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February 2008

Wednesday 27 February

San Felipe's Mr. Ragtime has some interesting updates for us:

More exciting news about the bureaucratic inefficiencies of the proposed passcard system for those U.S. citizens that do not wish to pay for a passport for going back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico:
Following is an except from a Homeland Security flyer. Check the 2nd paragraph.

U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for the new U.S. Passport Card on Feb. 1, 2008, in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. The U.S. Department of State expects that cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008.

Although DHS was on schedule to begin implementation of the new requirements as early as summer 2008, the fiscal year 2008 Appropriations Bill passed by Congress last month restricts the department from implementing these new requirements until June 2009.

For those of you who want to learn Spanish:

San Felipe Spanish Classes

With the rapid growth of San Felipe and the surrounding area, the need for ex-pats to learn Spanish grows accordingly.

Last November the Baja California Language College tailored a program specifically for the residents of San Felipe.  The classes were presented at Rancho Pai Pai just north of town. The program met with great success and a return engagement has been scheduled. The two week-three hour per day program begins April 7, 2008. More information is here.

Sunday February 24

We had a very good grunion this afternoon after the high tide. The beaches from town south to Punta Estrella were covered with the little silver fish that come to lay their eggs in the wet sand. The mating ritual is an amazing sight to see with hundreds of males waiting for each female to flop up on to the beach. The female digs herself into the sand tail first and the males wrap themselves around her body to squeeze out the eggs and fertilize them at the same time.

When we get the next astronomical high tides again in two weeks the eggs will hatch and those babies that survive the seagull attacks will be washed out to sea. Actually, the biggest threat to the eggs which are incubating in the warm sand is the trucks and quads that roam up and down the beaches and dig big furrows in the smooth sand surface that the receeding tide has left behind. I know it is so tempting to leave your marks on the pristine surface when you are on a quad. You are completely unaware of all the eggs that are buried only an inch or two below the surface that are about to be uprooted and die.

Two interesting articles appeared in today's Los Angeles Times comparing "rustic" San Felipe and "vibrant" Puerto Penasco. They make interesting reading.

Wednesday 20 February

The Lunar Eclipse of 20 February as seen in San Felipe

I drove down from San Diego, where it was cloudy and rainy today, to see the eclipse in the clear night air of San Felipe. I took this picture with my pocket camera at 8 p.m and enlarged it to show the moon just emerging from the period of totality. It does not go totally dark because the atmosphere of the earth refracts the sun's rays and gives the moon a reddish appearance. You can see the bright sunlight on the right hand edge of the moon as the shadow of the earth moves to the left. (ej).

 

 

Two more interesting news forwarded to us by Mr. Ragtime:

New Passport Card Applications are now Available

The U.S. Embassy Passports Office is accepting applications for the new U.S. Passport Card accepted under the WHTI land border travel document requirements. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008.  The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards. The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five years for children 15 and younger. For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.   For more details see here.

Also, here is your chance to let the Mexican Authorities know how difficult, or easy, you found it to be to settle here in San Felipe and do all the paperwork to buy your lot and pay the taxes and be sure that you are the owner and get your annual visa and ...........

The Mexican Government is conducting a perception survey among citizens of the United States and Canada living in Mexico in order to identify the main difficulties they faced during the process of migrating to Mexico and once they have settled in the country.  Its purpose is to collect information, analyze the main difficulties, and propose policy changes to facilitate migration to Mexico.

Your participation is completely voluntary; please forward it to any other US or Canadian citizens living in Mexico you may know.  All information provided will remain anonymous and strictly confidential, and will only be used for the purpose of this study. Follow this link to complete the 5 minute survey. (Note that in the questionnaire, for San Felipe you will have to select Mexicali as the municipality in which you live.) Go for it!!

 

Tuesday 19 February

2:41 p.m. and another magnitude 5 jolt next to the Cerro Prieto volcano near Mexicali. See the map here

Cuba - President Felipe Calderon is re-establishing strong relations with Cuba and significant investment of money from Mexico is expected. All of this comes at a time when, today, Fidel Castro announced that he is resigning as President. There is great speculation that the real estate market in Cuba will open up later this year. Although the US government will forbid investment by US citizens, Mexico stands in an ideal position to capitalize on any changes in the policies of the island nation which is just a short plane ride from the Yucatan peninsular. The Mexican Peso is gaining strength against the US dollar and the Bolsa (stock market) in Mexico City is soaring. The Government of Spain is positioning itself to be the prime European "interface" to the changing Cuba as it already has very strong relationships with the island nation from both a business investment and tourist perspective. Cuba is the third major Latin American trading partner to Spain after Brazil and Mexico. Possibly Mexico will become the equivalent interface for the USA and Canada.

Monday February 18

The snow that disrupted travel in Southern California and Northern Baja has been cleared. There was around 8 inches in the mountains between San Diego and El Centro that caused Interstate 8 to be closed Friday night. A photo of the I-8 roadway last Friday afternoon is shown below.

Heavy snow between Tecate and Mexicali on La Rumorosa also caused road closings there. We also heard from Barbara Anderson that there was 2 inches in San Matias (between Ensenada and San Felipe) " It broke branches off trees so it must have been a really wet snow to be that heavy!!"

Friday 15 February

The La Voz newspaper in Mexicali reported that 65 schools in Mexicali sustained some damage, 14 of them quite severe, in the recent swarm of earthquakes ...more

Also reported today is the finding that Baja California is a safer place to be than California. Statistics clearly show that fewer tourists have reported problems in Baja than have done so in California. more

Thursday 14 February

In the past 24 hours there have only been around 30 earthquake aftershocks in the Mexicali region and all of these have been in the magniture 2-3 range (very mild). We hope that the swarm is now declining and everyone can get on with their lives.

A heartening letter from one of our correspondents that had a house burglary last year, and his very positive experience with insurance (kudos to Lynda Bilyeu):

I have a home in Bahia Santa Maria. My house was one of the homes burglarized last summer.

I just wanted to let everyone know who cares, that I was dealt with fairly by the insurance company represented by  Lynda Bilyeu Insurance in San Felipe. (The insurance company she represents is ING.)
Too often, people like to report negative news, so I want to make sure that my positive experience with the local Mexican Home Owners Insurance is reported as well.

I bought this insurance to protect me from fire and flood. Everyone should know that home owners insurance is not just for floods and fire, it also protects you from losses resulting from burglary.

I am very thankful that I was insured. The insurance reimbursed me for all my losses.

Wednesday 13 February. - The earthquake swarm continues to hit the Mexicali valley. Another 4.0 temblor occurred just before midnight yesterday. There have now been several hundred small aftershocks in the region though only those three that are over magnitude 5 on the Richter scale are responsible for measurable damage. However, it is unnerving to the population to keep feeling these ground shakings. News sources report that schools, cinemas and some public buildings remain closed. ...see more. We want to emphasize that no shaking or damage has been felt in San Felipe. The latest earthquake map is shown below.

Another aftershock of magnitude 4.0 on the Richter scale hit the Mexicali region last night. This earthquake was just north of the geothermal power plant and the CESPM water treatment plant as shown in the following picture:

The Cerro Prieto Volcano is seen just to the left of the arrow indicating the epicenter. The road to San Felipe (Mexico 5) is at the very left of the picture.

Tuesday 12 February

The current swarm of earthquakes (incuding three quakes that have reached magnitude 5) that is hitting Mexicali is unprecedented in the history of the city and, although periodic training announcements are made over the radio, very little real practice has been performed in which all city services must operate in unison. The UABC campus radio "Radio Universidad" broadcasting on 104.1 MHz FM is now prepared to act as a coordinator of information for the city authorities since the police and other emergency service radios cannot communicate with each other. (Similar to the situation in New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina).

Here is the text of the announcement:
Dispuesta a encabezar unión de radiodifusoras en sismo MEXICALI, Baja California(PH)

Radio Universidad estaría dispuesta a fungir como difusora central y enlazarse con las demás difusoras en caso de un sismo y orientar a la población, comentó su titular Patricia Avilez Muñoz.
Agregó que sin embargo no se podría asegurar que una falla eléctrica, no sacara del aire a la estación que no cuenta con una planta de energía propia.
Avilez Muños señaló que no hay una comunicación entre las radios de la ciudad para reaccionar en estos casos, debido a que no hay precedentes a estas series de sismos en la historia reciente de Mexicali.
Dijo que no obstante, cada año se realizan simulacros de sismos en las cuales las radios locales ponen una grabación que orienta a la ciudadanía sobre que hacer y como reaccionar.

Nota Publicada: 12/02/2008 16:22

Many people are asking about the seismic safety of San Felipe so we are posting a separate page to give people access to the local data. In short, the hazards in San Felipe are far less than Mexicali. On average one magnitude 5 earthquake occurs each year in the sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) but most of these temblors are off southern Baja.

 

Friday 8 February

The Flying Samaritans Central Valley (Modesto) chapter will be coming to give an ear, nose and throat, plus optometry clinic on 15-16 February.

The Flying Samaritans, those dedicated Physicians, Surgeons and other health care professionals who donate their time to come to San Felipe and help those in need who can’t afford medical care here, will return Friday, February 15th and Saturday the 16th.   The surgeon will be screening patients on Friday to assess the needs of those patients who have already been prescreened by Karen Bradley, owner of Baja Java.  Our local dedicated Nurse and Karen will also be doing the prescreening at Centro de Salud on Friday the 8th.    On Saturday the 16th, the surgeon and his team will then perform those surgeries needed. 

On this visit the Flying Samaritans will be performing ENT (ears, nose and throat) exams to assess the needs and perform surgeries needed and as always the Eye Glass Clinic will be conducted then also.   The optometrist will be conducting eye exams and fitting glasses for those in need.   Eye glasses are donated by the Lions Club. 

 Karen has been working with the Lions Club of San Felipe to head up and organize this charitable service to the people of San Felipe.  On that Friday and Saturday she will have the help of many volunteers but does need more bilingual people who can act as translators.   There will also be a need for other volunteers to help throughout both days.  A Kids Corner to help entertain the children would be very helpful.  If you can volunteer some time on Friday and/or Saturday please let Karen know or be at the San Felipe Hospital early on Friday morning and/or Saturday morning.

The Lions Club Blues and Arts Fiesta on April 19th is a fundraising event to help keep this service available for the needy here in San Felipe.  Please come and enjoy the 10 Blues Bands from the US and Mexico and the work of many talented Artists at the Ball Field and support this important charitable cause. 

Photos by Robin Waters/Article by Kathy Preppernau

 

 

The pictures are from the last visit from The Flying Samaritans.   The bears were made and donated by Bev Mostowy and her husband Ray for the recuperating children.   The little boy was born with his fingers fused together.  The surgeon successfully separated the fingers on one hand and will perform the surgery on the other hand in the future. 

Local News

Car thefts are being reported from all different parts of town. If you park, take your car keys and lock the car. be sure you have Mexican car insurance that will cover damage and total theft. Police attribute the current crime wave to lack of money in the economy and to job losses.

Environment:

1 February - Wells being checked in South campos

Inspectors have been checking the wells in some of the south campos to see if pollution is entering the water used for supplying the houses. Some wells are now being filled with sand to prevent their use. We believe this is probably due to percolation from septic systems entering the ground water and allowing bacteria to migrate to the household water stream. Septic systems that are well-planned and maintained are generally very safe. The whole point of such systems is that the black waters need to penetrate slowly into the ground to give the good bacteria in the soil time to break down the effluent. In very sandy soils, the percolation can be so rapid that the effluent reaches the water table before the purification process is complete.

Travel Issues:

US passport changes - increased fees and New Parental Signature Requirements

San Felipe's Mr. Ragtime alerted us to these new changes:

On February 1, 2008, the U.S. Government will increase its fees for certain U.S. citizen passport services. For adult applicants renewing a passport, the total fee will increase to $75. For first-time applicants age 16 and over, the total fee will increase to $100.  The fee for minors under 16 years of age will be $85. 

Effective February 1, 2008, passport applicants who are U.S. citizen minors under the age of 16 must appear personally with their parents to establish identity, proof of citizenship and proof of relationship. For parental application permission, both parents must appear together and sign, or one parent may appear to sign and submit the other parent’s notarized statement, or one parent may appear, sign, and submit primary evidence of sole authority. Minors age 16 and 17 may apply in person with their own identification, but for security reasons, parental consent may be required. If your child does not have identification of their own, a parent will be required to accompany the child and present identification.

The initial reaction to the new border crossing requirements

The new rules for having proof of citizenship for crossing back from Mexico to the USA are now in force. People without a passport must produce a drivers license (or other official ID with a picture of them on it) plus a birth certificate. We have been monitoring the border wait times to seee if these new requirements by the US Department of Homeland Security are causing more delays for people headed north. On the first day of enforcement, 31st January, the afternoon border wait times appear to be normal; around 1 hour at downtown Mexicali-Calexico and 1 to 1.5 hours at Tijuana-San Ysidro. Only the crossing at Tecate appears to be slower than usual, up from 30 minutes to around 60 minutes by noon. Comments in the press and from border officials indicate that the enforcement of the new requirements is starting very slowly and people are not being sent to secondary inspection for lack of papers at this time. However, we can expect that within 7-10 days the enforcement will become more stringent. We shall keep a watch on the situation.

Economic issues:

The World Bank releases a report on Mexican migration

According to The World Bank, 11.5 million Mexico citizens have left their homeland, principally to move to the United States. While we think that most of these migrants are relatively unskilled agricultural workers, the report also finds that 5% of Mexican doctors have also left Mexico and 2.4% of all doctors in Latin America have emigrated to the USA. The World Bank study estimated that migrants sent US$25 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2007. If accurate, the sum represents only a one percent increase above the 2006 figure. In addition, a study by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) reported a dramatic leap in the number of Mexican households receiving remittances from abroad between 1995 and 2005; up from 600,000 to 4.1 million. Most money from migrants abroad went to the basic survival needs of recipients back home. Because of low wages and increases in the prices of basic necessities, the study contended that the quality of life of rural residents decreased by 44 percent between December 1, 2000 and December 1, 2007.

Pemex (Petróleos Mexicanos) announced its 2007 results on January 21, with crude oil production down 5.3 percent as compared to 2006. The yield in 2007 was 3.082 barrels per day, which was 174,000 bpd less than the year before. This was “mainly due to the expected decline of Cantarell, and several weather events that affected production,” Pemex wrote in a press bulletin. Cantarell is Mexico’s largest oil field, located 50-miles offshore in the Bay of Campeche. Yet income from export oil sales was US$37.947 billion in 2007, the largest amount in history, and up 9.3 percent from 2006. Regarding this revenue, Agustín Carstens, Mexico’s finance minister, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the Mexican “government budgeted a per barrel price of US$49.80 for 2007, whereas [oil] is now selling for more than US$80.00.” This windfall income from high oil prices eased the impact of an economic slowdown in the United States. The Mexican government is proposing changes that could open areas of Pemex to private and even foreign investment and involvement to increase efficiency and find new reserves. Without new exploration and technology, Mexico is likely to become a net importer of oil in 2-5 years.

Upcoming Tourism events :

Saturday 1 March: Mexico Living Magazine 1st Annual Home Show 10 am to 4 PM at the Community Building in the Eijdio Plan Nacional Agrario Salon. Get Answers, Find Solutions and Live Your Dream. The Mexico Living Home Show is an event designed for anyone. Tickets are $5 and will be available only through Lion's Club, Rotary, or Las Amigas membership with 100% of all pre-sale tickets revenue going to these local community service organizations. You can't afford not to be there. Find solutions and live your dream.

Saturday 19th April: The San Felipe Blues & Arts Fiesta is a presentation of the Lion's Club of San Felipe, with the support of the community of San Felipe. Live Blues, Beautiful Art & Sculpture, Amazing Talent all encapsulated in cool sea breezes and majestic mountains. An outdoor concert and art event like no other. Held downtown San Felipe at the base of the mountains along the Sea of Cortez. 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. Thank you, we hope to see you at the Fiesta. The Lions Club of San Felipe. Tickets: $10.00 in advance and $20 the day of the show.

We are re-posting the calendar for Carnaval

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 01

3:00 DIGITAL SOUND SYSTEM – MUSIC ON THE MALECON
5:00 POP ROCK BAND
7:00 LAST WILL READING
7:30 BAD HUMOR BURNING – BURNING IN EPHIGY OF THE “BAD HUMOR” PERSON
8:00 INAUGURATION ACT AND PRESENTATION OF AUTHORITIES -
8:30 CROWNING OF THE QUEEN AND THE KING OF UGLINESS
9:00 POPULAR STREET DANCE ON THE MALECON
11:00 FESTIVAL GROUP PERFORMANCE

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 02
11:00 DIGITAL SOUND SYSTEM – MUSIC ON THE MALECON
1:00 DANCING PARADE AND DECORATED FUNNY CARS
3:00 OD GAMES -
4:00 CARLOS BONO (BOSANOVA) MUSIC
6:00 PERFORMANCE BY “LA CRIPTA” A MUSICIAN AND THE CREATOR OF THE HIT “EL GATO VOLADOR” FROM PANAMA
7:00 OTTMAR DE LAS ROSAS  - IMPERSONATOR PRESENTING THE PARODY "AMERICAN IDOL" 
8:00 TEMPTATION GIRLS FROM THE TV SHOW "LA HORA PICO"
9:00 PUPU THE TRAILER DRIVER SHOW (MONTERREY)
10:00 FIREWORKS
10:00 SHOW PERFORMANCE (CANCUN)
10:30 PAPA Q (MÉXICO D.F.)
12:00 CARIBE BAND (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 03
11:00 DIGITAL SOUND SYSTEM – MUSIC ON THE MALECON
1:00 DANCING PARADE AND DECORATED FUNNY CARS
6:00  OTTMAR DE LAS ROSAS  - IMPERSONATOR PRESENTING THE PARODY "AMERICAN IDOL" 
7:00 SHOW PERFORMANCE (CANCUN)
8:00  OTTMAR DE LAS ROSAS  - IMPERSONATOR PRESENTING THE PARODY "AMERICAN IDOL" 
9:00 SINGER “FREDDY” SECOND GENERATION OF LA ACADEMIA
10:00 PUPU THE TRAILER DRIVER SHOW (MONTERREY)
11:00 POPULAR DANCE WITH BANDA MUSIC ON THE MALECON

MONDAY,  FEBRUARY 04
12:00 CARLOS BONO MUSIC
2:00 VATOS LOCOS MUSIC
4:00 AGAVE BLUES MUSIC
6:00 CHIKEN BONES MUSIC
8:00 SILVER BIT (BEATLES) MUSIC
12:00 MAÑANITAS A SAN FELIPE MUSIC

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 05
1:00 DANCING PARADE AND DECORATED FUNNY CARS
8:00 AWARD PRESENTATION AND EVENT CLOSURE CEREMONY
9:00 POPULAR DANCE ON THE MALECON
10:00 CELEBRATION OF THE 83RD ANNIVERSARY OF SAN FELIPE

 

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