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BORDER UPDATES - Efficient border crossings topic of forum

Artist's rendering of completed San Ysidro Port of Entry. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A wide range of initiatives aimed at speeding up the passage of goods and people across the California-Mexico border were featured Wednesday at the Institute of the Americas on the University of California San Diego campus.

Among the proposals: increased segmentation of northbound traffic, a pre-inspection program in Mexico for U.S.-bound trucks, and enhanced California drivers licenses that would allow for faster processing of passenger vehicles.

The discussion was led by Institute president Charles Shapiro and two members of the Smart Border Coalition, co-chairman Malin Burnham and director James Clark. The 20-member coalition, started in 2008, is made up of business leaders from Tijuana and San Diego who are pushing for more efficient border crossings.

Burnham and Clark applauded existing programs such as the Sentri and Ready Lane that speed up border crossings for pre-screened passengers and those with approved U.S. travel documents. They expressed concern about the reconstruction of the San Ysidro border, a $577-million project that has been approved but not completely funded by Congress.

Without funding in the 2013 budget, "we're going to have the biggest mess in the world," said Clark, who is director of the Mexico Business Center of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

If a proposed cross-border air terminal gets approved and built, ticketed U.S. passengers will have their own pedestrian border crossing leading from Otay Mesa to Tijuana's A.L. Rodriguez International Airport, where they can board flights for Shanghai, Tokyo and destinations across Mexico.

Clark said the Tijuana airport could also soon be receiving cargo flights from Europe. A German carrier is looking to establish service to and from Tijuana, he said.


Save the date February 4th 2012
Inn at Loreto Bay Invites you!

Do you go out fishing every weekend?
Yes!!!! Would you like to compete and Win $1.000 USD**?
Let’s raise money between everybody… Loreto, Nopolo, Tripui, Juncalitos, Pto Escondido, etc…

Who else wants to join US?

Only $35 USD cooperation per fisherman.

The final registration, captains meeting and kickoff event will take place on Feb 3th (7pm) at Inn at Loreto Bay.

Set up your team and IF you registered your team before Jan 31th & We’ll give away an 8pack of beer

The fishing will be donated to Casa Hogar

More Information

** based on 40 competitors and Only Cash Payment

TOUR - BGLC 3-Day Whale Tour

You are invited to attend: BGLC 3-Day Whale Tour

Monday, March 12th - Wednesday. March 14th

A 3-Day Tour to see the Whales in Scammon's Lagoon
  • Nice comfortable transportation 
  • 2-nights accommodations
  • Guided boat ride with box lunch
  • Cave paintings  in Catavina (if time allows)
  • An Eco Tour Guide
Pick up on March 12th at the BGLC Office in the Playa de Oro business center parking lot; then the tour begins with the drive to Ensenada and a stop for breakfast (meals not included). Accommodations are double occupancy. This is a BGLC Club Tour by Go Baja Easy.
  • Member Price ONLY - $313 dlls (SAVE 5% as a member)
  • Non-member price - $355 dlls
Click Here for MORE INFOCall: 686-230-9933 or Email:

NEWS - Citizens Council for Tourist Assistance

What is CCAT?
CCAT stands for Citizen Council for the Tourist Attention.
Its main goal is to promote the participation of Rosarito citizens and raising awareness levels regarding tourists, forming a network of people willing to report any mistreatment or misconduct towards our visitors from public servants, police officers, tourism industry establishments or services. 

Who is part of the council?
Members of the community, nonprofit organizations, business people, hotel owners and staff members, foreign residents, students, restaurant owners and employees, and everyone who's aware of the importance of tourism in our city.  

TODOS SANTOS - 9th Todos Santos Film Festival

Traditionally, the Festival de Cine de Todos Santos has been dedicated to celebrating the creativity and innovation of the Latin American film. The ninth edition will take place between February 23rd and March 3rd in Todos Santos and La Paz. The event features over 25 movies from several countries in Latin America: Argentina, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, and of course, Mexico.

The venue for the event in Todos Santos will be the Teatro Manuel Marquez de León, and in La Paz, participants can choose one of the two locations: the Galería Galería and The Teatro Juarez. The Festival de Cine de Todos Santos will be preceded by an event called CineParque. On February 19th, everybody in Todos Santos will have the opportunity to see the movie Enamorada (Mexico, 1949) in Parque Los Pinos. This classic Golden Era movie is starred by the prestigious actors María Félix and Pedro Armendariz Sr.

The festival comes with an auction that will fund the educational program “Youth in Video”. This is a unique program in Todos Santos which allows the children of the community to learn the ropes of filmmaking. In addition, children have the chance of producing a documentary that reflects their outlook on life. Participants to the auction will need to bid a minimum $1,500 to become the owner of a beautiful painting donated by the local artist Jill Logan. The painting called “María Félix, La Doña” is an outstanding representation of this important figure of Mexican cinematography.

The distinguished guest of the Festival de Cine de Todos Santos is Daniel Gimenez Cacho. Even though he was born in Spain, Daniel spent most of his life in Mexico, and over the years, he has starred in more than 50 productions in Mexico and Europe. His performance has brought him numerous awards, and over the years, he has become one of the most celebrated actors in Mexico.

The Festival de Cine de Todos Santos was founded in 2004 by Sylvia Perel with the sole purpose of enriching the cultural life in Todos Santos. Most of the support goes to female and young filmmakers who sometimes find it hard to make their voices heard in this industry. At the same time, the event is focused on condemning stereotypes, violent entertainment and domestic abuse, while encouraging cultural understanding and artistic excellence through film.

The detailed schedule of the festival has been announced on the official website Access the following link to stay up to date with any possible changes:

Please note that the movies are in Spanish, but they are subtitled in English. In Todos Santos, the tickets can be purchased from Hotel California (corner of Benito Juarez e/Morelos and Marquez de Leon) and the Bookstore El Tecolote (Calle Juárez at Calle Hidalgo). In La Paz, purchase the tickets from GotBaja (Madero e/5 de Mayo and Constitucion).

TOUR - The Baja GRAPE Adventure

This is a unique Off-Road Trip like no other. Feb 3-5, 2012, a 55 Mile Fun Ride, from Rosarito Beach at the Pacific to the beautiful Guadalupe Valley (Baja's Wine Country) and Back to Rosarito, with the best scenic views you can encounter in BAJA, crossing the water creeks, sierras, ranches and farms, otherwise inaccessible to the public.

Info and to register please go to

OFFROAD - NORRA Making Event Upgrades

NORRA Making Substantial Event Upgrades to 2012 Mexican 1000 Off-Road Rally
-- Longer New Route, Cabo Finish and More To Redefine Unique Event --

January 24, 2012: In today’s new age of off-road competition that has promoters fighting over an economy-strained group ofracers, the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) is taking a different course in preparations for its upcoming Mexican 1000 Rally – it’s working hard to make the entire event for its customers (race teams), crews and sponsors a world-class experience.

Already gaining a reputation for bringing fun and a shared sense of adventure back to Baja off-road racing, the one-of-a-kind, once-a-year rally spotlights vintage off-road vehicles, motorcycles and ATVs, as well as rally cars, a limited number of modern desert race cars and classes for prerunner-type trucks and buggies. This year’s NORRA Mexican 1000is scheduled for April 28- May 2, 2012, with event registration open since New Year’s Day.

While the promotional group led by event co-founder Mike Pearlman is finalizing an impressive variety of new event enhancements and corporate partnerships, NORRA has added a fourth day of timed competition that will route competitors from the historic coastal town of La Paz down to a yet-to-be disclosed finishing location beachside in San Jose Los Cabos. Once they arrive, competitors will immediately enjoy a massive poolside finisher’s party and awards ceremony. The extra day will allow rally participants more high-speed off-road driving with unparalleled views of Mexico’s scenic Baja Sur region.

“We understand that organizing or participating in a 1,000-mile adventure like this is a commitment of time and resources for everyone involved,” explained Pearlman.“Our objective for 2012 is to make an already great event ‘over the top’ in terms of taking care of our driver’s and their teams -- especially in the areas of safety and hospitality. From the time Mexican 1000 participants arrive in Mexicali to their departure in San Jose del Cabo, we want them to enjoy a truly unique and first-class experience. It’s about adding tons of value and building ano ff-road gathering unlike any other in the world.”

According to Pearlman, other event upgrades are also in the works including faster, more sophisticated timing and scoring systems, a better radio communications relay network and more emphasis on media coverage and PR efforts. While details are still being finalized, NORRA also has plans to create a hospitality atmosphere at many of the Rally’s locations and overnight stops that “create the social camaraderie that is the heart ofthe Mexican 1000.”

Dubbed the “Happiest Race on Earth,” the unique off-road rally was co-created by promoter Mike Pearlman in 2010. The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, three-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rally cars, a limited number of modern desert race cars and classes for prerunner trucks and buggies. Pearlman’s late father Ed and others established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November of 1967, which eventually became internationally recognized and evolved into the Baja 1000 in the mid-1970s.
Registration is now open to automobiles and motorcycles that meet basic safety standards as outlined the new NORRA rulebook (currently available at the
Although the spotlight will remain squarely on vintage machinery, NORRA has added several new categories for modern and vintage rally cars as well assome for modern desert racing machinery, 4x4s, dune buggies, and ATVs and motorcycles of all types and ages. Each day of the rally consists of special stages (unlimited speed timed stages in the dirt) linked together by controlled speed liaison / transit sections (highway).
For more information, please visit NORRA’s website:

NEWS - Port San Ysidro Blvd. temporarily closed

Port access to San Ysidro Blvd. temporarily closed
Closures are part of historic expansion at border crossing
Por: Alexandra Mendoza 11 Enero 2012 @ 3:33 pm

SAN YSIDRO -- Some lanes will be temporarily closed on the right side of the border crossing at least through summer, federal authorities announced.

It’s part of the remodeling and expansion project at the world’s busiest land crossing, tentatively scheduled to end in 2015.

Since the beginning the week, the lanes used by SENTRI crossers have been closed and that traffic has been diverted to lanes in the mid-section of the port. Only the far-right lane used by buses remained open.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that users of the newly opened Ready Lane will be sent to left side of the port although motorists may continue to access it through Avenida Padre Kino and the Vía Rápida Oriente in Tijuana.

To move traffic faster, authorities have opened two inspection booths in each lane that is open, a practice that’s to continue when the remodeling ends.

Vehicle access from the port of entry to San Ysidro Boulevard has been temporarily closed, also to accommodate the construction.

And motorists who just crossed into U.S. territory cannot connect to the freeway onramp nearest the trolley stop at the end of San Ysidro Boulevard. Those motorists have to travel at least half a mile on Interstate 805 before being able to connect to that boulevard.

According to a spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, which operates the port, several lanes will be closed at a time. When they will close and how long they will remain so depends on the progress of the remodeling project.

The pedestrian lanes are not affected by this phase of the remodeling.

On Wednesday morning, about 18 lanes were open, out of a total of 24, and the wait to cross was more than an hour in the regular lanes and about 10 minutes in the SENTRI lanes.

NEWS - Baja California Will Protect Foreigners

Baja California Will Protect Foreigners in Mexico
By Yolanda Caballero Jacobo I Baja Times

Playas de Rosarito - Bilateral Cooperation in Broadcasting the Rights of Foreigners in Mexico, is the name of the program that will allow the protection of the rights of foreign residents and tourists in Baja California. The presentation of this program took place in Rosarito, a tourist destination where more than 15 thousand Americans reside.

The event had the participation of the state's Justice Prosecutor, Rommel Moreno Manjarrez; Steven Kashkett, United States Consul in Tijuana; Hugo Torres Chabert; president of Image of Baja California Committee; as well as foreign residents.

What happens is that most crimes that are committed in this area are damage to property of others, traffic accidents, theft, and most of these take place during the December season.

The purpose is for (foreigners) to feel they are in a safe environment, said the State's Prosecutor, he pointed out that posters will be placed with information on the rights of foreign visitors and residents while they remain in the country.

There are times when they don't know what to do in a foreign country, the goal is to offer them the right information and assurance that all proceedings are to take place according to the law so they can trust they are being taken care of by professionals.

He maintained that some of the rights are: to be heard by the authority, have an attorney, and establish contact with their consulates.

There is a large number of Americans and the important role this government has is; first the safekeeping of Mexicans but always with courtesy and good manners as well as abide by international treaties and with that, the rights of foreigners.

He added that the border should not be an excuse for impunity, but in accordance with the coordination between authorities it has also allowed them to make arrests of criminals who try to seek refuge in Mexico.

"There is a permanent cooperation between authorities and this makes us be proactive on these subjects", concluded the prosecutor.

SAN FELIPE - Desert Mothers Art Center

Desert Mothers Art Center
San Felipe is growing up and now has a New Art Center bringing the creative people in our community together. It's time the rest of the world learns what a great artist community we have become. Artist communities attract many people looking for a place to live, visit and purchase. Aware of all these facts, Desert Mothers has opened the center to encourage the people of San Felipe and our visitors to have a place to work on their creative skills as well as learn new ones.  This is a wonderful new addition in the ' Dream List' influencing people to consider San Felipe as well as the many other desirable traits of what there is to do and why to choose San Felipe as a retirement or second home.  Even as the Malecon is belng developed to add more desirablitiy to our village, the Desert Mothers Art Center is one more major item on the list of desirable reasons to relocate in San Felipe. Kudos to Donna Roberts for focusing on a major attraction bringing the art of Mexico to an understandable concept.   

Located near Chumpos across from the The Ink Spot and where The San Felipe Book Store had their last location. 183 Mar de Cortez Sur. Come in, visit and watch as we grow in stature exibiting some of the finest artisans in Baja.

SAN FELIPE - Metal Art Classes

Metal Art Classes
Melody Ashley is teaching 1 and 2 day Metal Art Classes in San Felipe. 

Date: Feb. 2 & 3, 27 & 28
Location: TBA
Cost: 1 Day Beginners Class cost is $65.00 and includes 216 sq inches of metal. Advanced 2 day classes cost $110.00 plus metal. 

Contact Melody to sign up for the above workshops by calling Mexico at (686) 181-7799 after
or by email any time at:

ENSENADA - International Mega-Mixer 2012

International Mega-Mixer 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012 12PM TO 4PM
Riviera del Pacifico Conference Center – Ensenada

This free event is a networking opportunity for international residents of Baja and a great chance to obtain information from a variety of sources.

There will be finger foods from various Ensenada area restaurants, wine tastings from Baja wineries and music.

Those government agencies and businesses invited to attend and provide information include:

  • US Consulate
  • Canadian Consulate
  • Mexican Immigration
  • Mexican Customs
  • Baja and Ensenada Tourism
  • Baja and Ensenada Chamber of Commerce
  • San Diego Chamber of Commerce
  • Baja Universities
  • Notario Publicos
  • Official Translators
  • INSEN – Senior Services
  • Valmar Hospital - Ensenada
  • Sharp Medical Center – San Diego
  • Ensenada Tourist Police
  • Pro Vino
NOTE: No one will be selling anything, this is an information sharing and networking event.

LOS BARRILES: Asociación de Artes del Mar de Cortez Studio Tour

LOS BARRILES, Mexico - The Asociación de Artes would like to announce a change in date of the artist's studio tour from February 5th to February 13th between the hours of 10am and 4pm. There will be over 15 artists opening their personal studios featuring everything from photography, jewelry, watercolors, textiles, pottery, paintings and more. The studios will be open between 10am till 4pm.

Advanced tickets can be purchase starting Friday January 27th, for $60 pesos or $5.00 USD at La Casa next to Baja Beach Company in the Plaza de Pueblo, Los Barriles.

A map with studio locations will be given out the day of the event starting at 8am in front of Otra Vez Restaurant. You may also purchase tickets the day if the event in front of Otra Vez for $70 pesos or $6.00 USD.

Artists please email Elizabeth Perkins no later than January 31, 2012 or call her at 624-142-8013 or cell 624-125-7120 to register and put your name on the map.

This will be a great opportunity to find the perfect Valentine's Day present and support art programs in our local schools.

SAN FELIPE - Sonshine Hacienda Licensing Status Update

The last news that you received from us regarding the status of receiving children at Sonshine Hacienda was that DIF officials had met with us and had given us a list of changes that needed to be made to both our facility and our staff in order to satisfy their licensing requirements. You might ask if we were disappointed, frustrated, and angry? Yes, the entire staff did move through those emotions, BUT the good news is that we moved through those feelings and we have now arrived in a place where we are ready to take on the tasks that have been given to us. We are renewed and refreshed through our faith in our precious Lord and Savior. Nothing is too big for our God!! He can move any mountain put before us. How high do you want that wall?? It can’t be too high for God!!

We have an action plan in place and have already completed a large majority of the tasks that were presented to us. So we continue on - determined to finish the course and have children running in our courtyard as soon as God is ready!! We will give you an update in a couple of weeks on our action plan, on “the wall” project and a few other announcements that we pray will bless all of us.

I love the old Afro-American spiritual, “I Shall Not Be Moved”. I have taken some liberties with this song and changed the “I” to “we”, and just listed the first sentence in each verse. We will not be moved from our purpose, our commitment:

“like the tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved.”
“When my burden’s heavy, we shall not be moved”
“Don’t let the world deceive you, we shall not be moved.”
“Come on and join the army, we shall not be moved.”

December 2nd, 2011 was an evening that all of us at Sonshine Hacienda will remember for many years to come. To me, it was like how Cinderella must have felt going to the beautiful ball. It was truly a night when our beloved Sonshine Hacienda got all “dressed up” in her finery and was able to show off how she had become this beautiful sanctuary! She was a wash of dazzling brilliant blue and silver, with twinkle lights aglow and beautiful tables decorated for the 200 dear friends that came to officially celebrate the opening of Sonshine Hacienda, a refuge for the children in San Felipe.

The evening was filled with a variety of different activities, prior to being seated for dinner. As guests arrived for the evening, they were invited to participate in regularly scheduled tours of Sonshine Hacienda, or they could visit the Silent Auction room where they could place their bids on over forty items donated by local businesses, artists, restaurants and private individuals in the San Felipe area. We also invited our guests to visit the “Giving Tree”, a Christmas tree decorated with decorations that were actually suggested items that people could commit to buy from our inventory list of needed items for Sonshine.

We had a delicious Italian dinner prepared by Rebecca Mann. Thank you so much to Rebecca for all her dedicated work and long hours. Thank you also to her right-hand man, husband Jim for helping her out!! We are also so thankful for the delicious cake that was made by our favorite “Cake Lady” in San Felipe, Gloria Mater. You out did yourself once again. All of these services were donated out of love to Sonshine Hacienda!!

I must say that one of the highlights of the evening was when my date for the evening (the guy I have been hanging around with for 45 years next month) became the Auctioneer for our live auction for the evening. All I can say is that if he hadn’t become a Preacher, I think he could have made a living selling other peoples “stuff”!! We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot and made a lot of money for Sonshine Hacienda. In total we cleared $6,000. Praise the Lord!! A big thanks to Paul and Donna Korneliussen for the beautiful powerpoint pictorial history of Sonshine Hacienda that closed our evening together…you made me cry tears of joy!!

I cannot close without thanking Paul & Donna Korneliussen, our Administrators and Erin Howard, our Sonshine Missionary and Alvaro & Diana Sandez, our Caretakers, for their countless hours that they spent planning and working diligently to make this celebration the wonderful night that it turned out to be. 

We want to thank all of you who so faithfully support Sonshine Hacienda. Thank you for coming to our celebration and helping us “show off” our beautiful sanctuary in the desert!! The Lord is using each of you to obtain His purpose….to have this refuge for children open and operating soon. We claim that victory in His name.

NEWS - Citizens Council for Tourist Assistance

The City of Rosarito Beach extends an invitation to the inaugural meeting of the Citizens Council for Tourist Assistance
Thursday, January 26th 2012
at the Rosarito Beach Hotel - Salon Las Americas at 10 am
For more information contact: Gustavo Torres,

What is CCAT?
CCAT stands for Citizen Council for the Tourist Attention.
Its main goal is to promote the participation of Rosarito citizens and raising awareness levels regarding tourists, forming a network of people willing to report any mistreatment or misconduct towards our visitors from public servants, police officers, tourism industry establishments or services.

Who is part of the council?
Members of the community, nonprofit organizations, business people, hotel owners and staff members, foreign residents, students, restaurant owners and employees, and everyone who’s aware of the importance of tourism in our city.

OFFROAD - 2012 NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally


December 20, 2011: After months of careful planning and cooperative efforts with Mexican officials and several potential corporate partners, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) today announced the official dates for the 2012 Mexican 1000 Rally as April 28 - May 2, 2012. The new time slot not only reflects a change in the event's overall formatting, but were necessitated by NORRA's desire to avoid a conflict with another off-road race promoter over the Rally's original May 5 - May 9, 2012 date.

Dubbed the "Happiest Race on Earth," the unique off-road rally was created by promoter Mike Pearlman in 2010. The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, four day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rally cars, a limited number of modern desert racecars and classes for prerunner trucks and buggies. Pearlman's late father Ed and others established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November of 1967, which eventually became internationally recognized and evolved into the Baja 1000 in the mid-1970s.

Unlike the first two Mexican 1000s, the rally will be held starting on a weekend instead of mid-week to allow more spectator interaction and to provide participants the chance to enjoy the rally within one full calendar week. The 2012 proceedings will begin with a technical inspection/car show at the historic bull ring in downtown Mexicali on Saturday, April 28. The first stage of the rally itself will depart Mexicali on Sunday, April 29 and is planned to end in San Jose del Cabo on May 2, 2012.


With the dates now solidified, NORRA will open online registration to all participants for the 2012 Mexican 1000 on Sunday, January 1. In addition, an updated Mexican 1000 Website will be unveiled on New Year's Day as well.

We are very pleased to have the 2012 dates finally secured and our event soon open for registration," explained Pearlman. "Unfortunately, our original dates needed modification to help accommodate Casey Folks and his Best-InThe-Desert (BITD) organization's new sanctioning of next year's General Tire Mint 400. While our two events are very different, we not only have competitors that wish to compete in both, but we want to continue our positive relationship with Best In The Desert."

Registration will be open to all automobiles and motorcycles that meet basic safety standards as outlined the new NORRA rulebook (currently available at the website). Although the spotlight will remain squarely on vintage machinery, NORRA has added several new categories for modern and vintage rally cars as well as some for modern desert racing machinery, 4x4s, dune buggies, and ATVs and motorcycles of all types and ages. Each day of the rally consists of special stages (unlimited speed timed stages in the dirt) linked together by controlled speed liaison / transit sections (highway).

While still a competitively timed event, all entries will enjoy the same course, beautiful Baja scenery and group festivities. In addition, the NORRA organization is working to greatly enhance one of the Mexican 1000's most distinguishing elements - the rally's camaraderie, hospitality and fun.

Despite official entries not being officially open until January 1, it is expected that many of the rally's most distinguished racers - a list that includes Bob Gordon, Walker Evans, Parnelli Jones, Malcolm Smith, Bud Feldkamp, Frank "Butch" Arciero, Larry Roeseler, Michael Gaughan and others will return for the 2012 rally.

Baja champion





National Off Road Racing Association Since 1967 661.268.1232

NEWS - Ship Tragedy Off Italy Not Good News For Cruise Industry

The depressed economy and Mexico's violent drug war have taken a huge toll on the cruise-ship industry in San Diego. And last week's tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia in the Mediterranean, which claimed at least 12 lives, was more bad news for the industry.

Another Costa ship, the Deliziosa, sailed from San Diego last night amid a 100 day, around the world tour. While the ship carried 2,400 people, most of the passengers were Italian or German; only two were American.

The Port of San Diego's Rita Vandergraw was aboard when the Deliziosa docked here. She said a main focus of the captain and crew while she was aboard was on safety.

“Safety is the paramount concern of the cruise industry and the ports," she said.

Vandergraw said the cruise business in San Diego and L.A. has declined 50 percent since the economy tanked. It's expected to decline even further this year.

The lagging southern California economy and violence in Mexico aren’t the only problems. Stagnant ports of call in Mexico are also a factor, she said.

“The cruise lines have asked Mexico to do some new tours, so customers will get off the ship and enjoy themselves. Cabo San Lucas is a very desirable destination and there’s a variety of things for customers to do when they get off the ship. Ensenada, frankly, hasn’t changed in 30 years, ” Vadergraw said.

As a result, ships are leaving southern California for more lucrative ports in Hawaii, Europe and Australia.

San Diego has lost its three-, four- and five-day cruises. And there’s more to come. It’s expected to drop the seven- and eight-day cruises to Mexico by the end of the year.

Still, Vandergraw remains optimistic.

"This is a port city. San Diego is a natural deep water harbor and it definitely should be part of what can be offered by this city for generations to come," she said.

Longer cruises, to Hawaii, and to Europe via the Panama Canal, continue to be popular out of San Diego, she said.


NEWS - Costa Concordia cruise ship death toll rises to six as man's body found

Divers searching the wreckage of the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship have found the body of another passenger, bringing the death toll to six.

Italian rescue officials confirmed that the man, still dressed in an orange lifejacket, was found in a corridor in the part of the ship that was still above water.

Sixteen people still remain unaccounted for after the luxury liner ran aground off the Tuscan coast.

The number unaccounted for increased because two Sicilian women, originally listed among the evacuated, have not contacted relatives.

Mr Cari said a search of all the ship, including a divers' inspection of the submerged areas, continues, but the sea is becoming rough.

Yesterday, two elderly men were found dead an emergency gathering point near the restaurant where many of the 4,200 on board were dining when the luxury liner struck rocks or a reef off the tiny island of Giglio.

The Italian news agency Ansa reported the dead were an Italian and a Spaniard.

Still, there were glimmers of hope: The rescue of three survivors - a young South Korean couple on their honeymoon and a crew member brought to shore in a dramatic airlift some 36 hours after the grounding late on Friday.

The sixth confirmed death comes as the ship’s captain, Francesco Shettino, faces accusations from authorities and passengers that he abandoned ship before everyone was safely evacuated and was showing off when he steered the vessel far too close to shore.

The ship's Italian owner, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, issued a statement late yesterday saying there appeared to be "significant human error" on the part of the captain, "which resulted in these grave consequences".

Authorities were holding Capt Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped.

According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

A French couple who boarded the Concordia in Marseille, Ophelie Gondelle and David Du Pays, said they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship.

"The commander left before and was on the dock before everyone was off," said Ms Gondelle, 28, a French military officer.

"Normally the commander should only leave at the end," said Mr Du Pays, a police officer who said he helped an injured passenger to a rescue boat. "I did what I could."

Coast Guard officers later spotted Capt Schettino on land as the evacuation unfolded. The officers urged him to return to his ship and honour his duty to stay aboard until everyone was safely off the vessel, but he ignored them, Coast Guard Commander Francesco Paolillo said.

Capt Schettino insisted he did not leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. "We were the last ones to leave the ship," he said.

Questions also swirled about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous reefs and rocks that jut off Giglio's eastern coast, amid suspicions the captain may have ventured too close while carrying out a manoeuvre to entertain tourists on the island.

The ship's owner, Costa Crociere SpA, issued a statement saying it was working with investigators to determine "precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia".

"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences," the statement said.

"The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain's judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures."

Residents of Giglio said they had never seen the Costa come so close to the dangerous Le Scole reef area.

"This was too close, too close," said Italo Arienti, a 54-year-old sailor who has worked on the Maregiglio ferry between Giglio and the mainland for more than a decade.

Pointing to a nautical map, he drew his finger along the path the ship usually takes and the jarring one close to shore that it followed on Friday.

The ship was a mere 150 yards from shore at the time of the grounding, Ansa quoted Grosseto prosecutor Francesco Verusio as saying.

Capt Schettino insisted he was twice as far out and said the ship ran aground because the rocks were not marked on his nautical charts.

However, he did concede he was manoeuvring the ship in "touristic navigation" - implying a route that was a deviation from the norm and designed to entertain the tourists.

"We were navigating approximately 300 metres from the rocks," he told Mediaset television. "There shouldn't have been such a rock. On the nautical chart it indicated that there was water deep below."


TOUR - 2012 RV Caravans Begin

January 13, 2012 - Our Caravan was the first on the road as of January 4th and we are currently in Loreto, Baja Sur comfortably camped out at Rivera Del Mar. The group had a great excursion up to the San Javier Mission, I am really impressed that the road is paved to within 8 km (5 miles) of the village, the E-350 really appreciates this for sure! Our Fiesta night dinner in Loreto was wonderful, great food, great hosts and great music! The RVers with us are enjoying the Baja experience, some are thinking of dropping off, other now wish they had not made plans to return to the U.S. quite so early.

We believe this will be a good year for Baja this year in the RV world, we only have one (1) space remaining in our March 2012 28 Day Tour and have deposits on our November/December 45 Day Tour this fall. Our competitors also seem to be doing okay, John & Becky of Baja Winters appear to have almost sold out their longer January tour. As far as we can tell, Vagabundos del Mar, Casi Libre, Adventure Treks, Seabridge Tours and Adventure RV Caravans are all operating on Baja in the next 3 months. We are unsure if Fantasy RV Caravans which had an RV caravan scheduled for this season, is still proceeding. We do know they are advertising for next year. We have also met many 1st time Baja RVers and that is encouraging.

Baja is a terrific place for RVers to spend all or part of their winter, come on down!

Don't forget to purchase your Mexican Insurance at a discount from the Baja Good Life Club!

MEXICO - Mexico inaugurates world's highest cable-stayed bridge

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has inaugurated the world's highest cable-stayed bridge.

The 403m (1,321ft) tall Baluarte bridge spans a deep ravine in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in the north.

It is part of a new highway crossing some of Mexico's most rugged terrain, from Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast to Durango in the interior.

The cable-stayed bridge is so tall that the Eiffel Tower would easily fit under its central span.

"This project will unite the people of northern Mexico as never before," President Calderon said at the inauguration ceremony.

Officials from the Guinness World of Records were on hand to present him with an award recognising the engineering feat.

'Devil's backbone'

The opening of the 1,124m (3,687ft) long bridge is part of celebrations to mark 200 years of Mexico's independence from Spain.

It is expected to open to traffic later this year, and Mexican officials hope it will boost tourism and commerce in the region.

The Mazatlan-Durango highway replaces a notoriously dangerous winding road known as the "Devil's backbone" that crosses the jagged peaks of the Sierra Madre Occidental.

As well as Baluarte, there will be eight other bridges over 300m high, as well as more than 60 tunnels.

Officials say it will reduce the journey between Mazatlan and Durango by about six hours.

Eventually, it will form part of a modern highway linking the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

As the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, it surpasses the famous Millau Viaduct in France.

OFF ROAD - A Norra Race Team

Kay and Marsha Baja tour from 1-16 to 2-15-2012.

The main purpose of the tour is to raise funds for our race team ( and explore the roads where we will be racing through next April( and most important is to promote Baja as the number one adventure destination in the world by posting pictures and writing about our experience traveling in Baja.

During the month tour, Kay and Marsha will cover Baja from north to south with their 2 dogs (Dottie and Pokey) driving a 1985 VW camper van towing a motorcycle using the Bajauler (Kay's design). Camping in the van during the trip to save expences but will take a hotel room every few nights for showers and some civility.

We will concentrate our fund raising efforts in the following 4 cities: Bajia de los Angeles, Loreto, La Paz and San Jose del Cabo where the race will make its stops. Our target sponsors will be hotels, restaurants, bars and race related businesses.

The following is a our trip/tour itinerary

Ensenada, see some of our old friends, camp in Aqua caliente, soak in the hot tubs all night.

Lunch in San Quintin.
Camp in El Rosario on the pacific

Bahia of LA for 2 nights.
work, work, work

San Ignacio
La Mission

Santa Rosalio-Mulajee-Loreto area

La Paz

Los Barriles

1-28 to 2-7
Southern part:
San Jose del Cabo-Cabo san Lucas, Todos Santos

La Paz


Guerro Negro-Whale watching

Gonzaga bay

San Felipe

I will be happy if I got the opportunity to speak in your annual meeting, I would prefer to talk about the race team and the fund raising effort but I can talk about different other subjects. Let me know if you have something mind, thanks a million.

Kay Awaad

BAJA - Bringing back Baja's tourists

Source: Sign on SD
When Juan Tintos returned in 2010 to his old post as Baja California's tourism secretary following a nine-year hiatus, he faced a daunting challenge: reviving the state's ailing tourism industry, stricken by persistent fears related to drug wars and crime.

Today, Tintos is bullish about Baja California's prospects for much more robust tourism, fueled in part by growth in spending among tourists living in Mexico, as well as Hispanics north of the border. Although tourism spending and visitors have dropped considerably from early in the last decade, those numbers are starting to climb back from the depths of 2009, Tintos hastens to point out.

For starters, his office sought out a public relations agency to help the state channel the mindset of American tourists. In addition, an "image committee" of expatriates was convened to zero in on redefining the public's perception of Baja.

In San Diego recently, Tintos spoke about his strategy for energizing tourism on a number of fronts that he hopes will convince Americans once again that Baja California is a compelling place to visit.

Q: In the wake of a difficult decade for tourism in Baja California, what specific initiatives have you taken to induce more people to cross the border for getaways and vacations?

A: We did a perception survey last March in eight Southern California destinations. They had heard about good things happening but still had some reservations about coming. There's still a need to provide accurate information (and clear up) misinformation. This is my 18th trip to California, Arizona and Nevada. Besides the Anglo and growing Hispanic market, we're focusing on our domestic market.

Before this whole situation, I would say tourism expenditures in Baja were about two-thirds Americans or foreigners. That fell to one-third at its worst. So now we're at 60 percent from the national market (within Mexico), but we're not out of the woods yet.

Q: Rather rely strictly on the tourist traffic of the past - Americans heading to Baja California beaches - what new niches are you exploring to boost tourism revenue?

A: You have the largest concentration of maquiladora plants, and that generates business tourists who come and stay two, three nights. We've also grown in medical tourism. We have 450,000 people, mostly from California, mostly Hispanics, who come to Baja for dentistry, eye care, cosmetic surgery, and that generate $86 million a year. We have a calendar of over 300 events, and more than half are sports like the Rosarito-to-Ensenada bike ride.

Q: How important has the region's culinary boom and maturing of its wine region, Valle de Guadalupe, been in boosting visits from San Diegans?

A: This year we doubled the number of events in the wine region. We've had 4,000 to 6,000 people at concerts. Instead of the Bullring by the Sea, people prefer to be in that area surrounding by beautiful scenery. Another thing that has helped is the famous Baja Med cuisine. We just had the baja culinary festival in October where we had 29 events in five days and chefs from the U.S., Europe and South America. And the federal government is going to launch 10 tourist routes, and the wine region will be one of them.

Q: San Diego's cruise ship industry has suffered a huge setback as more and more ships have pulled out of Southern California that were formerly going to the Mexican Riviera. The lines said they did so because of the crime issue and lack of diversity of ports. What is Baja California doing to entice the cruise lines to return?

A: Yes, the verdict was that the Mexican Riviera was tired and needed to be rejuvenated. We did a study that told us you have to have more attractions and better presentation of your destination, train your taxi drivers, look for more genuine arts and crafts.

We eliminated the tugboat fee (that was assessed) whether you used it or not. We're putting in a new sewer treatment plant at La Bufadora. We've got the Chamber of Commerce and association of merchants to make sure that only authentic merchandise is sold. We don't want tourists to go back unsatisfied. We used to have 325 cruise ship arrivals a year. We reduced half of that, and we're working slowly on increasing that. There's an expression in Mexico: You don't know what you've had until you lose it."

2012 San Felipe Blues and Arts Fiesta

Will you be one of the lucky few to say you were there?

On March 24, 2012, San Felipe, Baja California will be the backdrop of the highly prestigious Blues and Arts Fiesta. This event, during which music and art become one, is made even more appealing by the Sea of Cortez, the most prominent symbol of the Baja Peninsula. San Felipe is a slow paced fishing town, but on March 24, this is undoubtedly going to change.

The fiesta was created in the same spirit as the Woodstock and Monterey Pop Festivals, and the artists who will perform are comparable to the most celebrated blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and rock singers of the history. Apart from excellent music, the event features the best of Mexico’s craftsmen who will display the finest of their works on the 60 booths available for this occasion.

The mission of Blues and Arts Fiesta is “Changing Lives Through Music and Art”. As a result, the event will be a reason of joy not only for participants, but also for the deprived members of the community. All proceeds will be donated to local charities that rely on private donations to carry out their activity. Any person will automatically contribute to the cause by purchasing a ticket which costs $20 if paid in advance and $25 if purchased on location. Visit the official website of the event for tickets and travel information.

The location of the shows will be El Cortez Hotel, and the organizers are San Felipe BC Lions Club ( and Baja Good Life Club ( About 150 volunteers will put a lot of effort into bringing this incredible event to the public.

San Felipe BC Lions Club operates with the sole purpose of assisting the humanitarian needs of local organizations. Their members are totally dedicated to encouraging cooperation among citizens and unconditional compassion towards the less privileged.

The Baja Good Life Club provides a platform of interaction for those who want to turn Baja into their home. Members have access to products, services, and resources which turn every day into an opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest.

SAN FELIPE - Rotary Club's Annual Taste of San Felipe

SAN FELIPE - Rotary Club's Annual Taste of San Felipe

Time: January 17, 2012 from 1pm to 3:30pm

Location: San Felipe BC Mexico

Rotary Club's Annual Taste of San FelipeDate: January 17 Time: 1:00 to 3:30 PM Cost: Tickets are $ 15.00 or 200 pesos. Annual Taste of San Felipe, a walking tour sampling the best food of about 20 restaurants. More info email

SAN FELIPE - Expo Canina

January 15th Expo Canina (Dog Show) at George's Restaurant and Hotel $10 (us) charge for entry in competition, admission to show is free. Dogs will be judged in 3 categories, Composition, Steeple Chase and Costumes.
More info call 686-577-1399 or 686-577-1002.

NEWS - Debate Over 'World's Aquarium' And Resort Development In Mexico

One of the world's most interesting marine preserves sits off the coast of Baja California, not far from Los Cabos, in a quiet area called Cabo Pulmo.

But on-going development threatens the tranquil nature of the place -- and the protected environment that Jacques Cousteau once called the "world's aquarium."

"The question is, how do you manage the increasing number of tourists flocking here?" asks a new BBC report.

One local hopes the answer is not in large-scale tourism of the sort found in more popular Mexican destinations.

"What is Cabo Pulmo?" local Mario Castro tells the BBC. "A little village, very quiet in the night. We want to conserve it like this. I think that if people want to go to bars, to discotheques, they'll say, 'Oh, Cabo Pulmo is not for me.'"

SAN FELIPE - Los Arcos Restaurant new hours and format.

Los Arcos Restaurant is pleased to announce our new hours and format. As most of you know, business is spotty at best. We are trying to condense dining times to be more efficient. We will be available for birthdays, anniversaries, or any special occaison. Contact us at (044-686-184-2692),cell. We have several references who have held parties at our facility.

Our hours of operation will be as follows:

Thursday: 12PM to 6PM; Bingo from 1PM to 4PM
Friday: 4PM to 8PM; Two specials each evening(schedule listed below)
Saturday: 12Pm to 7PM; Bowling from 2PM to 4PM Two specials for dinner.(schedule listed below)
Sunday: Champagne Brunch 11AM to 2PM.; Begins January 16th, 2012

Specials for January 2012


January 2012 will mark the premier of a new travel show called Crossing South, which highlights the multiple places of interest that characterize Baja. Follow host Jorge Meraz as he discovers hidden gems in the multiple towns and cities of the area. From snazzy resorts to street taco stands, they all make up the flavor of this wonderful land that many Americans call home.

This show is creating quite the buzz and the audience of KPBS has given the show a thumbs up with solid viewing numbers when the pilot show first aired. Will you 'Cross South'? Then tune to KPBS San Diego. Please see the viewing air dates below. For more info visit and follow us on facebook at "Crossing South"


Cable 11, Cox 1011, Time Warner 15-1

Episode # 1 (Tijuana)

Saturday, December 31, 03:59 pm on KPBSHD

Episode # 1B (Rosarito)

Thursday, January 5, 08:30 pm on KPBSHD

Saturday, January 7, 04:00 pm on KPBSHD

Monday, January 9, 04:00 am on KPBSHD

Thursday, January 12, 10:30 pm on KPBSHD

Episode #2 (Ensenada)

Thursday, January 12, 08:30 pm on KPBSHD

Saturday, January 14, 04:00 pm on KPBSHD

Sunday, January 15, 02:30 pm on KPBSHD

Sunday, January 15, 11:30 pm on KPBSHD

Monday, January 16, 02:30 am on KPBSHD

Episode #3 (Valle de Guadalupe)

Thursday, January 19, 08:30 pm on KPBSHD

Thursday, January 19, 10:30 pm on KPBSHD

Saturday, January 21, 04:00 pm on KPBSHD

Sunday, January 22, 11:30 pm on KPBSHD

Tuesday, January 24, 04:00 am on KPBSHD

Episode #4 (San Felipe and Tecate)

Thursday, January 26, 08:30 pm on KPBSHD

Thursday, January 26, 10:30 pm on KPBSHD

Saturday, January 28, 04:00 pm on KPBSHD

Sunday, January 29, 02:30 pm on KPBSHD

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NEWS - 42.2 Million Turtles are Born in Mexico

42.2 million Turtles are Born this Year in Mexico. The Ministry of Agriculture reported that the species has been made in the last nesting season are the olive ridley, leatherback and olive ridley.

Mexico • Mexican authorities recorded the birth of 42.2 million olive ridley, leatherback and olive ridley in the last nesting season 2010-2011, reported the Ministry of the Environment (SEMARNAT) of Mexico.
The agency said in a statement that the turtle conservation efforts, including the protection of females, their nests and releasing hatchlings are led by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (Conanp) in 33 nesting beaches.
Ten of these nesting beaches are protected natural areas (PNA), three are located within the so-called biosphere reserves, 15 Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance as the rest are located in areas without special protection, explained the dependence .
In the sanctuary brush and Ayuta Morro Beach in the southern state of Oaxaca, took place this year 1.2 million olive ridley nesting and 23.3 million fry were released.
For the olive ridley population change occurred in 20,574 nests in the state of Tamaulipas and Veracruz 534, and in total were released 18.9 million fry in these two regions.
"The number of nesting grows last season, so you might consider that the population is on the road to recovery," said the SEMARNAT.
In the case of the leatherback turtle, one of the most endangered in Mexico, authorities counted 615 nests in total, mainly in the coasts of the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca.
In those states, released to the sea Conanp 15,414 young of this species.
However, the Semarnat estimated that the entire Pacific coast of Mexico was in the 2010-2011 nesting season around of 1,647 leatherback nests.
Mexico is home to different varieties and green turtle, hawksbill, loggerhead, white, black and lute.
The main dangers facing sea turtles in Mexico are the invasion of their habitat (beaches) by man, bycatch, predation of nests by some communities still consume their meat and eggs, and injuries suffer some specimens by motor boats.
Since April 2006, Mexico prohibits commercial capture or survival of the turtles.
Source: TRENDS • DECEMBER 20, 2011 - 4:22 PM - REUTERS