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Saturday 30 August

Here is what La Cronica said in today's edition about the whirlwind that hit us in the middle of Thursday night:

Inunda malecón
Un tromba se registró ayer a las 2:30 de la madruga en el puerto de San Felipe, ocasionando inundaciones en el área del malecón y el estero, informó el delegado municipal, Hazael Sierra.
El fenómeno se prolongó hasta las 5:00 horas acompañado de vientos y truenos.
Comentó que desde las 3:00 horas de ayer la cuadrilla de obras públicas se encontraba trabajando bombeando el agua en estos dos puntos, pues están considerados como críticos.
El funcionario argumentó que en estas zonas siempre presentan problemas con las lluvias debido a que el área del malecón se encuentra bloqueada por construcciones como el Seguro Social y hoteles.
Mientras que en el estero se vieron en necesidad de romper un muro de contención para que el agua acumulada por la precipitación desembocara en el mar.
Hazel Sierra, recalcó que para hoy San Felipe estará de pie nuevamente, pues no se registraron percances de magnitud en el puerto además cuentan con personal de apoyo de Mexicali para garantizar la rápida reincorporación del puerto.
Hasta el momento solo se registraron tres postes de Telnor caídos y algunos espectaculares.
Redacción/LA CRóNICA

The translation into English is here.

4 p.m. We have been surrounded by rainstorms all day in San Felipe - first to the north, then over the mountains to the west and finally in the south near Puertecitos. Little actual rain has been felt in town but I would guess that there were gully-washers out of town. By 3 p.m. the radar showed only rain in the mountains and an ominous patch at Puertecitos. (The red patch below).

 

Friday 29 August

Thunderstorms hit the San Felipe region between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. this morning. There is flooding at the end of the Malecon by the old shipyard and, presumably, in many of the other low spots in town. The good thing is that we are getting the problems out of the way before the holiday weekend. The radar loops show that thunder cells also moved over the area south of Mexicali starting around 1 a.m. this morning so there is the possibility that there has been additional rain on the road. The radar image below shows the situation at about 2 a.m. when the thunderstorms hit San Felipe. The intense red blob in the clower center shows the storm heading inland from our town. Note that there is little rain action to our south but there were similar red storm blobs near Mexicali an hour before this image came in.

Noon. The Secretary of Tourism has contacted us to say that all roads are open and traffic is flowing from Ensenada and Mexicali. Road maintenance crews are on the job and they are fixing any damage as they find it. No damage has been reported for the road south to Puertecitos.

 

6 p.m. Thursday The road crews are out in force and the repair of the Mexicali-San Felipe highway is well underway. The big machine that lays a carpet of asphalt is already paving over the filled areas and we expect that all needed work will be done to ensure that vehicles can have a safe journey to San Felipe this holiday weekend. Only one area is left where traffic has to travel in a single file.

Katherine took the photo above around km 120 today on her trip down from Mexicali and she told me how impressed she was that the job was proceeding so well. We still advise you not to travel at night - there may still be damaged shoulders and it is impossible to see the edge of the road with newly laid asphalt. It is just so "black" that your headlights will not get any reflection back, and there is no moon for illumination this week. Also, keep a sharp watch on the weather as the weather service is still predicting thunderstorms in the Mexical/northern Baja border area for the next few days. You do not want to be trapped by a flash flood so do not even think of crossing any running vados.

 

Wednesday 27 August

The Tropical Storm Julio never quite made it up the Gulf from the Midriff Islands but the moisture that was spun off on Monday ended up in the mountains on Northern Baja and later caused huge cascades down the mountain slopes west of the Mexicali-San Felipe road. By Tuesday morning, major washouts had occurred on the road between La Ventana (the old gasoline station half way between Mexicali and San Felipe) and the junction with the Ensenada road. This is a section of the highway system that is prone to damage during heavy rains in the mountains and was the region that has been extensively damaged in years past.

A major washout of the road just south of La Ventana, where the microwave towers are on the hill to the east, occurred and blocked all traffic early Tuesday for many hours. Trucks came from Mexicali and filled in the gaping holes as a temporary measure and built a bypass for traffic to continue the journey.

One of the first to be allowed to continue the journey was Rob Linder who wrote:

"I was the first truck to cross at the bridge yesterday. The Mexican transit people in cooperation with the police moved everything and everyone out of the way quickly. I watched the whole thing. It was chaotic at times but everyone worked together. Then after the water settled and the dirt was hard enough they started to let people pass. I would let your readers know that they should consider traveling on that highway dangerous. The sides of the road in many places are in big trouble. There is no way they could have marked and or fixed what I saw. I'm talking about the stretch in between the Federale check point and La Ventana. I would drive right down the center of that road when ever possible. Please be very careful. Yesterday I saw people concerned for each other. You don't always get to see people act like they should. I could not pass a car that didn't flash their lights and give hand signals to warn me of what was up ahead. Both Mexicans and Americans all took this very seriously. Around the spot where you can see the mines on the west side of highway 5 was a huge sink hole in the southbound lane. North from there were parts of the road on the NB side that were so eroded that it looked like it was hanging in mid air. There were seven or eight spots where cars had to take turns to share the paved part of the road where there were dips or low spots."

 

Here you see the section of road at km 123 where it has turned into a rock-strewn, single lane section. Remember that there will be the huge double trailer trucks that go between Mexicali and Ensenada that will be using this road all the time so we urge you to be extremely careful for the next several weeks while road clearing and repair take place. DO NOT DRIVE AT NIGHT and be particularly aware of any potential rainstorms that may hit northern Baja and cause additional damage.

 

 

Sunday 24th August

...TROPICAL STORM WATCH ISSUED FOR BAJA CALIFORNIA... CHECK THE WEATHER PAGE

Friday 20th August

THE MEXICAN IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT IS APPLYING NEW STANDARDS TO THE FM PROCESS.
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE OF THE FOLLOWING CHANGES.
PROOF OF ADDRESS - INDIVIDUALS NOT LIVING IN A LARGE ESTABLISHED DEVELOPMENT 1. Leases/rental agreements need to provide all documents in Spanish 2. Proof of payment need to be in Spanish and accompanied with approved hacienda imprinted receipts 3. Leases/rental agreements and receipts must be accompanied with a copy of the makers identification (front and back). It can be either a Mexican federal voter registration card or Mexican passport.No fm will be processed without presenting a copy of this identification. A refusal by any individual to provide identification is a violation of immigration laws. It is incumbent of applicants to apply directly to your local immigration office for redress if any landlord refuses to supply the required identification, as your fm will not be processed, be subject to fines and/or cancellation. If your residence has electricity and the electric bill is in your name and address listed in your fm is the same as on the electric bill you are excluded from this requirement.
BANK ACCOUNTS – NEW MINIMUM DEPOSIT AMOUNTS !!!!!! 1. FM3 single person – raised to $1,300.00 2. FM3 married couple – raised to $2,000.00 3. FM2 single person – raised to $2,100.00 4. FM2 married couple – raised to $3,200.00 .
RENEWAL TIME LIMITS Immigration offices will not longer accept renewals that will expire within one week of the expiration date! They will accept the application; however it will be considered as filing late and be subject to penalties.
Immigration will accept renewal up to thirty (30) days ahead of the expiration date for processing The Mexican government has taken a firmer stance in applying immigration rules and regulations. Please keep in mind, excuses are no longer acceptable. Renewing your immigration documents in a timely manner (being late), whatever the excuse will not lessen the penalties assessed. So keep in mind to renew ON TIME and provide all the documentation that is required. Doing so will make the whole process trouble free and less costly. This information was provided by Lolita Immigration Services & Insurance, office: 011 52 (686) 577 6185 in San Felipe.

Friday 8th August

As part of the works to make San Felipe a Great Tourism Destination, the Municipal Government in coordination with State and Federal authorities delivered 5 new patrols for the Police Department. At the event were present Rodolfo Valdez Gutierrez Mayor of Mexicali, Hazael Sierra head of the Local Government, Ruben de la Peña from San Felipe's COTUCO, Navy Counter Admiral Juan Ramon Alcala Pignol, Laura Ramirez head of Mexicali's DIF, among others. We will be updating the activities involving upgrades to San Felipe as they are available. See pictures of the event in Kat's Korner >>.

Thursday 7th August

Pemex gasoline stations in Tijuana and Rosarito have announced that they will fill car and truck fuel tanks as normal but will not fill supplementary external tanks that customers also bring into the stations. This is to stop the massive demand for the government-subsidized Mexican gasoline and diesel that has increased almost 40% in recent months with the fuel crisis in the USA. No announcement has been made by the Mexicali stations but the problem there has been much smaller than in Tijuana. There are no restrictions at this time in San Felipe.

Wednesday 6th August

The U.S Customs and Border Patrol has announced that as part of its expanding border search policy, government agents are now authorized to seize electronic devices and inspect documents in them. The electronic devices might include laptops, cell phones, portable music players or storage devices such as portable hard drives, iPods, CDs and DVDs, thumb drives etc .
Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection will also be allowed to translate and share documents with other government agencies. Travelers should beware of what information is stored on their portable electronic devices! (more..)

Monday 4th August

The new passport requirements for visiting Mexico will take effect next year on 1 June 2009. Up till that date, you can still use your drivers license and birth certificate to return by land and sea crossings to the US after having visited San Felipe (you already need a passport for returning by air!). Starting in June 2009 you must be in possession of a single WHTI-compliant document such as a passport or the new passport card. Start your applications now!!! more details...

 

We received this article from George Puckett about living in Mexico and his reasons for doing it. George has written a few books and you might want to check them out in the links section.

Why Mexico?

I am asked that question quite frequently by readers of my book, “Baja Diaries-Chronicles of a Paradise Lost.” Why did you and your wife retire in Mexico instead of Florida, New Mexico or another foreign country other than Mexico?

I never really considered any other place, domestic or foreign. Many years ago I read a book entitled, “Choose Mexico.” A sub-title stated that you could retire to Mexico for ? dollars per day. The book was written by John Howells. It is now in the ninth edition. With each subsequent edition that daily dollar figure increased. Now that subtitle no longer appears on the cover. ....(read full article here)

 

 

SHARE A RIDE? With the gas crunch and other expenses rising, this thought inevitably comes to mind. Someone arriving at the San Diego Airport on Thursday, August 7, would like to share expenses of a ride to San Felipe. Any takers? Call 576-0661.

July 2008

Saturday 26 July

Boat stolen from La Hacienda - Have you seen the boat in the picture below? It was stolen from outside the Schlamp house at La Hacienda on Monday 21 July. (Update 31 july - The boat has been recovered. Thanks to all who were involved in the discovery.)

It is a 20 foot "Veracity" sail boat with twin keels - two stubby keels (very unusual). The bottom is painted blue and the top part is white. If you see the boat, please call Jose Cruze (686) 577-2076 in San Felipe and Todd Moores (686)-187-9614 and give them its location. You can also e-mail Todd at amazontodd at yahoo dot ca

 

Monday 21 July

Radio Controlled Aircraft Club? - We are looking for any people in the San Felipe area that are interested in helping to form an RC airplane club. Also there have been various enquiries about forming a ham radio club in this area. If you have any information please email us and we will put an announcement here for the interested parties.

Americans/other nationalities with children living in San Felipe - We are getting increasing numbers of enquiries from people in the USA, Canada and Europe on moving to San Felipe to live and work here. Many of these people want to know about the education that their children can expect to receive and how well prepared they will be for college. In the past, many children have received home schooling and correspondence courses. Now, with internet technologies, there are additional ways of participating in distance learning. However, the sentiment being expressed by many younger families, with kids in the 5-17 year age group, is that they want to have their children participate in the Mexican learning experience and obtain good social contact with their peers. If you have information that you could share with new prospective residents, would you contact us so we can get some discussion going about the educational system in San Felipe?

Wednesday 16 July

Hurricane Elida - Out in the Pacific, 600 miles southwest of the tip of Baja, hurricane Elida is moving west and poses no threat to land at this point. However, we are beginning to feel the stream of moisture that is being spun off the storm as you can see in the following photo:

Off the satellite picture to the right is the spawning ground for the summer storms and hurricanes. Tropical storm Fausto is just emerging from this region and appears to be following the track of Elida.

 

Tuesday 15 July

Rainstorm in Mexicali - On Monday afternoon (7/14/08) a severe wind and rainstorm hit Mexicali and caused flooding of several roads. Windows were broken and some trees were toppled. The storm passed after a couple of hours and things are now back to normal. (more) In San Felipe, nothing happened.

Wednesday 9 July

Pemex - Mexico's national gasoline company has announced it will ration gasoline and diesel to its stations in the border region to reduce the incentive for US motorists to cross the border to stock up on fuel. It is not clear how this will affect San Felipe since we are so far away from the border. Drivers are unlikely to make the 250 mile round trip to obtain bulk diesel and gasoline purchases here to take back to the USA. Today at our local Pemex stations business was quiet and there were no restrictions on purchases. See more here. Update 9 p.m. A delegation sent to Mexico City has succeeded in getting Pemex to increase its deliveries of diesel in Baja and shortages should diminish in the next few days.

Tuesday 8 July

COTUCO - our Comittee on Tourism and Conventions - reports that the July 4th. crowds filled the hotels of San Felipe with hundreds of visitors driving from the USA to spend the three day weekend here. Occupancy levels were some of the highest this year and we certainly saw our beachfront condominiums overflowing with crowds with their skidoos and quads. (more in Spanish)

A Quantum of Solace. We mentioned earlier this year that some of the filming of the new James Bond movie, which is being released in November 2008, was shot around (and over) San Felipe. The cast and crew took over the San Felipe Marina Resort for their base and staged many of the aerial gunfights over our desert areas:

BOND in MEXICO
With spectacular mid-air gunfights and aerial views over the wild desert landscapes and sparkling Sea of Cortés, Baja California was the other Latin American setting for the film. Most of the scenes were allegedly shot (from the air) around the small costal town called San Felipe, located around 2 hours from Mexicali, with sweeping views of the surrounding sierras and ocean.

A far cry from the all-inclusive beach hotels and golf resorts of Los Cabos (on Baja’s southern tip), the virtually undeveloped Sea of Cortés coast is a beautiful, arid wilderness boasting a wide variety of desert flora, pristine white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water, home to abundant marine wildlife from rays and sealions, to whales and dolphins. Hidden away near Loreto and La Paz, are a few boutique beach hotels, desert canyons and uninhabited islands ideal for outdoor activities including hiking and sea kayaking.

More from the travel site that is promoting "Bond Travel" can be found here.

Sunrise, Monday 7th. July. The tropical moisture is moving north up the Gulf and here we see a thunderhead to our east near Puerto Penasco. There were lightning flashes in the rain in the right-hand side of the picture and Yuma radar was picking up quite a downpour over the sea. As summer continues we shall see more of these thunderstorms developing in the Sea of Cortez and one of the favorite things to do at cocktail hour is to sit on the balcony and watch nature's free fireworks show over the Sonoran coast.

 

Sunday 6 July

The internet is up...no it is down...wait, it is up again . This is a frustrating weekend for anyone trying to do some work or to send and receive email in San Felipe. Since lunchtime on Saturday it has been almost impossible to do anything because our internet service provider (Telnor, a division of Telmex) has been playing havoc with the system. DSL lines around town have been on and off as the engineers let us have a few minutes of connectivity before we go down for an hour or so. The telephone company just does not realize that the visitors who come here need to be able to connect. The kids want to be able to play their MMP games and get Facebook when it is too hot to be on the beach (like right now when it is close to 100 degrees with no breeze at all!). I have had calls from people in town who are desperate to get their mortgage and bills paid and counted on being able to do it from San Felipe. Oh well, never mind the late fees and the hit to the credit score...... 4 p.m. Update: The maintenance and upgrades have been completed and connectivity is back to normal in town.

Tourist police. We have some very smartly attired tourist police that are riding around in pairs on brand new quads. However, they look very threatening because they wear black face masks - very much like the SWAT teams that we see in the movies. I notice that everyone gets out of the way when they come riding down the street so perhaps the appearance is meant to be intimidating. I did not dare to take a photo or to look closely to see if they were armed.

Friday 4 July

Update on the gasoline/diesel situation. One of our regular correspondents, Maureen, sent me this today:

"For the 3rd week in a row, we were unable to find diesel in Mexicali, either leaving or coming in to Mexico. We had to beg to get 5 gal. to get us to San Felipe and of course there was no problem in San Felipe. But in Mexicali we saw so many California-plated trucks, with double tanks and barrels in the back of their pickups, filling up, when we did find a station with fuel. It appears they're taking it back and selling it, or??????? In any event, stations were not inclined to sell any to U.S. plated vehicles. We've seen 3 of the same type of trucks with CA plates filling up and asked if they were going back and they said yes. Truckers weren't happy when seeing this, but just happy to find a station to fill their tanks. We also saw about 20 trucks parked at an old station South of La Puerta -- not enough gas. Saw this last Saturday as well."

I can confirm that in Mexicali, yesterday, there were gas stations with very long lines of huge trucks trying to get diesel. Note that ordinary gasoline is available - the crunch just seems to be with the diesel supplies. The Governors press releases indicate that a tanker of diesel came into Rosarito last week but Pemex is having problems keeping up with distribution. The main problem is that demand for diesel has risen dramatically 30-40% in the past month. We can only speculate that it is caused by truckers from the USA coming to buy the much cheaper Mexican diesel thousands of gallons at a time at stations in Tijuana and Mexicali.

To summarize: Regular and premium gasoline and diesel is easily available in San Felipe and if you are a tourist coming for the weekend you will have no problem getting fuel here. On the other hand, don't even think of stopping in Mexicali for diesel. The wait is not worth it.

Wednesday 2 July

Update to the ATM theft problem. It appears that the theft of information is occurring on independent ATMs such as those in 7-11 stores rather than the ones in bank lobbies. The network system for those independent machines was compromised by hackers and they were able to access all information on the customers debit card and the PIN that was entered in the machine. Primarily this was on CITIbank card services in the USA and, presumably, on the use of Citibank Mastercard debit cards in other countries. Citibank is aware of the problem and says it has been fixed. Our recommendation is to use only the ATM machines at BBVA-Bancomer and Banamex in San Felipe. Their networks are believed to be fully secure. (ej).

Tuesday 1 July

For travellers coming to San Felipe from Northern California, please see the following links for where there is fire danger. You will be better able to plan your routes around the 1400 active fires using this Google Map. See latest map.

Negative articles in the Union Tribune.

I get a little riled up when I read nothing but negative articles in the San Diego papers. This one invites comments and I was just in the mood to answer him. If you feel the same, please send your e-mail to ruben.navarrette@uniontrib.com

Quote from the Union Tribune:
" In office for almost eight months, Osuna Millan isn't shy about rattling off his concerns — from congestion at the border that hurts commerce on both sides, to what he believes is an unfairly negative portrayal in the American news media of his border state as violently out of control. He wants more positive stories, and insists that they are here if only more U.S. reporters knew where to look."

My e-mail response:
If I could find more positive stories in the San Diego News about the border towns in Baja, I would love to print them. I watch Google Alerts all of the time, but seldom do I find a story about new programs in schools, new enterprises in the Malls, updates on factory outputs, sports or competition matches on either side of the border no matter who honors go to. Music and the Arts are international languages good for both sides. But there are many, many activities going on in the residential communities and schools and factories and hospitals of new ideas and projects on tap, good for both sides of the border. How about a column, on the second page at least, of your neighbors (millions of good people) immediately to the south...... Contributing editor to San Felipe's official Internet; Shirley Thompson

June 2008

Monday 30 June

There have been reports around town of people using the ATM machines at the banks here getting money drained from their accounts. Be particularly careful that someone is not looking over your shoulder when you enter your PIN code. Also be aware of any "attachment" to the ATM machine that may be capturing your information as you insert your card into the slot. If you have any doubts, we recommend you call your bank or log on to their website and change your PIN code.

The diesel shortage is now starting to ease. In Mexicali there has been a 10 day period of tight supplies of diesel fuel. Supplies have been reserved for local buses and critical goods delivery. Stories in the San Diego papers and local TV have resulted in more people going to Baja to buy cheap diesel and the business of installing very large supplementary fuel tanks in trucks is booming as people in California see no relief in sight on the price of fuel there (see more). One thing that is becoming apparent is that people in southern California are changing their driving habits; nearly 50% of people report that they are driving less and around 7% are cancelling their driving vacations and opting to stay home and do jobs around the house. Naturally, since San Felipe is a part of Mexicali, we have also had our ups and downs. Gasoline supplies are largely unaffected and there should be adequate supplies for visitors coming to San Felipe for the upcoming long weekend (July 4th holiday).

Sunday 22 June

Last Thursday, the Governor of Baja California indicated that the fuel shortages that were being experienced (primarily in Tijuana) were not the result of US residents coming across the border to fill up their tanks. It appeared that a freighter bringing fuel to the Rosarito distribution facility was delayed by bad weather.(news report) (more KPBS)

Today, it appears that the tanker docked on Saturday and brought a load of diesel fuel that will be distributed around the state by this coming Wednesday. Indeed it is now clear that the fuel shortages are not caused by excessive demand for gasoline but are due to a big run-up in demand for diesel. There have been newspaper and radio reports about US trucks fitted with 200 gallon tanks crossing the border at El Paso and bringing back large quantities of fuel (story). This morning's article in the San Diego Union Tribune indicates that supplies should soon be back to normal. (story).

Tuesday 17 June

Impending shortages of gasoline and diesel. The whole of northern Baja is starting to experience a shortage of gasoline and diesel fuel as American motorists from California and Arizona drive into the border cities to fill up their gas tanks. Prices of gasoline in San Diego are now approaching $5/gallon and diesel is already well over this figure so it is making economic sense for people to come and shop in Mexico and fill their tanks. The Pemex distribution center just outside Rosarito is reported to be almost dry and deliveries to many Tijuana and Mexicali gasoline stations have been suspended. The impact is just starting to be noticed here in San Felipe as local citizens fill their tanks to avoid being caught without any gasoline for the coming 7-14 days. Pemex says that there is not a shortage of gasoline in Mexico, just that the scheduled deliveries to their Baja distribution facilities are not keeping up with the rapidly rising demand. We expect that as more tankers are sent to Rosarito, the scarcity will ease but this could take a couple of weeks. In the meantime, tourists coming in for the weekend should get their tanks filled when they arrive in town to avoid any difficulties of the stations running out over the weekend.

Thursday 12 June

As you can tell, not a lot is happening in town. This is the time when the weather is actually very good, but we also now see the beginning of the monsoon season on the horizon. No, we are unlikely to get any significant rain before mid-August but you see the humidity climbing, particularly at night. People are turning on the air conditioners.

The picture below shows the tongue of blue moisture that is working its way up the Sea of Cortez. It indicates that there is enough precipitable water in the clouds to dump 2 inches of rain on the communities down there. By contrast, the orange-yellow region around San Felipe at the top of the Gulf indicates that there is probably less than 0.4 inches of rain potential in the air.

Each day this monsoon will creep closer, but only in August or September do we have anything to be concerned about (check your roofs now!). The prime impact on us is that we turn on the air conditioners in the bedroom at night, mainly to dry out the air rather than to cool. In typical conditions now, we experience indoor temperatures around 80 degrees with relative humidities of around 60%. It is still possible to sleep in these conditions just with a single sheet and the ceiling fans giving us some moving air. However, by the time the house reaches 83F you need to close the windows of the bedroom and turn on the air.

Electricity is extremely expensive in Mexico (around 22 cents US/kilowatt hour), or about double the price you probably pay in the States. Domestic households are heavily subsidized by the government, up to the first 2500 kw-h/monthy. Beyond that you watch your bank account dwindle rapidly. One of the most difficult things to teach our visitors is that when they come here and stay in a hotel, apartment or condominium they need to be very sparing in the use of electricity. The people who rent their homes and condominiums are required to pay the commercial rates (like the hotels) rather than the subsidized rates because they are businesses. Please turn the lights and air conditioners off when you are out of your rooms; the management will really appreciate it! (emm)

Thursday 5 June

The San Felipe Marina Resort hosted a group of special ed. students from Mexicali to give them the opportunity to enjoy a day at the beach. What a wonderful, public-spirited gesture for these needy children.

 

Wednesday 4th June.

Power Outage at the Net

10 a.m. The Comision Federal de Electricidad (the power monopoly) cut off all power to our area of town this morning around 8 a.m. without any warning. They performed the emergency maintenance that we had expected to be done last Friday, when they sent us a letter saying that we should prepare our equipment for the shutdown. Well, they did not do the maintenance then and instead did it without further notice this morning. (Old timers will remember the comedy series in which Lily Tomlin played Ernestine, a telephone operator for Ma Bell in Sixties - "we don't care, we don't have to; we are the telephone company!" see one of the sketches here on youtube and you will get a flavor of life as a small business in San Felipe.)

We apologize for being off the air for a few hours. We are now coping with serious server problems caused by the spikes and surges of this outage. Our webcam caught the CFE team finishing their work on the high voltage lines as our power was restored:

 

 

May 2008

Wednesday 21
San Felipe Lions Club News by Kathy Preppernau .
The San Felipe Lions Club will be holding an election meeting on May 22nd at 6:00 at Cliff and Sue’s Los Arcos Restaurant. As we elect new officers and certain directors we want to thank outgoing President Gary Dilley for his leadership, inspiration and dedication in making this club such a success since it’s charter on January 26, 2007. With his leadership the club has accomplished so much that we can be proud of in our humanitarian efforts here in San Felipe. We have grown from the 51 charter members to a membership now of 70 plus. Our incoming President will be Hal/Paco Clark and we look forward to another successful year under his leadership. Our most recent fundraising event, the 2nd annual Blues & Arts Fiesta was a huge success and we thank everyone involved who worked so hard to make this event a “Day to Remember” in San Felipe history. It took all our generous sponsors, the great leadership and organization of John & Rachel Pack, Hal/Paco Clark & Robin Waters, Gary Dilley, Robin Kissee and all the rest of the member and non member volunteers to make it happen. We thank all who came out and supported us and enjoyed a great day of Blues Music, Fine Art, food, drink and fun in the sun. We were able to raise nearly $16,000 to continue our humanitarian efforts and learned a great deal to help us make next years Blues & Arts Fiesta an even bigger and more successful event. The date has already been set for next year’s event so mark your calendars now. It will be held on March 28, 2009 and with all the rave reviews about this years Fiesta, we believe we’ll have more bands, more artists, and an even bigger crowd. Yes! Thank you San Felipe! The Flying Samaritans will be returning to San Felipe on Friday the 23rd and will be doing eye surgeries at Hospital San Felipe on Saturday the 24th for those in need. Dr Sergio Sandoval will be doing the prescreening along with Lions member, Karen Bradley, who works with and organizes the Flying Samaritan visits. This will be the 5th clinic that the San Felipe Lions Club has helped with since February of 2007 and we are pleased that we have been able to be involved to help so many in the community receive eye exams, glasses and much needed surgeries that they would not be able to afford if it wasn’t for the dedication of these doctors, nurses, pilots, and translators who fly here from Modesto, California and give of their time and expertise. If you are interested in being involved with the San Felipe Lions Club please join us at one of our meetings. During the summer months of June, July and August we will be meeting just once a month. The meetings are held at Cliff & Sue’s Los Arcos Restaurant at 6:00 PM on the last Thursday of each month. For those who have a problem with smoke, FYI….Lions Club meetings are now Smoke Free.

Thursday May 15

A rumor has been flying around for several days about Bruce Barber's demise. I am here to say that I e-mailed him on Tuesday 5/13 and he answered on Wednesday 5/14 from Los Angeles. Bruce and Freda are due to return home to San Felipe today and will surely put this to rest. Shirley Thompson.

Update 11 a.m. Bruce is fine - confirmed by telephone call with Freda. (ej)

Wednesday 14 May - A Magnitude 4.3 earthquake occurred this morning around 9 a.m. It was centered 70 miles south of San Felipe in the Gulf - along the fault line that separates the moving continental plates (the San Andreas Fault). No reports of damage, though we did have one person report that they felt the ground shake.

 

Monday May 12 A recent article by Mexidata discusses the state of mortgages in Mexico. Now that the equity home loan has dried up for most U.S consumers, alternate methods of financing the dream retirement home in Mexico are needed. It is possible to borrow from Mexico-based institutions, particularly the branches of U.S. Banks and financial giants like Prudential that have Mexico divisions. However, even these lenders are unsure of how to conduct business with American consumers. The prospective borrowers are not used to dealing with the glacial speed at which paperwork gets done, with the need to come up with a deposit of around 30% and with the changes in terms that can occur after they have apparently received a committment on a loan.

More common is the financing offered by the people selling the property, though these loans can often require a deposit of 50% of the selling price. A third financing approach, converting a US IRA into a self-directed IRA investing in foreign real estate, has turned into a major headache for many investors as the IRS has started questioning the legitimacy of these vehicles. Read more on the Mexidata site.

Sunday May 11

***The lost has returned from what he thought was a one day's ride which turned into a typical 5 day Baja escapade. His story here..

Has anyone seen this man in San Felipe since Tuesday morning.5/6/08. He drives an '86 gold & cream Sedandiville cadillac, Oregon license # PEY344

Friday 9 May - On Monday evening John VanRooden dined at the El Nido restaurant. On Tuesday morning he had breakfast at El Colorado out on the highway5 North. No-one has seen him since. He is a tall, slight man, now 81 years of age. Because of a stroke awhile back he has a limp foot which drags a little while walking. Usually wears a small beard. The police will not take a missing persons report till after 72 hours. We finally were able to file one this morning. If anyone has seen him since Tuesday morning please call 576-0347.

Sunday 4 May - A mid-afternoon burglary occurred at an occupied house at Villas de Las Palmas today. Thieves stole the copper shower pipe from the garden wall and tried breaking into the house through several different windows. Eventually one robber climbed up to the second story and entered the living room only to find an elderly guest watching TV. She screamed and almost had a heart attack. The burglar leapt down to the beach and ran away. Neighbors called the police but there was no response. (ej)

Friday 2 May - This morning we tried to help one of our clients coming from the United States who wanted to stay overnight in a decent hotel in Mexical and visit the Paella Festival there on the 25th May. The difficulty was that they were travelling with a pet dog. I telephoned all the top hotels in Mexicali and was told that absolutely no, they would not accept guests with "mascotas". I called the Mexicali Conventions and Tourism office (link) and they felt sure they would be able to help us. Alas, they also were rebuffed. It seems that Mexicali is very "pet-hostlile" and we want to warn travellers on the way to San Felipe about this situation. We always advise people not to travel on the road after dark so if you are coming to San Felipe with pets and need to break the journey, please stop in El Centro or other U.S. border cities where you and your pet will be welcomed.

There is a good bit of traffic coming into town for the Cinco de Mayo weekend. This is a very nice time of year to be in San Felipe; the weather is good and the sea is warming up. We also note that the Casablanca real estate development down towards Punta Estrella is having their one year anniversary sale and are offering lots for 50% off until the close of business on 5 May. This is an extraordinarily good deal for anyone who is interested in having a house by the beach in San Felipe. Contact the Casablanca representatives for more information.

Wednesday 30 April. Change of day and time of meeting: The annual general meeting of the La Hacienda HOA is on 24th May 2008 - What: Annual General Meeting & Election of Officers; Who: Colonos La Hacienda; Homeowners' Association; When: Saturday, 24 May 2008 at 1:00 p.m. Where: At La Hacienda, on top of the water reservoir, behind the condo's, next to the tennis courts (seating will be provided).

Friday 25 April - I took a drive by some of the construction projects in San Felipe today to see how work was progressing. There has been a tremendous slowdown as a result of the drop in visitors and prospective purchasers of new housing in San Felipe (and all along the US-Mexico border region). Most of this drop has, of course, been the result of the recession in the United States and the inability of residents there to use their houses as cash machines for financing second homes. At some construction sites, work has stopped completely, such as the picture below of the Playa del Paraiso towers where the gates are shuttered and nobody is around:

Of course, it is likely that since the restructuring of Inversiones Soblar and their management agreement with Clifton Meridian de Mexico, which we noted in our 15 March news, there needs to be assessments of what to do first.

Just down the street, the new Club Habana Hotel is coming along slowly and a skeleton crew does appear to be on the job. There still appears to be a lot of construction to be completed before the hotel is ready to receive guests:

Thursday 24 April - An update for all our visitors planning a trip here. The cost of regular unleaded gasoline in California is about $4/gallon and diesel is almost $4.50/gallon. By comparison, San Felipe is really cheap with 87 octane unleaded gasoline selling for about $2.45 (dollars equivalent) per gallon and diesel fuel here is a bargain $2.10/gallon. Wait till you get to San Felipe to fill up as Mexicali is more expensive.

Wednesday 16 April. La Hacienda Villas HOA General Meeting Notice 5/17/08.
When: May 17, 2008, 1:00PM Where: La Hacienda Villas Lobby. Members should RSVP to their email invitation.
AGENDA: Condo Walk Around, Call to Order, Roll Call, Current Event, Financial Review, Villas / Colonos HOA Merger Discussions, Reduced Dues / Dues Collection, Meeting Concludes.

Tuesday 15 April. The US Department of State has issued an updated advisory for travellers to Mexico. The greatest concern is for visitors to the Tijuana area and to Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua. No incidents have been reported for the Mexicali-San Felipe corridor. The full text of the advisory can be read here. General Mexico information from the State Department for US visitors is found on this web page.

Monday 7 April. Today our clocks are one hour forward and we'll be on the same time as San Diego, California.
We have just recieved this flyer: "At the Rockodile you can see San Felipe's own 8 UFC-style Mixed Martial Arts matches featuring fighters from San Diego, Yuma, El Centro, Brazil and San Felipe!

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San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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