Que Pasa in Cabo?

July 24, 2017
BY: DAVID FLORES

Cabo plaza getting facelift At a cost of $1.5 million USD, the state’s tourism department, aided by money from the feds, will remodel the Amelia Wilkes park. That’s the little plaza that has the gazebo and the natural  history museum, in downtown Cabo.

More trees and benches will be planted, and better lighting will be installed.

The downtown business association, The Amigos de Cabo San Lucas, also wants to erect a sculpture to commemorate the fact that the highway used to begin there. There even used to be a sign marking the spot as Km. 0 of our transpeninsular highway. There’s an urban legend that the sign was blown away by a hurricane, and a local Gringo picked it up and took it home.

One of the local doctors in the Amigos group has already pledged her commitment to fund the construction of the sculpture.

If the Amigos and other people get their way – and the tourism secretary has pledged his support to the plan – the park will hold weekly historic, cultural and musical events with food and wine tastings.

Cracking down on timeshares Officials from several agencies, including the City of Los Cabos, inspectors from the Federal Prosecutor's Office (Profeco), the Federal Labor Delegation, and even the Federal Police have descended on the industry of timeshare.

This, in response to a stepped up number of complaints from tourists caught in illegal timeshare scams. Yes, Virginia, there actually are some laws governing the industry.

No arrests were reported, but officials promised they will continue to carry out the operation to give confidence and transparency to the tourists who buy timeshares from companies legally established.

Yup, we know that's pretty vague about who the baddies are, you are just going to have to be careful out there.

Diving champ at it again La Paz native Estrella Navarro, who recently won three medals at a freediving competition in Veracruz, will now travel to Honduras. Yup, she’s going to try and win even more medals at the 2017 AIDA Freediving World Championship, which will take place August 22 to September 3.

Freediving – also known as breath-hold diving or skin diving - is a form of diving that relies on divers' ability to hold their breath until resurfacing rather than using a breathing apparatus, like scuba gear.

Last year, Navarro broke the Mexican freediving record of 239.5 feet while competing in the Bahamas. You can follow the competition online at www.aidaworldchampionship2017.com

Solar eclipse coming Mark your calendars. On Monday, August 21, the sun will be totally eclipsed by the moon. The eclipse will be seen by everyone in North America, and parts of South America, Europe and Africa, although not everyone will be able to see the full eclipse.

Down here, it will be partially seen. It will be best seen in La Paz, our capitol city, starting at 11:41 am and ending around 1:00 pm. So, set your alarm, and please, don’t look at it directly without any eye protection, or you’ll fry your retinas. And no, your regular sunglasses aren’t adequate; NASA recommends special pairs of eclipses glasses. Yeah, just run down to your regular eclipses store and pick up a pair of those babies.

There’s a new museum in town It’s the Fishing Museum and it’s located on the east side of the marina, right by the Breathless resort. It features several species of fishes that can be caught on our side of the world, as well as various fishing rods and photos.

There is also an electronic kiosk where fishermen can get their fishing licenses in two minutes.

Yes, we saw it happen. Local sports fishing promotor Clicerio Mercado tried it in front of all of us at opening day, and it took him 1 minute and 29 seconds to get it. Of course he knows Spanish, and he practiced the night before.

How many are we? The National Population Council just released its census statistics for the first half of this year.

The report says there are 810,000 people living here in Baja California Sur, of which 49.3% are women and 50.7% are men. More than half (429,000) are young people, with 218,000 under 15 and 211,000 between 15 and 29.

Now for the bad (and some good) news. Nearly 24% of residents between 15 and 19 years of age are not attending school, but working in some form instead. However, 99.4% of people between 25 and 29 can read and write, and nearly 60% have a high school or college education.

It's mango fest time! If you are here through the end of the month, plan on taking a little road trip up to Todos Santos, located 45 minutes north of Cabo, and enjoy the 10th annual Mango Festival.

There are horse races, dancing, music, theater, and a chingo of mangoes sold on almost every corner in every format, from jelly to wine. Mangos are extremely versatile.

The festival starts on the 23rd, and then goes from the 28th through the 31st. The best time to go is that weekend, the 29th and 30th. There is no cost, and no one specific location, either; the events are almost everywhere. Like the mangos.

Government building changes name

And it’s a building of interest to all foreign residents and tourists. It’s the tourism center on the marina, just up from the Dolphin Center and next to the Gringo Gazette worldwide local corporate headquarters. It “officially” opened earlier this year; in this case, officially means there was a ribbon cutting ceremony months before the office actually opened to the public in May.

The building had a big sign on its front wall reading CAPTA, which stands for Center of Tourist Attention.

Since the name didn’t catch on with Gringos (meaning they didn’t know what the heck it meant) it was recently changed to CAT, which, for Spanish speakers, stands for Centro de Atencion al Turista. For you Gringos, the name changes to TAC, Tourist Assistance Center.

Along with a new name comes a new logo, is kind of tricky to read. It says CaTaC using the “T” for both languages. Yeah, like we said, it's tricky.

The building houses several federal, state and city government offices that are there to assist our precious pilgrims and, why not, local ex-pats too.

You can walk in to ask for information about Baja, file a police report, cancel a timeshare acquisition and more. A group of college students studying tourism is helping as interns and are trained to guide you to the proper agency. They said that with the new name and sign, more Gringos are walking in, even if some only want to use their bathrooms. Well  it’s a start.

New mall planned Do we really need another mall? Well, maybe, if you live in the tourist corridor and not in San Jose or Cabo. On the mountain side of the Twin Dolphin resort, a new mall and restaurant center will be built, adjacent to the Fred Couples signature golf course. Stay tuned for more information.

It’s the best in Mexico The Resort at Pedregal has been named Best Resort Hotel in Mexico in the 2017 Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards readers’ survey.

The resort was also awarded the No. 28 spot in the 100 Best Hotels in the World ranking. This is the second time the resort has been awarded this accolade, having been named No. 1 in Mexico in 2014. Now let's see if Grand Velas will up the ante by paying more for a better award. They usually can be counted on to do just that. Then Pedregal will answer back….

Ambulances to be regulated The state’s civil protection agency (sort of like FEMA, but waaay more efficient) is aiming to regulate ambulance prices, services, and even where the ambulances are stationed around our state.

In case you didn’t know, Bunky, many ambulances here are run by private, very predatory companies. Many times, several ambulances from different companies, including the Red Cross, show up at the emergency site and literally fight for the client, almost getting to the point of a tug-o-war.

There have been numerous complaints about the ambulances’ high costs, especially when a foreigner calls for help or gets involved in an accident.

It is also common knowledge that ambulances get a kick back from private hospitals, so they take the patient to the hospital that pays more, many times despite what the patient or relatives order.

Once they’re in that particular hospital, it is an ordeal to get transferred to the hospital of their choice. But wait, it gets worse. Patients have to give a credit card just to be admitted to the hospital, and who knows what the hospital charges will be at the end of their visit. Usually many thousands of Gringo dollars.

The U.S. and Canadian consulates have complained about it, but nothing has been achieved. Maybe this time our precious tourists and ex-pats will get justice. But we’re not holding our breath. Los Cabos ambulance services are possibly the most expensive and abusive in BCS, but we just don’t see how the state government can regulate it. They do not have the will.

Construction keeps increasing Governor Carlos Mendoza revealed recently that construction in BCS has increased 34.7%, making us the 6th Mexican state with the most activity in the industry.

The national average is low, at just 5.4%. Only five other Mexican cities, including Mexico City, the nation’s capital, have a higher construction rate than we do.

Just as good as the real thing? The department of economic development, environment, and natural resources has signed an agreement with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency to create several aquaculture projects, including building artificial reefs.

The reefs will be made by dumping massive amounts of mollusk conch shells into the ocean, beginning with a test dump in San Juan de la Costa, near La Paz.

The results will – might – be visible in four years. Let’s watch them closely.you hold your breath for four years? And not blink?