Saturday, August 30, 2008

GillBilly Chronicals: The Baja Boating Fear Factor


As humans, we possess a natural fear of that which we do not understand. Also, as humans we often do things we would prefer not to do if fear is a determining factor. The ideal situation before embarking to Baja is that your fears are reduced and the choices are made through a previous local knowledge of the area, enabling the benefit in your trips success to be the determining factor in your decision.

The isolated stories you have heard or read of misfortune experienced by others have been the result of bad judgment, poor preparation, and/or a bit of bad luck. Driving in Mexico after consuming alcohol or drugs is not advised. In addition, any possession of firearms in Mexico is strictly prohibited. Your drive to and from Baja may include a checkpoint for firearms and drugs search and seizure. The majority of times through these checkpoints you will be waved on through, however, at times a search may be performed. Your attitude is very important when dealing with any form of authority in Mexico. A smile and an attempt at what little Spanish you may speak will go a long way toward determining the treatment you receive from the Mexican authorities. This may determine if you are lightly searched or all your belongings searched in earnest.

When crossing the border there is the famous red light/green light system determining whether you are subject to search for imported goods or allowed to cruise through. A red light and loud bell will be your cue to pull to the right and into the inspection lanes. Again, attitude is important if inspected. Have the original copy of your importation document issued when you checked your yacht into the port of Ensenada with you. If you are importing a lot of boat gear, this may allow you through without paying importation duties. But that document is not a guarantee of you not paying importation duties; this is subject to the mood of, and interpretation of the law, subject to the discretion of the inspecting official. Our best advice is a friendly greeting by you and a willingness to open every door when asked. Don't willfully offer information about what you have, your destination, or your possession of the importation documentation, except when asked. Also, try to keep importation of new gear to a minimum. The Mexican border officials would have you pull into the "Declare" lanes automatically, but this could be costly in time and funds. A part of your pre-trip planning would have all that great new stuff from your local marine store already on the boat when disembarking from the U.S.. But forgotten or upgrade items may have to be transported during your in Baja. Remember to smile and learn to say “Holla, como esta usted?” (“hello, how are you”), etc… in Spanish to lessen the tension and put you back on the road to your time well spent in Baja.

Once more, do not drink and drive, possess firearms or drugs, and most importantly cop an attitude if stopped or searched. The ugly American image is not wanted south of the border and Mexican citizens can sense that attitude immediately. A measure of mutual respect and common sense, along with local knowledge of the area will go a long way to help lessen the Fear Factor.

I love fishing. You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end. Your imagination is under there.
Robert Altman

Thursday, August 28, 2008

GillBilly Chronicals: Baja Softball Report, New Combined League

11 year old Johana Gabriela Sandoval Sandez delivers a strike in a recent game at El Sauzal.

The leaders of the new Ensenada Girls Softball League met this past week to put the final touches on the new Community Development League that starts its winter league play Sept. 20th and goes until Dec. 7th. Under the League umbrella, there will be two divisions, Ensenada and El Sauzal. With both communities participating in the new combined league, there will be more players, coaches, and leaders involved in the league as it makes its move to be the biggest, brightest, and best league in Baja. “Our goal is 300 players in our league by 2010” quips league Director Charles Tawil, “We can accomplish this bright and realistic goal by recruiting, promoting, and insuring that our on the field performance is fun for the player, parents, and all involved”.

Currently, the league has 110 players signed up in 3 categories; 8 and Under, 10 and Under, and 12 and Under. Each category will field 4 teams that will play each week on Saturdays at the El Sauzal Sports Park. The teams will play 12 league games during the winter season with playoffs at the end deciding a champion. Each player will receive a participation medal the with the League champions receiving championship T-Shirts to commemorate their achievements. The league will play both winter and spring seasons with an All-Star Team for each category being chosen at the end of the spring season to play in summer All-Star Tournaments both here in Mexico and in the USA.

“With a combined league, our All-Star teams will be competitive with other C rated recreation and community leagues in the USA” says Patty Campuzano, President of the Ensenada Board of the Directors that manages the El Sauzal division. “We really think that this is the best for us to field tournament teams that are on par with the best of leagues in Mexico and the USA.”

As the league prepares for its inauguration of the new combined league Sept. 20th the players and coaches are finishing up their summer tournament season. The 12u El Sauzal All-Stars will travel to Tijuana to play in the big Otay Mesa International Tournament on Aug. 30 and 31. They will play 3 games on Saturday and play single elimination on Sunday. El Sauzal will host its last summer tournament on Sept. 5-6, when they host a 6 team 10u and Under Tournament at the El Sauzal Sports Park. Confirmed teams are Tijuana Cobritas, Tijuana Yankees, Ensenada Chispitas, Ensenada Diablitas, El Sauzal Uvitas, and the El Sauzal Sirenitas.

Visit the brand new web site for all of softball in Mexico at There you can find all the current info on girls softball in Mexico. Check it out. It’s an exciting time for Girls Softball in Baja. If you have a player who would like to play visit their web site at for more info.

There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind.
Washington Irving

MAYA SINGS MARIACHI: 9 Year Old Baja Singing Sensation

Maya's (pictured here between her 2 best friends) other favorite pastime is playing fast pitch girls softball with the Baja Softball League Uvitas (little grapes) team sponsored by the La Casa de Doña Lupe Winery.

Maya Burns is a 9 year old gringita that sings ranchero mariachi music Linda Ronstadt style. She loves to sing and has had no formal training. She has lived in Baja since she was 4 years old and has also been singing since that tender age. Maya started playing piano at 18 months and could rap out a mean “twinkle, twinkle little star”. She started performing Spanish songs at 4 singing the song “Cielito Lindo” which her parents had on a computer disc of songs of world languages. At that age she made friends by sharing the free candy she was given after singing for her amazed adult admirers. When she was 3 she looked at her startled parents and said, “books will be written about me”. She hopes to sing someday with anyone of her three favorite Divas; Barbara Streisand, Linda Ronstadt or Debbie Reynolds.

Maya Burns was a loud baby blessed with a really long tongue, a characteristic of many virtuoso singers in our history. On long car trips she would entertain her parents mimicking her favorite excerpts from the Rocky Horror Show and her favorite Grateful Dead song Peggy-O. She soon progressed to doing Streisand and Judy Garland tunes. Currently Linda Ronstadt is her favorite singer and you can hear Ronstadt’s influence in her mariachi songs. Visit the YouTube address listed below to hear Maya sing Viva Mexico, Por Un Amor and La Cigarra among other favorites. Take a moment and google "Por Un Amor", there is Maya's YouTube video right below Linda Ronstadt's at the top of the list with a 5 star rating! She delivers her performances with amazing power without accompaniment… demonstrating controlled octave range, sustained notes and perfect tone, pace and presence. She recorded the same song two days apart in the studio without accompaniment and a computer analysis showed they were identical!

Maya is the daughter of self admitted throw back hippie parents who moved the family to Baja from Monterrey, California five years ago. Jim and India own the Café Bohemia on the east side of the transpeninsular highway near Estero Beach at KM 115 just before you go down the hill to the agricultural plains en route to Maneadero. India’s Dad was Clint Eastwood’s personal chef and worked at Clint’s restaurant the Hog’s Breath. They have taught a local bakery how to bake sour dough and rye bread, rarities here in Baja. To compliment your visit, the finest in the highest grades of organic coffees are daily brewed. The Café features pastrami, turkey breast, and roast beef French dip sandwiches, homemade lasagna, homemade white clam chowder, salad choices made with organic produce, fresh chocolates and many unique pastry surprises.

At the ripe old age of 9 Maya often complains about the local mariachi bands “being out of key” and gets ramped up for performances in front of large audiences, and not so much for small gatherings. Her growing singing legend precedes her wherever she goes. She can be scheduled to perform for your party or special function, just visit the Café Bohemia to discuss arrangements. The Café’s phone number is 646 120 3361. They are open 8am to 7pm 7 days a week. There you will find paying customer free Wi-Fi internet service within the homey living room style atmosphere. Every day they have special featured dishes, just ask.

Maya’s YouTube internet channel is WLAAAAA, there you will be able to experience Maya’s incredible singing skills. On YouTube you will find many child prodigy potential teen idols, but here in Baja, Maya is OUR pre-teen idol! CDs of Maya’s songs are available at the Café Bohemia.


The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.

A.K. Best