Archive for March, 2012
Just a reminder to you folks that the official start of DST begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, April 1st here in Baja California Sur and the rest of Mexico. We will be setting our clocks forward (spring forward) one hour and will lose an hour of sleep.
On March 11th in the U.S. and Canada, our northern neighbours, as well as northern border cities of Mexico, including Tijuana, switched to DST already.
Have you ever dreamed of taking your morning coffee up to your rooftop to watch birds silently wheel and glide above the palms? Or would you like to walk on the beach as the sun crests the hills across the bay behind La Paz? How about laying on your back on your patio at night and watching a meteor shower or lunar eclipse? Would you like to do one or all of those things?
Are you afraid living on or near the beach is beyond your budget?
El Comitan is not a gated community; there is no homeowner association or CC&Rs. But it is a friendly community with events going on all the time. Whether it is a bonfire on the beach at New Year’s, the annual pig roast, or horseshoe competition, the neighbors are always doing something. And if you just want to live close to the beach, enjoy the silence and clear air, you don’t have to take part in the group activities. But you will have the knowledge that your neighbors look out for each other and will rush to your aid if you need them. The neighbors are American, Canadian, Mexican, and other nationalities. Many are retired, a good portion work. Half the people live in El Comitan year-round; it is not strictly a vacation home community. Insert Casa Catalina
Buy a lot and build your dream home!
Founded many decades ago as a hunting park and frequented by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Spiro Agnew, El Comitan has homes of all sizes, styles, shapes, and prices. The lots are large, about 1,500 square meters, the streets are wide and sandy and lead to the beach. Some lots have been split, but most of them are roomy. Surrounded by a cardon cactus forest in a biological preserve, El Comitan is protected from noise and development, yet it’s 20 minutes to downtown. There are two Italian restaurants in El Comitan and recent visitors from Italy gave thumbs up to the food.
The nearby village of El Centenario has small shops for essentials, and along the highway are taco stands, restaurants, and a juice bar. El Centenario is a bustling little town and many day-to-day services like car mechanics, plumbers, and gardening supplies and clinics are there. Everyone from maids, gardeners, upholsterers, and handymen offer their services at reasonable prices. And on Saturdays, the “fish guy” comes door-to-door selling freshly caught fish, shrimp, and lobster. The Fide Paz private hospital and major grocery stores are not far.
One neighbor, an ornithologist has identified 60 species of birds that live in El Comitan. Even the casual bird watcher will be delighted to watch dozens of pelicans dive bomb or the elegant snowy egrets stalking prey. There are quail, hummingbirds, and owls in our bird population. You are truly on nature’s stage, and the creatures and birds are your own commercial-free Discovery Channel!
There are lots for sale with prices from US$20,000 to US$50,000, and homes from under $200,000 to $500,000. Most homes are in the low $200,000 range. There are many builders in La Paz and El Centenario that have built homes here and can be trusted to do a good job. El Comitan has electricity and phones and high-speed Internet. And a short drive away is a very nice espresso café. So you can bring your beach bum heart and urban soul into alignment.
The beach is nearly deserted six days a week. On Sundays in good weather, locals come with their kids to play in the shallow water. The rest of the week you will encounter your neighbors walking their dogs, flying kites or doing yoga on the beach. And a short walk away is the Pelican Point beach, with deeper water, great sand, and magnificent shell collecting.
What are you waiting for? Come home to El Comitan.
Susan Fogel lives in El Comitan on the beach. She is the broker owner of PrestigePropertyGroupoLaPaz.com People that own homes in El Comitan can do all of those things and more. And guess what? The price tags on houses here are not in the millions. In fact, you can become the proud owner of a three-bedroom beachfront home with a pool and garage with space for your car and RV for a little more than US$300,000. And most homes are less expensive than that.
Employees must demand their rights to be respected, but sometimes they themselves abuse their employers.
Labor lawsuits have become a common practice. Unfortunately, the labor laws in Mexico do not offer a balance between the employer-employee relationship, the burden of proof lies more and more with the employer over protecting the employee allowing him/her to demand extra payment even though they did not deserve it or did not apply to the type of working relationship that existed. Unfortunately, the employer, by not complying with the labor laws and not producing the legal paperwork required by the law, puts himself at risk.
In Mexico any employee may initiate a labor lawsuit if he/she wishes, as the burden of proof during the trial lies with the employer and not with the employee. The employee does not need evidence to support his claim, but the employer needs to produce the evidence to challenge the employee’s arguments.
Also, beware that once you receive a labor lawsuit you must appear at the first hearing. If you fail to appear or send legal representation, all claims made by the employee in his initial writ will be considered to be true and confirmed by the employer. Therefore, it is essential not to miss the hearing; if you cannot attend or are traveling, do designate legal representation to appear on your behalf.
A labor lawsuit may last up to five years, depending on the claim. The Labor Relations Board that handles these claims have not been able to stop the frivolous claims of employees acting in bad faith and abusing the system or in case of a foreign employer, taking advantage of their lack of knowledge of the Mexican labor laws.
What to do to protect yourself and your assets from a frivolous claim by your employees TO HAVE ALL THE DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED BY THE LAW PER ARTICLE 804 OF THE FEDERAL LABOR LAW. CONSTANT SUPPORT OF AN ATTORNEY WITH KNOWLEDGE OF LABOR LAWS. What is the employer required to produce to defend himself?
According to Article 804 of the Federal Labor Law.- The employer has the obligation to keep and exhibit in trial the following:
I. Individual employment contracts, if there is no union contract;
II. Employees list and payroll of staff, or payroll stubs;
III. Attendance control;
IV. Receipts of profit sharing payments, vacations, annual bonuses, antiquity, as well as other premiums referred by the law;
V. Others required by the law.
The documents stated in fraction I. shall be kept while the employment relationship exists and one year after; the ones stated in fractions II, III and IV during the last year and a year after the employment relationship was terminated.
Article 805 of the Federal Labor Law states that the non compliance of the above mentioned, establishes a presumption that the facts alleged by the employee in his/her lawsuit writ are true in relation with such documents, unless the employer can prove otherwise.
According to Article 784 of the Federal Labor Board, The Labor Relations Board will release the employee of the burden of proof, when by other means they are able to learn the facts. This will require the employer to show the documents that, according to the law, they have the obligation to keep on file in the company, under warning that if not, the facts alleged by the employee are true. In any case, it is the responsibility of the employer to prove his version where there is controversy regarding:
I. Employee first date of work;
II. Employee antiquity;
III. Absent to work by the employee;
IV. Causes of employment termination;
V. Termination of employment or individual contract for project or period in the terms of articles 37 fraction I and 53 fractions III of this law;
VI. Certificate of notice in writing for reason of termination and last day of work;
VII. The employment contract;
VIII. Duration of shift;
IX. Payment of required holidays and rest days;
X. Enjoyment and payment of vacations;
XI. Payment of Sunday Premium, vacations, and antiquity.
XII. Amount and payment of wages;
XIII. Payment of profit sharing percentage to employees; and
XIV. Incorporation and contributions to the Affordable Housing Department.
Since the employer has the legal obligation to keep in the company these documents and to show them in trial, if he does not present them, the facts alleged and claimed by the employee in his lawsuit writ are presumed to be true and the employee will have to pay the amount awarded by the Labor Relations Board in favor of the employee.
The Labor Relations Board has the ability to request property and assets to be lien in order to secure the employee´s payment.
AA meetings in La Paz in English are held:
Where: Crossroads Church on the Abasolo e/ Sonora y Sinaloa
When: Monday and Friday mornings 9:30 am
Contact: Leo – 129-3292 (land) or Frank – 612-154-1050 (cell)
AL-ANON IN ENGLISH
Al-Anon English meeting, as we have changed the day and contact info. We meet Tuesdays at 3:00 pm. Call Susan at 612-125-4649 or email email@example.com for location and more information.
Coffee, The Elixir of Life
Coffee! Just hearing the word, and I can smell that dark, sweet and rich aroma. Just say the word, Coffee, and I can taste it, hot, and strong and wonderful. Coffee, the elixir of life!
Coffee. There was a pot always brewing at our house when I was growing up. We used to joke and say our family coat of arms should have a hand passing a coffee cup.
Coffee. Even as I write this, I have a steaming mug of coffee at hand.
On our last day in the old country, (eleven years ago now) the owner of our local espresso shop said all of our purchases for the day were on the house. “ Well I do want to pay for the twenty pounds of coffee beans I just ordered.” Said I.
The owner was adamant: “ Absolutely not, this is our gift to you. You got out of the rat-race! Enjoy Mexico.”
And so we drove down the peninsula to La Paz, the truck was loaded to the gills. My coffee grinder, coffeepot, filters and mugs were at easy reach.
We knew about two espresso shops in La Paz, but we were not sure if they sold whole beans, and we (well I) wanted to be prepared.
One shop, Café del Tropico sold whole beans from their family finca in Veracruz, and their coffee was divine. They closed up shop about five years ago and decamped back to Mexico City. They remain our friends and when we visit with them in Mexico D.F. they take us to their latest favorite espresso café.
We tried roasters here and there in La Paz, but were never 100% pleased.
When we have US or Canadian guests coming down to stay at the HoneyMoon Hut, we ask them to bring us some Starbucks, Verona Roast, whole bean (decaf). But recently I re-discovered Café La Choya in La Paz. It is a tiny shop on Colima Street a few block past the police station and Transito.
There are no words to describe the elixir they dispense. That is where I buy my beans. Their location is not so conducive to meeting friends and clients. But the owner is charming and has 4,000 followers (including me) on Facebook! And they make an espresso cortado unequalled on the planet.
Espresso cafes have sprung up all over La Paz. Some are good, some are passable. My drink of choice is known at many of the cafes in town, and the baristas just confirm if it is a caliente (hot) or frio (cold) coffee day.
My friends and I meet regularly at one of the couple of shops we call home. And when I make an appointment with my accountant, he asks: “At your auxiliary office?” And we both know which café that is!: Café Ezquisito on the Malecon near the polka dot trees. I recently left my iPhone on their street side tables, and was panicked that it would be gone. I called them from my next stop, the doctor’s office. The receptionist and the doc recognized this as a true emergency. I was relieved that they had retrieved it and were holding it for Senora Susana.
Then there is the gairly new café, Sunshine, I think the name is. It is in the corner of the Nautilus shopping center on Abasolo. Gari-Ellen and I meet there regularly. I can never remember the name, so it has become a game to call it: Sunflower, Sunshine, Sunburn, Sunflare, Sundance. And when we are texting, just S-U-N. High level editorial decisions are made there!
Coffee. Revolutions have been planned in the “Penny Universities” the other name for coffee shops, great novelists have been aided by the creative kick of caffeine, business deals have been struck, and romances bloomed and friendships were forged over a couple of double mochas.
This is excerpted from Susan’s blogwww.mexicomusings.com
The third annual ¨celebrate life¨ Interprepa event to benefit FANLAP was held February 23 and 24, 2012. In addition to inviting various senior high schools to an event where students can have clean fun without alcohol or drugs, this event is also meant to create awareness in the high school community of marginal areas of La Paz where students need help to attain one of the basic necessities of our youth, a high school education.
The celebration started with motivational speakers at Cinepolis on the 23rd at 5:00 p.m, with a few words from Professor Martin Gonzalez Fiol, Director of the state DIF (family development agency of the state government), followed by Actor Lucas Villalobos with a motivational talk of valuing youth. We were then thrilled by a video presented by racecar driver, 2008 winner of the Baja 500, Luis Ramirez Payan, who spoke of his career.
Then came the main event on February 23: a talent and fashion show held at Hotel Gran Plaza in the Maria Teresa Salon. A dance by ten children of FANLAP, with Luis Villalobos, choreographer opened the show. This was followed by a talent show with the following senior high schools participating: Mar de Cortez, St. Johns, Juan Pablo, U.A.G., Colegio California, CBTIS 230 and CBTIS 62, after which a stellar performance by ¨Emanuel¨, who is quite famous with the adolescents of La Paz, delighted the crowd.
Throughout the evening, a video featuring FANLAP and various sponsors of Interprepa 2012 was played on the screen. You may view this video on YouTube by clicking PRO FAN LAP CELEBRA LA VIDA.
The office of the Honorable Governor Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor was represented by the coordinator of the Secretary of Government Lic. Miguel Ángel Luna.
We are especially grateful to Trinidad Rios for organizing this magnificent event, and thank you to all the students, sponsors, fashion designers and volunteers who helped Trini to make this a resounding success.
Together we are making a difference!!!
Our International Women’s Day event was celebrated Mexican style. The La Paz Ladies Luncheon was held in the “Frida” room at El Zarape Restaurant on Ave. Mexico, where we were surrounded by the many images of one of Mexico’s greatest artists. Many ‘newcomers’ were very impressed by the setting and went around the room with cameras to capture the essence of Frida Kahlo.
Our fabulous buffet luncheon consisted of chicken mole, stuffed poblano peppers with a twist, incredible leg of pork cooked with pineapple and chiles, breaded fish, rice, pasta and salad. I was so impressed with the pork dish that I made my own version last night to take on our 5-day sailing trip.
I, and most of the ladies, was mesmerized by the folkloric dancing team who entertained us for the better part of a hour. The costuming was incredible.
A huge thank-you to the owner, Lorena Hinojosa Olivas and her staff at El Zarape, for creating a fabulous buffet and organizing such wonderful entertainment.
Lastly, the group was presented with a short promotional video to highlight the upcoming Gastronomic Event to be held at Playa Coromuel on MAY 2, 2012. At last years event, over 54 restaurants participated. The cost is $500 pesos per person for all you can eat and drink in the late afternoon and evening. Get your tickets early at any restaurant in town. The organizers are expecting over 500 people to attend this event.
We are trying something different for our April event. The April edition of the La Paz Ladies Luncheon will be a Spring and Summer Fashion Show featuring our own members – Kena from La Coleccion Garlu, Joni Manery and Rocio Coronel and via Rocio Sanford and her daughter (a fashion designer in training at La Universidad Mundial) the Spring and Summer collections of all of the up and coming fashion designers from the Fashion Designer Program, La Universidad Mundial. Mark your calendars to April 20, 2012 at Casino Bella Vista, 7 p.m.
Spring and Summer Fashion Show is a fundraiser to raise money for scholarships for deserving young women to continue their education all the way through University. The Profesional and Business Womens Club of BCS have been providing scholarships since it’s inception over 50 years ago. In 1991, this group of dedicated women were instrumental in creating the nursing school on Colosio. In fact, the club owns the school which is operated by CONALEP. Work is progressing to convert this nursing CONALEP program to a full-fledged Nursing Degree program at the Bachelor’s level. The Club also provides monthly scholarships to a small number of women who attend university. The objective of this event is to increase the scholarship fund to provide a greater monthly support to existing recipients and to provide scholarships to more deserving young women in La Paz. The tickets for the Spring and Summer Fashion Show will be $200 pesos per person. More details will be published in incoming issue of The Baja Citizen and to the La Paz Ladies Luncheon Network and La Paz Gringo Group.
Sheryl Hamilton, Owner of LaPaz Gringos
It all started with a simple plea for help from Care for Kids La Paz founder, Barbara Spencer: “Does anyone have a used mattress for a family that is currently sleeping on the floor?”
In the two months since her plea on LPG – through teamwork, some very generous donations and community support — a total of 44 used mattresses have been delivered to needy families in Vista Hermosa, one of the poorest colonias in La Paz.
Last week the project got a real boost when the Club Cruceros Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the effort, starting with a donation large enough to buy 20 additional mattresses from one of the local segundas. Former and current members of the Board, Al Marchand and Gary Batha, were instrumental in bringing the project to the attention of the local boating community. Gary is also a professional photographer, and used some of his photos of the first delivery to make his presentation to the Board.
Earlier this month, after seeing photos of the families in their modest and harsh surroundings, an individual member of LaPaz Gringos wired a donation from California sufficient to buy 5 mattresses. She, and many others, have been moved to action by the photographs and stories of children sleeping three to a cot, on the floor, or in the case of one 17-year old boy, sharing a tattered old mattress with his parents.
During a recent delivery, a little 4-year old boy named Luis was literally jumping on his mattress with total glee, knowing his dream of sleeping on a “real bed” had finally come true.
There are far too many children like Luis in La Paz. In areas like Vista Hermosa and Marquez de Leon, many families have no electricity, no running water, and virtually no furniture. Each used mattress costs about $32 (400 mx). If you would like to make a donation of cash or bedding, please contact Sheryl Hamilton firstname.lastname@example.org or Al Marchand email@example.com.
We will also be reaching out to local hotels, property managers, realtors and furniture stores who may be in a position to source or donate used mattresses, sofas and bedding for this project. The owners of Marina La Paz have kindly provided space to store donated items, and we have volunteers available for pick-up and delivery if needed.
As awareness and donations grow, we hope to expand the program into other colonias where the need is great.
Photo courtesy of Gary Batha.
Governor Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor Gives First State of the State Address
Baja California Sur enjoyed historical advances in infrastructure in health, drinking water, sport and highways with the highest level in investment for a first year government, “without accumulating not even one peso of public debt,” Governor Marcos Covarrubias Villaseñor declared as he presented his first State of the State address at the Teatro de la Ciudad in La Paz on March 15th, 2012.
At the invitation only event, which included politicians, civil servants, businesspeople, ex governors and special guests, Covarrubias Villaseñor said he would continue to be responsible for the entire State, to offer them all possibilities of life and well being, with safe cities and communities and certainty towards the future.
He stated that as the head of government, his social commitment to BCS is, “looking towards the future, with an open heart to the most sensitive needs to those who have little.”
Covarrubias Villaseñor also mentioned that his government has dedicated 476 million pesos to the renovation of health clinics in rural areas that were abandoned. In education, they have spent 276 million pesos in the construction and renovation of educational centers in each of the 5 municipalities. Also, they have historically spent 93 million pesos on synthetic turf for 11 sport fields in the state, an area where past governments have paid little attention to.
In security, the Governor implemented the State Police Creditable model with the support of a federal initiative and the work that is taking place in other states, to have a cooperative police force who give certainty to society by providing security. In equipment and infrastructure for security, they have invested more than 186 million pesos.
In tourism, the State Government is working closely with the federal government in the preparation and organization of the G20 Summit that will take place this June in Los Cabos, which includes the construction of the International Convention Center in Los Cabos.
Covarrubias Villaseñor, the former mayor of Comundu and federal deputy, was elected Governor of BCS during state elections on February 6th, 2011 as a member of PAN, National Party of Action.