Regional News Topics, the San Felipe Economy and more.....
...by Tony Colleraine
Monday 13 December
A number of health issues have prevented me from posting over the past few weeks and I want to thank all those who wrote in to offer their good wishes. I am sorry I have not been able to write back and thank each of you personally.
Business in Mexico has now essentially stopped for the year and you can expect that very little will get done till mid-January. Fortunately, banking regulations are being eased for people in the border region to allow cash deposits up to $14,000 usd to be put into their Mexican bank accounts each month, and cash spending limits in a store or restaurant are increased from $100 to $250 per person.
The new Mayor of Mexicali, Francisco Pérez Tejada Padilla, is hard at work setting up his new administration following the 1st. December change in power. As with virtually every city in the USA, Mexicali has a substantial budget shortfall as a result of the down-swing in the economy over the past three years. A key first action of the new administration is to renegotiate the 700 million peso debt in the municipal treasury. I would not be surprised to see new fees and taxes imposed in San Felipe to help raise the needed money. The public is already being invited to pay their property taxes for 2011 as quickly as possible to make more money available to the treasury.
In San Felipe, Martin Romo of Rice and Beans/Rosita's continues to spearhead the cleanup of the beaches and, in the latest campaign, the rickety-rackety bridge to the old Boom Boom Room and the Shrine of the Virgin is being given a much-needed coat of paint.
Reports continue to come in about burglaries, particularly in the South Campos. Agua Azul was hit last week and one family lost their Honda generator while a neighbor had two quads stolen from the garage. There are probably many more incidents that absentee-owners are not yet aware of.
A year ago, I announced that I was retiring from the day-to-day administration of this site. Obviously, things did not work out that way. However, I am planning on taking an extended vacation over the next few weeks to relax and recover, but will look forward to bringing you some new insights on San Felipe in January.
My best wishes to you all for a happy Christmas season and a prosperous New Year.
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday 25 November
It is a windy morning in San Felipe. Sand is blowing and drifting on the roads and I have only seen one person braving the elements by walking on the beach in the past four hours. Undoubtedly they wanted the free dermabrasion treatment. Mexicali reported a low temperature of 38F last night but San Felipe only went down to 55F. We expect the high today to be only in the low 60's.
The 30 mph northerly gusts are causing huge waves on the sea and it is not a day for shrimping, though I did see quite a few lights out on the bay last night as pangueros brought in the catch while it was still calm enough.
On Friday, President Felipe Calderon is scheduled to announce that the financial authorities will launch a program to sell government securities, specifically Treasury Certificates (Cetes), directly to small and medium-sized investors, as part of a strategy to expand the investor base and finance public spending. Now is your chance to invest in Mexico without speculating in real estate!
Wednesday 24 November
What a lot of traffic on the roads! I think that all of California came down here expecting to escape the big freeze. I was amazed when I went into town before lunch to see all the travelers filling up their gasoline cans and water bottles. Most are making the journey south to Puertecitos, Gonzaga and Bahia de los Angeles. Trucks are loaded with camping equipment, kayaks and quads. The DJ Market on Mar Caribe was full of people buying food and drink for the expedition and Reubens next door was getting $19/kg for "jumbo shrimp" (these average 14/lb, see the photo below). Cocktail shrimp can be had for $12/kg.
At my house, the electricity voltage is now up to 130 volts and it appears to have damaged my dsl modem. My neighbor also had hers fail last week. You must go through a diagnosis with the online support center in Tijuana to get a return authorisation number before the trip to the Telnor office in town. Prepare to spend an hour in line to deal with the replacement. The CFE (electricity company) said they would be out in 30 minutes to check the transformers. I am not holding my breath.
Tuesday 23 November
A cold wave has invaded northern Baja and it appears that the next few days are going to be significantly below our normal temperatures. Our overnight low temperature last night was 42F and the high at noon today is only 64F. If you are coming down for Thanksgiving, pack some good sweaters and bring your Uggs. To quote the National Weather Service in El Centro:
THE SOUTHERN END OF A LARGE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM OVER WESTERN NORTH
AMERICA WILL RESULT IN DRY WEATHER...COOL DAYS...AND COLD NIGHTS
THROUGH FRIDAY. THE COLDEST DAY AND NIGHT THIS WEEK IS EXPECTED TO
BE THANKSGIVING DAY AND NIGHT. A COUPLE OF IMPULSES MOVING AROUND
THE LARGE LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL RESULT IN WINDY WEATHER ON
THANKSGIVING IN SOUTHEAST CALIFORNIA AND SOUTHWEST ARIZONA.
INCREASING HIGH CLOUDINESS IS ALSO EXPECTED ACROSS THE ENTIRE AREA
TODAY. HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT FROM THE PACIFIC IS EXPECTED TO BRING
SOME RELATIVE WARMING FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY. ANOTHER COLD PACIFIC LOW
PRESSURE SYSTEM WILL BRING YET ANOTHER COOLING TREND BY NEXT MONDAY.
Monday 22 November
Today the Government of Mexico issued an advisory to migrants working in the United States who are planning to return to their families for the Christmas holidays to travel in convoys on the Mexican highways and to travel only during daylight hours. The Interior Ministry (SEGOB) is considering using the army to provide escorts to such convoys on the most dangerous highways. Migrants are often targeted by criminal gangs because they are bringing back money, gifts and new cars to their relatives.
Again, I would say that the Mexicali-San Felipe corridor is one of the safest in Mexico.
Sunday 21 November
It has been heartening to see more people in town this weekend. Many of the crews, competitors and spectators from the Baja 1000 race have been filtering back north through San Felipe and it is a welcome sign to see restaurants and shops doing better business as a result. Let us hope that the Thanksgiving holiday that is coming up this week will also bring an economic benefit to the region. Our weather is beautiful for fall. If we had oak and ash trees here, they would be displaying superb reds and golds. Bring sweaters for the evenings, though you can still walk along the beaches in the afternoons wearing shorts and Tshirts. The sea is a bit too chilly for swimming.
These are tough economic times in San Felipe. Much of the problem comes from the recession in the United States and the inability of our usual crowd of visitors to spend money on vacations or on considering a second home in Mexico. With everybody concerned for their jobs and being pressured to work more for less, these time pressures make long road trips much more difficult. Up to an hour wait to cross into Mexico on a Friday afternoon, and an even worse 2-3 hour wait to go back north on Sunday pretty much wipe out the possibility of a weekend in San Felipe.
With the new emphasis on personal responsibility and economy, we are all also looking at the true costs of every vacation trip that we make. Gasoline, tires, maintenance, insurance...all these things are going up and the real cost of driving is around 50 cents/mile. That round-trip from Los Angeles actually costs $350 for a vehicle; not too bad if there are 5-6 people splitting the bill but worth thinking twice for a couple. Indeed, it may be cheaper and more relaxing to fly on a 3 day, 2 night special to Puerto Vallarta.
Another major hit to tourism for San Felipe was the final enforcement of passport requiremets to re-enter the USA in June 2009. That, by itself, cut our casual tourist base by 70%. My British friends are always amazed when they learn how few Americans have passports. Even in a cosmopolitan border city like San Diego, only an estimated 31% of people have a passport, and in Los Angeles it is estimated to be 27%! By and large, the passport holders are also more affluent and far more likely to want a short trip that they can make by air. They avoid the stress and liablilty of being on the road for 14 hours and can show up at work on Monday morning revived, alert and refreshed. The time has come for us to seriously work towards air service for San Felipe.
Those that do have the time and means to drive down get scared by the news reports of violence in the border region as a result of the drug wars. Indeed, hardly a day goes by without word of some dreadful incident in Juarez, or Tijuana. However, I want to repeat again that San Felipe is a quiet and tranquil town and that Mexicali is out of the line of action in these battles. Yes, we have had incidents of unscrupulous policemen shaking down a driver, but these are now few and far between. Just stand your ground and insist on going to the police station to answer any charges - you may save yourself $200.
Visitors should have no concerns about coming here for a vacation. The road is in excellent condition, fast and safe. My only warning is that you should not drive at night. Good striping and marking the edges of the pavement are still to be done and seeing obstacles on fresh black asphalt at night is very difficult. Plans are in the works for two rest areas on the highway and, I hope, some electricity will be available and free wi-fi hotspots installed for those that want to pause and refresh.
Friday 19 November
The traditional snowbird welcome party was held on the Malecon. Dozens of people attended. Unfortunately, the planning was "last-minute" and very few notices were posted in town.
Thursday 18 November
The new SENTRI lane at the Calexico East border crossing went into operation
yesterday Tuesday (I have been a day off all week!). The Governor of Baja California and honored guests were in attendance. This will help to ease the journey north for our residents with SENTRI passes. Unfortunately, it does nothing to help the casual visitor that just wants to come to San Felipe for a weekend. They must still endure the 1-3 hour waits on a Sunday afternoon. The SENTRI lane at the east crossing is in operation from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Traffic from Mexicali to San Felipe was quite heavy yesterday as vehicles carrying supplies for the Baja 1000 race headed in to town. There were also many cars with camping gear loaded on them. Virtually all of the vehicles are passing through and heading south on the Puertecitos road. The race started at 6 a.m. in Ensenada and the first vehicles should be passing around San Felipe a couple of hours later on their way to La Paz.
Lunching at Rosita's on the Malecon. Cindy attends to customers on a quiet afternoon
previous months news - - October 2010 - stormy weather, Mexicali police, EDR Safe letter
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