Friday, November 16, 2012

New Rules and Procedures for Immigration

I can't verify the information from this article but it seems to agree with what I have heard from others who have researched the new immigration rules.

This is from the blog, "Surviving Yucatan."

Effective Nov. 9, 2012: The INM started using the 2011 Law (Ley de Imigracion), with the regulations spelled out in the Reglamento, refined by the details in the Lineamientos. All together, they occupy roughly over 300 pages of government-speak legalese in Spanish. This article describes and summarizes the new issues visitors and foreign residents are currently working with when visiting or living in Mexico, including: How to Apply for Temporary Residency (Residente Temporal) or Permanent Residency (Residente Permanente). Since INM is changing and adjusting procedures daily as they implement the new Law, we have also created a simple post describing some of the latest updates at Updated Mexican Immigration Rules. As the changes settle down, and as Regional INM offices issue rulings and clarifications, there will be a consistent set of procedures for using the 2011 “new” INM Law. In the meantime Yucalandia is using this NEW master Immigration to Mexico article to cover all the current procedures. The following sections describe the current “new” basic requirements and procedures. * * * * * *

Click here to read the complete article.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Urmas Kaldveer: Whale Talker

I don't think I've ever met a person who wasn't interested in whales. They are the largest mammals on the earth. Some species swim thousands of miles from Alaska to the Baja to have their babies and then swim the same thousands back with said babies. Moby Dick is fiction but it was based on true accounts of Sperm whales ramming whaling ships and sinking them. (A distant relative of my wife Donna, was on the Essex which was sunk by a Sperm whale, chronicled in "The Heart of the Sea.")

If you've ever seen a whale close up in the sea, you know how mesmerizing it can be: Beautiful and graceful, large and thrillingly scary when they are too close! 

Not long ago while having coffee at Roadrunner CafeI met a man who has made a career out of watching whales, Urmas Kaldveer. Urmas has been doing scientific research on the great whales for years, observing them from all sizes of watercraft including his kayak and from below with diving gear. He sat with me for quite awhile, answering my uneducated questions with much patience. I was a little envious until it dawned on me that he has probably logged thousands of hours on his word processor while recording his work.  Whew!

If you see him around Los Barriles, you might be able to corner him and chat for a bit. If you do, don't tell him I said it was ok. If you don't have that chance, you can read in detail what he's done, learned and experienced in his book, THE OTHERS “The Whale People.” It was  published by Balboa Press and is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and of course Balboa Press

You can also read about many of his experiences on his blog which includes some great photographs. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Driving the Baja October 2012

Posted from
We just returned from San Diego via Mex 1. The carretera just keeps getting better. There was very little construction and where there was, it was only for short distances. There are stretches of new pavement all the way down. The most impressive piece is the “Cuesta del Infierno” or "Hill From Hell" just North of Santa Rosalia. Feels like a whole different road. Wider, new lines and signs. Still make sure you have good brakes before traversing!

We cross at Tecate usually. Less traffic, reasonable inspectors. Plus we like driving through the wine country. Much of that road is new also.

We stayed at a different hotel this time in Santa Rosalia, the Tourist Hotel on the South end of town. (somehow our reservations at the Baja Cactus were lost...) Nice place. Less fancy but new and clean and secure.   Ate breakfast at Mama Espinosa's.

Since we were pulling a trailer and our pickup was loaded, we took 3 days to get home. There are plenty of gas stations now but before crossing the dead zone between el Rosario and Guerrero Negro, fill up. If you get low on gas, You can buy gas from various "resalers" at Cataviña and other place for a bunch more than retail. If you get in trouble, stop and ask somebody where can you get gas.

 Had fun at the military stops.  Most of the young men wanted to flirt with our granddaughter Erika. Naturally I didn't take advantage of the situation...  One young man asked if she was my daughter, I said, "no, she's my granddaughter." He then asked if I would like to be his grandfather. Instead of saying no and risk insulting him, I explained that she was already taken and had a 2 1/2 year old son. He didn't seem the least bit bothered by that.

By the way don't be nervous at the military checkpoints. If you don't have drugs or guns or some other obvious thing that could get you tossed in the slammer, you are ok. These kids are bored, tired of each other and most are a long way from home. I've never been robbed or felt threatened by these kids. Think of your kids or friends kids who are away from home for military duty. A big smile and friendliness is usually reciprocated. I sometimes have stuff in the car to hand out like candy bars or bottled water. They are normally very appreciative. Read this if you've never driven the highway.

We stayed our last night at the Hotel Santa Fe in Loreto. There's a big sign outside that says, "$490 pesos per night" or something. It's misleading. That is for single occupancy. My buddy Larry (lawyer in his last life) wanted to know why our quote was more than double the price shown on the banner outside. The clerk explained. Larry said said something to the effect that it was a scam and a ripoff. The clerk replied very politely, "Yes, I know. It is our policy." I mean, how do you respond to the the brutal truth? It was pretty funny. By the way, the hotel is nice, has large rooms and a decent restaurant attached. Also has secure, walled parking.
That's about it. I didn't say a lot about road conditions because they are so good compared to only 10 years ago.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Land's End Historical Perspective

Here is a little historical perspective on Land's End in San Lucas. The first image is from 1852. The view is looking NW as depicted on the postcard. The water looks like it was rough that day....
The second image is a photo taken in the early 70's from about the same perspective.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rain!! There's rain in Los Cabos!

With apologies to our visitors who have come to enjoy the beautiful sunshine of los Cabos,

IT"S RAINING!!!!  Woo Woo!!!

We haven't had a nice rain like this in what seems like years. Actually, I think it really has been years! The photo above shows slight flooding near the estuary in Santa Rosa.  It was taken by a friend in San Jose del Cabo. Earlier, this same area burned pretty well.

The rain puts us out of our daily patterns a bit but the long term benefits far outweigh the temporary inconveniences. The ranchers' cows can quit eating store-bought hay and enjoy fresh greens right in their own back yard.  Oh, you're a vegetarian.  Never mind.  But just think, now you know where your house leaks and can fix the leaks before the next rain!!  Right, you said that last time and your wife is mad again. Sorry. Well then, there's the pretty factor:  Our whole countryside will be be blazingly green in days. Your next guests will be amazed at the beauty of our area and want to return soon. What's that? You hope they never come back? Alrighty then, just enjoy the rain: It's not often we get this much rain without the side effect of 100 mph winds!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Attention Home Owners With Fideiocomisos

This was just published in the Baja Pony Express newsletter. If you have a fideiocomiso, it may pertain to you.

a.  IRS ruling on fideicomisos - I am attaching the IRS ruling that Amy Jetel, a lawyer in Austin, TX, received last week. I had written a notice in the Baja Western Onion about it a month or so ago. It's a private letter ruling, meaning that only the taxpayer to whom it was addressed may cite it as authority in a court case. As a practical matter, an IRS agent is unlikely to contest it in a case involving another taxpayer. It will be published on the IRS website in a month or so.
*** Editor's Note: Link to copy of ruling in PDF

It's important because it means U.S. holders of fideicomisos are not required to file forms 3520 and 3520A. - John,
b.  This is the notice that was posted a month ago:  Early this spring, Amy Jetel, a partner with the Morgan Adler Buxton Jetel law firm in Austin, Texas, requested a ruling from the Dept. of the Treasury that a fideicomiso is not a foreign trust that requires a taxpayer to file forms 3520 and 3520A. The Treasury advised Amy last week that it intends to rule in her favor. Amy expects to receive the written ruling by the end of the month. It may be a month or more after that before personal information is redacted and the ruling published.
     If the ruling is published as a Private Letter Ruling, as is more likely, it only binds the IRS with respect to the taxpayer who obtained the ruling. If published as a Revenue Ruling, it binds the IRS with respect to all taxpayers. As a practical matter, it is unlikely that the IRS will take an adverse position to a Private Letter Ruling issued by the Treasury.
     If you want your own ruling, you can reach Amy at 512-370-2750. The process is not inexpensive.
I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with Amy. John

Monday, July 9, 2012

I.G.F.A. Roosterfish Record May Topple!!

Jack Kautz of Lodi, CA may have shattered the 46-year-old I.G.F.A. twenty-pound line class record which was set on June 15, 1966. Although unofficial until the line is tested and other catch details are verified, the 101-pound 2-ounce monster hooked at 9:30 am, Friday, June 22, 2012 could shatter the existing 85 lb 13 oz record caught by Willard Hanson in La Paz back on June 15, 1966.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I Travel to Mexico by Peter Greenberg

Travel Detective Blog: Why I Travel to Mexico

Travel Detective Blog: Why I Travel to Mexico
This past week Peter was down in Ixtapa, Mexico to prepare for his upcoming radio broadcast. Even passing through Mexico City’s 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday didn’t to dampen his enthusiasm for travel within the countryRead his latest blog to find out why he is still traveling to Mexico and you should too.
Let me state something from the outset. I am not an unabashed apologist for Mexico, or its spokesman or an endorser. I am writing this as a veteran traveler to Mexico who has been going down there since 1973 without a single incident.
I am growing tired, and somewhat impatient with expressions of concern or worry — as well intentioned as they may be — about my traveling to Mexico.
Every time I am about to fly there — to Cancun, to Cabo, to Ixtapa, to Mexico City and many other locations — my friends, and sometimes even strangers advise me to “be careful,”, “be safe,” or worse…”watch out.”
Watch out for what? great people? great weather? great service? affordable, memorable experiences?

Most Americans share, as a group, two notable, and embarrassing traits: we are geographically ignorant and culturally insensitive. And, at every possible opportunity to travel, we embrace the worst four letter word that starts with “f”: fear.

It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, and at the very least, it’s embarrassing. Instead, we need to get out there and find a map. Then we need to study it to put things in proper perspective Yes, the drug cartel wars in Mexico have taken a terrible human toll. Depending on which figures you believe, upwards of 40,000 people have been killed in the last five years, as gangs fight other gangs. Often public displays of those deaths, those visually powerful images have created a serious public relations problem for Mexico and have allowed thousands of Americans to succumb to their fears.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Megacable Grand Prix

We went to the 'new' racetrack just past San Pedro on the way to La Paz today to see the Megacable Grand Prix.  Donna's son Pat Ryan has a class 1 car and raced so we naturally had to go check it out. We've been to several races and in fact before I met Donna, I had gone to the track in Santa Anita a couple of times with friends.

The track at San Pedro is NICE.  Not a bad seat in the house. We could see most of the track apart from 2 curves. In the trophy truck race, the cars that came in 2nd and 3rd exchanged the lead 3 times. One car rolled but landed upright and continued to race.

If you've never gone to an off road track race, let me give you some pointers:
>Parking is generally chaotic.  Find a place that you can't be blocked in.  The best is to park as close to the entrance as possible and walk in to the track.  Then when there is a mile long line trying to leave, you walk past them, get in your car and bully your way into the line only meters from the highway.
>Don't assume there will be shade. take an umbrella or something suitable. At today's race, there were a BUNCH of shade kiosks set up and if you knew about them early, you could rent one. We had one and there was room for 30 people under it and it came with chairs!  Good thing since a whole bunch of friends showed up and joined us....
>Take coolers with drinks and food. There are always food booths but don't be caught short.
>Be careful where you decide to watch the race. Figure out if loose pieces of car or a runaway tire could be thrown into your midst. Standing close to the track on the outside of a curve for instance.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wet Fun Water Park

I've featured the water park before but it is so cool that I'm going to post it again. We've been several times and it never gets old. If you've never been, you are missing a full day of fun for very little money. It's located about 15 minutes North of the San Jose del Cabo airport.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Marci Castro and Robert Drake at the Plaza San Carlos

My wife and I drove to San Jose del Cabo this afternoon to watch our friends Marci Castro and Robert Drake entertain at the new plaza downtown located next to the Tropicana Restaurant. I have never seen the two play together and wow, was it worth the drive. Marci and Robert both play around San Jose and Cabo. Both are very busy so find em and go check out the music. Here's a taste for your pleasure.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Baja Spanish Slang Dictionary

Yes, they exist. Here it is. Online even.   Why might you want one?  Well if you live here and speak some Spanish, it becomes real clear that you don't understand a large percentage of what the locals are telling you. Why? Slang. These guys have more slang than my Uncle and his buddies in Mississippi.

Aggressive mode: Don't just pull some word off the list and sling it out there. Pick a word and read the examples. Say you want to meet a pretty Mexican girl and say something flirty to her. If you click on "mamacita" this example comes up with the definition: "Oye mamacita, que buena estás."

Defensive approach: Keep a pen and notebook with you.  What am I saying? Keep your notes app or your recorder open on your iphone.  Record a phrase that you overhear in conversation.  Figure out what is actually being said. Easy, no?!

This is actually kind of entertaining because of the online, linked setup, you can click on a word and find out it's meaning. Have fun!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Am I Safer Here in Baja than in the States?

Here is another excellent article about safety while traveling in Mexico published by the good folks over at Lonely Planet.  Let me know what you think about this opinion.

Read more:
Are Americans safer in Mexico than at home?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Todos Santos Dessert Challenge Off Road Race

We went to the races last weekend over at Todos Santos. The race is the Wide Open Dessert Challenge. Fun race; 2 laps of about 70 kilometers each. Donna's son Pat and his copiloto Keith raced Pat's Class One car the "Warlock." Here are a few photos. Click here to see some short videos including Steve Berry's unscheduled pit stop to fix a flat.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The San Jose Estuary Burns Again!

Somehow the estuary caught fire a few days ago. I have 2 sets of friends who live on the edge of the arroyo. The fire was stopped almost on their property lines! One of them, Mike H. sent me these photos. Fortunately, the wind changed a bit and the local bomberos did a fine job in arresting the spread of the fire.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Favorite Places

On a quiet street in La Paz, nestled in a residential section, there is a colorful doorway that beckons you in with the smell of good coffee. Did I say "good" coffee? I meant great roasted coffee, a place that is number one on my list of places to stop in La Paz. Not only can you stock up on coffee beans just out of the roaster but you can sit in their coffee bar and enjoy one of the best coffees I have found anywhere in Baja. I usually get a latte. It is hard not to drink it right down. Instead it is a "sipper" that you must savor to the very last drop. Consider that I rank this coffee so high, even though I have been in some of the trendy shops in Seattle where coffee is king and the competition is fierce. The address is 1650 Colima Street. I would tell you just how to get there but then that would be such a non-Baja thing to do. Instead, I will give you their internet link:

One other clue. . Colima is a one way street. Happy coffee to you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It is a Dog Day

“The beaches around here seem to be going to the dogs.”

. . . that was a visitor comment I overheard lately as the lady who said it stepped over a steaming pile of used dog food holding her nose against the pungent odor.

First, let us note that I don’t have a dog, but I do have several dog friends that I love dearly. As a matter of fact, I think owning a dog is one of the more enlightened things that humans can do these days, because dogs are a connection with the animal world that many of us have lost in modern society.

It has become a very Baja like thing to have a dog with you everywhere you go. Many English speaking people regularly “rescue” and spay or neuter local dogs and many take local dogs home with them when they go. Life with dogs is richer for the many people. Dogs give unconditional love to a person who feeds them and makes their lives safe and comfortable. I have noticed too, that a dog can love someone whose many problems make him or her essentially unwanted by most other humans. That is one valuable dog, wouldn’t you say?

So, what would it be like if we all had a dog or two. Some of us would be responsible owners, thinking of the comfort and quality of life for the animal we lived with, and some would just think that letting the dog run would be the best way to do that.

Unfortunately, dogs can get in a whole lot of trouble in Baja. There are still wild animals and packs of dogs that attack pets. Ranchers are well within their rights to dispense with animals bothering their stock. Because they aren’t allowed to have guns, when a rancher needs to do this, it is messy. The habitat in most of Southern Baja is also heavily used by cows and goats, which leave worms, ticks and other diseases in their wake. Being a good dog owner in Baja takes constant vigilance.

People living in and visiting Baja tend to think the beaches are self-cleaning and to some degree they are right. There are also no laws here about picking up dog poo. So, the whole problem becomes one of “degree”, or, how much dog poo can one beach handle before it becomes toxic to dogs and humans? And finally, the very question of why you should pick up dog poo if no one else does, not to mention all the piles from cows, sheep, pigs, mules, goats and other assorted poo machines.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms pet waste can spread parasites including hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms and Salmonella. When a human or animal comes into contact with that soil through everyday activities like walking barefoot on the beach, they risk infection from those eggs ... even years after the poop is gone. Pet waste is teaming with E. Coli and other harmful bacteria including fecal coli form bacteria, which causes serious kidney disorders, intestinal illness, cramps and diarrhea in humans. (There are 23 million fecal coli form bacteria in a single gram of pet waste!)

Dog poop also often contains roundworm larvae, which cause blindness. If a human ingests a roundworm larva, it can migrate through the body causing disease to the brain, lungs, kidneys, liver, heart or eyes. So when people (especially children) touch sand, dog toys or anything that has been in contact with dog feces and then touch their mouths, they can become infected. (If you don’t believe me just “google” the question is dog poop dangerous. Yikes!)

If nothing else, re-think sitting and playing in the sand without taking precautions and be careful where your kids make sand castles. Maybe we need to equip them with latex gloves.

I predict there will be a “tipping point” here in sunny Baja where the spread of disease from blowing unclean sand and the ocean’s inability to sort out too much of the stuff will eventually make new rules necessary. Then, we can sit around with our dogs on leashes with plastic bags tied to the handles and remember the good ole days when people and dogs were free.

Have a great dog day!

Linda Jo Hunter,
Tracker, Artist and Writer

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Foxes . . gray foxes to be exact. Both these pictures were taken by my "trail" camera, a remote camera that uses a sensor to snap a picture with a flash when it detects movement. They also allow a tracker to gather photographs of the animals who leave tracks on the landscape while the tracker sleeps. It seems that lots of folks in Los Barriles and Southern Baja see these animals on a regular basis because we are in the middle of what biologists call a "gray fox irruption". That means the the habitat is perfect for these animals right now, and that any predator that would reduce or cause the population to move on is not present.

When you think about it, the neighborhoods that have been created in the Los Barriles area are perfect for these animals who can climb anything like a cat, move around in the dusk or night and eat a wide variety of things. Some of the good parts of having them around is a lack of little critters like rats and mice, and they also eat bugs. One of the bad parts is that they eat fruit, nuts and things we like as well.

I have been watching the foxes and their tracks for a couple of months this winter and find that they also must have a sense of humor . . they live right in our yards, our gardens and probably know all about us. They know what time we go to bed, when we get up and what we put in the garbage and who visits whom . . good thing they can't talk eh?

However, if you can learn to see fox tracks among all those of domestic dogs you will be surprised by what they can climb, and how they spend their days in places where they can hear what you say. I wonder if they speak Spanish or English?

Take care and good tracking! Linda

Monday, January 30, 2012

East Cape 250 Off Road Race

Yesterday was a big day in San Jose.  The East Cape 250 started and finished just outside of town in Guaymitas. We drove down too late to watch Pat Ryan roar by but went to the finish line to congratulate he and copilot Kyle Maisner. They drove their class 1 Chevy powered car to a 6th place finish.  The key word being "finish." These races are tough on every car no matter how well it's built. Every race, many cars fail on the course because of metal fatigue, flat tires and numerous other maladies due to the conditions of off-road racing. Congratulations Pat and Kyle. Well done.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meet Linda Jo Hunter

My good friend Linda Jo Hunter has agreed to contribute to 'the baja.'  Here is a short bio of Linda.

Author of "Lonesome for Bears, A Woman's Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness" Lyons Press 2008 and the Co-founder of the International Society of Professional Trackers and an artist. She likes to look at the world from many different perspectives and has circumnavigated the Baja Peninsula 14 times on a small cruise ship as a deckhand.  As a boat Captain her first yacht job was to bring a 98 foot yacht to Cabo San Lucas.  She and her husband Mike travel to Baja for six months in the winter. They both try and play as hard as they can surfing, outrigger canoe paddling, fishing, painting, playing music, tracking animals, and exploring.  Linda's interest in Baja is one of the natural history as it exists today reflecting the history of the people here and how they have lived. 

Linda forgot to mention that she is also an excellent photographer.

Her husband Mike is a luthier among other things. When the bridge on my Tama acoustic guitar (my main guitar for over 35 years) started to come off, he repaired it flawlessly with minimal tools.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Photosynth App for Smartphones

This is my new favorite app. It was developed by Microsoft and is available for FREE! For Iphones, it is available from the app store. After you 'click to view' click and drag with your mouse on the photo to see the complete photo. This is 360 degrees and stitched automatically. The stitching made a funny blurred spot on the guy in the middle of the photo but he was moving. Check it out.  Great app.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Being Human is so Hard . .

Yesterday, at the Lord of the Winds Kiteboarding, Windsurfing contest here in Los Barriles I was walking past the rider's meeting when I overheard someone say, "It's too bad they don't know how to do this."

Trying not to make a snap judgement myself, I walked on by. Over the course of the day, however, I started thinking about humans. We seem to have such a limited view out of the windows of our eyes. On top of that, the little bit of information our brain seems to receive from all of our senses is strongly colored by filters.

After three days of watching the competitors, the committees and volunteers put on an awe inspiring event, a true extravaganza for Los Barriles, I was jarred by these words my ears transmitted to my brain. I did glance at the person, and he seemed not to be one of the competitors, but rather a spectator with his family. But, what can a person really tell in a glance huh?

Why is it human to use our limited view on the world and make judgements about things? I know that by publishing this blog, I am certainly not going to solve this problem for anyone. However, it is a human problem and appears in every part of our lives.

I am a tracker, or at least I like to think I am one. I have been studying animal and human tracking for almost 20 years. I am still learning. One of the things you learn as a tracker, after many years, is that things are not what they seem because our brains try and trick us. You see, the way I figure it, if you have lived to any age of relative wisdom, your mental hard drive is pretty full. (That's why you can't remember names) So your old helpful brain likes to label things and made snap decisions without enough information to save you some thinking effort.

The good news is that if you slow down just a little, and try to pay more attention, you can learn to gather more information. For instance, if you are in a cafe and someone serves you coffee, look at the person. Who knows, perhaps your server is someone who has climbed the North Face of the Eiger and if you look at them you might see something astounding. That is particularly true here in Baja. We are surrounded here by very interesting, experienced, exciting and endlessly fascinating people.

The race committee and the volunteers for the Lord of the Winds contest had enough experience and knowledge to fill several books. It would take a week, at least, to find out what they had all done, where they had been and what they knew . . and that would be just for the race committee.

The comment overheard might have been about something else, who knows, but it did make me wonder how many short sighted judgements I make in a day.

We all do it. I guess this is my way of saying to the Lord of the Winds contest . . WAY to GO. You pulled off another wonderful event in style!

Who am I? Hi, my name is Linda Jo Hunter, author of "Lonesome for Bears, A Woman's Journey in the Tracks of the Wilderness", Lyons Press 2008. The book is about four summer seasons of guiding in Alaska at a remote lodge where we took folks out to see Alaskan Brown Bears eating salmon and living in the wild. I am also a plein air oil painting artist and the co-founder of the International Society of Professional Trackers. I will be commenting on this blog from time to time about Baja stuff. Look for some Baja animal tracks and photos soon.
I welcome comments, by the way, about anything.

If that made you curious you can look at my webpage:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lord of the Winds - Day Three

Lord of The Winds day three saw some lighter winds but the committee was able to complete several rounds of course racing for all competitors. The water was beautiful, the air was warm and spectators came out to watch. This photo is of the Expert Kiters, just before their start . . and, just as I was wondering why they don't tangle kite lines, two kites twisted together bringing their riders down in a splash. But, being the experts that they are it was just minutes before the riders got them untangled while still in the water, and took off upwind heading to the mark. Tomorrow, wind willing, the big race will take place where everyone heads upwind almost all the way to the pyramids and then back to a screaming finish right in front of the contest site. I will see you there! Linda

PS The RoadRunner has some great baked stuff in their booth. Yum.