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March 2008

Monday 31 March. We took a breather over Easter and relaxed last week to recover from the crowds. The Tourism authorities reported that 147,000 people had descended on San Felipe (in 36,630 vehicles) for the holiday. That is close to twice the size of the largest crowd we have ever seen in the past (about 80,000). If such an influx did occur then we speculate that most of the visitors went to the beaches north and south of town as the typical businessmen in town reported that sales did not reflect the doubling of visitors. Our 835 hotel rooms, 33 suites, 69 condominiums and 24 apartments in town were, however, 100% full. Some 15,000 people gathered on the Malecon on Saturday evening and last Tuesday the trash cleanup in the downtown area was estimated to be 1200 cubic meters.

Today we got word that the Tequila festival would go ahead under the sponsorship of Sr. Marcos Negrete, publisher of our local paper, Sahuaro News. The event will run from Friday 18 -Sunday 20 April on the Malecon.

A new real estate development, Diamante Residencial, on the San Felipe bay between La Hacienda and Punta Estrella, is holding its grand opening on Saturday 12th April, this is the same day as the Woofstock festival to raise money for the San Felipe Animal Rescue. Click on the links for more details of each event.

Saturday 22 March. The Easter weekend is in full swing and the crowds seem to be enjoying themselves. The strong police presence is keeping things well under control and they are to be praised for the major effort that they are putting in. This is probably the most orderly Semana Santa that I have seen in twenty years. The Malecon beach, from the Costa Azul to the Boom-Boom Room has been packed. On the other hand, the out-of-town beaches have been relatively sparsely attended. The tent city in the sand dunes between Las Palmas and San Francisco was hopping and there were plenty of vehicles on the beach with people camping next to their trucks, but it was nothing compared to 2-3 years ago. Even the drag races up the dunes near Club de Pesca seemed less active than in the past and I have heard far fewer wails of ambulances taking the injured to hospital. As dusk began to fall, however, the enormity of the dust cloud over the town became apparent (picture below). It makes you wonder just how many respiratory problems will develop in the future for the residents and visitors who are forced to breathe in this very fine silica dust that is everywhere.


Thursday 20 March - Our correspondent, Juan Carlos Tapia, sent us this note:

Time for the yearly Semana Santa Spiritual Retreat in San Felipe. By Juan Tapia

(from a note in La Cronica de B.C.)

During these Semana Santa holidays, permits will be issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages to tourists promenading along the Malecon in San Felipe.

There will also be more street vendors as 100 temporary permits will be added to the 640 already existent.

Raul Lopez-Moreno, Mexicali County’s secretary said that the folks at Ejido Plan Nacional Agrario, will be issued the authority to sell booze at the Malecon during the Holy Week holidays. The money will benefit the Ejido’s “Junta de Mejoras Materiales” roughly translated: the Material Improvement Joint (?) (joint means junta).

He said that in order to protect the public, glass bottles will not be allowed in the area, only cans and plastic will. -In the event of an improbable street brawl, plastic used as projectiles aimed at your head can’t hurt that much, I must add-.

The levee area will be cordoned off to ice chests containing glass bottles.

Roaming street vendors will be assigned spaces and instructed to keep the walkways free of obstructions for the sake of tourism.

Rodolfo Valdez, mayor of Mexicali, said that festivities and traditions should not be at odds with lawful order, and that public intox… I mean moderate consumption will be tolerated and invited everyone to behave and have a peaceful family fiesta.

Unruly, ugly and illegal conduct will have to be dealt with the proper administrative measures.


Wednesday March 19th - We have this note on the health care system from our Mr. Ragtime:

The Mexican Response to U.S. Health Care

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Merida, Mexico

The U.S. health care system is overpriced and out of reach for millions of Americans…and Mexico has the answer.

According to Mexican news sources, Carlos Slim, Mexican business magnate and second-richest man on the planet, is planning a system of high-quality hospitals in Mexico specifically to cater to U.S. baby boomers.

One of Slim’s companies, Ideal, has purchased a 49% stake in Grupo Star Medica, a Mexican national hospital chain. Plans are underway for new, high-quality medical centers in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, and Los Cabos on the Baja California peninsula to cater to U.S. baby boomers who are buying second homes in Mexico…or who simply want to come to Mexico for cheaper health care than they can find in the United States.

It is estimated that vacation homes sales in Los Cabos increased 30%, and in Puerto Peñasco increased 45% in the last three years. Claudia Velazquez, an analyst for Softec, a real estate market analysis firm, said companies like Grupo Star Medica are just filling niches created by those new homeowners and vacationers. And, she adds, "[Baby boomers] are also choosing Mexico because its health system is much cheaper than in the United States.”

Slim isn’t the only Mexican businessman who sees an obvious opportunity in the failing U.S. health system. And plans are underway to get more U.S. private insurance companies to pay for medical treatment in Mexico.

"For a U.S. insurance policy to pay for medical treatment, the treatment has to comply with certain quality control standards, and we are going to participate with products to serve this niche," said Jaime Jimenez, general director for Mexico Trane, another company following Slim’s lead.

It’s hard to blame smart Mexican businessmen for capitalizing on such an obvious opportunity. If the United States hadn’t let its health care system get so bloated and profit-hungry that 40 million Americans can’t even afford health insurance, there wouldn’t be a need to outsource it.

Remember what your dentist used to say? “Ignore your teeth, and they will go away.” Well, the United States has neglected health care reform for so long that its users really are going away…to Mexico!


Monday 17 March - The hundreds of competitors and spectators of the Baja 250 race on Saturday experienced gridlock when they went bact to cross the border into California. Waits to cross at Calexico on Sunday afternoon and evening were typically 2-4 hours. If San Felipe is to thrive as a resort, it is critical that a new "high speed" crossing be developed between the Mexicali-Calexico region. A new crossing is now in the approval stage for the San Diego-Tijuana area and our administration in Mexico must make much stronger efforts to get cooperation with the US government for immediate action on a new port of entry for the Mexicali area. Tourism and business is being crippled by the present system. In fact, one of the biggest complaints we get from tourists and residents alike is that the worst part of coming to visit San Felipe is the fear of the big delays they will encounter on the journey back into California. Many San Felipe residents need to catch planes at the San Diego airport or attend medical exams or business meetings and the uncertainty in the delay on crossing the border makes this a nerve-wracking experience.

One of the participants of the race on Saturday was arrested by Mexican federal police when it was discovered that he was a king-pin in the Arrelano-Felix drug cartel. He was identified as Saúl Montes de Oca, a former Baja California state police agent. Montes de Oca was nicknamed El Ciego, or The Blind One, and faces charges in the United States and Mexico. He was arrested as he prepared to participate in the Baja 250 Off-Road Race, according to a top official of the Baja California attorney general's office, whose agents also took partin his capture..... more.

Comments on the Baja 250 from our correspondent Jim Hatton on what he observed on race-dezert.com:

wanted to give a big thanks to everybody in san felipe and score for the awesome race, police and soldiers out in force, looks like sal fish is turning things around


it sure is nice to read "positive-baja-related" stories ... nice work san felipe !!! now hopefully "south-central-ensenada" behaves during "the 5-hundie" and "the mil" ??


Definately. It was good times and the policia was out in full force. Seriously, I saw a badge every 2 minutes at continjency. I even came up on some federales during the race, out on the course at around rm 130. They helped me fix my broken master cylinder.

All in all, a great safe weekend.


this race was exciting and super safe
hope this race will motivate all those race teams that failed to participate due to all speculations of "Dangerous Baja". Next years 250 will again happen in San Felipe BC. Hope to see more race teams participating.
CONGRATS TO SAL FISH!!!! on an excellent race...keep up the good work.
Pesados Off Road Team
Calexico CA. / Mexicali BC.


Absolutely an awsome experience and an awsome place.
Everything went just perfect for us and we will be back for sure!

From the race organizers to the policia to the locals of San Felipe,
It was great!

I want to give a big thanks to Martin & everyone at Rice & Beans for having us down there to do the show on Wednesday.See you next year!


Saturday 15 March. Inversiones Soblar Signs Significant Development Management Agreement With The Reputable Clifton Meridian de Mexico, To Lead The Completion Of its Upscale $65 Million Beachfront Condo Project in San Felipe, Mexico.

San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico (March 15, 2008) – Inversiones Soblar, S.A. de C.V. the owner of Playa del Paraiso, a 208 unit condominium project under development in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, is pleased to announce that they have entered into a Development Management Agreement with Clifton Meridian de Mexico, LLC.The agreement which is effective immediately calls for Clifton Meridian to oversee all aspects of the development of the project for the ownership group. The new project manager and technical team will be on-site and working in San Felipe within the next 7-10 days.
“This is a very unique opportunity for us which we are very excited about” said Patrick Clifton, Chairman & CEO of Clifton Meridian, LLC, “Playa del Paraiso is a very high quality development consistent with the standards that we have set for our other projects.” Clifton Meridian de Mexico will shortly begin work on completing the first of the three building project, the first building is approximately 80% complete.
Playa del Paraiso is a $65,000,000- 208 unit beachfront condominium project located on the Sea of Cortez in San Felipe, Baja, Mexico. The project which is 95% pre-sold is comprised of 1, 2, 3 & 4 bedroom penthouse units. “We are very pleased and excited to be partnering with the prestigious Clifton Meridian de Mexico. They have a proven track record for developing some of the most beautiful upscale residential projects in Northern Mexico” said Laura Ballegeer, of Inversiones Soblar. “This is the perfect match for Playa del Paraiso, Clifton Meridian’s expertise will contribute greatly to the success of our project.”
About Clifton Meridian:
Clifton Meridian de Mexico, LLC, a Scottsdale, AZ based company and its related entities are engaged in the development of primarily high end residential projects focused on Puerto Penasco, Mexico and the Northern half of the Sea of Cortez. They currently have approximately $170,000,000 in projects in various stages of development. For more information about Clifton Meridian LLC, please visit www.CliftonMeridian.com.
About Inversiones Soblar:
Inversiones Soblar SA. De C.V. is a Mexican based real estate development company focused on developing vacation, retirement and resort properties in Baja California, Mexico. Currently developing Playa del Paraiso, a 208 unit luxury, high rise beachfront condominium resort located adjacent to the San Felipe Marina. This prestigious gated community will feature 2 large pools with swim up palapa bars, restaurant, bar/lounge, fitness center, signature spa and commercial area. For more information about Playa del Paraiso, please visit www.playadelparaiso.com
For further inquiries, please contact Laura Ballegeer – Inversiones Soblar, S.A de C.V at 888.647.5292 Ext.703 or Patrick Clifton – Clifton Meridian de Mexico, LLC 480.607.5566 Ext. 1

Monday 10th March.
The first phase of the docks for private boats is taking shape in the harbor. The floating moorings are on the right hand side of the picture and the fuel dock is in the center. The pedestrian and vehicular access is also well underway and the view that you get as you walk down from the Baja Diamante development and the Marina Resort is going to be impressive. Maybe one day we will have a row of waterfront cafes and restaurants... the thought of freshly smoked fish makes my mouth water already.


Sunday 9th March. - The clocks went ahead one hour in the USA. However, Baja California is still on Pacific standard time till Sunday 6th April. The clock above shows the correct time in San Felipe.


Thursday 6 March

The Lions Club welcomes the Flying Samaritan’s back to San Felipe. Article by Kathy Preppernau/Photos by Robin Waters. The Flying Samaritan’s, those Doctors, Nurses, Pilots, Translators and Volunteers from Modesto, California who have dedicated many years of service to the needy in San Felipe and other parts of Mexico, came back again in February to continue their mission of giving. The Lions Club of San Felipe, thank them for their devotion and are proud to be a part of this service to our community. Please click here for entire story.

There is an interesting article in the San Diego Union Tribune about the upcoming Baja 250 race in San Felipe (14-15 March). Security has been substantially increased on all the main roads in northern Baja. SCORE President Sal Fish comments: “We've got to take a step back, too, and take a look at what we're doing,” said Fish. “Don't get crazy. We've been spoiled because Mexican officials have looked the other way at some things we've done, and we've pushed it. Plus, we need to use a little common sense.” Fish is advising race teams to travel in convoys whenever possible to and from the course area. And he advises against traveling the highways alone at night. Of note is that "..Not everyone is returning immediately to Mexico – including some of the biggest names in off-road racing (Herbst, McMillin, Arciero) – for a variety of reasons." Read article.

Several people have written in about visiting the race course and camping overnight beside the course. Our advice is that you need to remember that the old Zoo Road through El Dorado Ranch is now closed to the public. Access to the Colonia Morelia area and the powerline cut is via the small road north of the Arches adjacent to the new "Java Jitters" coffee shop on the west side of the highway. As for camping by the course - don't do it. You risk life and limb if pre-runners come through at night and veer off the course.

We have received an official statement from Inversiones Soblar S.A. de C.V. regarding the development, Playa de Paraiso:

“Inversiones Soblar S.A. de C.V., the owner of Playa del Paraiso is a financially solid and reputable company that abides by the highest standards of integrity and remains fully committed to its customers and clients. Although Playa del Paraiso is behind schedule in the construction and delivery of the Condominium Units we are working diligently to finalize the deal to expedite completion of the project. Unfortunately, it has taken longer than anticipated due to unforeseen circumstances and the shift in the world credit markets, however we remain dedicated and committed to delivering the Units to our valued clients in the most expeditious manner possible. We are very confident that the finished product will be unlike any other product in San Felipe and will surpass the expectations of our clients.”

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