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Frumpy Middle-aged Mom’s Story of a Trip to BOLA

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Vaccinated and tired of staying home, a SoCal mom heads south across the border with friends and family down to Bahia de Los Angeles - talkbaja.com

Vaccinated and tired of staying home, a SoCal mom heads south across the border with friends and family down to Bahia de Los Angeles

By Marla Jo Fisher | Orange County Register

So I’m here today to talk to you about travel. Some of you may not remember this concept, because you’ve been hiding in your house for a year like Boo Radley in “To Kill A Mockingbird.” (Yes, I know, I mentioned him last week, but get over it. It’s my favorite new analogy.)

Anyway, it’s time to emerge and get some color. You’re starting to look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. I recently went to Baja and came back with a tan.

Some of you may recall that I was supposed to go to Guatemala,  but the dastardly airline Volaris canceled our flights at the last minute, and left us with a week off and nowhere to go. Do not fly this airline. They still haven’t given me back my money, either.

Naturally, I could not possibly stay home and do chores, no matter how badly my house looks, so I had to hurriedly devise another plan, which was to drive down to Baja California with Cheetah Boy, his girlfriend and a couple of friends. Anything involving margaritas is OK with me.

Vaccinated and tired of staying home, a SoCal mom heads south across the border with friends and family down to Bahia de Los Angeles - talkbaja.com

Some of you in the know may say, “But the border with Mexico is closed. How did you cross it?” Well, no one seems to have told the Mexican customs officials, because they did not care. (We’re all vaccinated and no one’s sick, so don’t yell at me.) We went down there to mooch off my friend Steve, a guy from Orange County who retired in this magical hamlet called Bahia de Los Angeles.

Oh, wait, I take that back. It’s not magical. Don’t ever go there. It’s a long, grueling drive and there’s no airport (just a landing strip).

There’s no car rental, no disco, no postcards, no luxury resorts, no Jetskis, no Thai restaurants, no craft breweries, no sea walk, no kiosks with toy guitars and blankets for sale, no carts trundling down the beach with cocktails, no daybeds, no day spas, no vendors on the sand, no pool umbrellas, no ATM, no bank, no liquor stores, no bikini shops and only a couple of places to eat. One paved road. The rest are dirt. Your car will get filthy.

It has almost nothing that you’d expect from a Mexican resort town. You definitely do not want to go there.

Luckily for nature lovers, there’s not enough fresh water in this town for Fonatur, the Mexican government agency responsible for developing such tourist delights as Cancun and Cabo San Lucas, to be able to develop a massive resort there. Even though they yearned to build one. So, for now at least, it’s still a tiny outpost of beauty in the middle of nowhere. You’d hate it. Stay away.

Some of you may have seen my friend Steve’s animals if you remember Irvine’s defunct Lion Country Safari, because he was the head keeper there. Nowadays, retired, he makes do with two Great Danes the size of the Budweiser Clydesdales , and a new aviary he built in his house that he’s stocked with domesticated caged birds. He has several quail that I’m pretty sure were raised to be someone’s dinner, but, instead, he feeds them, though they do give him eggs in return.

Luckily, we were able to mooch off Steve at the house he built on the beach in front of the Sea of Cortez. He was even nice enough to move a bed into the living room, since I’m too gimpy to climb the stairs to the guest bedroom. So I got to watch the sunrise from my bed every morning. Unlike the rest of us, Steve sleeps in front of his house on the beach nearly every night, which is something most of us can only dream about.

Vaccinated and tired of staying home, a SoCal mom heads south across the border with friends and family down to Bahia de Los Angeles - talkbaja.com
Beach house in Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico (Photo by Marla Jo Fisher/SCNG)

For reasons known only to the Almighty, several gray whales who should be on the the Pacific Ocean side of Baja, getting ready to swim back up to Alaska, were instead in this bay, obviously having followed the directions on their Apple Maps. So my handsome son hauled my gimpy carcass into Steve’s boat, and he motored us over to the cove where they’ve been loitering, eating plankton, accidentally stunning small fish and sending all the local seabirds into a feeding frenzy that looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

The whales didn’t seem to mind us, so we just sat enraptured for hours, watching them on the glassy sea. At one point, they swam over to check us out. But they must have decided we were harmless, because they went back to breakfast, which for whales consists of massive gulps of plankton mixed with seawater.

I’ve been whale watching many times in Baja, because I’m an obsessed weirdo, but this one was unforgettable. In fact, it was hard to leave Steve’s house to come home, but we stopped in San Felipe on the way home. This is a town more geared to tourists, and full of everything you need, including a cart on the beach that sells piña coladas inside a hollowed-out pineapple. That’s living, my friend.

So go to San Felipe. They have resorts there. And paved roads. And even a 7-Eleven.


Surfing on the Divided US-Mexico Border Zone

Interesting group of candidates for next Baja California governor

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Voting for governor of Baja California in 2021

Six candidates initiate their campaigns today for governor of Baja California including a casino/racetrack owner and the 1991 Miss Universe

Today – Sunday April 4th – officially marks the day that candidates for seeking public office in Baja California may begin to promote their campaigns and hold public events seeking the support of voters in this state that occupies the northern half of the Baja California Peninsula, at one second after midnight.

In Mexico, political campaigns are publicly funded and are tightly controlled, restricting them to only a few months for campaigning.

Compacting the political activity into such a small window of time also creates an environment where little else seems to be going on so don’t be surprised to see non stop campaign posters plastered everywhere on top of non-stop commercials on radio, TV and social media.

The statewide election will be held on Sunday June 6th and voters will have to choose the next governor from six candidates who made the ballot, including a few interesting personalities.

Lupita Jones - candidate for governor of Baja California
Guadalupe “Lupita” Jones Garay

Among the candidates running for governor of the state, four have confirmed that they will initiate their campaign activities in Mexicali – the state capital – this Sunday, April 4th.

The first to kickoff their campaign will be the candidate of the “Va X BC” coalition, made up of the PAN, PRI and PRD political parties – Guadalupe Jones Garay.

The former Miss Universe from 1991 is a political newcomer and scheduled a campaign event to be held in the early morning hours today, just seconds after midnight at the Plaza de los Tres Poderes of the Civic Center, where attendees were recommended to wear face masks and following safety measures and protocols.

Jones has additional events scheduled throughout the day in Tecate, Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and finishing up the day at an event in Ensenada.

Jorge Hank Rhon - candidate for governor of Baja California
Jorge Hank Rhon

The former mayor and flamboyant owner of the Caliente Race Track and Casino in Tijuana – Jorge Hank Rhon – is running as the candidate for governor for the Encuentro Solidario Party (PES) and will launch his campaign this morning at 9:00 AM at Campo Verde in Los Algodones.

Marina del Pilar Ávila Olmeda – the current mayor of Mexicali and candidate of the “Together We Will Make History” coalition, will start her campaign at 9:00 AM at the Baja California Park in San Quintín before heading to events scheduled in Ensenada and Tijuana.

Marina del Pilar is from the Morena political party and was swept into office in Mexicali back in 2018 when Morena won most of the elections across Mexico in what was seen as the country turning making a loud statement in turning away from the “politics as usual” from the past.

Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda- candidate for governor of Baja California

Jaime Bonilla – the current governor of Baja California who was won office by drafting in the slipstream of the 2018 election, has fallen somewhat out of favor in the public eye in recent months, failing to fulfill his promise to investigate and prosecute the former governor – Francisco Vega de Lamadrid – for theft and corruption.

The former governor who is popularly known as “Kiko Vega was widely reported to have been involved in multiple acts of corruption and in spite of his own wife publicly admitting to the theft of nearly 7 million pesos, no charges have been filed.

The candidate from Morena is representing a coalition made up of mostly left leaning political factions and in spite of the current view of the Bonilla administration, is currently viewed as a slight favorite to win against what is seen as a divided field of moderates and right leaning political coalitions.

Former BC governor Kiko Vega and his wife Brenda
Former BC governor Kiko Vega and his wife Brenda

Assuming no unexpected political fireworks in the coming weeks, the remaining candidates on the ballot are seen to be running for who can come in fourth place behind the more favored candidates.

However with this group of candidates and the politically charged times we are living in, we shouldn’t count anybody or anything out…


Baja California takes the highest awards for Mexican wines at competition

Baja’s restaurants & bars hardest hit during pandemic

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As many as one third have permanently closed in some areas of the peninsula but there is some positive news coming out as well

Surpassing the one year mark of the Covid-19 mandated restrictions, bars, clubs and restaurants have been the single hardest hit business sector throughout much of the Baja peninsula.

There is no official tally but estimates run between 60,000 and 100,000 jobs and some put the real number closer to 200,000 when considering both the direct and indirect jobs that are affected when a business closes.

Some of the hardest hit areas include Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Mexicali, Ensenada, La Paz and Los Cabos in a country where tourism has accounted for as much as nearly 10% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

After one year of the pandemic, Mexico’s total GDP dropped by 7%, however the tourism sector’s activity was cut in half, now contributing less than 5% of Mexico’s total GDP.

Hope on the horizon

With the new reported cases of COVID19 related hospitalizations and deaths trending down in all of Baja’s municipalities, local health officials are expressing optimism that in the coming days, the pandemic warning status could change from yellow to green light.

A green light status would mean that schools would reopen and business activity would be allowed to resume to something closer to normal, although some pandemic protocols would remain in effect.

The elderly as well as those who suffer from mitigating factors such as diabetes or heart disease would remain under tighter safeguards to help protect their health until enough of the general population is vaccinated to safely reach a herd immunity.

Sharecare accredits Cabo as a COVID19 safe destination

Los Cabos was recently named as a certified travel destination by Sharecare, a company specializing in health services and information and the very first in the world to receive the accreditation.

The Sharecare evaluation process looked at hygiene and health protocols at all of the hotels operating in the popular tourist destination.

Of the 85 hotels in Los Cabos, 84 completed and maintained verification on more than 360 global health safety standards, including health and hygiene protocols, sanitation, cleaning processes, ventilation in addition to implementing antigen testing programs.

The accreditation was given based on survey data amassed via questionnaires filled out by visitors at all of the Cabo hotel properties and acquired in real time through an app on their cell phones.

The surveys are part of the Los Cabos Te Cuida” program that was instituted late last year and began with a massive screening program that regularly tested both hotel employees and guests for COVID19.


Live COVID statistics for the United States and Mexico

Baja Spring Break 2021

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Amid the COVID19 pandemic, some beaches will remain open, some closed and others partially open with restrictions.

A popular spring time tradition for many, Spring Break represents a week to escape to Baja with San Felipe, Rosarito Beach, La Paz and Los Cabos some of the more popular destinations.

COVID19 has changed the panorama for travelers and Baja is struggling to balance public health with the desire of so many seeking some freedom from the pandemic restriction and local business communities hurting from the lack of tourism over the last year.

With new hospitalizations and reported deaths from COVID19 trending down over most of the Baja Peninsula recently, both the northern and southern Baja states are inching towards the green light status but with different philosophies in how to manage the annual surge in tourism during Spring Break.

Baja California Sur has generally taken a much more cautionary approach and most of the more popular beach areas will have checkpoints on the roads leading to them where visitors will be monitored for temperature checks and ensure they are following the recommended pandemic protocols.

In addition to the checkpoints, a limit of 50% maximum capacity will be enforced at many of the beach areas south of the 28th parallel including Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos and La Paz along with the Malecon.

In addition to the restrictions on capacity, the beach areas will be open during daylight hours only with an evening to early morning curfew announced by local officials.

Mulege has also announced restrictions on the sales of alcohol during the week of Spring Break, a decision that was not very popular with many of the locals.

Baja California is a different story.

In spite of reports of an increase in new cases of COVID19 in recent days in Baja California, both business and state tourism officials have pressed to relax some of the safety protocol restrictions, leaving no clear message for tourists who are already beginning to arrive.

There are reports of a few beach areas considering checkpoints in areas near the highest expected concentration of tourists but few COVID19 restrictions have been ordered by state health officials this week.

San Felipe announced a few days ago that its beaches will be completely open during Spring Break and there is news that most hotels in the area are expecting to be at or near full capacity.

Increased hotel bookings in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Ensenada and San Quintin have also been reported but most of those areas will be facing a different type of restriction to beach access.

Alerts for contaminated beach areas

COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos), the federal agency assigned to safeguarding against health risks released a report of contaminated beach areas across Mexico yesterday, with three popular northern Baja Pacific beaches included on the list.

Recent testing of local beaches found unacceptably high levels of the bacteria E. faecalis – related to the E. coli bacteria – and like E. coli, it also can be life threatening.

The affected local beach areas are Tijuana l, Rosarito and Hermoso beach in Ensenada and beachgoers will be restricted from entering the water.

None of the San Quintin area beaches are affected by the pathogen but tourists visiting the area are still advised to exercise precaution as none of the beaches in the region will be offering life guard support during the holiday.


US Mexico border COVID discussion group on Facebook

NORRA cancels BCS portion of Mexican 1000 Rally Race

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The Mexican 1000 race will be rerouted to stay above the 28th parallel as BCS officials closed access to NORRA due to COVID19 concerns

Baja California Sur state officials informed NORRA that they are closing access to the 2021 Yokohama NORRA Mexican 1000 rally race, scheduled to run from April 23 – 30 over concerns that the race route and format would potentially risk violating COVID19 safety protocols put in place by the state.

The news comes at a difficult time for off-road racing here in Baja which has seen the cancellation of many popular races due to the pandemic.

NORRA race officials expressed disappointment over the announcement but remain optimistic that they can still make the race an attractive event for both participants and race fans.

The race had planned for an Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas route but is now working on a revised track that will start in Santo Tomas and head east over to San Felipe before the next leg down to Bahia de Los Angeles.

At this point the motorcycles will make a loop continuing on to Guerrero Negro and then back to Bahia de Los Angeles.

All classes will then head back north through San Felipe before the last leg west over to the new finish line at the Horsepower Ranch outside of Ensenada.

The amended route will cover 5 days of racing with a total mileage of 1,141 miles including 11 special stages.

893 miles of the route will be on dirt and the remaining 248 will traverse over paved roads to reach the off-road segments.

Race officials from NORRA believe that this new route will include tracks through areas with terrain and scenery many of them haven’t experienced before that is highly technical to test even the most experienced riders and drivers, including portions that were previously uncharted.


NORRA Mexican 1000 Schedule

Fri. April 23 COVID testing / Registration / Tech at Horsepower Ranch, Ensenada
Sat. April 24 COVID testing / Registration / Tech at Horsepower Ranch
Sun. April 25 Santo Tomás ~ San Felipe
Mon. April 26 San Felipe ~ Guerrero Negro (moto)
San Felipe ~ Bahía de Los Ángeles (4-wheel)
Tue. April 27 Guerrero Negro ~ Bahía de Los Ángeles (moto)
Bahía de Los Ángeles ~ Bahía de Los Ángeles (4-wheel)
Wed. April 28 Bahía de Los Ángeles ~ San Felipe
Thu. April 29 San Felipe ~ Horsepower Ranch (Finish!)
Fri. April 30Post official results and trophy pick up, location TBA

Talk Baja Road Conditions Group

One year anniversary of the border closure to non-essential traffic

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COVID restrictions at the northern Mexican border have been applied mostly only northbound splitting families and hurting business

By Alexandra Mendoza | San Diego Union Tribune

Tijuana, BC Mexico – Today marks exactly one year since the COVID19 travel restrictions on non-essential border crossings took effect; a ban that still weighs heavily in a region so tightly interconnected as Tijuana-San Diego.

Countless businesses in the southern San Diego county have been affected by the dramatic decrease in the number of customers as well as Mexican families living south of the border unable to cross northbound to see their friends and loved ones.

Twelve months have passed now since that travel restriction was first put into effect and we will have to wait for at least one more as last Thursday, March 18, authorities in Mexico and the United States confirmed that the restrictions will remain in place at least for another month, until April 21st.

“It has been the most difficult year in our life,” said Jason Wells, director of the Chamber of Commerce in San Ysidro, a community that relies heavily on clientele that comes from Mexico.

In the last year since the restrictions were first put into place, 135 out of the 756 registered businesses in San Ysidro have closed their doors, Wells said.

Tijuana Peatonal crossing line empty

According to data from the local chamber of commerce, it is estimated that as much as 95 percent of their clients historically came from Mexico – Mexicans crossing with a a tourist visa.

The local San Ysidro business community enjoyed for decades what many interpreted as a “privileged location”, just steps away from one of the busiest border crossings in the world but today find themselves just struggling to survive as they watch the flow of customers at the border slow to a trickle.

“For businesses in San Ysidro it’s like a hose; right now the valve is closed but as soon as it is reopened, those who were able to endure this downturn will be fine, “said Wells.

The trickle down effect of the border restriction extends throughout much of the southern San Diego County.

Lisa Cohen, executive director for the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce pointed out that the COVID19 restrictions imposed by the pandemic in conjunction with those at the border also affected her business.

“We are seven miles from one of the largest borders, and having that closure definitely had an impact,” she commented.

A survey conducted between late 2019 and early 2020 by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the San Diego region’s primary public planning, transportation, and research agency found that 52 percent of respondents described their main reason for crossing the border as shopping, followed by 31 percent for work reasons and 9 percent saying they were visiting a friend or relative.

Lis Rodríguez lives in San Diego and is employed in the local insurance industry. She shared with us that she has not seen her family in over a year.

Midway through the legal process to obtain her permanent legal residence in the United States, Liz has not crossed into Mexico since October 2019.

Recently married, she initiated a process that she believed would only take three or four months but with bureaucratic delays exacerbated by the pandemic, she finds herself still waiting with no end in sight.

Before the border restrictions were implemented, her family and friends could cross from Tijuana into San Diego to visit her, but all that changed one year ago.

“I have not seen them for a year. One year without hugging them and I have missed all of their birthdays. It has been very difficult,” she shared.

At this point, Lis is unsure which will come first – her green card or the reopening of the border.

Back on March 21st of last year, she thought the border closure would only last a couple of months at the most, never dreaming it would still be in place a year later.

Pandemic impact at the border: Numbers

In fiscal year 2019, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processed nearly 40 million people crossed at the San Ysidro port of entry.

Last year with the border restrictions in place since March, that number dropped to a little more than 24 million persons, according to agency data.

Similar numbers were seen at the Otay Mesa point of entry, with 16 million travelers in processed in 2019 dropping to nearly 10 million in 2020.

Dr. Ietza Bojórquez, a researcher for the Population Studies Department at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, considers errors were made in how “non-essential border crossings” were defined and perhaps not the best way to have managed the situation, considering the impact on the local cross-border community as well as the overall economic impact.

Dr. Ietza Bojórquez, a researcher at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte

She recalled that the World Health Organization (WHO) itself did not recommend travel restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr. Bojórquez believes that restricting border crossings to primarily filter out Mexicans holding tourist visas while continuing to allow US citizens and green card holders through the border northbound, did little to stem the spread of the COVID infections in the United States or Mexico.

“If you decrease mobility in principle, yes, you decrease the probability that someone who is a carrier of a virus will transmit it to another person. That idea works at the border in a model where you completely block all border crossings.”

“However if you only decrease the number of people crossing by 40 or 50 percent the virus will continue to spread – as we clearly observed this last year – and unfairly impact a large segment of people who end up marginalized solely because they only hold a tourist visa.”

US and Mexico committed to continue the pandemic restrictions

Édgar Ramírez, attaché to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) at the United States Embassy in Mexico added that “although the vaccination campaigns give us hope that the COVID-19 epidemic could begin to be controlled, we cannot lower our guard yet”.

To date, no plans as to how or when the border will be reopened have been announced.

“Based on the science as well as public health recommendations, we will work with our partners to identify an approach to ease restrictions when conditions permit and with the protection of our citizens in mind,” reported DHS.

Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE)

In a recent visit to San Diego, Roberto Velasco, North American dispatch officer for Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), confirmed they have been working with their US counterparts for the last several weeks, evaluating options for a “careful and gradual” reopening of border.

“It is something that the pandemic itself will dictate and how the numbers continue to develop on both sides of the border. We all hope to hear in the very near future what that road will look like to be able be to achieve this, ”he said in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune.

One of the options on the table would be for a gradual reopening in stages or perhaps by states, he indicated in that conversation.

A few days ago, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard reiterated that a reopening of the border would be considered when the border states reach a green light regarding their epidemiological status.

So far, only Sonora is at that level.

Alonso Pérez Rico, Secretary of Health for the state of Baja California agreed that the best plan would be a gradual reopening.

Few border crossers at San ysidro, mostly US citizens and green card holders

“Nothing can be ‘we open everything or we close everything.”

If we do that, what is going to happen is a very important influx and transmission chains everywhere. In my opinion, the opening should be gradual and under a health security protocol ”, he commented in an interview last February.

It is still unknown when the restrictions will be lifted, and under what conditions.

But the fact remains that a border community accustomed to being able to freely cross back and forth between Tijuana and San Diego is already planning what they will do when the border finally reopens.

Lis Rodríguez has been thinking about little else lately and although she tells us that she stopped following the news out of frustration over the continuous extensions of the border restrictions, she knows that day will eventually come when the border is reopened.

“That day I’m going to hug my family like crazy.”


Border Wall contruction halted by Joe Biden - tear it down or leave it?

Baja Power Grid: Trouble on the horizon…

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Baja California power grid expecting blackouts in summer 2021

The northern half of the peninsula will face a deficit in projected power production this summer that could force brownouts / blackouts

MEXICALI – Officials from the Baja California State Energy Commission (CEE) announced that during the coming 2021 summer season, Baja California will face an energy deficit of approximately 600 megawatts at peak consumption times.

Miriam Álvarez Hernández, director of the CEE assured the state’s energy consumers that the National Center for Energy Control (CENACE) is working to install additional energy producing sources to address the projected deficit.

She went on to explain that last year only eight of the eleven companies that originally were approved and given contracts to build cogeneration power plants were actually able to complete their projects in Baja California.

“The three plants that were not completed were all due to a lack of sufficient natural gas in the pipelines required for the operation of cogeneration power plants due to unforeseen market forces affecting natural gas distribution over the last several months.”

Hernández added that “steps are being taken to relocate the needed power plants as well as approving additional projects to help meet the current and future power demand as Baja California continues to grow and thousands of new connections are added to the regional power grid each month.

In recent months, officials with the Comisión Federal de Electricidad of Mexico (CFE) have announced that they are even considering a plan to build a nuclear power plant along the Baja California coastline as an option to meet the growing future demand.

Power Rationing

In the meantime, both the state and federal agencies will be initiating a statewide campaign to promote power conservation this summer for both home and business consumers.

Suggested measures include curtailing the use of air conditioning as well as appliances such as washing machines or dryers during the peak afternoon hours.

Following the suggested conservation recommendation will help avoid brownouts / blackouts that occur when the power demand exceeds the available output on the grid.

BCS power grid safe – for now

State officials from the southern half of the Baja peninsula assure us that with the installation of new cogeneration power plants, sufficient power should be available for consumers in BCS to meet the normal summer power demand this year.

To help meet the future demand for Baja California Sur, projects for additional power plants have been approved and are expected to come online within the coming months.

The underwater cable project that was designed to connect the southern Baja peninsula with mainland Mexico to provide both a stable source of power as well as additional fiber optic capacity has been stalled but the state governor has formally petitioned Mexican president Lopez Obrador to restart the much needed project which would also help justify the connection of new renewable energy projects such as large scale solar and wind turbine installations.

Mexico imposing new COVID19 border restrictions on non-essential travel

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El Chaparral border crossing into Mexico at San Ysidro

COVID restrictions at the border to continue with Mexico promising increased enforcement on non-essential border crossing

MEXICO CITY: The federal government of Mexico announced this morning that starting tomorrow, March 19, new restrictions will be imposed on land transit at both its northern and southern borders.

The announcement was made by the office of the Secretary of Foreign Relations via Twitter with the goal to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The northern border has been under restrictions since March 2020 that were originally imposed by the United States authorities and extended every month since, in cooperation with Mexico, based on evaluations made month to month of the level of COVID-19 infections.

Live COVID statistics for the United States and Mexico

“Additionally, the government of Mexico will deploy additional sanitary control measures at the northern and southern borders of the country. Restrictions on non-essential traffic and sanitary measures will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2021, ”he added.

Many have criticized what has been seen as a lack of serious implementation by Mexico of the restrictions on non-essential travel at the northern border for much of the pandemic and the Secretary of Foreign Relations has not given any additional details of exactly what type of additional restrictions and sanitary measures will be implemented.

For its part, the United States also announced this morning an extension on incoming non-essential border crossing travel until at least April 21, 2021.

We advise everyone who has travel plans into Baja California via the northern border to stay tuned in the coming days…

Source


US Mexico border COVID discussion group on Facebook

Bon Jovi and his “These Days” album connection to Baja

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The rock star legend was at a crossroads with his music and a trip down to San Antonio, BCS provided the backdrop for his breakthrough album

La Paz, Baja California Sur – El Real de San Antonio dates from the 18th century and it is said that it was founded by Gaspar Pisón in 1756.

The re-discovery of gold during the mid nineteenth century brought with it a period of economic growth and development to the remote southern region of Baja California.

Porfirio Díaz granted concessions to the mines to foreign investors – mainly English – and they brought Chinese labor to work alongside Yaqui Indians to work in the prosperous mines of San Antonio, El Triunfo and Santa Ana.

San Antonio, Baja California Sur

More than half a century passed until the prosperous vein was almost exhausted and the towns were abandoned with their large houses gradually falling apart.

Currently there are only 463 inhabitants that remain and the area has been a popular stop for tourists seeking an off the beaten path adventure outside of Los Cabos and La Paz.

What many don’t know is that the area known as “La Realeña” would also become the backdrop for an important album of an American rock band legend.

Jon Bon Jovi along with his guitarist Phil X, drummer Tico Torres, keyboardist David Brian and bassist Hugh Macdonald walked into the “La Realeña” grocery store one morning in June of 1995 and were welcomed by Señora Guadalupe, the owner of the small business who served them coffee and breakfast.

Señora Guadalupe and CD given to her by Jon Bon Jovi

Little did she know that this group of young men were in a period of transition from heavy metal and about to establish themselves as one of the leading hard rock groups with their breakthrough album “These Days.”

Legend has it that the band was so enchanted with the town, the culture / food and Señora Guadalupe that they would later choose the now famous photograph taken that day for the cover of their iconic album.

Other photographs were taken of a member of the group leaning against an old junked car in El Triunfo and another of the entire band in a bar in Los Barriles.

Bon Jovi himself would later send Señora Guadalupe one of the first copies of “These Days”, considered to be among the best – if not the best – Bon Jovi ever recorded.

Gonzaga Bay reporting some great fishing action…

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Pat McDonell with the Western Outdoor News made a trip with friends down to Gonzaga and struck gold, scoring big groupers and yellowtail

Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is only a couple of hours drive south of San Felipe yet gives you the feel that you are a million miles away from anything else. The bay’s often photographed iconic sand spit that connects Gonzaga’s shoreline to an island at low tide is something that really can only be truly appreciated in person.

Against the Gonzaga backdrop and with the invitation of his old friend Captain Juan Cook from San Quintin Bay Sportfishing, Western Outdoor News writer Pat McDonell along with Chris Wheaton and Gary Puls boarded Captain Juan’s storied Slaptail charter boat where the three anglers landed three gulf grouper (up to 80 pounds) and two nice yellowtails on Pacific Lures.

Back onshore, Pat reports that evening they were able to get their fish cooked at Alfonsina’s where they were staying in some very nice beachfront accommodations.

Old time Mexico at its best…


Pat McDonell at Gonzaga Bay

Whale watching at San Ignacio Lagoon

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Between December and March of each year, gray whales come to gather in these lagoons to mate, give birth, and nurse their young. 

Laguna San Ignacio is located just a few hours south of the 28th parallel in Baja California Sur, México where gray whales have been returning each year for countless centuries in one of natures magical cycles of life before heading north again to reach their arctic feeding grounds.

To experience these whales close up – see them blowing, sounding, mating, and calving in their natural habitat is an awesome and inspiring experience where mother whales bring their newborn babies right up to the boat!

Vaquita: Extinction now likely as Mexico appears to give up

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Vaquita Porpoise endangered in Sea of Cortez

Surrendering any ground gained on the vaquita’s preservation with no serious proposals to help the gulf’s fishermen, all hope now seems lost

A two-hour meeting last Saturday, March 13 between leaders of the local fishermen from the northern Sea of Cortez, environmentalists and Mexican government officials regarding the vaquita porpoise ended with representatives from both sides of the issue expressing frustration.

Representatives from SEMARNAT proposed reducing the size of the vaquita’s protected area in an attempt to satisfy the local fishermen while assuring the environmentalists the reduced coordinates would allow for better monitoring and surveillance.

Alejandro Olivera, the representative in Mexico for the Center for Biological Diversity was visibly angered and spoke out as he left the meeting.

“The current administration is going backwards, destroying all the gains made built around the protection of the vaquita marina.”

Baja California ecosystems - humans endangered by lower food chain extinctions

He continued, “The original protected polygon represents a potential and historical habitat for the species, it was not random. The vaquitas do not live in a corral, they do not know where they are protected and where they are not.”

Leaders representing the local fishermen say they are concerned as well about the federal government’s proposals.

“The secretary of SEMARNAT promised to reduce the size of the protected area saying it would allow for better surveillance. And that is fine. But it will be necessary to assess how it will be taken by the international community and by the NGOs that have lobbied the Mexican government to safeguard the vaquita porpoise ”, affirmed Carlos Tirado, leader of fishermen in the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora.

The Mexican authorities also proposed to reopen the debate on the responsibility of the United States in the extinction of the species in regards to the lack of water from the Colorado River and upstream mining activities.

“This is a topic that was argued a decade ago and irrelevant today when there is more than sufficient scientific evidence showing that the totoaba gillnets are the main culprits in the vaquita deaths,” responded Alejandro Olivera.

The greatest threat today to the vaquita is illegal fishing for totoaba. Period.

Both species are of similar size and weight, explaining why they are trapped in the same nets. Poachers spread their nets out for up to a kilometer long in the sea that literally convert themselves into underwater walls.

Fishing for totoaba is the first link in a multibillion-dollar international illegal business chain involving the traffic of the swim bladder to the orient and mainly China where some attribute healing powers to the swim bladder and are willing to pay as much as $100,000 for a single specimen.

The high prices being paid on the black market for the swim bladder created a frenzied demand for the product and eventually caught the eye of the cartels, who see the totoaba as another illegal market to capitalize on and often work in coalition with the fishermen.

The totoaba – already endangered – is now experiencing an even larger decrease in their numbers as well and could face extinction alongside the vaquita.

And with Mexico’s federal government unwilling to take the difficult and crucial steps to help fight for the vaquita porpoise’s survival, it appears that another species will soon go extinct in the Sea of Cortez.


Extinction cascading through ecosystems a serious threat

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Baja California coastal ecosystems provide evidence of correlations between lack of conservation and extinctions higher up the food chain

By Cay Leytham-Powell | University of Colorado – Boulder

Humans rely on nature extensively for everything from food production to coastal protection, but those contributions might be more threatened than previously thought, according to new findings from the University of Colorado Boulder.

This research, out today in Nature Communications, looked at three different coastal food webs that include those services provided to humans, or ecosystem services, and found that even if the services themselves aren’t directly threatened, they can become threatened when other species around them go extinct—often called secondary extinctions.

With human-induced threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as climate change and degradation, on the rise, these findings could have ripple effects not just on our management of the ecosystems themselves, but on conservation science, policy and funding broadly.

Above: Aislyn Keyes, the lead author of the paper. You can follow her on twitter at @AislynAKeyes

“These extinctions can cascade, impacting services, so protecting certain species that are disproportionately contributing to services either by supporting them or directly providing them can potentially help mitigate any indirect threats,” said Aislyn Keyes, a PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology at CU Boulder and the lead author on the paper.

“There’s not nearly enough money for conservation, and I think this approach could be a way to better allocate resources to protect multiple species and services.”

Ecosystem services can be anything from fish in a fishery to bees or bats pollinating food to grass helping mediate coastline loss. While quite a bit has been studied on these systems, such research tends to focus specifically on the species providing the service. That leaves the ecosystem surrounding it—and the cascading effects they have on each other—largely unknown.

To explore that question, the researchers took concepts and metrics from network science, insight and knowledge from ecosystem service science, and then combined them with a very well-known research area—food web ecology—merging the fields together in a way not previously explored.

Surfing on the Divided US-Mexico Border Zone

“I think it (this research) is a really cool mesh of all of these different fields,” Keyes commented.

Particularly, researchers took three different salt marsh food web datasets collected off the coast of California and Baja California, added their respective ecosystem services to the datasets, and then ran 12 extinction sequences simulations.

They found that food web and ecosystem service responses to extinctions are strongly and positively correlated, meaning what happens to one happens to the other, especially as they pertain to secondary species that support the ecosystem service provider. For those, researchers found that they are integral to maintaining ecosystem services, and if one falls, the ripple effects can be felt throughout the system.

“I think it’s a really promising way forward for thinking about threats to ecosystem services amidst global change.”

However, they also found that it was not even across the board with services provided by species higher up the food chain (such as a large fish in a fishery) more vulnerable from those secondary extinctions than those lower on the food chain, like plants, with services provided multiple places the most tolerant to extinction.

Wetlands in the Bahia Falsa arm of the San Quintin Bay

“A lot of ecosystem service assessments focus on only the species that directly provides the service, but we know that impacts can cascade through an ecosystem, and so we show that these secondary extinctions represent an increased vulnerability for services that hasn’t necessarily been considered in previous ecosystem service assessments,” Keyes said.

The team next plans to use this research to create an interactive game for K–12 students to play so that they can learn more about ecosystem services. Additionally, they plan to look at whether factors that make food webs more tolerant to extinction extend to services.

“I think it’s a really promising way forward for thinking about threats to ecosystem services amidst global change. It highlights that traditional approaches that assess ecosystem services might be missing a lot of this stuff,” Keyes said.

“We’ve opened this box, but what else can we find?”


The other authors on the paper include Laura E. Dee at the University of Colorado Boulder, John McLaughlin at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Allison K. Barner at Colby College.

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Direct Flights from Las Vegas to Cabo beginning Friday March 26

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Direct flights from Las Vegas to Los Cabos

Frontier Airlines has announced new direct flights every Monday and Friday between Las Vegas and Los Cabos beginning on Friday March 26th

For those of you who LOVE cheap airline travel and hate making connections, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines just announced new direct flights from Las Vegas to Cabo San Lucas.

The flights are scheduled to be twice weekly: Every Friday & Monday – perfect for those living in Vegas looking to spend a weekend in Cabo as well as those living in Cabo looking to try their luck on the Vegas slots for a weekend.

Bargain seeking travelers will also love the flight schedules to take advantage of lower priced mid-week hotel accommodations.

Service should begin on Friday March 26th however frequency and time are subject to change. You can check flight schedules at Frontier Airline’s website.

Baja California takes the highest awards for Mexican wines at competition

Former Miss Universe could run for governor of Baja California

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Former Miss Universe Lupita Jones could run for governor of Baja California

Lupita Jones – 1991 winner of the Miss Universe pageant – is considering a possible candidacy to run for governor in Baja California

By Diane Bell | San Diego Union Tribune

Could a former Miss Universe become the next governor of Baja California?

Lupita Jones, the 1991 winner of the international beauty pageant, is considering the idea of running for the post now held by Jaime Bonilla Valdez.

An online news service, borderreport.com, published word that Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) apparently is pursuing Jones, to be its Baja California gubernatorial candidate in the June 6 election.

This is part of a reported push by PAN to recruit female candidates to campaign for various elected positions.

Jones, whose full name is Maria Guadalupe Jones Garay, recently appeared in an online video in which she corroborates the rumor: “It’s not a secret that various societal groups and political parties are inviting me to run for governor of Baja California,” says Jones, 53.

In her four-minute public address in Spanish, in which she acknowledges that she has no experience in politics, Jones appears to be testing the public’s reaction to her possible candidacy for the office.

She says she is “reflecting profoundly about my state and what I could do if I had that responsibility.” Being a newcomer to politics is good, she says, because it would enable her to “sit with everyone and work as a team.”

After her reign as Miss Universe, Jones, of Mexicali, started her own pageant business and was responsible for choosing Mexico’s candidates for Miss Universe and other global beauty contests. She also has worked as a television producer and acted in some Mexican soap operas.

In 2015, Jones was openly critical of Donald Trump, then part-owner of the Miss Universe pageant, after he made disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants. She asked that Mexico withdraw from the 2015 event and urged a boycott of the beauty contest’s products.

Jones spoke of Baja California as the vanguard of Mexico, with its robust border economy and advances in manufacturing, technology, the arts, culture and craft beer industry.

She made an appeal for public input.

“I am going to continue reading (your comments) and listening to you all. I have to make a decision. And I want it to be the best for Baja California,” she says.

“If I were governor I would do it to unite the people and bring to Baja California a new era.”

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Baja California wines sweep medals at the Brussels World Contest

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Valle de Guadalupe Wine Country

For the fourth consecutive year, the state of Baja California has held its place as Mexico’s most awarded wine region

The recent international wine contest – “Concours Mondial de Bruxelles” – was held in the city of Chihuahua on February 24-26th and to the surprise of many, Mexico not only won several categories but swept over 140 awards in total – the most ever by Mexico – lead by the northwestern state of Baja California with 67 awards.

Mexico is a relatively small wine producer in comparison to other regions but over the years the country has taken its place on center stage in international competitions.

The Concours Mondial de Bruxelles recognized the Mexican wines of Baja California with 8 Great Gold medals, 29 Gold medals and 30 Silver medals of different labels, all hailing from the northern valley regions of the state. 


Here is a list of the Baja California wines that took the highest awards:

Luna del Valle Sombra 2016 from Cavas Valmar
Eclipse Tinto 2018 from El Cielo Winery
Corona Merlot Reserva 2015 from Bodega Corona del Valle
Monte Xanic Selección 2019 from Monte Xanic
Mundano Reserva Merlot 2015 from Vinícola Mundano
Enoteca Rocha Zazueta Mezcla Bordelesa Gran Reserva 2012 from Viñas de la Erre
Chateau Camou Merlot 2017 from Chateau Camou
Tinto de la Hacienda 2016 from Hacienda La Lomita


Baja California wine growers are blessed with good soil, exceptional climate and a wide variety of grapes – each with its own unique characteristics.

And with the help of talented and experienced winemakers, sommeliers and producers, they are increasingly positioning the wines of the Baja region on the international market.

Source: Forbes Mexico