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November-December 2006 News in San Felipe

Lion's Club formed in San Felilpe!! Lions Club International Mission Statement: To create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation. The newly established Lions Club San Felipe B.C., met on Thursday, December 14 , 2006 at Los Arcos Restaurant for its organizational meeting and selection of officers as well as committee chairpersons. The goal of the San Felipe Lions Club is to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of San Felipe through fund raising activities, as well as on-going collection of food, blankets, eyeglasses, baby supplies and other items as needs are identified. Click here for contact and more club information provided by Elayne Caldwell. The next general meeting is Thursday, January 11, 2007 at 6 p.m. at Fandango Sports Bar on Avenue Mar de Cortez South, next to People’s Gallery and The Net. lg

Missing Family: If you see a 30' white motorhome with purple decals parked in San Felipe, please have the family contact their relatives in United States who are worried about them. It has a bike rack on the rear and a side awning. The Britsh Columbia license plate reads 879 BGX.

1 January, 2007. A reminder that January 23, 2007 is the date when you will be required to have a U.S. Passport to enter the country from Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean via air travel. The Nexus Air card is acceptable for Canadians. The passport rule will apply to land and sea travelers no later than June 1, 2009. The cost of a passport with the chip in it is $97 and each family member must have one. In the alternative, the State Department also plans to offer a "passport card" that would be similar to a passport, but limit your travel. The card will cost $20 for adults but is only good for travel by land or sea to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Enforcement of land travel requirements are scheduled for the end of 2009. Update: If you now hold a passport without the chip, your passport is good until it expires. lg

29 December, 2006. Tom Bothwell forwarded this notice to The Net: Embassy Closure January 2, 2007 Regarding Day of Mourning for the Passing of Gerald R. Ford, 38th President of the United States:

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and its consulates throughout Mexico will be closed on Tuesday, January 2, 2007 in compliance with President George W. Bush's declaration of a day of mourning for the passing of Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States. A condolence book has been opened at the Embassy and will be available from January 3 for those wishing to sign it. Condolence messages can also be delivered to any of the consulates. The Embassy is also closed on Monday, January 1 in observance of the New Year's Day holiday. We regret the inconvenience to those who had visa appointments scheduled for January 2, and will work to reschedule them as quickly as possible. Visa applicants should call 01-900-849-4949 to reschedule. For any emergencies involving American citizens, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, Office of Citizens' Consular Services Reforma Ave 305, Col Cuauhtemoc Mexico, D. F., Mexico CP 06500 Tel: (011)(52)(55) 5080-2000 or e-mail: ccs@usembassy.net.mx . For additional information, please refer to the Embassy website: http://usembassy-mexico.gov.

18 December, 2006 - In the last two months, there have been many fires reported in town and also homes in the south beaches. Three homes were destroyed in Campo La Roca and one in Delicious. It is absolutely imperative that you do not put your propane tank in your home. If there is a slow leak in the tank and you're not aware of it, the results could be devastating both to property and lives. Keep it outside of the structure you are living in. You can drill a small hole through a wall and bring it in with copper tubing. It might save your life and/or your home. (kh)

13 December, 2006 - Reunion de la Asociacion de Desarrolladores Turisticos de San Felipe - Meeting of the San Felipe Association of Tourist Developers was held this afternoon at the San Felipe Marina Resort. The meeting was very well attended, with representatives from most all developments in and around San Felipe present. A translator was provided and head-phones were given to all attendees who do not understand Spanish. Ing. Armando Ramos Arevalo, President of the Association chaired the meeting and at the head table were from letft to right: Rafael Navarro, owner of Pete's Camp and the President of the Committee to Municipalize San Felipe; Lic. Manuel Vizcara Gomez, Director General of Villas de Cortez and Treasurer of Cotuco Mexicali, Ing. Armando Ramos Arevalo, President of the Developer's Association and owner of the San Felipe Marina Resort; Victor Rodriquez Silva, President of Cotuco Mexicali, Rolando Gomez de Silva, Delegate of the Secretary of Tourism San Felipe and Lic. Arnulfo Zarate, General Manager of the San Felipe Marina Resort and President of Fidecomiso (Federal arm of Tourism). A detailed article on the meeting is here. (kh)

Immigration Tourist Visas. I spoke with Hugo from Immigration the other day and although this was posted on Kat's Korner, I forgot to put it on our news page. There has been some confusion regarding the new rules for obtaining the tourist visa. The bottom line is: If you are only here as a "tourist", which means you're not going to buy property or you don't own property or are going to stay longer than seven days, you may go to the office at the Glorieta and buy the tourist visa. However, you will not be able to use this tourist visa as part of your application process for an FM-3. In addition, Hugo is by himself at our office here in San Felipe, so please be patient!! (kh)

WE HEAR THAT: PORT CLYDE, MAINE (Dec 2, 2006): A group of volunteers have committed to coming to Mexico this coming March 2-12 to help build an orphanage in San Felipe, Baja, Mexico. The Port Clyde Advent Christian Church members are putting on a Chowder feed and selling home made craft items Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help pay for materials for the project, and travel expenses. We have no local contact information for this project. (ej)

Richard Lueck of the Clayton Valley Concord Sunrise Rotary Club sent us photos of their club delivering to it's twin club in San Felipe, football equipment to the "Tiburones" (spanish for "Sharks") Futbol Americano team. Michele MacDonald is the twin club project contact in San Felipe's Rotary and the uniforms were presented to C. Joaquin Sahagun Jimenez, Delegado of San Felipe, whose grandson, Omar Alejandro Sahagun Perez is #88 on the team. This project was started in 2004 and Pat Butler of Rancho El Dorado purchased the first uniforms. This team has great spirit and the will to win and it's a lot of fun to watch them play. It's the first time there has been American football in San Felipe as "football" in Mexico is actually soccer. Profra. Ana Maria Regaldo H., Treasurer of the team. tells me they are also starting a pee-wee team. Thank you Clayton Valley Rotary for helping our team, El Tiberones and the Rotary Club North of San Felipe for making this possible. I will post a schedule of the games as I did last year, as soon as I receive it. These kids are from the Escuela Secundaria General No. 8, "Armistad Internacional" which is the junior high school on Calle Manzanillo. Click here for more photos. (kh)

December 1, 2006 - National Holiday. Today is a national holiday in Mexico and most all businesses will be closed, including The Net. This holiday only occurs every six years, when a new President is elected. President Felipé Calderon was sworn into office at midnight. (kh)

November 26, 2006 - Coldwell Banker Coastal Properties had their grand opening today out in front of their newly remodeled offices on Calzada Chetumal. The offices are very nice and aesthetically, the outside of the building is very appealing. There was a Rolls Royce (which is owned by a resident of Mi Casa Del Mar at La Hacienda) parked in the street, as an example of the type of cars that are driven on the paved streets in their community. Pictured from left to right, Dave La Barre, (too many titles to name); Stephanie Wadsworth with her husband, Jesus Camargo, owners of Heart and Soul Catering, who incidentally won 1st place in the Shrimp Festival, and the people who catered this event; Alicia Parra, Mrs. Dave La Barre holding the baby, Erica Magaña, Debbie Sheridan; Les; Mr. and Mrs. Victor Rodriguez Silva, President of Cotuco Mexicali; Lic. Manuel Vizcara Gomez, Director General of Villas de Cortez and the Treasurer of Cotuco Mexicali; and Andrew Fluss, General Manager of Coldwell Banker. (kh)

November 21, 2006   Meeting for a Presentation of Sites of Tourism Interest at the Islas Encantadas and their Importance as a Protected Natural Area.

Representatives from Semarnat's (initials for Mexico's Environmental Protection Agency) Conap (National Commission of National Protected Areas), and an environment expert from Asesoria Integral Ambiental (AIA) were on hand to talk about the importance of the Islands known as Las Encantadas (Enchanted Islands) that dot the Sea of Cortez across from the Bahia de San Luis Gonzaga area south of San Felipe.

These Islands are almost barren rocks that jut out from the sea near the coast, and are a haven for myriads of birds and abundant sea life the Sea of Cortez is famous for.

Carlos Godinez from the Conap (Protected Areas) spoke about the uniqueness of the 900 Islands of the gulf where many endemic species of rattle snakes, lizards and birds thrive, like a rattler that is named after the Las Encantadas’s El Muerto Island, which is the only place in the world where it is found.

Stephen Martinez spoke about a study the AIA organization he represents has funded, and the efforts to allow these islands to be open to tourism with certain limitations and how to pursue progress and sustainable growth from economic activities on the Federal Land-Maritime Zone (ZOFEMAT).

Alejandro Quiroga, a Councilman from Mexicali, from a commission looking into the importance of the Islands as part of the municipality, and who recently organized a trip for Newspaper people and two biologists from Mexicali, to the Islands in a boat from Tony Reyes's Fishing Fleet, stressed his interest to make the Islands of the gulf, a known subject for the people who generally ignore even their existence.

Carlos Godines also spoke about the interest his Commssion for Protected Areas has in the involvement of the people in matters of protection and development, as it is happening in Bahia De Los Angeles, where the women are starting to organize and be active in civic and economically feasible projects.

Also present in the event promoted by Tony Reyes and held at the Chamber of Commerce (Canaco) building, were the SecTur (tourism) delegate Rolando Gomez da Silva, Tourism and Conventions (Cotuco) manager Ruben de la Peña, and other representatives from institutions and people from San Felipe. (jct)

21 November, 2006 - GreyEagle has landed.

Mother and Son greet at the Airport. Cyrus said he left Long Beach at 9:00 a.m., but because they were getting socked in they had to land at Palomar Airport where they lost about one hour. Finally, they moved on to Brown's Field for immigration checks, Flight time actually took about 2 1/2 hours. It was a 9 passenger plane, very comfortable, and the flight was a little expensive but a great time-saver. He would definitely do it again. Incidentally, we locals can now fly out of San Felipe the same way. For details and reservations, go to http://www.greyeaglecharter.com. Photos & comments by S. Thompson.

17 November - Possible demonstrations in Mexico City and in Oaxaca on 20 November and 1 December .

The U.S. State Department issued travel advisories today for Americans to avoid demonstrations that may occur in Mexico City and Oaxaca in conjunction with the National Holiday (Dia de la Revolucion) on 20 November, and the Presidential inauguration on 1 December. There are presently no travel advisory conditions for the border region or for travel to San Felipe. The latest advisories are found here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_2100.html

16 November - Water rights issues

The Federal Court in San Francisco, California will soon rule whether there will be a cement lining for the All American canal that runs along the California-Mexico border. The Mexican government and many private institutions have been fighting to stop this measure, arguing that the cement lining will cause great economic and environmental damage on this side of the border.

The governor of Baja California, Eugenio Elourdy has met with President-elect Felipe Calderon, who is kept up to date on this issue, along with the mayors of Mexicali and Tijuana and other authorities from border states in Mexico. The issue is expected to be resolved on December 4th. (jc).

Mexico's Fuel Price Increment

Starting today the price of one liter of Premium gasoline will be increased by 0.29 centavos (about .026 US or 0.098 US per gallon) plus tax, and diesel will cost 0.16 centavos (about 0.014 US or 0.053 per gallon) plus tax. SHCP said this measure will allow PEMEX "to keep it's finances healthy and at the same time, continue the development of environmentally friendlier fuels". The new low-sulfur fuel will be available in the border region by January 2007.

Gas prices in Mexicali and other border cities have increased twice in two days. Tuesday Premium went up 48 centavos and yesterday the cost went up another 32 centavos. The cost of Premium used to be 7.84 pesos, now it's 8.16 pesos per liter ($2.80 USD per gallon). Last Tuesday Magna (regular) had a slight increment from 7.23 to 7.28 pesos ($ 2.50 USD per gallon). Yesterday it stayed the same. Diesel fuel went up from 5.27 to 5.45 per liter. The rest of Mexico pays 5.68 pesos. Just a few months ago, there was an attempt by Pemex (Mexico's oil monopoly) to raise the price of gas and Mexicali cabbies blockaded the local gas plant, causing a fuel shortage that had repercussions through out the Mexicali valley and here in San Felipe as well. They may resort to the same tactics again. (jc)

12 November - A major accident occurred on the San Felipe- Mexicali highway around 9 p.m. on Sunday night. According to the report in La Cronica, three people were killed instantly in an accident on highway 5, Km. 168 at 9:13 Sunday night. Dead are a 4 year old girl, a 44 year old woman and a 45 Y.O. man who were traveling in the back of a 1986 pick up truck along with six more people who were injured, included two six year old children.
Most of them were members of two families apparently residents of south campos near Puertecitos according to a conversation with Officer Barron from the local police.
Forty five year old Ignacio Gonzalez Gutierrez was injured when his Toyota Camry rear-ended the pick up truck causing the people in the rear of the vehicle to be ejected. The injured were treated at the Red Cross and the Health Center in San Felipe. The cause of the accident was speeding and both vehicles were traveling South on the San Felipe highway, where just this last week, there's been 8 deaths due to traffic accidents blamed on irresponsible driving.( jc) (Read the report in La Cronica in Spanish here.)

Follow-up: The State is now assigning 20 highway patrol cars to the Mexicali-San Felipe highway to enforce traffic laws and to ensure that there is no speeding. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

We cannot emphasize too strongly how dangerous this road is, particularly at night. If at all possible, you should only drive during daylight hours on this road. With the increasing number of trucks bringing building materials and supplies to San Felipe, it is quite common to see crates, pieces of lumber and blocks that have dropped off the trucks and been smashed by cars running into these hazards. Tire treads from large trucks are also a common sight and if you hit one of these at speed you will severely damage your vehicle. One of the most hazardous conditions that we see is drivers swerving into the path of oncoming traffic in order to avoid an obstacle or pothole on the road. This is particularly true at night when the obstacle is only seen at the last moment. Remember that the speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph).


10 November 2006 I was talking with our local insurance agent, Linda Bilyeu, at her office in the El Capitain Motel downtown and was delighted to hear that she is now the Number One agent in the entire Republic of Mexico for selling house insurance policies for ING/Comercial America. Lynda has a very loyal following in San Felipe and has gained a lot of "clout" with the president of the company in Mexico City. Note that a recent survey shows that all insurance companies in Mexico are extremely slow in paying claims but you can rest assured that Lynda will do the very best she can to assure that you get satisfaction as fast as possible.

Road Construction - Construction on the four-lane highway is well underway. According Victor Rodriguez Silva, Cotuco's Presidente of Mexicali, the government's allocation of funds, as well as the Developers Association's contribution of $100,000 USD, will allow for thirty additional kilometers of the four lane highway. Sr. Rodriquez stated that eight kilometers or as far as the last development, will be completed by January, 2007.

New Rates and Regulations for Telcel - Long distance to cell phones will cost 3.48 pesos per minute. From a note in the La Cronica de Baja California nespaper Starting November 4, long distance calls from a land line to a cell phone will have a tag of 3.48 pesos a minute (about $0.32 U.S. cents) including tax. The good news is that those receiving the call, will not pay anything according to Telmex, the telephone monopoly in Mexico. The company explained that the program "Caller Pays" (El que Llama Paga Nacional), it's customers will have to pay for measured service and air time. This payment scheme will only affect those using Telmex and cellular telephony; excluded are those using fixed telephones with Maxcom, Axtel, Avantel and Alextra, as these companies are fighting the measure alleging it is too expensive for their customers. The new tariff is 17.3 percent higher than the one still valid, which is 2.97 pesos per minute including tax, and is good from 8:00 AM to 7:59 PM and 134.6 percent higher, than the night time fee of 1.48 pesos. In contrast, users of mobile phones will still be able to receive long distance calls from Telmex phones without cost, only paying the roaming fee when they are out of their service area. In the event they receive long distance (LD) calls from any of the other companies, the current fees will apply. Up until now, any Telcel user receiving a LD connection pays for the minute -depending on his plan- between 0 and 3.48 pesos plus tax, no matter if the call originates from a land or mobile phone. Telmex wants to remind you, that to dial National LD to cell phones, you must substitute code 01 for 045, adding the city code and the eight digit number of your cellular phone. (jct) Update: Please see our section on Telephones for a detailed explanation prepared by EJ. Click here.

UABC Food Drive for the Needy. Students from the University Autonoma De Baja California at San Felipe are having their annual food drive to help the needy. They have put drop boxes at various places around town and north of town, one of which is in front of the Net. They have also placed one at the lodge at Campo Ocotillos, where the San Felipe Association of Retired Persons and Las Amigas meet, the Sundance Deli at Playa del Oro, Washtub Laundry (behind The Net), 7-Eleven down town, Mercado Jipon in Los Arcos and Copycentro. All donations will be greatly appreciated by all and nonperishable food items only.

New Immigration Policy - Effective immediately (last week), all Tourists Visas (FMT's) must be obtained at the immigration offices at the respective borders, according to Hugo Valenzuela Quiroz, the gentleman in charge of immigration in San Felipe. You may no longer purchase one at our office here in San Felipe nor the airport. The seven day rule still applies (visitors here for 7 days or less do not need one), however, if you are going to purchase property or sign a lease of any kind, you must apply for an FM-3. In order to have your FM-3, you need an FMT (Tourist Visa) to complete the application process. In the past, we were able to go to the office at the Glorieta or airport, but no longer as they do not have the authority to issue visas. In addition, if you need to have your FM-3's or FM-2's stamped, this must also be done at the border, as you enter or leave Mexico. With an FM3, when you leave the country because of illness or an emergency, it is a good idea to have your FM3 stamped by immigration in the event you do not return in time to renew. There is a fine for failing to renew in a timely manner, however, if your FM3 is stamped on exit and entry, you avoid the fine. If you have an FM2, you must have it stamped each time you exit and enter the country. In Mexicali, as you enter, veer to the right (the other side of customs). The building next to customs is the immigration office. At the entry in TJ or the new border, the immigration offices are also at the border, near customs. The price of an FMT is still $210 mn (pesos), however, we can expect a raise in January. More information on immigration rules are here.


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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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