Tag Archives: baja

ICF Survey finds that many U.S. retirees in Mexico live comfortably for less than $1,000 a month

This month, the National City-based International Community Foundation released findings of a survey they conducted of more than 840 senior retirees in coastal areas of Mexico who are over the age of 50. I’m republishing here portions of the Foundation press release that was posted on their web site: 

  • U.S. retirees in Mexico are relatively young and well-educated. Nearly 53% are under 65 years of age (and, in fact, 80% are 69 years or younger), perhaps indicating that Mexico may not be as attractive for older Americans that require additional medical care. In addition, almost two-thirds have at least a college degree, and another 28% had attended at least one-year of college.
  • The respondents chose Mexico for retirement due to its proximity to the United States and its affordability relative to other U.S. retirement destinations.
  • U.S. retirees residing in Mexico continue to maintain strong ties to the U.S.: 50% consider the U.S. their primary country of residency, and almost 22% return to the U.S. on a monthly basis. 85% remain in contact with friends and family in the U.S. through the internet, 64% used the telephone, and 33% used Skype.
  • Retirees living in Mexico are worldly and world-wise. Of those that had considered retirement locations other than Mexico, 41% considered retiring in Central America or the Caribbean; 19% considered other non-U.S. destinations as possible retirement locations. Should quality of life decline in Mexico, those that are financially able could begin to look elsewhere.
  • Mexico may become an alternative for those U.S. retirees facing economic challenges in the future. While survey results and focus group participants clearly express that economic reasons were a major factor in leading them south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the potential is likely greater than is being realized. In 2007, the California Elder Economic Security Standard Index (a financial measure that indicates basic financial needs for seniors in California) ranged from $21,000-$27,500 as the minimum needed for major California cities. The survey results show that nearly 44% of U.S. coastal retirees in Mexico live comfortably on less than $1,000 per month – an amount which underscores the potential demand for retirement options for low and middle income retirees in Mexico.

For more on the survey, go to the ICF website or read this story by San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Sandra Dibble. 

To get an insight into the life of senior citizens retired in Mexicali, go to MexicaliMaryAnn’s blog:  http://www.mexicalimaryann.com/

About the ICF (from their web site):  International Community Foundation is a public charity working to foster lasting philanthropy to benefit under-served communities throughout the Americas and Asia. With over 70% of International Community Foundation’s recent grantmaking benefiting charitable causes along the Baja California peninsula, International Community Foundation is committed to assisting US donors with charitable giving needs from Tijuana to Los Cabos.

Jennifer Aniston goes to Baja; helping a Tijuana orphanage

Jennifer Aniston was recently in Cabo San Lucas where she spent her birthday and did an interview with Access Hollywood. She apparently helps out a group called Friends of El Faro that does charity work south of the border. One of their projects is with a Tijuana orphanage and school called Casa Hogar Sion.

Aniston, who stayed at the Palmilla resort , helped launch the $95 Farita doll – presumably named so on behalf of the Faro group – to raise money for the orphanage (though I can’t seem to find a picture of the doll anywhere).

Aniston gave a plug for the orphanage: “They have been given a lot of love and they’re getting educated, which is the most important thing for them,” she told Access Hollywood.

And for Mexican tourism: “Mexico is really hurting right now because of the swine flu and the drug trafficking and all this sort kind of stuff – but it’s not all of Mexico. These people survive on us coming down and spending money and coming here to these beautiful places,” she told Access Hollywood.

Joining Jennifer in Baja, according to the UPI, were Courtney Cox, Jason Bateman, Sheryl Crow, Kathy Najimy and Gerard Butler. And it looks like the Mexican military did their part to keep away the paparazzi boats.

Photo of Cabo San Lucas bay  by Stan Shebs, via Creative Commons License.

Sonora/Baja Road Trip. Day Two: Puerto Penasco to Hermosillo


This is part of a series of blog posts about a ten-day trip I recently took south of the border through the Mexican state of Sonora and then back up north (after a ferry trip across the Gulf of California) through the Baja Peninsula.

Day Two of the trip: December 26, 2009. Starting point is Puerto Penasco, a few hours south of Arizona. 

Always an early riser, I left our hotel at 8:30 a.m. to walk around the Puerto Penasco oceanfront. We had picked a hotel in the downtown area, but on the other side of the bay I could see the high-rise condos that have become second homes for some Arizona residents.

 I wanted to find out what to do in Puerto Penasco this time of year. One merchant, just opening his storefront, sighed and said: “It’s too cold to go to the beach.” Back at the hotel, the staff scrunched their foreheads and came up with a few ideas: A small aquarium (read some TripAdvisor reviews here) and a regional museum. But no one seemed to have  a recent or decent map to show me where they were. 

Meanwhile, the car’s alarm was going off for no reason and we couldn’t start the engine because of some electrical glitch inspired by the alarm. We got a hold of a mechanic who showed up in a car with a fake license plate. At the top of the plate (in small letters) were the words FORGET 911 (and in larger letters) IDIAL .357. An insignia of a gun made the point even clearer.

Despite the less-than-assuring credentials, the mechanic did his job just fine.

We had originally planned on staying in Puerto Penasco for a day, but decided to continue south in search of warmer climes. On our way out of town we passed a giant statue of what I think was a shrimp, representing the town’s fishing roots.

We ended up driving about five hours to Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora.  At first the landscape was flat and somewhat stark, masking the rich potential underneath the soil. Clouds of smoke emerged from the earth in four points – looking like distant tornadoes  –  where farmers were burning land for agricultural purposes.

From the small city of Caborca (an hour and a half from Puerto Penasco) the land starts to ease into the mountains and hills of the higher desert. It becomes increasingly jagged as you get closer to Hermosillo and the tips of mountains look as as if they have been nibbled on by dinosaurs.

Along the way, we got gasoline at a town called Benjamin Hill. I asked the gas  attendant: “Who is Benjamin Hill?”  I pronounced it in English, since it looked like an English word, but the attendant didn’t seem to understand what I was saying until I used a Spanish accent (Ben-ha-meen Heeeel). Then he told me Benjamin Hill was a general during “the war” (He is mentioned in this Sonora tourism site in as being involved in the Mexican Revolution).

At Hermosillo, we checked into the Hotel Colonial near the Cerro de la Cementera (photo above)  where we paid about $80 for a nice but small room. Sonora is known for its beef, and we missed an opportunity to eat a traditional steak dinner here. We also missed out on trying the famous Sonoran hot dogs (hot dog stands are lined up en masse in front of the local university). Instead,  we ended up eating some beef tacos after seeing a movie in town.

TRAVEL FACTOIDS:

Total road trip travel time from Puerto Penasco to Hermosillo: About 5 hours

Total amount of money spent on two toll booths: $11

Cost to get car alarm fixed in Puerto Penasco: $65

Beef tacos in Hermosillo for four people: $15


Get a taste of Baja in Los Angeles this weekend

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I usually get my taste of  Baja California south of the border, but this weekend  – Saturday, June 20 – the border is coming to those of us who live or work in the Los Angeles area.

Baja tourism officials are holding “El Sabor de Baja en LA,” which will feature food, music and artwork from the peninsula cities of Tijuana, Ensenada and Rosarito Beach. The event lasts from noon to 6 p.m. and it will take place at Plaza Mexico at 3100 E. Imperial Hwy, in Lynwood.

And, in case you didn’t know, some really good wine is produced in Baja that would be worth tasting.

Baja tourism officials did something like this in San Diego recently, too. I am all for promoting this event since it’s the yin to the yang of less savory subjects that make Baja such a fascinatingly complicated region. Thanks to Bill Esparza over at his blog, Street Gourmet LA, for the heads-up on this one.

Two years after the destruction of Tijuana’s bullring…

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Tijuana’s bullfighting fans weren’t able to prevent the city’s downtown-area bullring from being demolished in 2007, but they recently got some validation from an internal affairs investigation. The city’s conclusion almost two years after the fact: Tijuana’s then-director of urban administration didn’t follow due process in allowing the bullring’s destruction.

“This makes it official and legally proven that the fight in defense of the Tijuana bullring was noble, legal and just,”according to a press release that came to me from Ricardo Zurita Lopez,  a Tijuana resident and member of a national bullfighting association, after I read about the development in the Tijuana weekly, Zeta

The old bullring on Boulevard Agua Caliente once drew Hollywood starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Ava Gardner to its stadium seats. Bullfighting fans considered the ring to be a historical monument, but it also became a symbol to some of lack of government accountability and the power of special interests.  The rumor was that it was to be converted to a fancy mall or high-rise housing. So far, nothing appears to have been built there.

Tijuana still has one bullring in the city  – at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Playas de Tijuana. It draws fans and curious onlookers from both sides of the border.

Go here for a 2007 multimedia story by The San Diego Union-Tribune on the old bullring and its demolition.

 

Picture of Tijuana’s oldest bullring being demolished in 2007

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Defying a Spring Break travel warning

 

People often ask me whether Tijuana is really dangerous. Well, the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives apparently thinks the drug violence is dangerous enough to warn university students about visiting Tijuana and Rosarito Beach during the popular Spring Break period. Some universities have also taken up the “don’t go south” mantra. I have mixed feelings about these advisories from my experience living and working in Tijuana as a reporter.  I wrote about some of the region’s most gruesome crimes – but I never got caught in the crossfire. Here is a recap of a recent, non-newsworthy Saturday evening spent in Tijuana.

 

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I arrived at Tijuana’s main cultural center, the CECUT, at 6 p.m. to attend a presentation by Mexican scholar Marco Antonio Samaniego on his new book, “Nationalism and Revolution: The events of 1911 in Baja California.” The presentation had a late start (Mexican time frames are typically looser than ours) so I wandered outside and bought some warm cooked corn, called elote or esquite. I like mine plain, but most Mexicans prefer the works: Chile, butter, cheese, lime, salt, you name it.

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Samaniego talked about the significance of the Mexican Revolution along the Baja border and how chaos basically created a volatile mix of interests that collided and intersected, and that some of this was fueled by the perceived or real threat of a U.S. invasion. More of that in a future blog posting…

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Afterwards, I went to the restaurant Tabule to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Tabule is located along the main entrance to the Beverly Hills of Tijuana, a neighborhood called Chapultepec. There is also a Tabule in San Diego. I munched on assorted cheese, duck tacos and a tasty mushroom appetizer. By the time we left at 11 p.m., the place was just starting to get busy (Night life starts late here).

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I think I saw some police sirens at one point during the evening – but they were way in the distance.

 

To get another glimpse of life in Tijuana during a typical weekend, check out Derrik Chinn’s blog where he recently posted an entry on what he did on a Saturday in Tijuana.

The blogger over at Tijuana Bible, Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson, recently went to a soccer game in Tijuana.

And Masa Assassin, an unidentified San Diego-based blogger, dishes about eating some birria tacos in Tijuana before heading to Ensenada this past weekend.

Soldier at the Mexican border: “May I please inspect your car?”

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There’s something both intimidating and reassuring about being greeted at the Tijuana border by a masked soldier with a very large rifle. They started showing up here en masse last year in response to a notable uptick of drug-related violence. Now the camouflaged greeters seem to have become the city’s unofficial mascot to city visitors, along the lines of the bomb-sniffing dogs I once encountered at a Bogota, Colombia mall.

Once you get behind their ski masks, though, the ones I’ve met appear to be quite polite. I had the opportunity to watch them up close during two recent visits to Tijuana when my car was pulled over for an inspection at the border. In the most recent case, a lanky soldier leaned down to my eye level and asked me for permission to inspect the car. Then he then asked politely if I would please exit the car while he searched behind the car seats, along the door interiors and in the trunk.

Finally, finding nothing of note, he thanked me.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has a story by Sandra Dibble about the military’s increased presence in the border region. 

Not everyone is pleased with the soldiers. The New York Times writes about how some Mexicans – some of whom may have questionable motives – have been protesting the military’s presence in certain drug trafficking hot spots. Read the story by Marc Lacey here.

Photo of soldiers at Tecate port of entry during an investigation in 2007.