Monthly Archives: December 2009

On Vacation

Just a quick note to wish visitors and readers of this blog a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

I am leaving Christmas Day on a nine-day road trip south of the border to to explore some new places and revisit a few favorites (picture above is from previous trip along the Baja peninsula). The plan is to drive south along the Sonora coast, take the ferry across the Gulf of California to the Baja peninsula – and make our way back north to Tijuana. I will be traveling with my partner in crime, two kids – and quite possibly a sock puppet.

It should be fun, and I plan on documenting it with my video camera and come back with some travel entries for this blog, which will resume publishing in January. Until then…cheers!

p.s. If you are feeling inspired to hit the road in Baja, you can check out the travelogue I put together from my 2006-2007 Baja trip.

Smuggled Christmas Puppies Rescued at Tecate Border

Puppy Christmas 6
Image by Grammatic Error via Flickr

There’s been lots of attention lately on the smuggled stash of puppies rescued at the Tecate border this week. The fifteen sickly puppies were being smuggled into the United States through Mexico, apparently for sale as Christmas gifts. The miniature poodle mixes were promptly dubbed the “Christmas puppies.”

But it’s not just a Christmas thing. Customs and Border Protection officials have estimated that as many as 10,000 puppies are smuggled across the border in any given year, according to this Customs and Border Protection article from 2006. The problem apparently merited its own task force: A Border Puppy Task Force was created in 2004 as a result of complaints from owners who had bought sick dogs that ended up being traced to Mexico. The task force is comprised of 14 California animal welfare and law enforcement agencies.

As with drugs, the business is inspired by profit. The puppies (typically smaller breeds such as poodles and           Chihuahuas) may be purchased for between $50 and $150 in Mexico and sold for between $300 and $1,000 in the United States, according to this Associated Press report in 2006.

Sometimes dogs are smuggled across with even more ulterior motives. Learn about some puppies that were being used as drug mules. In other cases, dogs are the unsung heroes in the ongoing war against drugs. Here’s a story about a drug-sniffing dog that sniffed out 68 pounds of cocaine hidden in a car.

Photo NOT of sumuggled puppies. Photo used through Creative Commons License. Source:

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Christmas in Mexico

Mexicans aren’t color shy. Driving around a city like Tijuana is a lot like taking a detour onto a Candyland board game where yellow doors, mint-topped roofs, and violet walls are all the norm. Watch any Mexican soap opera to get a sense of how color infuses clothes and the interior of homes  from the very rich to the very poor. Spend enough time in Mexico and you will return home, look around, and realize everything is just so…beige. Not even the Christmas tree appears to be exempt from the inclination to dress up and color up most anything in sight, as can be seen in these photos I took last weekend at a Tijuana tree lot.