Search Baja California

Dec 5 - Art Expo December Show (San Felipe)

Art Expo December Show BajaMar Restaurant (upstairs banquet room) on the Malecon in San Felipe Sat. Dec. 5th Noon to 5:00pm Find that Xmas gift for some one special For information call 686-577-0773

The Challenge of Outdoor Furniture for Seaside Living

by Eddie Wharez

Whether you have owned a beach property before or not, you are probably amazed at how the elements including the salty air is not necessarily the best—even the life expectancy of a house at the beach is considerably shorter. That is why you must be really careful when choosing outdoor furniture. Here's some information to help out in your decision-making process, including some tips and considerations.

Before you go shopping, it would be wise to ask yourself some questions:
  • Will my outdoor furniture be used only by me and my family, or will it be for a rental property?
  • Will I have space for a seating area large enough for more than two people?
  • Will my terrace or patio be used occasionally to entertain or perhaps have a nice dinner with my spouse or friends?
  • Will the furniture have to stay outdoors or could it be stored?
  • Will my outdoor furniture follow a specific design or theme, maybe traditional, eclectic or transitional?
  • How much time will I be willing to spend looking after furniture?
Now let's begin:

Teak is one of the most durable woods in the market, it goes from reddish brown to silver gray once it has weathered; you can prevent it from happening if you take care of it with special oil or stain.

Outdoor wicker: Rattan, water hyacinth, sea grass, banana leaves, bamboo and the like, add the tropical and classical feel we all like when we are in a vacation site. The beauty of the natural materials will last longer in an enclosed area, however, most of it will not do so well at full exposure to the elements.

Wrought iron is a very sturdy material ideal for windy areas, available in a variety of designs. Just keep in mind that, even with the best of treatments, iron will still rust. So, think twice about it if you need it for a beach home. If feel you are going to miss the enchantment of the iron work, guess what? Nowadays you can get cast aluminum in the traditional look of iron, especially if you want keep a Mexican design for your home.

Resin and cast aluminum: These two elements will do wonders together. They are usually weather proof, care and rust free. All you need to do is hose them down, vacuum them once in a while and your set will look like new! Perfect for rental properties. Just a small piece of advice: Check the weight of them, because on a windy day you don't want any of your chairs to end up somewhere else than on your terrace!

As far as fabric is concerned you'll find quite a large selection of patterns and colors. For fabric to endure the weather, it has to be polyester based, vinyl or acrylic, so it dries quickly and resists mildew. Keep in mind that even the most water-resistant fabrics will break down when they sit outside for too long without use. Therefore, storing fabric will extend the life and beauty of your cushions. Remember, cushions will be basically the only thing you will want to replace after a few years; but, you'll probably love to change colors and patterns anyway, right?

Eddie Wharez is the owner and designer of Diseños Casa y Jardín. If you have any questions or comments, contact him at, visit or just simply drop by his gallery on Old Cholla Road. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Gypsea Journal #1 - South for the Summer

You're never ready when you think you are, but if you wait until everything is perfect, you may never leave the dock—or hit the road in our case. The day before we needed to leave, our most important RV system stopped working—no 12-volt power. We left anyway.   

We figured one way or anther things would work out; they always do. Besides, Rachel and I have learned from a friend, Bob Bitchin, publisher of Latitude & Attitude, that the only real difference between an ordeal and adventure is your attitude. This was going to be an adventure and we were going to have a good attitude, no matter what.

The last time we packed up and hit the road, we loaded up three teenagers and a cat, and explored the United States for almost three years. This time, we plan to explore Mexico, with two cats, a dog and you.
Our first leg was from San Felipe to Ensenada and the adventure began. We left at 6:30 p.m., June 5, and arrived at Estero Beach at 1:30 a.m., June 6. This is a trip that we've made many times in less than three hours, but we hadn't been on MEX 3 the night before the SCORE Baja 500.  

By the time we got to Ensenada, this adventure was already becoming an ordeal. But after getting directions, we found Estero Beach RV Resort. Our full hookup site was on an estuary in front on an open bay, across from the point where La Bufadora (the blowhole) is located. On the northern end of the park are the point and some amazing mansions. A beautiful park, clubhouse, restrooms, laundry facility and swimming pool are located between the mansions and the RV park. We took time in the morning to explore the area before heading out on June 6.
We had filled up in Ensenada before leaving, so when we got to Catavina we had three-eighths of a tank; perfect, or so we thought until the only pumps in town were out (service and gas). Fortunately, we were able to purchase five gallons for 36 pesos a gallon, not bad considering. We stayed at Rancho Santa Inez for $6. Nice big ranch, where we could literally setup anywhere we wanted.  
Once setup, we took both Cai and Max out for a walk . . . Yes, even Max the cat walks on a leash—when he wants.  The night was bitter cold, but when the sun rose in the morning it was spectacular; warm and breathtaking with large trees and palms that ran the length of our site.
We arrived in Loreto late in the afternoon, June 7. We spent an hour driving around town looking for the two RV parks listed in both our RV guides, which we never found. Instead, we came across a real gem, the Del Mar RV Park. It is quiet, has free Internet, laundry, and is completely fenced in with high hedges and tall trees shading our site. And it's only 1.5 blocks from the beach, marina and Malecon.

Loreto is a gorgeous fishing town, with lush gardens of bright subtropical flowers in every color. On the Malecon the sea literally slashing up to the sidewalk.
Our first couple of days, although beautiful, was spent working. Yesterday was the first day we actually went to the beach; we went swimming in the warm waters and let Cai run nuts on the beach. The water is as clear as a swimming pool with the islands of Isla Coronado, Isla Carmen and Isla Danzantes as a backdrop. 
We needed to stock up, so we walked to the biggest grocery store about 2.5 miles away. Not an easy walk with groceries. We got a little turned around and walked another 5 miles. I know this because my lovely bride owns a pedometer, so I know I actually walked 9,963 steps.
I didn't want to do that again, so we took our bikes to the shop and now we have wheels in good running condition; better than we are. It's a good thing the majority of places we stay are at sea level, or I'd be dead meat. 
Our plan is head south next week. Our first stop is Puerto Escondido. Then we're off to Ciudad Insurentes, Cuidad Constitucion, La Paz, San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos and destinations beyond.

Free Health Fair in Ensenada

Free Health Fair at Velmar Hospital on December 3
by Connie Ellig, Editor of Ensenada Gazette

Serena Full Assistance and Ensenada's Velmar Hospital invite you to a free Health Fair on Thursday, December 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Get to know the doctors and staff of Velmar; have your blood sugar and blood pressure checked; and listen to brief English-language talks on topics like "Heart Attacks, Symptoms: How Men and Women Differ" and "Alzheimer's and Other Forms of Dementia." Enjoy a short presentation "How Serena Helps in Medical Emergencies" with a Q & A period and also a short tour of Velmar facilities. Refreshments will be served.

The Health Fair takes place in the conference room of Velmar Hospital, located one block east of Blvd. Costero (Lázaro Cárdenas) on Arenas #151, Fracc. Playa Ensenada, Ensenada. Seating is limited. For reservations or more information, call Serena Full Assistance at Mexico toll-free 01-800-030-0070 or Rosarito telephone (661) 612-9090.

Home Shopping at Capistrano Décor & More

Capistrano Décor & More
Design and So Much More

Capistrano Décor & More offers a range of professional interior design services, including a wide variety of window coverings from bamboo blinds to curtains. They also offer beautiful pieces of wall decor, mirrors and other handmade wall art.

They started in the wood frames business, then continued working for big hotels selling mirrors and wall decor (lithographs). When the owners' daughter, Viridiana, wanted to have a interior design store in Mexicali, the entire family helped her get into the business. 

After the store opened, they began decorating big and new developments in Mexicali; at the same time they had some friends in San Felipe that needed assistance decorating their rental home and Capistrano Décor & More has been working in San Felipe ever since.

Capistrano Décor & More is located in Mexicali and has been serving the area, including San Felipe for over eight years.

Their complete line of services include upholstery, furniture, ornaments, bedspreads, floral arrangements, table lamps, rugs and iron plaques. They provide consultation and selection of paint for your inside and outside walls, carpentry services, sealing floors and handmade sofas.

Viridiana suggests you ask about their affordable condo and home plan packages; they have complete turnkey programs—they do it all.

Capistrano Décor & More also specializes in a variety of styles, such as contemporary, modern, casual, tropical, Mexican rustic, Santa Fe, etc.; all styles can be customized to fit your lifestyle and packaged for your home or office.

You can visit their showroom in Mexicali, with a lot of decorative accessories and catalogs at Blvd. Lázaro Cárdenas # 3132 Local # 7, or contact them for interior design services at (686) 569-6612, or email

Popular Mexican Christmas Gifts

Popular Mexican Christmas Gifts  

The custom of putting up a Christmas tree has become very popular in Mexico, so we thought we'd share a few popular Mexican Christmas gifts that you may want to add to your Baja holiday gift shopping list.     

Oaxacan Wood Carving
Oaxacan folk art wood carvings or "alebrijes" have been produced by the same families in the small town of San Martin Tilcajete for decades. Each piece is carefully carved with amazing detail from copal, a soft wood found in Mexico. Then it is hand painted in bright colors and patterns.

Beaded Mask
Created by the Huichol Indians, a small tribe of approximately 10,000 Indians living in central western Mexico, this beaded mask is made by overlaying the carved mask with a beeswax and resin mixture. Then tiny glass beads are placed by hand on the sticky base, one at a time, until the pattern is complete. The Huichol create these sacred objects of beauty as a way of honoring the life-giving forces of the universe.

Aztec Dolls
Aztec Dolls are 100 percent handcrafted by the Mexica (Ma-she-ka) Indians of Central Mexico. The Mexica are the descendants of the the great Aztec Empire, but in today's world they struggle for existence. The craftsmanship of these dolls are so intricate that their arms and legs actually move.

Mexican Bubble Glass
Mexican blown glass was called Mexican bubble glass because of all the bubbles produced when blowing the molten glass. The blown glass technique consists of blowing through a pipe onto a red-hot glass mass, heated in a special oven. Pitchers and glasses can be clear or with rims and bases in cobalt, turquoise and amber. Mexican bubble glass will add a bit of the Mexican culture to your home.

Dia de los Muertos, Mexican Day of the Dead Folk Figures and Sculptures
The skeleton figures and sculptures are made from a variety of materials including hand-painted sheet metal, paper mache and clay. The skeleton figures are created and painted by hand by the folk artists of Mexico. Many of the painted clay skeletons (esqueletos) are fashioned to depict the activities the deceased enjoyed while alive.

Virgin De Guadalupe T-Shirt 
The Virgen of Guadalupe is universally revered in Mexico, which doesn't mean her image is somehow sanctified. It is everywhere, though it is never used in a commercial manner to sell anything. A tasteful T-shirt or blouse with an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe will help your traveler feel right at home in Mexico. 

Sterling Silver Jewelry from Taxco 
Artisans from Taxco, a beautiful town located in the mountains of the west coast of Mexico, are world famous for their handcrafted sterling silver jewelry. They transform pure silver into lovely jewelry with either classic or trendy designs. The complete collection at Silverzeal is 925 sterling silver.

December 2009 OPEN HOUSE Listings


San Felipe, Baja California
Casa de Llantas FOR SALE by Owner. Contact, (686) 210-4598. Artist designed, custom-built tire home in the Ejido. Two master suites, two baths, spacious open floorplan, tiled, fenced and landscaped, garage. Furnished and ready to move in. Owner will carry with substantial down. You must see this unique home! $149,000

Loreta, Baja California Sur
Beachfront Rental. Two bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, sleeps six. Unique, private home, five miles north of town. Kayaks, bikes, etc. $1,000/week or $3,500/month. Email


San Felipe, Baja California 
Great Retirement Home located in the fully Gated Community of El Dorado Ranch.Two bedrooms,two baths, kitchen, dining room, fully furnished, sleeps four, great room with combination fireplace (propane and wood), central HV/AC, blue water view, Palapa and BBQ, 2,500-gallon cistern. Plus,potable water and grey water system, Master Trust Status can be automatically assumed by new owner without fees. Fideicomiso (Bank Trust) available to purchaser at buyer's expense. Owner Financing (Lease Option) available to qualifing buyer. $185,000.,, (686) 184-9237.

Petes Flyer Photo.jpg

San Felipe, Baja California 
Located in Pete's Camp, this near new home is designed for privacy! Two master suites at either end with a great room in between. Fireplace, breakfast bar in kitchen. Rooftop patio with views of the Sea of Cortez, the golf course and the mountains! One car garage, lots of custom built-in cabinets. A must see! Priced to sell. Located in the most trusted of campos, with 10-year renewable land leases. $125,000.,, (686) 184-9237.


San Felipe, Baja California 
Campo Ocotillo, San Felipe. Great views and comfort! This two-bedroom home has a great patio view of the Sea of Cortez. A large great room with lots of windows, includes the kitchen, dining area and living room with a fireplace. The guest bedroom has two beds and is very cozy. The master bedroom has a sitting area and a second fireplace. The home has city water and underground electricity. The carport has a large rooftop patio for viewing the Sea and the mountains. Priced for a quick sale. Make an offer. The lease is around $750 a year and is located in a secure,well-trusted and developed campo. $59,500.,, (686) 184-9237.


San Felipe, Baja California 
El Dorado Ranch, Del Sol I, San Felipe, Corner Lot for sale! Great buildable corner lot in established neighborhood. Electric kiosk already built. Unobstructed views of the San Martir mountains. Close to all community services, swimming pool, tennis courts, golf course, restaurants, stores and gas station. 10,000 sq. ft. lot. Priced to sell at $29,500.,, (686) 184-9237

Buying Real Estate in Mexico

Buying Real Estate in Mexico—From A to Sí
by Christa Thomas
Purchasing real estate in Mexico is a lot like buying it in the U.S. or Canada—you find a property you like, enlist the help of some professionals, do your due diligence, arrange financing, sign some paperwork and enjoy your new property.
Mexico has become a popular place to retire or to own a vacation home. And, yes, foreigners can own property in Mexico, even on the coasts. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners have successfully purchased real estate in Mexico.
Mexican real estate can offer good value for your money, especially with favorable exchange rates. And the cost of living is substantially lower here. Three years ago, I bought a vacant lot in beautiful beachfront San Carlos and began building, and one year later I moved into my dream home.
I fell in love with Mexico after enjoying several vacations here. The warm weather, friendly people, food, language, vibrant culture, the interesting and fun things to doall drew me here. But the question was, "where should I live within this huge enticing country?" Many locations were appealing to me, with Playa del Carmen topping the list. But after one visit, I quickly decided on San Carlos, Sonora. It's beautiful here. And, if you like outdoor activities, you'll never be bored. There are endless opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, biking, sailing, fishing, golfing—there's even a pick-up game of softball twice a week. I also like that it's an easy drive to many interesting vacation destinations. Arizona is only a four hour drive north of here, and Mazatlan is eight hours south.
There are many factors you should consider when choosing a town, such as location, local infrastructure (roads, airport, water supply and electricity) and local amenities (medical services, mailing services, construction and rental services, churches, etc). There are several books available that discuss the pros and cons of numerous Mexican towns.
When I was looking, I read Live Better South of the Border in Mexico by Mike Nelson and Choose Mexico by John Howells and Don Merwin. Both books are excellent resources, and I highly recommend them. At this point you will also have to decide whether to build on a vacant lot or to buy a finished house (the pros and cons of building from scratch are beyond the scope of this article).
A realtor cannot only help you find a building lot or a house, but can also answer questions about amenities and help you get settled in your new community. When selecting a realtor, make sure that the agent is experienced and is a member of AMPI (the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals). AMPI members are available throughout the region. Also, in Sonora, the realtor must be licensed.
Once you've found a property you like, you will enter into an agreement to buy, which will specify costs, closing date, etc. You will also pay a deposit, which is usually 5 percent to 10 percent of the purchase price.
You and your realtor will now begin working with a notary public. All real estate transactions in Mexico require the involvement of a notary. The deed to the property must be prepared by a notary. The realtor and notary will begin preparing the necessary documents and performing the due diligence, such as:
  • Ensuring that the developer's permits are in order, if you are buying from a developer.
  • Obtaining and reviewing the Land/Property Deed from the seller to make sure that the property has a "clean" history.
  • Arranging for an official appraisal of the Land (Avaluo). 
  • Ensuring that there are no liens on the land (e.g., an unpaid mortgage). Under Mexican Law, liens are passed on with title of the land—buyer beware! Title insurance is not required when making a real estate purchase in Mexico, but if it interests you, it is now available. Title insurance protects you should the property you buy subsequently turn out to have liens on it. Ask your realtor about what title insurance is available in your area.
  •  Checking that all land taxes and utilities (electric, gas, water and phone, HOA fees) have been paid.
  • Checking that structures have the required building permits.
You will need to provide your realtor and notary public with certain official documents, including photo ID (such as a passport), birth certificate, marriage license (if applicable) and your visa (Tourist Visa, FM3).
Mexican law provides for private ownership of land by foreigners. However, if your property is within the 100 km border zone or 50 km coastal zone, there are ownership restrictions. If your property is within these restricted zones, as mine is, you can own land through a fideicomiso (a trust) which is set up through a bank. Your realtor will work with the bank to establish your trust.
Title to the property will be transferred to the trust. A Mexican bank of your choice will act as trustee and you, as purchaser, will be designated the beneficiary. The bank follows your instructions and acts only for your benefit. As beneficiary, you will have the use and control of the property and will make all decisions concerning the property. You will have all the rights of ownership, including the right to sell, rent, lease, mortgage and develop your property. You can also pass the property on to your heirs. The trust is renewable for an indefinite number of successive 50 year periods.
The trust is formalized by the issuance of a permit from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Your rights as beneficiary will be recorded in the public record. The bank charges an initial fee for establishing the trust and an annual fee based on the value of the property.
Recently, a couple of Mexican Senators have argued that current international economic and political conditions favor removing ownership restrictions, and have introduced legislation to that effect. It remains to be seen whether restrictions on foreigners from directly acquiring property on Mexico's coasts and the resulting requirement for a fideicomiso will be eliminated.
At this point in the transaction, you should have your financing in order. Financing is now available in Mexico and several big name players from the U.S. have entered the marketplace. These U.S.-based mortgage companies offer U.S. dollar denominated products. Mexican banks have also begun to offer mortgages, but a significant down payment is required and interest rates are higher than in the U.S. or Canada. Your realtor should be able to help you connect with the financial institutions that are offering mortgage financing in your area.
With your due diligence done, and your trust, financing and title insurance in place, you are now ready for the closing. This will take place at the notary public's office, where you will sign the deed and make the final payment. This is also when you will pay the notary public's fees and any other outstanding closing costs. With the documents signed and these payments made, all you now need to do is enjoy your new property and plan the Open House party!

Loreto's 2nd Annual Paella - Awards

The 2nd Annual Paella Competition spearheaded by Manfred and Sheila Aistrich which was held November 13th. Over 200 people in attendance, over 30 people came from Ensenada and Los Mochis to support and participate in this event.  The venue provided by Fonatur was wonderful.   Roganto Wines again provided wine for Sangria, free wine tasting as well as sales, provided all of the trophies and donated a portion of the wine sales to the Optimist Club.
A total of eight teams competed in the Paella cook-off.  The awards were presented as follows:
Paella Rice Awards
1st Place        Team Zambrano
2nd Place       Team Ra Ra Ra
3rd Place        Team Petite Paella
Paella Appearance Award
Team Nopolo
People's Choice Award
Team Nopolo
Net Profit:  Approximately 55,000 pesos; Colonia Zaragoza Internado will receive 10,000 pesos for children's Christmas presents and the remaining funds will be used by the Optimist Club for their various charities.
Thank you to Manfred and Sheila Aistrich for organizing this event and for all the Optimist Club and other volunteers who helped to make this an overall great success.
Submitted by:  Lynn Hamman