impressed with the architecture and the quality of construction and finishing. Prices for home sites range from $48,000 to $88,000 and prices for home sites with a complete home package begin at $154,500 up to $214,500. Common areas consisting of a recreational room and BBQ's are completed and a second common area with a swimming pool and tennis court is scheduled to begin construction next summer. What sets Baja Country Club apart from other Ensenada / Rosarito developments? "Quality and affordability", according to the staff of Marena Development. The construction of the 30 suite hotel is progressing and is currently 40% with completion expected by next spring. Who says you can't have it all?