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ART - Border fence becomes art medium

By: Cesar Neyoy - Bajo El Sol

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Son. — A group of Mexican artists have made a statement about border issues and world affairs in a series of mural they recently painted on the south side of the fence between this city and San Luis, Ariz.

And while the murals might serve to make the fence more attractive visually, they don't necessary portray it in the best light.

“The murals have different themes,” said Mauricio Villa, one of the Baja California artists who took part in the project. “The border fence is like a lost space. We wanted to portray a little of the sad aspect of the division that the fence signifies.”

The fence, he added, “reflects the lack of a fair immigration policy that divides family and has caused deaths.”

Villa and other members of the arts group named Arte Publico (Public Art) came to San Luis Rio Colorado on Dec. 10 to paint the murals on a 100-yard stretch of the fence on the city's east side.

Using aerosol cans, they created the murals on the original fence erected by the U.S. government in the early 1990s. In recent years, additional layers of fencing have been put up as part of efforts to further seal off the border at San Luis against smugglers or illegal immigrants.

Villa said the San Luis Rio Colorado officials were supportive of the group's plans to paint the mural.

“In places like Mexicali, (painting murals in public places) is considered visual contamination,” he said.

“We do it only for the satisfaction. We don't earn anything from it. All we do is promote awareness of this form of expression.”

The murals are located in the area of 26th Street, which runs perpendicular to the fence.

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NEWS & POLITICS - Achievements of Calderón

Image: CNN Mexico

President Felipe Calderón touts his administration’s successes

Although the federal government has not managed to show tangible results in favor of Mexican society, especially in security matters, President Felipe Calderón was keen to say that, at the beginning of his sixth year of administration, the economic, health and infrastructure sectors have improved dramatically.

ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT The President said his government faced the devastating United States economic crisis of 2009, and is currently weathering the hardships of the economic crisis in Europe.

He also said that Mexico is economically strong and has grown steadily in spite of global adversity.

The President noted that during the third trimester of 2011, Mexico’s economy grew by 4.

5 percent, that is, one percent more than the numbers predicted by economic experts.

He stated that the economy is still growing and will most likely reach high numbers by the end of the year.

“I have said it before and I say it today.

Even though there are problems, problems that we are all aware of, Mexico is on the road for a better 2012.

Our economy is strong and sound, and is growing with every passing day.

The road that we are treading is the road of employment and wellbeing for Mexican families,” he said.

Regarding employment, the President noted that although there is much to do to improve employment rates in the country, his government created more than 700,000 jobs in 2011.

“These are not just numbers, but people who are currently registered with social security institutions.

We even managed to create more jobs this year than the United States,” he added.

In terms of the economy, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, noted that Mexico’s sound economy is the result of efficient fiscal policies that were implemented over the year.

HEALTH As part of his social policies, President Calderón said his government is focused on providing people with equal opportunities, which, in his words, has resulted in improvement in the health and housing sectors.

He insisted that one of his government’s top priorities is providing the population at large with health services on par with developed nations.

One of his budgetary goals for the current administration is to guarantee universal health coverage, which became a reality with the creation of the Popular Insurance.

According to a census conducted in 2000, only 45 million Mexicans had access to some type of medical service or were registered with the Mexico Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Government Employees Social Security Institute (ISSSTE).

However, according to numbers released by the federal government, 104 million Mexicans are now covered by public insurance.

“That means that in the past ten years, we have done more than any other government in the history of the country,” he said.

President Calderón stated that the Popular Insurance covers all types of cancer in children, as well as breast and prostate cancer.

He noted that more than 1000 hospitals, clinics and medical centers were built during his tenure.

“The States of Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Chihuahua, the State of Mexico, Quintana Roo, Morelos, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tlaxcala and Yucatán are now enjoying health care coverage,” he added.

ROADS President Calderón stated that in the past decades, governments had invested only two percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in infrastructure projects, but added that his government has invested five percent.

“Believe me, this is a lot of money.

We invest nearly 50 billion pesos every year for the construction of bridges, roads, ports, airports, oil rigs and even power plants,” he said.

The President also said that the Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT) stated that more than 17,000 kilometers of roads and highways were upgraded or renovated.

“That is double the amount compared to the 90’s.

We invested 20 percent more than the previous administration.

I’m sure that we will have attained 19,000 kilometers of roads and highways by the end of 2011,” he noted.

HOUSING In the past five years, the federal government granted more than 700,000 credits and subsidies for low-income families to purchase housing.

“The past administration awarded only half that,” the President said.

The President also said that these numbers are very encouraging because his government is near the figures originally planned at the beginning of his tenure.

“This year, we launched the Housing Promotion program, the aim of which is to provide people that are not registered with government institutions with the tools they need to buy a house or renovate the one they already possess.

This program is good news for people working for small businesses or independently.

Even some working in informal conditions will have access to the program,” he added.

EDUCATION The President claimed that one of his administration’s greatest achievements is the improvement of the education sector.

“During this administration, and according to figures released by several government agencies, we have built around 100 new universities and have renovated another 50.

We have also built 985 high schools throughout the nation,” he noted.

He pointed out that every year, nearly 120,000 engineers graduate from public universities.

“That number is larger than in countries like Germany, Canada and Brazil.

The number of engineers graduating in Mexico is twice the number graduating in the United States,” the President stated.

Indeed, the government of President Calderón still must face several challenges.

Nevertheless, the problems that are still a pebble in the President’s shoe are security, poverty and economic growth, the latter of which, although not as problematic as in other nations, is still a sector that has remained stagnant for a long time.

TOURISM - Mexico Expects 52M Doomsday Tourists in 2012

By Mark Johanson | December 23, 2011 12:03 PM EST

If you believe in a popular interpretation of Mayan prophesies we've got just one year left until the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012. To celebrate the ominous occasion - and to make a few extra bucks - Mexican tourism officials are inviting travelers to the heart of Mayan country for a year-long countdown to the end of the world.

The Mexican government expects 52 million tourists to visit the Mayan heartland in the southern states of Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Tabasco.

The tourism office said Wednesday in a communique that visitors will likely spend about 270 million pesos ($19.5 million) in the coming year.

On Dec. 21, 2012, the Maya calendar will come to the end of its current cycle, thus Wednesday marked the beginning of the countdown of the last year in the culture's long-term solar calendar.

Many have interpreted this as a sign of the apocalypse.

The doomsday theories stem from a set of tablets discovered in the 1960s at the archaeological site of Tortuguero in the state of Tabasco that depict the return of a Mayan god at the end of a 13th period.

The Mayan civilization reached its peak between 250 and 900AD and was fascinated by mathematics, astronomy, and the cycles of time.

Its Long Count calendar began in 3114BC and moves forward in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The winter solstice in 2012 marks the completion of the 13th Baktun, a date of particular significance that reflects celestial alignments recognized by modern astronomers.

The notion that the world will end is largely an idea spread by thousands of doomsday bloggers - a concept that gained further traction after the release of the Hollywood blockbuster film "2012." Archaeologists and Maya experts say the prophecy foretells a powerful god's return to earth and the beginning of a new era.

Many experts similarly predict the metaphorical end of an era, not the end of the world.

Nonetheless, tourism officials hope to capitalize on the international buzz.

"The Maya cosmology has sparked the interest of tourists and students of the matter worldwide, something that will be an important element of tourist promotion," the tourism office said Wednesday.

Several cities began promotional schemes this week. The city of Tapachula on the Guatemalan border unveiled an eight-foot digital clock in its main park to begin the countdown exactly a year before the date. In the nearby archaeological site of Izapa, Maya priests burned incense, chanted and offered prayers.

On the Caribbean coast between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, residents and tourists alike placed messages and photos in a time capsule to be buried for 50 years.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History will open three additional ruins to tourists this year, though they say Mayan thinking has been misinterpreted and the year simply marks the end of a cycle.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced recently that there would be nearly 500 Maya-themed events throughout the year in southern Mexico, including workshops, music, and dance festivals.

In an average year, the whole of Mexico gets only 22 million tourists. Visitor numbers in 2012 are expected to be astronomical.

NEWS - SCORE Employees Busted For Cop Lights In Ensenada, Baja California

Date: Dec-17-2011

ENSENADA - For trying to flee and open up the way with the help of an emergency siren (amber color) two subjects aboard a Jeep Liberty were detained last night. Both of the men were employees of Sal Fish, organizer of the Baja 1000 off road races and owner of the vehicle that was used to open the way through other motorists.

This occurred at 7:10PM when municipal police agents saw two subjects driving on calle Primera between Ruiz and Gastélum in the Score International SUV with an amber light beacon. However, this device is only for emergency vehicles and the occupants could not prove they had legal possession of the device.

The white 2006 Jeep Liberty, AKC-2463 license plates, lit up for a moment red and blue LED lights, which are used for official emergency vehicles, which were located on the front of the vehicle to indicate to other vehicles to move over out of the way. The driver was immediately detained, and said his name was Eduardo Torres Negrete, 20-years old, also detained were Jose, 17-years old and Alexandre, 17-years old.

NEWS - Mexico Is Indeed Safe for Tourists

Despite the Hype, Mexico Is Indeed Safe for Tourists
November 24, 2011

HSI's Craig Morganson is working to dispel myths and repair damage to Mexican Tourism and its impact on travel companies

After an increase of violence among drug cartels and between drug cartels and Mexico officials in 2010, the U.S. Department of State issued the first in a series of Travel Warnings against Mexico. According to the April 22, 2011 Warning, its purpose was to "inform U.S. Citizens traveling to and living in Mexico about the security situation in Mexico." The Travel Warning goes on to claim that "While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well." Unfortunately, and at great expense to both the U.S. and Mexico, these statements are inflammatory.

So, in October 2011, Perspective Magazine interviewed Craig Morganson, CEO of Holiday Systems International (HSI) - and an active proponent of clearing up the misinformation - about the situation in Mexico.

What exactly is the current status?

As of this interview, the Travel Warning is still in place; however, as a result of a brief I presented in August, the Travel Warning status is being reviewed. But that's not enough, so everyone reading this should help.

How would you assess the actual dangers to U.S. citizens, especially in comparison with travel to other nations or even within the United States?

First, Mexico is the number one vacation destination for U.S. citizens with approximately 20 million visitors every year enjoying safe, affordable, luxurious, friendly vacations. That's hard to argue with. Mexico is safe for US Citizens. This statement is also supported by an undeniable volume of data from reliable sources, not the least of which are crime statistics. For example, while the State Department cites 111 murders of U.S. citizens in Mexico in 2010, this number must be viewed in proper context (e.g. 111 deaths of U.S. citizens against approximately 20 million U.S. citizens visiting Mexico, and an additional 1 million living in Mexico). Furthermore, it is important to note that these U.S. citizen crimes did not occur in major tourist areas, and the majority of these U.S. citizens were involved in illicit activities.

Additionally, when comparing Mexico crime to other countries, we see that Mexico is safer. For example, when considering crime per 100,000 inhabitants we see the following: Mexico is only 5th in kidnapping (1-Canada: 8.67, 5-Mexico: 1.2), only 7th in rape (1-South Africa: 120, 3-Canada: 73, 4-USA: 30, 7-Mexico: 14), only 6th in assault (1-South Africa: 1,200, 2-USA: 757, 3-Canada: 712, 6-Mexico: 170), and so on. Therefore, the facts demonstrate that Mexico is safer than many other countries where the State Department has NOT issued a Travel Warning.

New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Newark, Oakland, Washington D.C., Buffalo, Kansas City and Cleveland are just a few of the many U.S. cities with much higher murder rates than most Mexico cities and that are far more dangerous than the major tourist areas of Mexico.

What are some of the specific inaccuracies within the Travel Warning?

You wouldn't have room to list them all, but I can name a few. One of the most viewed public-facing documents is the "Current Travel Warnings" section of the government website. Using language within that policy demonstrates the warning against Mexico is not justified:

The criteria of "long-term, protracted conditions" cannot be justified against Mexico's sporadic increases in violence.
The statement "...that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country" does not apply to Mexico.
The entire "country" of Mexico is NOT impacted. Violence is limited to specific areas, and not major tourist destinations.
The criteria of "...due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff" does not apply to Mexico. No embassy or consulate has closed in Mexico due to these reasons.

In reviewing EVERY area where the U.S. has issued a Travel Warning, there is a large disparity between our friendly neighbor (Mexico) and all others. In fact, this discrepancy is so extreme the blatancy of it needs no explanation. For example, Haiti, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, etc.

When viewing the listing for Israel, the warning clarifies (within the listing) its limitation to "the West Bank and Gaza"; however, the listing for Mexico is not clarified, despite the fact that the violence is limited to specific areas. This leaves the reader to unfairly assume the entire country of Mexico is dangerous.

New Orleans is the most deadly city in the U.S. with 52-64 murders per 100,000 populations (depending on the source). When considering the overreaching nature of the Travel Warning, the impact is similar to not visiting Miami because of the violence in New Orleans.

Why are the warnings so severe then?

This is something my brief deals with in more detail. For now, let's just say the Travel Warning against Mexico is a case of overreaction, leveraging of tourism to manipulate Mexico, and flawed economics.

How do the warnings impact U.S. businesses?

Mexico is the number one vacation destination for U.S. citizens, generating hundreds of millions in revenues for travel and tourism business throughout the U.S. The Travel Warnings against Mexico have caused U.S. businesses to experience significant reductions in revenues. This revenue is often the deciding factor in keeping the doors open for many U.S. businesses. In Nevada alone, consider that In July of 2011, of the 182 businesses identified as providing travel to Mexico, 111 had recently gone out of business and 7 companies no longer provided travel to Mexico. To quantify this nationwide, I am currently engaging a research company to conduct a more detailed impact analysis.

How do they affect the Mexican economy?

The Travel Warning continues to deprive Mexico of income and tax revenue from tourism. Law enforcement is expensive and with a diminished tax base Mexico is forced to fight the U.S. drug war with fewer resources.

What have you been doing to change Mexico's status?

I've had numerous meetings with high-ranking U.S. Government officials regarding the Mexico Travel Warning. I've also prepared a 76-page brief that is currently gaining ground in Washington. The arguments presented in my brief include crime statistics, economic impact, policy conflict and specific actions that are reasonable to execute. The bottom line is that there is violence in Mexico, just as there is in Los Angeles, and I am not suggesting that we do not inform U.S. citizens of this fact. What I am saying, is that this information is more appropriately disseminated through a less severe Travel Advisory (e.g., Country Specific Information) and that the language within the information be changed to be less overreaching and ambiguous.

Tell me about why you are involved in this. What are your goals?

I own several travel/tourism companies. The U.S. is currently struggling to recover from the worst economy in my lifetime. Travel and tourism is a big part of our global economy. The long-term economic damage caused by the U.S. Travel Warning against Mexico is greater than the benefits derived from the Warning. The State Department can accomplish its objectives by issuing details within its Country Specific Information, thereby properly cautioning U.S. citizens regarding specific areas and risks, while not injuring important economic balances, which is the result of the more serious nature of a Travel Warning. In fact, while the U.S. Travel Warning has been detrimental to the U.S. economy, the Mexico economy, and countless U.S. businesses, there is no evidence it has saved one U.S. citizen's life. While we teeter on the brink of a global recession, the State Department needs to be more responsible when issuing Travel Advisories that hinder our economic recovery, yet do not save lives.

What can individual travel companies and organizations do to help?

Anyone who would like to assist me with the cost of the research I've been funding can contact me at Also, write letters to your Congressmen, Senators, etc. - but don't just complain. Get their attention by demonstrating the economic impact within their constituency. Talk about jobs and votes, but also include intelligent arguments for the Travel Warning reduction so they can escalate your issue. Make it easy for them to help you. In most cases, they're not going to know anything about the issue, so educate them. Any reader that would like a copy of my brief can contact me. If you're not sure where to send your letters, send them to the Senate Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid, 522 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.
Source: Perspective Magazine

MEXICO - Christmas in Mexico

Holiday Traditions of Mexico
"Feliz Navidad"

"La Posadas," the remarkable buildup to Christmas Eve, is perhaps the most delightful and unique Mexican tradition. Beginning December 16, it commemorates the events in the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

After dark, each night of the "Posada," a procession begins led by two children. The children carry a small pine-decorated platform bearing replicas of Joseph and Mary riding a burro. Other members of the company, all with lighted long slender candles, sing the "Litany of the Virgin" as they approach the door of the house assigned to the first Posada. Together they chant an old traditional song and awaken the mast of the house to ask lodging for Mary. Those within the house threaten the company with beatings unless they move on. Again, the company pleads for admittance. When the owner of the house finally learns who his guests are, he jubilantly throws open the doors and bids them welcome. All kneel around the manger scene or "Nacimiento" and offer songs of welcome, Ave Marias and a prayer.

Now it's time of the "Pinata," refreshments and dancing. The Pinata is a pottery (or paper) container, brightly decorated and filled with candy and toys. It is hung from the ceiling or a tree. One by one, the children are blindfolded, turned around and instructed to strike the Pinata with a stick. Usually several attempts are made before the container is broken. Of course, when that happens, there is an explosion of goodies and a scattering of children.

On Christmas Eve another verse is added to the Ave Marias, telling the Virgin Mary that the desired night has come. Small children dressed as shepherds stand on either side of the nativity scene while members of the company kneel and sing a litany, after which the Christ child is lulled to sleep with the cradle song, "El Rorro" (Babe in Arms).

At midnight Christmas is announced with fireworks, ringing bells and blowing whistles. Devout worshipers surge into churches to attend the famous "Misa de Gallo" or "Mass of the Rooster." Following Mass, families return home for a tremendous dinner of traditional Mexican foods. The dishes vary with the different regions. However, somewhat common are the tamales, rice, rellenos, "atole" (a sweet traditional drink) and "menudo," which is said to be more sobering than strong coffee.

Christmas Day has no special celebration though many have adopted the American-style Christmas with a Christmas tree and Santa Claus.

Champurrado (Chocolate Atole)

6 cups whole milk
1 cup masa harina (corn flour)
2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 cinnamon stick

Heat the milk and chocolate in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve the chocolate. When the chocolate is completely dissolved, remove from the heat and set aside to keep warm. Mix the masa harina with the water in another saucepan; place over low heat, add the cinnamon stick, and cook until the mixture has thickened and the masa becomes translucent. Add the chocolate milk and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve the champurrado hot in cups or mugs.

Arroz Dulce (Sweet Rice)

3/4 cup rice
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups milk
1 cup rich cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

Scald milk. Put the rice into a deep baking dish, cover with the hot milk and bake in a moderate oven for 3 hours, or until the rice is soft. Stir occasionally during the first hour to prevent sticking. If necessary, add more hot milk. When almost done, add vanilla, sugar and cream, and finish baking.

NEWS - San Ignacio Baja Bus

An abandoned yellow school bus in a windswept Mexican fishing village has been drawing unusual attention from more than 500 miles away in San Diego.

The bus and village sit on the shores of Laguna San Ignacio, a breeding ground and nursery for migratory gray whales off the coast of Baja California Sur. For years an eyesore, the bus has become the inspiration for a cross-border effort to convert it into a library and community center next to the village’s lone elementary school.

“This will be our autobús del conocimiento, our bus for knowledge,” said Raúl López, leader of the 500-member community known as Ejido Luis Echeverría. “This will motivate students to do extracurricular work.”

Launched earlier this year as a service project by two sophomores at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, the project has drawn the support of the National City-based International Community Foundation. The bus has inspired designs by Carlos Graizbord, an adjunct faculty member at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, as well as a group of student architects working on a class project who presented their joint design last week.

Among the ideas generated by the projects: outside pathways made of crushed clam shells, solar ponds on the roof of the bus, a wall for film projections. The idea is to encourage students and their parents to study the environment that surrounds them.

“It’s a magical little project,” said NewSchool professor Leslie Ryan, who worked with four of her students to draw up a design: Valley Center resident Victor Rocha and three exchange students from Spain — Millaray Vega, Carolina Turmo and Alejandro Lorente.

The abandoned school bus in Laguna San Ignacio. / Richard Kiy * International Community Foundation. Mexico’s federal government originally gave the community the bus to pick up and drop off students, López said. But parts are scarce and maintenance is difficult, and the vehicle eventually broke down.

If the project succeeds, it could serve as a pilot for other communities in the region faced with the same abandoned-bus dilemna, López said.

Laguna San Ignacio’s high school students travel to the nearest town for class, two hours away and down a deeply rutted, largely unpaved road. The younger students remain in the community, 68 elementary students taught on-site and 38 junior high school students who take classes through a telesecundaria, or remote-learning facility.

For all its wealth of natural resources — whales, turtles, migratory birds and mangroves — Laguna San Ignacio is economically isolated and educational opportunities are limited. Enter Akash Patel and Ian Torbett, sophomores at Pacific Ridge School looking for a service project in April. Patel’s father is on the board of the International Community Foundation, and so the son contacted foundation president Richard Kiy for a project idea.

The foundation has long been involved with Laguna San Ignacio, helping broker a 2005 groundbreaking agreement through which Ejido members agreed to limit development on four-fifths of their property — or 120,000 acres — in exchange for a $25,000 annual payment through a trust fund supported by environmental groups.

Patel and Torbett quickly picked up on Kiy’s suggestion that they take on Project Bus, as they call it. They have raised more than $5,000, but still have a ways to go: Depending on the design, the project could cost up to $35,000.

Patel and Torbett, now juniors at Pacific Ridge, said they already feel enriched by the experience. Patel remembers visiting San Ignacio with his family on a whale-watching tour, but “before I took on this project, I didn’t have any idea of what the community actually was and what it needed,” he said.

Next month, they hope to travel to San Ignacio to present the proposals directly to members of the community.

TODOS SANTOS - Music Festival

The Todos Santos Music Festival - Featuring Peter Buck Of REM
At The Hotel California in Todos Santos, BCS, will host the first ever Todos Santos Music Festival, a charity concert featuring Peter Buck of REM and a number of his many musical friends including: Steve Wynn, Robyn Hitchcock, and Scott McCaughey. All proceeds from the festival will benefit The Palapa Society of Todos Santos, A.C.

A fun-filled music festival over the course of 3 weeks in January 2012, featuring live music 4 nights per week. Each week will feature a special guest artist and Peter Buck of REM will play in every band. Admission is free. A limited number of reserved tables will be available for every show through The Hotel California with a suggested charitable donation of $5 per seat. For more information and reservations contact Hotel California at

Starting at 8 p.m. each evening, with two sets per night:

  • Jan. 5-8, 2012 Steve Wynn and The Baseball Project(Featuring Peter Buck, Linda Pitmon, and Scott Mccaughey)
  • Jan. 11-14, 2012 Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3(Featuring Peter Buck, Bill Rieflin, and Scott Mccaughey)
  • Jan. 18-21 2012 Scott Mccaughey and The Minus 5(Featuring Peter Buck, Bill Rieflin, and John Ramberg)

For more information visit:
Or contact Janice Kinne,,
Source: Baja Western Onion

PHOTOS: Baja Winter Wonderland

This image was photographed Wednesday at San Pedro Martir National Park by the park's director, Gonzalo de Leon. 

Written by
Sandra Dibble, SignonSanDiego

A pine forest under snow is not the first image that comes to mind for Baja California. More than 18 inches of snowfall this week has Sierra San Pedro Martir National Park looking a lot like the Swiss Alps.
Gonzalo de León Girón, the park director, shot the above scene on Wednesday near the park’s entrance -- about 8,200 feet above sea level and 210 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The park remains open, but de León recommends tire chains and plenty of anti-freeze for anyone attempting the drive up to the park. And, he said, don’t forget to wear waterproof boots and warm gloves.
The park, established in 1947, covers more than 180,000 acres -- about a quarter the size of Yellowstone -- and is a habitat for mountain lions, pumas and bighorn sheep. It has some of the tallest pine trees in Mexico.

The San Pedro Martir National Park on Wednesday, following an 18-inch snowfall earlier this week. / Photo by Gonzalo de Leon

TRAVEL - Baja California is #2 and #3 world travel destinations

Baja leading the world in travel destinations. Zeitgeist sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year's 10 fastest-rising global queries and the rest of the spirit of 2011. 

According the searches of the world, Baja takes 2 of the top 3 world travel destinations, only being beat by Las Vegas. Ensenada came in #2 in the world, followed by Cabo San Lucas at #3.

NEWS - Dec. 21st The World Will End

Tapachula - Tourist officials in the city of Tapachula in southern Mexico have set up a digital clock to count down to the end of the world on December 21, 2012. December 21, 2012 is the date many people believe the ancient Mayans predict the world will end.

AP reports that regional director of tourism in Chiapas state Manolo Alfonso Pinot, said on Friday that Mayan priests will begin preparations for end of the world in December 2012 with a ceremony at the archaeological site of Izapa near the city.

Pinot does not believe the world will end in December, 2012 but as a tourist official he knows that many do and that for him is enough. He said: "A lot of people know they can fill their body with energy if they come to these exceptional sites. If people are interested, we have to take advantage of this."

The city of Tapachula is not known as a Mayan tourism destination but city tourism officials are hoping to take advantage of the reputation of Izapa as an important Mayan archaeological site. One of the most famous archaeological discoveries at Izapa was the "Tree of Life"s stone discovered in 1950 which tells an ancient Mayan tale.

The Mexican tourism official says that at Izapa, a Mesoamerican ball court, a carved stone and throne of the Izapa ruler all face a line expected to align with the planets on December 21, 2012. This, the Tapachula tourism official believes, makes Izapa an important Mayan tourism destination.

And Pinot assures Mayan tourists that it would be "hard to say what you will be able to see that day."

And Tapachula may rest assured that it already has thousands of 2012 doomsday believers who will need special spiritual resort on December 21, 2012. According to Merced Sun Star, there are thousands of people who believe that the Mayans knew something the rest of us don't, and that is, the world is really going to end on December 21, 2012. The Sun Star says it is not only tourism officials in Mexico who are hoping to "cash in" with a wide variety of resources, facilities, "survival kits," and special spiritual resorts for 2012 believers. Commercialization of end of the world has already "stepped into a high gear," Sun Star tells us.
Some 2012 believers are already preaching an end of the world scenario that aligns better with the statement by Mayan experts that 2012 is not literally the end of the world but beginning of a new era. The website, dedicated to the Mayan prediction, says:
"Although this date may not necessarily mark the end of the world, it is widely believed that it may indeed mark the end of the world as we know it...The signs and indicators of dramatic and possibly devastating change seem to be all around us. "

The website proceeds to list the "signs and indicators of dramatic...and devastating changes" to herald the "end of the world" in 2012. These include epidemics, catastrophes such as planet collisions, asteroid or meteor impacts, political upheavals, natural disasters and disruptions in normal weather patterns.

The website further warns:

"We can expect to see a number of dramatic events guiding us to our ultimate destiny in should have concern for your own safety and for the safety of your family."

If you are reading this then the world did not end and we are here to see the next date for the end of the world.


LOS BARRILES - Lord of the Wind Showdown 2012

The Lord of the Wind Showdown 2012 announces the second annual
Kiteboarding, Windsurfing and Stand Up Paddle Event.

No Envy. Who's it Gonna Be…?

Los Barriles, Baja Mexico: Lord of the Wind Showdown
founders/producers Dan Holbrook and Chris Rogers announce the dates for the
second annual, largest cash purse event in North America; January 12th- 16th.

With $20,000 in cash prizes, the Lord of the Wind Showdown's main event will
continue the playful rivalry pitting windsurfers against kiteboarders in a long
distance race to determine the winner of The Lord of the Wind Showdown 2012.


The Lord of The Wind Showdown takes place in the Sea of Cortez in Baja
Mexico. The event includes five days of competitions in Kiteboarding,
Windsurfing and SUP and is open to professionals, amateurs and spectators.
The event is packed with non-stop course racing, slalom, freestyle and big air
competitions ending with the face-off between windsurfers and kiteboarders
to determine who is Lord of the Wind. LOWS is offering clinics with pro
windsurfers, kiteboarders and SUP January 9th- 11th The LOW festival
atmosphere also includes bikini contests, volleyball, nightly entertainment.

Win Your Invite:

Lord of the Wind Showdown and its partners are offering two invitations in a
Facebook competition beginning October 3, 2011. Of the participates, one
Windsurfer and one Kiteboarder will each receive a free invitation to the Lord
of the Wind Showdown, $600.00 USD airfare, accommodations, entry fees and
$100.00 bar tab.


LODGING - The Fairfield Inn Los Cabos

The Fairfield Inn Los Cabos has opened in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, offering a moderately priced lodging option in the heart of the Baja California resort destination.
Boasting 128 guestrooms, the Fairfield Inn Los Cabos is the first Marriott International property in Los Cabos and is located on Lazaro Cardenas, the principal avenue of Cabo San Lucas. The hotel’s location offers an easy walk to the popular Medano beach and tourist attractions such as El Arco, Lover’s Beach, the Puerto Paraiso Mall and Cabo Dolphins.

NEWS - Buyers sue Trump over failed Mexico condo project


SAN DIEGO — Donald Trump was sued Friday by buyers who lost millions of dollars in deposits on a failed hotel-condo in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

The 69 buyers purchased 71 units in Trump Ocean Resort Baja and paid deposits totaling between $18 million and $20 million, said Bart Ring, their attorney.

Buyers were told last month that the luxury oceanfront project was being scrapped and that there was no money left to refund deposits. In December, they were told the project had only $556,000 left after collecting $32.2 million in buyer deposits.

The 197-page complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court seeks unspecified damages against Trump, his children Ivanka and Donald Jr. and others including Los Angeles developer Irongate Capital Partners LLC.

The lawsuit accuses the New York real estate developer and reality television star of fraud, negligence, unjust enrichment and violating federal disclosure laws.

Representatives of the Trump Organization Inc. and Irongate did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Friday. In December, a Mexican developer, PB Impulsores, told buyers that Trump licensed his name and was not an investor.

The lawsuit says PB Impulsores is a "mere shell entity" for Irongate, created to avoid legal liabilities. The project was marketed as a partnership between Trump and Irongate – the same team behind Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki in Honolulu.

In a statement last week, Trump Organization said that Trump ended a licensing agreement because the developer violated terms, missing deadlines to obtain financing and begin construction.

Trump Baja demanded about 30 percent down for units that sold from less than $300,000 to $3 million. The lawsuit lists plaintiffs who paid deposits between $53,835 and $470,725. Many put up more than $150,000.

The lawsuit disputes that Trump had a peripheral role. It quotes one brochure that read, "Mr. TRUMP is personally involved in everything his name represents."

"The 'Trump' name appears ubiquitously in marketing for the project, including on advertisements, on billboards advertising the project, on letterheads, stationery and cover letters of almost every document sent to each plaintiff," it reads.

The lawsuit alleges buyers didn't learn Trump had only licensed his name until late December. It says Trump was paid upfront licensing fees and additional payments when sales milestones were reached.

Trump Baja went on sale when Southern California home prices were near their peak, offering a lower-cost alternative in the Mexican border city of Tijuana. Buyers snapped up 188 units for $122 million the first day they went on a sale at a lavish event in a downtown San Diego hotel in December 2006.

All that remains of the project is a closed sales center and showroom, a paved parking lot and a big hole that cuts a wide swath across the property.

BAJA - First Annual Baja Good Life Club Meeting.

It's Time for Fun, Food and Friendship!

It is with great pleasure, that we invite you to the First Annual Baja Good Life Club General Meeting.

As of last week, we were excited to surpass the 700th club member in San Felipe and with more than 3000 members across the peninsula; we thought it time to bring everyone together for fun, food and friendship. We are inviting all current members, past members, family members and non-members to join us for a great time, with great people, doing great things – all the things that make life good.

Join us:
Saturday, January 14, 2012
from 12:00 Noon - 2:00PM
at the La Ventana del Mar Resort,
Pavilion at El Dorado Ranch,
San Felipe Baja California.

In addition to fun, food and friendship, we are going to usher in a new era for the club. During this meeting, we will be electing the new board members of the Baja Good Life Club San Felipe Chapter.

The board members will consist of:

  • President
  • Vice-President
  • Vice-President of Membership
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Social Committee Chairperson
  • Event Committee Chairperson

*nominate yourself or another for one of these positions.

Do not miss this opportunity to join the Baja Good Life Club for our first Annual General Meeting. Join us for FUN, FOOD and FRIENDSHIP!

Baja California Magazine - December 2011


Baja California Magazine #52
Baja's magazine since 2007 is redesigned and back to monthly publishing. Welcome to the NEW BAJA CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE! The new Baja California magazine is more than ever before; more articles, more images, more adventure, and far more interaction. Every article and every ad is interactive, if you see something interesting, just click it for addition information.

In this edition, we cover:
• Is your car legal in Baja?
• How to register a business trade name in Mexico
• How to protect your copyright in Mexico
• The reality of foreign real estate ownership
• Open House
• Seabird recovery in Baja
• George Clooney in Cabo
• Jennifer Aniston getting married in Baja
• John Wayne airport adding Baja destination
• San Ysidro border delays
• $13 million on Tecate border crossing
• Gray Whale Tours
• New RV park south of Todos Santos
• Posada El Rey Sol
• Dining in Loreto
• and so much more.

MEMBERS REPORT - Total Lunar Eclipse

What a beautiful sight this morning (Dec 10, 2011)! It started about 4:30 am, reached totality at 6:06 and finally disappeared from view as it sank into the west behind Picacho del Diablo, while the sun was rising in the east over the Sea of Cortez.
I regret that I lack the skills to photograph these cool happenings.

Did you get a chance to observe the total Lunar eclipse? If you di tell us -

Saludos y Buen Dia,
Hal Paco Clark

SAN JOSE DEL CABO - 2011 Casa Hogar Charity Golf Benefit

You are invited to participate in the 2011 Casa Hogar Charity Golf Benefit at Palmilla Golf Club in San Jose del Cabo on December 16 and 17, 2011

100% of proceeds benefit the children at Casa Hogar
December 16th - Fun day of golf - $99
December 17th - Shotgun scramble Tournament - $129
Lots of great prizes
Golf both days for $199
Food and beverages included.

Register on-line at
or by telephone at 044-624-358-1808.
For more information email:

BORDER UPDATES - The Evolving Fence at the U.S.-Mexico Border

The Evolving Fence at the U.S.-Mexico Border

The line between two countries is hard enough to see on land, but throw in a sandy beach and the crashing waves of an ocean and the jurisdictional boundary is almost impossible to define. For most countries, this ambiguity isn't a huge problem. But in Imperial Beach, California, and neighboring Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, exactly where the line lies – on land and sea – has grown into a national priority, at least on one side of the border.

It almost seems quaint that 40 years ago, First Lady Pat Nixon stood along this border with the waves of the Pacific surging in the distance, and called for what was then a meek barbed-wire fence between the two countries to be cut down. There, at the dedication for what's known as Border Field State Park, Nixon reached over the fence to shake some hands and began a push for a new part of the park to include an area where people from both sides of the line could come and, through a slightly more secured fence, visit each other practically face to face. Through gaps in the fence, cross-country residents could literally reach out and touch.

"Things have changed over time," says Border Patrol Agent Michael Jimenez, putting it mildly.

Twenty years after that park was dedicated, the American government began to build a physically secured separation between the two towns. The rudimentary barbed-wire fence was replaced with corrugated steel walls rising eight to 10 feet from the ground and running along the borderline right into the ocean. And now, 40 years after Pat Nixon's cordial visit, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is busy building an 18-foot tall barrier of steel posts along the border, stretching 300 feet out into the ocean.

The department recently hired a contractor to drive six-inch diameter, concrete-filled, rust-resistant steel poles down into the ground, four inches apart. This new style of fencing will be implemented in a 1,300-foot stretch on the 60-mile section of border controlled by the San Diego sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The old corrugated fencing will be replaced with this bollard-style barrier, according to Jimenez. The work on this relatively small stretch should be done by March.

Jimenez says the new fence is designed to last 30 years, longer than the previous fence, which had been corroded and eaten through by the forces of the ocean. Its 300-foot length had been chewed away significantly, making it easier for people to wade around at low tide. Jimenez says the replacement fencing will be far enough out into the ocean that it should dissuade people from trying to make a dangerous attempt at crossing over the border. "Even if they were a strong swimmer, they'd still be risking their lives," Jimenez says.

But at a cost of $4.3 million, the fence replacement – and the entire 700-mile fencing project along much of the U.S.-Mexico border – is seen by some as wasteful. Especially the ocean fence.

"It's one of the most expensive projects there. During the last five years that section of the fence has been completely destroyed by the forces of nature," says Oscar Romo, Watershed Coordinator at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Romo's also worried about the fencing farther inland, where the corrugated steel wall makes up much of the securitized border. He argues that this area has a rich biodiversity that doesn't much care what country it's in, and that the wall disrupts migration patterns and the habitat of animals like lizards and snakes.

"Some species are trapped on one side or the other," Romo says. "The U.S. government should at least have some method to preserve those resources."

Jimenez says that the new style of fencing, with its four-inch gaps between bollards, will allow some of those small animals to freely roam. But there are costs to replacing the steel wall – surplus Vietnam War-era landing mats obtained and installed cheaply. Jimenez says the old wall will be replaced gradually, mainly for safety and tactical reasons. The four-inch gaps are much easier to see through than solid steel, Jimenez says.

Whatever happens, it's likely that the border fence will be a feature of the landscape for the foreseeable future. The passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 cemented the fence as a key element in the government's efforts to stem illegal immigration and smuggling of drugs and weapons. But like the salty water of the Pacific Ocean eating away at the old fence and eventually the new onw, concerns over the fence's impacts – environmental, political, social, economic – may also gradually eat away at the justifications behind these structures.

Photo credit: Jorge Duenes / Reuters

BAJA - "The Joy of Baja"

"The Joy of Baja"
A Huge Community Effort
By Katie Morningstar

Just two months ago, a handful of local expats in northern Baja started talking about putting together a community cookbook, thinking perhaps they could get as many as 200 recipes, and sell as many as 250 books. The proceeds could go to a very deserving charity organization, La \ Misión Children`s Fund (LMCF), which provides food, medical, and educational resources to the most needy of children in our area.

But how could they start the effort? Several people came to the rescue, including the Baja Times. Word went out by Facebook and by emails to hundreds of people in northern Baja, that recipes were needed.

The response was incredible. In just 6 weeks, over 130 people contributed over 300 of their favorite recipes, including several popular restaurants, from Rosarito to Ensenada, that contributed some of their specialty recipes! And a sponsor came to the rescue: Oceans Flavor Sea Salt offered to pay for the printing costs, so that everydollar earned would go directly to LMCF.

That was the beginnings of "The Joy of Baja", a huge community effort, which now has already pre-sold over 400 copies, and the book has yet to finish being printed! (It is due to be delivered in very early December.) It is quickly becoming "The Gift to Buy" for the holiday season - especially for family and friends in the States. Why? Because in addition to great and unique recipes, it has stories from the recipe contributors... how they came to Baja, what they love about it, and why all of the current negative publicity about Baja is so incorrect! The cookbook not only has great recipes (including many special Mexican ones) and incredible color scenic photos, but it also has 4 pages translating cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and types of fish from English to Spanish, and color pictures of the 20 most common chiles in Mexico, their heat index, and how to use them.

A single copy of this cookbook can be purchased for $19, but gift-givers can still obtain them at a volume discount. By purchasing 5 or more, the price per book is only $15! The quality printed cookbook is available through the website of LMCF:

Buy 1, or 5 or 10... it`ll warm your heart to know you are supporting the neediest of children in Baja, but at the same time spreading the positive word about The Joy of Baja - a great place to live! And ... the recipes are wonderful.

NEWS - America's First 'Electric Highway' Will Be Up And Running Within Months

Electric charging station

As more electric cars begin rolling off production lines, the need for infrastructure to support alternative-energy vehicles becomes increasingly vital.
Washington has been prepping its roadways for the future wave of electric cars for more than a year by planning an extensive network of recharging stations in the nation's first "Electric Highway."
The state hopes that by eliminating "range anxiety" — the fear of running out of battery power and constant bane of the electric vehicle industry — it will encourage users to invest in the latest generation of electric cars.
"What stops people from purchasing electric vehicles is not knowing what charging will be available," said Tonia Buell, project development and communication manager at the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The sustainable-fuel highway means electric-vehicle owners will have the confidence to travel long distances if easy and convenient charging stations are available.
Washington's electric highway is actually part of a larger, tri-state initiative known as the West Coast Green Highway, involving Washington, Oregon, and California.
The goal is to create the first border-to-border electric-vehicle friendly interstate that links British Columbia to Baja, California.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the project will create 1,350 electrified miles on Interstate 5, serving more than 2 million vehicles by 2020.
The state received $1.32 million in federal stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Energy. A mix of funding from private businesses and other public agencies will help cover other costs.
In July, the WSDOT gave California-based AeroVironment a $1-million contract to outfit I-5 and U.S. 2 with a network of nine fast-charging stations by Nov. 30. That completion date has been pushed back to next year while the contractor continues work out lease agreements and nail down final locations.
The plan calls for electric charging stations to be placed every 40 to 60 miles along portions of I-5 between Canada and Oregon. The total distance is around 276 miles. Charging stations will also be installed on U.S. 2 along the Stevens Pass Greenway, linking the west coast to North Central Washington.
The project will be supplemented by the installation of more 50 fast-charging stations in the Pacific Northwest through the EV project.
Most importantly, the location and spacing of the charging stations enables electric vehicle drivers to travel long distances without worrying about running out of juice.
"The goal is to have everything up an running by early 2012," said Buell.
And now, we wait.
(In the meantime, check out this project map showing the planned electric highway route and location of proposed charging stations):

Electric Highway Map