Regional Topics, the San Felipe Economy and more.....
...by Tony Colleraine
Sunday 21 August 2011
I was surprised by how tranquil San Felipe was this weekend. As I have mentioned before, visitor traffic has been building slowly but steadily over the summer. This weekend was different; pleasantly quiet and tranquil. I first noticed the slowdown because of the absence of quads racing up and down the beach on Friday afternoon. It seems the prime reason is that the children in Baja start school again on Monday. Parents are out on that last mad dash to get new shoes, clothes and supplies for the young scholars - no time for a trip to the beach in San Felipe!
The weather was scorching in the middle of the week but it has moderated substantially in the last couple of days. Old timers will recognize the nip in the air in the very early morning. Of course, it is still hot by most standards but fall is on the way.
I was privileged to have a late lunch on the patio at the El Cortez today. The location, right on the beach, has always been one of my favorite places for a drink and a shrimp cocktail. Back when I had the Net office in Plaza Canela, I used to lunch there quite frequently as it was within easy walking distance. Today the patio was a perfect setting with the water lapping gently on the shore and a couple of elderly hotel guests swimming lazily back and forth. No banana boats and no vendors pestering us to buy Chinese-made trinkets. On the way out of the hotel, I noticed that the old Net office is again vacant. The real estate company that took it over has moved elsewhere.
There is talk in town of a fatal shooting in a hotel north of the Arches. Apparently, very early on Saturday morning the military burst into a small hotel around km 187 on the Mexicali road and surprised a drug dealer who had crystal and rifles in the room. There appears to be an embargo on further information at this time.
Thursday 18 August 2011
This morning has been sizzling hot in San Felipe with temperatures even along the beach rising to well over 100F. (We actually hit a new record high of 106 F at 11:30 a.m.) Our sympathies go out to the people north of town living in developments still without electricity. Fortunately, the wind is now shifting from the south to the east and this will bring some moderation to these punishing conditions.
Reports yesterday indicate that the roadwork south of Mexicali has proceeded to the point of making additional drainage cuts through the existing causeway across the Laguna Salada (south of km 70). This means more "ups-and-downs" between the road and the desert surface diversions but it is also heartening to hear that the work south of the Rio Hardy is now winding up as grading and paving enters its final phase.
Since we are now under the influence of moisture moving north up the gulf towards Arizona, thunderstorms are now possible in the late afternoons. Any such storms can result in muddy conditions in the construction zones. The last time this happened we had big trailer trucks getting stuck and cars sliding around. Keep an eye on the weather when you plan your trip! I can recommend the Ensenada road (in spite of a few stretches of potholes) as an alternative daylight route between San Felipe and San Diego.
Each weekend, more people are coming to town and local merchants say that business is better even than the Memorial Day and July 4th. weekends.
Tuesday 16 August 2011
A couple of weeks ago the weather was intolerably hot and humid. Now it has moderated and this is a wonderful time to have a true beach vacation in San Felipe. The water temperature is about 93 degrees in the swimming zone and the air temperature also reaches into the nineties by the mid-afternoon. The easterly breezes have been coming up around lunch time and you could not ask for better weather for lazing around. Here is an example of the type of activity that you will enjoy:
Las Palmas beach
If you are staying at the Marina Resort or one of the fabulous condominiums on the Las Palmas beach you will be in paradise. Only on this stretch of the San Felipe bay can you step from your suite and on to miles of pristine shoreline washed by the clean southerly swells as the tide rises and falls. I see people out at dawn collecting shells and sand dollars when the tide is out and the sun is low in the sky. They then disappear for breakfast and the first round of Mimosas as the heat index rises well over 100 degrees because the cooling breezes are not yet active.
Generally, the onshore wind starts up late in the morning and the temperature drops to a very pleasant 90 degrees - ideal for serious sunbathing. A palapa in front of the Marina Resort, or under your own beach umbrella, is the place to be. The staff will ply you with ice-cold beverages to ensure that you do not get dehydrated, and a plunge into their infinity pool will restore your energy.
Later in the afternoon you will see guests strolling south and sitting at the sea edge, letting the gentle waves lap over them. An hour or so before sunset local SanFelos arrive with their families for the ritual immersion. I think that they still find the water cool because they generally like to go in fully clothed.
At many apartments, condominiums and hotels you will see small planters containing aloe vera plants near the door. This is very typical throughout Mexico. Aloe leaves are used extensively throughout the country for their healing and theraputic powers.
Break off a small piece of a leaf, squeeze out the gel and use it to very lightly moisten the skin after intense sun exposure. It has a wonderful cooling feeling and appears to be biologically active in treating many skin disorders. While some may also eat the gel as an antidote to Baghdad Belly, I would caution against it.
Thursday 11 August 2011
Although there were reports at the harbor that one of the pangas from the sunken vessel Erik had been snared in a trawler net and the location marked for further investigation, there has been no indication that the mother ship is in the same vicinity. The official investigation of the incident is, apparently, still in progress.
Along the beaches, the marine water patrols are now much more vigilant to ensure that there are no further fatal encounters between bathers and the various banana boats and jet skis. Expect to be pursued if you are seen coming too close to other boats or people while you are speeding in the bay.
On the larger scene of news about Mexico we see that both the U.S and Mexican governments now report that net immigration of Mexicans into the U.S.A. has fallen to zero. A big factor is the expansion of the economy in Mexico; things are scary but the recovery is well ahead of the USA. In addition, llegal entry into the US is now very much more difficult as a result of the huge buildup of enforcement officers along the border. It is truly remarkable to see the number of border patrol vehicles scouring the deserts in California (and, I am sure, in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas).
On my last drive on Route 98 from Calexico to San Diego, I counted 15 patrols (one every couple of miles); I am sure that there are many more that are not visible. I was also stopped by agents who enquired as to my citizenship and where I lived. They were extremely friendly and courteous but it seems that elderly people driving clean cars at the speed limit are one of the new profile groups.
The decline over the past five years in immigration from Mexico is illustrated in this Pew report here:
Much of the migration is now the legal, documented, relocation of people on both sides of the border.
More Americans are looking at Mexico as a place to make their retirement funds stretch further, while more skilled Mexicans are relocating to California and the southwest to ensure that their children get the best possible education. Educational opportunity is now the most critical factor for people wanting to come to the USA.
These immigrants also contribute significantly to their families back home. For about 6 months now, the remittances sent to Mexico from the US have been rising and could reach $20 billion this year. Just because these people may be classified as "migrant workers" , we forget that they include skilled engineers, scientists, businessmen....
In San Diego, it is now possible to do business seamlessly in Spanish. You will hear people lapse in-and-out between English and Spanish in any shopping mall or large restaurant. The utility bills are completely explained in both languages, every customer service facility is idiomatically geared to deal in the border "language". They speak Spanish like natives because almost all of them have family members in, or have come from border cities like Tijuana and Mexicali. These are the people who came to make a new life and they are succeeding.
I wish that San Felipe were as bilingual as San Diego. It is hard to do business in San Felipe because of the very pleasant yet very unclear communications that occur. It is not necessarily the literal, it is the intent that gets lost.
Many American retirees do speak some Spanish but in many cases we just stick to a handful of words. Years ago, I used to think how wonderful it would be if every retiree coming to San Felipe learned Spanish. Now I think the best thing is for everyone to speak English. English is important for tourism, for dealing with the elderly, for medicine, but particularly for the education of the young.
Monday 1 August 2011
August has finally arrived and we can give up all pretense of working.
To all of the many letter-writers thank you for your comments and questions. It is getting to be just too much to deal with every item.
I know everyone wants the very latest on the search for the fishing vessel ERIC, I know that the issue of vessel safety is on every fishermans mind, to say nothing of the worry that their next-of-kin write about.
There are many things that I do not know. I do not know if the amount of ballast that is put into one of these boats is calculated to take into account the added superstructure. I do not know the inspection procedures that must be made for the authorities to certify a vessel as being seaworthy. I do not know what operating regulations are to be enforced if rough weather hits........ All of these things will, presumably, be addressed in the official enquiry.
The point is that it is August in Mexico. Very, very, little happens. Paperwork gets lost, telephone calls go unanswered and all priorities fall to zero. Our state capital, Mexicali, is one of the hottest cities on the face of the earth, and without Mexicali little can happen in San Felipe. Do what everyone else does: relax and have another cold beverage.
previous months news - - June-July 2011 - The loss of the ERIK and death of fishermen, Totoava statue Tony Reyes and Chichi Fernandez, the new party boat "Mi amor otra vez", plans for the road south