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January 2008

January 28 -Baja California Tourism Department launches campaign to encourage visitors to come back to Baja

With tourism to northern Baja in free fall because of the crime wave, the State has initiated a program to encourage visitors to come back and help to fill the hotels and restaurants. “The image of the security problem has hit the state very badly,” said Baja California's tourism secretary, Oscar Escobedo Carignan. The program, called “Get Your Passport,” offers discounts at hotels, restaurants, bars and shops to those holding a U.S. passport. We have looked on the Tourism department website but can find no details of the discounts that are supposedly available to people who wish to take advantage of the promotion. Most likely the promotion will only apply to the devastated Tijuana-Ensenada corridor of travel as hotel owners, restaurants, shops and real estate dealers there have been complaining of the 50% drop in business.

Here in San Felipe, we see hotel occupancy in the 20% range and all our local businesses and real estate businesses are also feeling similar pain. We hope that this will improve as the Baja 250 crowds and the Easter Week visitors start to return in March.

Workers in several areas are complaining of not being paid and picket signs are starting to appear. There is increasing burglary and theft in town as people have to resort to violence in order to get food. We are having people write to us complaining about bad experiences in San Felipe and this is definitely hurting our image.

We are also concerned that there will be a further drop in tourism and increase in burglaries as the new border crossing regulations go into effect starting on 31st. January. See the latest regulations here.

We just received this message from a visitor who was here in early January:


I just wanted to add my story as a warning to anybody. My father, 9yr old daughter and myself came to San Felipe on January 3rd planning to stay for five days. Our first night in town we parked our RV At the last RV place west of town, We went to buy some ice and look around the Malecon and walked back at 7pm. It was a ten minute walk and we had just passed the last business when a small maroon car with tinted windows pulled over on an angle at us. Two young guys (20 yrs old?) came at us with a knife and a tire iron or wrench yelling "money, money, money". I started to run but turned to see my father lying on the ground and my daughter running the other way. I stopped and the thief took my purse and the one on my father took his wallet. One yelled "thank you" and then jumped in the car and drove away. My daughter sprained her ankle trying to flee and of course was hysterical. We ran to our RV and stayed there terrified all night thinking worse might happen. We left as soon as it was light. Looking back we shouldn't have been walking. I had spent six months in San Felipe in 2005 and many shorter trips inbetween. I had always felt safe. This was a trip to come back to show my daughter the town I loved. We were too scared to go the police and just grateful that it wasn't worse. I did not remember hearing about these crime waves before but it sounds like its a way of life that must be expected and to prepared for now. Any links to the police that I could report this too now and any tips/ websites to be more prepared if I visit again would be much appreciated. Gracias, Amy

 

January 24th. - There has been a great deal of press attention on the problems affecting the border region of the USA and Mexico in recent weeks. The battle between the drug dealers and the Mexican military in the Tijuana region has intensified but we do not have such problems here in the San Felipe area at this time. However, it is very encouraging to see that the Government of Mexico is taking a very pro-active approach and is setting up checkpoints randomly on many of the roads in the State. Last night, I was stopped between town and La Hacienda development six miles south. A rapid-response military team thoroughly searched every vehicle going both north and south to look for guns and drugs. At 6 p.m. in the evening there was a backup of close to 40 minutes to get through the checkpoint but not a single person I talked to had anything but positive comments to make. Everyone appreciates the added security that these random checks bring to remove the violent criminal element from the scene. If only the USA would adopt such stringent searches and checks on the roads of Southern California.......

21 January - The program for this Year's Carnaval is as follows:

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

17 January - Tony Reyes just got back from the San Mateo boat show and is off next Sunday to the show in Yuma.

Regional News:

Baja California is now seen as a prime source of nurses for US Hospitals in the southwest where Spanish is becoming the language of choice for the customers. The El Centro regional medical hospital finds that around 80% of its patients are now of Hispanic origin and better communication is needed with the patients than is occurring with English-only nurses. Unlimited numbers of nurses are eligible to immigrate to the USA under the terms of NAFTA. There are no quota limits. The California Employment Development division says that there will be a need for almost 11,000 new nurses a year in California over the next six years. The biggest single hurdle to employment of Mexican nurses in the past has been the general lack of bilingual skills. More

Construction on the three tower Trump Ocean Resort 10 miles south of Tijuana has slowed to a crawl. To date, 167 units have been pre-sold in the first tower, which will have 232 units on 26 stories and is scheduled to open at the end of 2009, about six months behind initial projections. The chance to own oceanfront property at a fraction of U.S. prices lured many baby boomers to take equity from their U.S. homes to invest in Mexico. Now that equity loans in the USA have become very difficult to get, Baja California's gold coast real estate sales have fallen about 40 to 50 percent since the height of the boom. Now a new market is developing, as buyers have begun scouting for foreclosure properties and “properties that people are trying to sell ASAP,” said Gustavo Torres, a broker in the Rosarito Beach area and vice president of the local AMPI branch. more

News of the tourism and crime problems in Tijuana can be found here if you read Spanish. We are thankful that San Felipe is in such an isolated part of Baja California, far away from all the negative things that are happening on the Gold Coast area (Tijuana-Ensenada). We especially benefit from the "gated community" location we have in which the military checkpoints on the road stop every vehicle in and out of San Felipe.

Lions Club Continues San Felipe Commitment

Lions Club of San Felipe President, Gary Dilley and board member,
Rafael Navarro, presented a donation of much needed equipment to the San Felipe Fire Department on Saturday, January 5th at the local fire station. The donation from the Yuma, Arizona Fire Department included fire fighting clothes and helmets, emergency beds (folding cots), stretchers, an emergency defibulator and other EMT equipment. Receiving the donation were acting Fire Chief, Martin Cambar, who has been with the department for 20 years, and fire fighters Francisco Rios, 7 years with the department and Christian Jesus Camacho Lion, who has been with the department for 5 years. The Lions Club would like to thank a Friend of the Lions, Dr Wayne Chiavacci from Yuma, for his efforts in getting the equipment donated and to Daniel Padilla from the Yuma Fire Department and Fire Chief, Jack Mc Arthur, for helping to facilitate the move to San Felipe. They all will continue to help us locate donations from other fire departments as well. The Club is actively looking for 2 fire trucks for this area: one for the local department and one for the South Camps. We are hoping for news from Phoenix, AZ soon. They may have one truck for us.

Photo by Robin Waters-Article by Kathy Preppernau

A new, extreme endurance competition - The Baja Travesia- is planning to come to San Felipe 22-29 March. They have 25 teams (each 3 persons, with an SUV support group) from about 10 countries coming to start a 3-5 day nonstop expedition race, involving kayak, mountain bike, running, and a bit of car rally...ALL by navigation. It's extreme, it's fun, it's one of the most grueling endurance competitions in the world. They will be arriving in San Felipe on Friday 21st. March and may need some last minute accommodations and volunteer help.

Paul Romero writes: Our event is looking for San Felipe locals to participate through volunteering for a low stress, high thrill adventure opportunity. Specifically we are looking for charismatic, hard working, creative, fun loving adults with vehicles. Specific needs for Baja Travesia:

  • desperately need 4 seater sand rails and drivers for the afternoon of Monday 23rd.
  • some additional hotel and home rentals (for March 21-23)
  • volunteers for our event-inquire for details
  • local sponsors

The group will be based at the San Felipe Marina Resort. If anyone can help please contact Paul Romero: paul at bajatravesia dot com or visit their website also here.

Lost and Found

$250 REWARD
FOR THE RECOVERY, OR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE RECOVERY, OF THIS QUAD STOLEN FROM CAMPO OCOTILLO SPACE 506 ON OR ABOUT DECEMBER 27
IT IS A 2003 HONDA SPORTRAX 300 EX
VIN # JH3TE19043K806426

PLEASE CONTACT ERIK OR DIANE

SAN FELIPE # 576-0549

US # 303-731-3621

CAMPO OCOTILLO

SPACE 506 ON CALLE DE LA LUNA

North Beaches

The Pemex gasoline station opposite Playa de Oro is now open and the four-lane highway is well underway to El Dorado. Be very careful driving into town as the diversions of traffic from one side of the highway to the other around construction areas can be very sudden and bumpy.

South Beaches

The new real estate developments south from La Hacienda to km 12 are all open and waiting for your business. Meanwhile the extension of the electricity line to Laguna Percebu is in the planning stage. The Federal Government has authorised the construction of the road south from Puertecitos to Laguna Chapala where it will join the main route Mexico 1 down the peninsular to Los Cabos. The highway is to be completed by the end of 2010 and will open up the whole East coast of the peninsular to development.

The Carters report (1/10/08): Our casita at Campo Agua Azul was hit again sometime prior to Dec. 27 when the break-in was discovered. It was probably close to that date as our next-door neighbor was there the week following Thanksgiving. The thieves (two different footprints were photographed by a neighbor) entered through a window and appeared to be looking for money or other small valuables. We feel that the intruders were probably on foot as none of the electronics in the house were taken. Curiously, padlocks were removed without benefit of a bolt cutter. We are replacing them with a more secure type. We reported the incident to the police.

At Las Palmas, just south of the harbor, another house break-in reported and a minivan also stolen.

In Town

Ruben Dé la Peña, head of the Conventions and Tourism Committee (COTUCO) sent us this picture of the Tourist Police force with their new blue bicycles. These people are here to help you in any way and prevent you from inadvertently breaking the law.

Dr. Victor Abasolo's Medical Clinic is making great strides in being able to provide comprehensive service to the entire community of San Felipe.

As many of you know, Dr. Abasolo is one of the most dedicated and qualified physicians in this area. Indeed, I have been going to him since the mid 1980's and have a very high regard for his abilities and kindness. Without a doubt, he is the most trusted physician serving the Northamerican community and it was a great shock to us all when the St. James Hospital failed financially. The hospital, which was the lifetime goal of Dr Duke and Caroline Somers, together with the Reverend James and Margaret Miller, had built up a first class emergency and trauma facility for treating the injured and stabilizing cardiac patients. Emergency medical insurance would cover many such cases but people could not use the facilities for just routine medical care because U.S. insurance plans would not pay; they required plan members to drive to facilities in El Centro or San Diego.

Dr. Abasolo saw the great need to structure a clinic that could have much broader support and was affordable to everyone. He started construction of his own clinic two years ago and has achieved much. A non-profit U.S. Foundation, Foundation for the Hospital del Puebla de San Felipe, Inc., has been formed as a 501 c(3) charitable organization in order to solicit tax-deductible donations to make this clinic the pre-eminent location for receiving medical treatment in San Felipe. Here is the announcement of the Foundation's first gift of $30,000 dollars to help complete construction:

Christmas comes early for Medico Centro Abasolo and its founder, Dr. Victor Abasolo
Commitments totaling US $30,000.00 that have been made during the formation of the Foundation for the Hospital del Puebla de San Felipe, Inc., were received by the Foundation earlier this month and deposited into the Foundation‚s bank account in El Centro. Dr. Abasolo immediately received funding for the completion of the expansion of the Medico Centro Abasolo clinic in San Felipe, Baja California, Republic of Mexico.
The Foundation for the Hospital del Puebla de San Felipe, Inc. announced the completion of its formation as a tax exempt 501(c) (3) tax exempt charitable organization by the United States IRS. This means that all donations received by the Foundation are deductible from US Income Taxes as charitable contributions.
All funds donated to the Foundation are used to provide medical facilities and equipment to the clinic as well as to provide financial assistance to needy residents and transients of San Felipe who receive care at the Medico Centro Abasolo.
Dr Abasolo hopes to have the expansion of the facility completed by Semana Santa, which falls in March in 2008.
An additional US $10,000.00 of matching funds has been committed and is available for equipping the clinic and medical care for the needy. These matching funds will be deposited in US $1,000.00 increments as a one-to-one match of new contributions to the Foundation as contributions are received. All donations are deductible from United States Income Tax as a charitable contribution.
Contributions may be made by check payable to The Foundation for the Hospital del Puebla de San Felipe, Inc. or in cash. Checks may either be mailed to, or directly deposited at, any Wells Fargo Bank (account number 1992344380), donated at the office of Dr. Abasolo or sent directly to the Foundation at the addresses listed below. Cash donations may be made at the offices of Dr. Abasolo. Please request a receipt for all cash donations. Wells Fargo Bank in El Centro is located at 1200 W. Main Street, El Centro, California, 92243.
The members of the Foundation‚s Board of Directors are Carole L. Kelly, Mary Mobley and James Hudson, all of El Dorado Ranch. The Foundation pays no salaries and all overhead is contributed in kind so that all donations are used for medical facility, equipment and care. No money is used for any other purpose. Bank charges and state and federal filing fees, are the only overhead expenses of the Foundation, and are covered by sources other than donations.
Any questions regarding the Foundation may be directed to the Secretary of the Foundation, John Zivnuska. He can be reached locally by mail during the winter months at PMB #241, PO Box 9011, Calexico, CA 92232 (Box 241 at SunRunner at the Sundance Deli). The permanent US address and phone number for the Foundation is PO Box 14165, Mexico Beach, FL 32410 (850 527 7536).

We strongly encourage every business and resident of San Felipe to consider making a donation to the Foundation and to help Dr. Abasolo in his endeavours. Quality health care is a critical need for us all in San Felipe and is a major concern of everyone who considers this town as a place to come and live or invest. Health care comes second only to Safety and Security in the planning decisions of Americans when they are looking for a place to live. It would be so positive to see each of our real estate development companies donate one lot to benefit the Abasolo Clinic to help solve this critical gap in the services that San Felipe has to offer. As an aside in looking at the way that medical tourism is becoming such an important driver of the development of a city, consider the case of Tijuana where the flow of people from San Diego to the hospitals, clinics and pharmacies of that city adds around 3.5 billion dollars annually to the local economy - equivalent to holding ten Baja 250 races every weekend of the year in San Felipe.

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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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