Thursday, March 31, 2016

Passing of a Baja Legend

Spending the better part of two decades living down here in Baja, I have met my fair share of characters and personalities. The very nature of this peninsula, its rugged life and at times unforgiving spirit seems to forge these unforgetful types; perhaps hardened and tempered by the harsh conditions and challenging terrain.

And these same, difficult conditions have produced some very special icons of Baja and one in particular that I was extremely fortunate to have cross my path sometime ago. Antonio Resendiz Sanchez Hidalgo, known by many as "Super Tony" and simply "Toño" to his closest friends and family.

Tony was born in Coyoacan, a district of Mexico City back in 1954. Even as a young boy Tony was very independent and he was considered both a leader

and a rebel growing up. But as he watched his friends and family members seek their place at respected schools and universities nearer to Mexico City, Tony followed a different calling that lead him all the way to the port city of Ensenada, Baja California. Back in the early 70's that was considered a world away from his safe environment of home and many were surprised that he would make such a bold and risky move. He made the decision to pursue a career in marine biology and Tony enrolled in the new University of Oceanography that was established in Ensenada. He wanted to be close to the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez; following the footsteps of one of his childhood idols - Jacques Cousteau.

Shortly after graduating from the UABC School of Oceanography, Tony setup residence in a tent along the beach in Bahia de Los Angeles; a place he had come to know during his field studies back at school. From that simple and humble beginning, Tony began a lifelong dedication to work with the local marine life and along the way educate thousands of visitors to the area who came to visit the magic that lives in the Sea of Cortez.

Tony was a true friend of sea turtles as well as whales and marine mammals in general. He was an environmental advocate and an overall great human being with a highly contagious, intense personality. He often returned to Ensenada to lecture at the campus where he studied and became a favorite of students and teachers alike. He played a very important role in pushing legislation for the protection of marine species. He was relentless in his drive to raise consciousness for the cause of ecosystem conservation and especially the sea turtles.

Along the way Tony met Bety, who would become his wife, partner and mother to their children Toñito and Ale. She also brought a softer balance to his life; something sorely missing according to some who were close to him back in the 70's. With Bety they built a lifetime together at their beloved Camp Archelon, alongside the Sea of Cortez.

While the softer, more patient side of Tony was evident in the way he could sit down and share with locals and tourists alike his passion for the sea turtles, their care and preservation, he saved his burning inner fire for the fight against corruption within the Mexican government. He declared war against a system that allowed unregulated fisheries to slowly and methodically kill off sea turtles and other marine species along with the ecosystems and worked tirelessly to stop it. Even in the face of death threats he never once wavered.

His family back home in Mexico City would follow along with Tony's work and crusades through his stories, carried back to them by correspondence; letters the family would often refer to as the "Gospel according to San Antonio..."

There was so very much more to this man's life that it would be impossible for me to even pretend to list it all here. Just let me say that from the moment I met this special man, I knew that I was blessed to forge a friendship with such an accomplished, "larger than life" individual who inspired the very best in you. And I suppose that is one of the greatest accomplishments one could ever hope for in this life; to be able to so inspire others to do great things. He certainly raised the bar for me in my pursuits that I shared with him that day of our chance encounter. 

Tony's flame blew out last Monday afternoon; a legend suddenly and tragically disappeared from our midst. But I continue to believe that his light shines on through his wife Bety, their children, his work and all of us whom he touched and inspired over the years. Tony's ashes will now return to become part of the very environment he worked so hard to preserve and protect, through a lifetime of hard work, dedication and love. Quite fitting I suppose and a life very, very well lived.

Vaya con Dios amigo...

Antonio Resendiz Sanchez Hidalgo
1954- 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Taking Your Expensive Toys South of the Border...

In our Facebook Group TalkBaja, we see stories from time to time of travelers who have had a vehicle, boat, motorcycle and even small planes stolen while in Mexico.

The Baja California Peninsula remains today a wide-open territory that I often refer to as much like the old wild-wild west. Thousands of square miles of remote and sparsely populated areas with no services or emergency response. The overwhelming majority of folks living down here are hard working, decent and honest people. But like the old wild west there are also a few bandidos here and there just waiting to take advantage of too few police to cover such a vast, remote area.

Occasionally a car, truck, SUV or motorcycle have disappeared overnight from a hotel parking lot, boats moored at a seaside marina have gone to sea without their captain and even small planes have taken off during the night without making a sound. It happens - not everyday - but it happens.

The answer? SPOT Trace tracking device. GPS-satellite tracking to help recover your valuable assets... 

Advanced Theft-Alert Tracking for Anything

Once activated and powered on, SPOT Trace will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network. SPOT Trace sends the GPS location to communication satellites. The satellites relay the message to a ground network, which uses the internet to route the message to your phone or computer. SPOT Trace allows you to monitor your asset and track its movement in near real-time via Google Maps. Because SPOT Trace uses satellite technology, it can communicate from some of the most remote locations around the world. Never let your most valuable asset disappear without a trace.


SPOT Trace's compact and discreet design allows the device to blend in seamlessly with its surroundings. Durable and lightweight, SPOT Trace goes anywhere.


(4) AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium 8x batteries (L92) — INSTALLED
 (4) AAA Energizer NiMH rechargeable batteries (NH12) — SOLD SEPARATELY
 Line power with a 5v USB connection (NOT waterproof) — INCLUDED
 Waterproof DC Power Cable — SOLD SEPARATELY


 Reversible mounting bracket
 Industrial strength double-sided tape
 Adhesive grip pad
 Adhesive hook and loop tape


Download User Guide (PDF)

"A million uses that doesn't cost an arm and leg!" - Justin

"SPOT Trace offers anti-theft protection for valuable assets such as boats, and peace of mind for family members tracking a long journey such as the Baja Ha Ha and beyond." - Inga Askamit,

"SPOT Trace is the most user friendly tracking device with the best battery life hands down." - AC

"SPOT Trace provides services that are invaluable in improving the safety of our program." - The University of Miami Small Boat Program

"SPOT Trace is without a doubt a must-have for anyone needing to track an asset. It's so affordable and so easy-to-use that there's no excuse not to have one. Defiantly a must-have!" - Tim

"I never have to worry about my asset again." - Paul
"Remember SPOT spelled back-words is 'TOPS' . That is what they are. SPOT has put out a top quality affordable easy to use product" - Art

"I liked SPOT Trace so much that I purchased a second one." - Susan

"Works everywhere, any time, when you need it." - Bryan

Monday, March 21, 2016

Spring Break Options?

Rosarito Beach has been a favorite for the "under 30" crowd around Spring Break for decades. If you live close to the border, only have a few days off and looking for something different, here are a few other Baja getaway options...

Playa La Misión
38 miles from Tijuana

The halfway point between Rosarito and Ensenada, not to mention just 30 minutes from some 100 wineries in Valle de Guadalupe, La Misión offers wide, sandy stretches alongside massive waves and is within walking distance of La Fonda Hotel’s famed Sunday brunch.

Stay: Poco Cielo

San Felipe

122 miles from Mexicali
A two-hour straight shot from the Calexico-Mexicali border crossing, San Felipe was once the would-be Rosarito of the desert, evident thanks to its roster of monstrous, now-empty nightclubs. These days, you’re better off loading a cooler full of fresh seafood and pitching a tent along the coast somewhere south of town near Valle de los Gigantes, a cardón cactus reserve that’s home to 60-foot, 25-ton specimens that are up to 300 years old.
Stay: Playa del Paraiso

San Quintin
180 miles from Tijuana

San Quintin is home to one of the largest bays on the west coast of Baja. This mostly agricultural town is often overlooked by travelers who don't realize that to see the best this region has to offer, you need to get off the highway. Whether you seek world class sport fishing out of the Old Mill, offroading on hundreds of miles of trails that are Baja 1000 tested, see the observatory up at San Pedro Martir or simply want to explore the coastal wonders the region offers including thousands of tide pools and La Lobera - a popular sea lion sanctuary carved out of rock over millions of years from strong tides and high waves off the coast of Baja California, creating large cavities between the rock where the sea penetrates. San Quintin is often considered where the real Baja begins. Heading south, visitors find the decompression process kicking in more completely, and that 'Baja mode' really begins to take over!
Stay: Hotel Jardines Baja

Bahía de los Ángeles
403 miles from Tijuana

Jacques Cousteau once referred to the Gulf of California as the world’s aquarium, and the waters off the coast of Bahía are living proof, full of yellowtail that stretch up to five feet. Located within the Valle de los Cirios wildlife reserve, which covers the southern half of Baja California, the Bay of Angels was originally home to thousands of Cochimí people before the arrival of Hernán Cortés’s explorers in the 1500s.
Stay: Mauro’s Posada


Monday, March 14, 2016

March 14th: Baja Napping Day - 7 BIG benefits

There can be a lot of benefits to taking some time out of your day for an afternoon nap, research suggests. In honour of National Napping Day, we take a look at some of the apparent benefits of taking some time out of your busy schedule to catch up on your sleep.

It could save your life
Napping could reduce blood pressure and stave off heart attacks, according to Greek researchers. They found that those who had a nap at noon later had lower blood pressure than those who stayed awake through the day in a study involving almost 400 middle-aged men and women. "Midday naps seem to lower blood pressure levels and may probably also decrease the number of required antihypertensive medications,” said Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, the lead researcher.

Keeps you focused
Both Margaret Thatcher and Sir Winston Churchill knew about the benefits of having power naps to stay focused for longer at work. Baroness Thatcher famously slept for just four hours a night during the week, though she took regular daytime naps. Sir Winston Churchill managed on just four hours sleep a night during World War Two – but insisted on a two hour nap in the afternoon. Scientist Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.

Helps you feel more refreshed
Post-lunch power naps can be as refreshing as a good night's sleep, according to a study. Scientists have shown that a 60- to 90-minute siesta can charge up the brain's batteries as much as eight hours tucked up in bed. 

Boosts productivity
Bosses should let their staff take naps at work as sleeping for 30 to 90 minutes in the afternoon can improve creativity, a leading brain researcher claims. “It’s best to give your brain downtime. I have a nap every afternoon,” explains Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London. “It’s only since the industrial revolution we have been obsessed with squeezing all our sleep into the night rather than having one or two sleeps through the day.”

Improves your mood
Toddlers who are denied regular afternoon naps grow up into grumpier and moodier adults, a study indicates. US researchers found that toddlers who miss just one daytime nap become more anxious and less interested in the world around them. 

Reduces stress
A short sleep after lunch can reduce stress, help cardiovascular functions, and improve alertness and memory, according to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (SEMERGEN). They suggest a siesta should be no longer than half an hour, others suggest it should not be longer than 15 minutes.

Reduces mistakes
Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSA). A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 per cent and alertness 100 per cent, the NSA reports. Meanwhile, this simple 10-3-2-1-0 formula could make your days more productive.

The 10-3-2-1-0 formula
►  10 hours before bed: No more caffeine
  3 hours before bed: No more food or alcohol
  2 hours before bed: No more work
  1 hour before bed: No more screen time
  0 times you hit the snooze button in the morning

Sleep habits of those at the top
As Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher famously slept for just four hours a night during the week, though she took regular daytime naps.
 When asked how many hours sleep people need, Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have replied: "Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool."
 US President Barack Obama is understood to only sleep for six hours a night.
 Business magnate Donald Trump boasts just three to four hours sleep nightly.
 Sir Winston Churchill managed on just four hours sleep a night during World War Two but insisted on a two hour nap in the afternoon.
 Scientist Albert Einstein reportedly slept for 10 hours a night, plus daytime naps.
 Bill Gates, former chief executive of Microsoft, says he needs seven hours of sleep to “stay sharp”.

And finally...

 Ron Hoff, 
TalkBaja Head Cheese says that he tries to catch a snooze whenever life allows, although he admitted that for some reason, time for a siesta doesn't seem to happen all that often lately...

Monday, March 7, 2016

Rainbow over Bahia de Los Angeles - Photo of the Week

A winter storm drops some badly needed rain over a parched region and Mother Nature rewards us with a spectacular rainbow. A rare sight in Bahia de Los Angeles...

Friday, March 4, 2016

US-Mexico Border - Like You've Never Seen it Before

Baja Surfing Trip in Your Plans for 2016?

Reason 1: Sí to Baja
Your New Year's resolution was to say "yes" to everything. Your life has become a romantic comedy of sorts, but since it's still El Niño, being agreeable means you're going to Baja. Post-surf tacos washed down with some adult suds are all a part of the ideal. Factor in that Baja California has over 1900 miles of coastline, more than half of which is surfable, running the gamut from pre-expansion big-wave spots to roping pointbreaks and peaky beachbreak tubes -- and the roast grows ever sweeter.

Reason 2: El Niño 
This year's very strong El Niño taught us a number of things, along with reinforcing some preconceived, rudimentary notions like, "No two El Niño's are the same." For instance, while Southern California received minimal precipitation through the month of February, a rather un-El Niño-like feat, the North Pacific was on fire with a smattering of hurricane-force low pressure systems and XXL swells -- the latter being the earmark of strong El Niño's past. Eddie went. Thursday before the Super Bowl at Maverick's was far more impressive than both offenses in the game of pigskin. And quite possibly the deepest barrel ever paddled into at Jaws -- that happened, too. It was pumping all over. But while no two are the same, all El Niño's often have some similar qualities. A glimpse at March's moderate to strong El Nino events of yesteryear suggest both the North and South Pacific have some tricks up their sleeves.

Reason 3: Nooks and crannies
They like swell and can handle wind. There will be a series of solid WNW swells for Baja Norte through the middle of the month, which is good for the nooks-and-crannies business. However, the reputable global weather models suggest we'll have a few bouts of potentially unfavorable winds for the regions that are more openly exposed, as a series of lows impact the northern reaches of Baja through the second week of the month. While some of the S/SW/W wind may be unavoidable for northern Baja, NW wind blockage is your friend with solid swell and high pressure building along the coast behind a passing low. If that isn't your thing, head further south where a smaller, but still good-size share of the WNW to NW swells will make it into exposures of Baja Sur sans inclement winds and weather (for the most part).

Reason 4: Money in the bank
The age-old cliche is a hard one to argue with -- sort of the reincarnation of the surfer's golden rule that everyone knows, but everyone breaks: "Don't leave good waves to find better waves." Because there isn't always something better down the beach. For instance, the North Pacific, in the latter stages of one of the strongest El Niño's on record, looks primed to deliver a healthy run of WNW swells through the first few weeks of the month, and we already have a pair of hurricane- force lows as of March 1. And climate models suggest plentiful storm activity clear into the back half of the month. Oh yeah, and the Southern Hemisphere has opened for business. More of a soft launch than a blowout grand-opening sale, but still.

Reason 5: The South Pacific is stirring
That's right, the Roaring 40s, 50s and 60s at the south end of the world's largest saltwater swimming pool are stretching. The tracksuits are fresh and the early-season storms are looking spritely with a pair of gale-force lows strewn across the south/central and southwest Pacific. This has multiple meanings, most notably; a variety of surfbreaks that aren't into the WNW swell window will turn on, and breaks exposed to the combo of swells will, at times, be peaky/crossed up (when WNW and SW/SSW swells are running simultaneously) during the month of March. This isn't a fluke. Compared to the climatology, March for moderate to strong El Niño years has a knack for increased storm activity to the southeast of New Zealand.

Globalstar asks TalkBaja to become a SPOT Ambassador

Globalstar, provider of the SPOT Gen3 Satellite messaging service recently provided me with a SPOT Gen3 device. I have been asked to use the service in my work down here in Baja, Mexico and share my personal experience using the equipment and tracking service. 

I must admit that after using the service for a few weeks now, I am impressed with the equpment, the technology and the service supporting the SPOT Gen3. I will continue to use this device along with other products offered by Globalstar and give an honest assessment of my experience using the equipment and service. 

To be clear, I will receive no compensation from any sales of the SPOT devices and/or services provided.

Why SPOT Gen3?

Baja is an intriguing, mystical and diverse location full of adventure all along it's 1200+ kilometer length. The peninsula remains largely a vast region of remote territory with relatively few services, even fewer people and no cell service over tens of thousands of square miles down here.

The combination of long, pristine and lonely coastlines, remote deserts and isolated mountain regions make this peninsula extremely attractive to off-roaders, surfers, hikers and adventure seekers in general. It's a very difficult temptation to pass up. Many of us here have felt that same calling.

But we also know all too well that at times those adventures can take a dangerous turn when an accident, injury or equipment failure occurs. The remote terrain and lack of cell service down here in Baja can turn these otherwise ordinary mishaps into serious and even life threatening events. 

How many lost traveler / search events have we posted in just the last several months?

That is where the SPOT technology can prove vital. The SPOT Gen3 lets family and friends know you're OK or sends emergency responders your GPS location, all at the push of a button. Over 4,000 rescues to date from SPOT users who had to push the SOS button.

Enhanced Services ONLY available with SPOT Gen3
SPOT Gen3's customized tracking features takes your SPOT experience to the next level. Only with SPOT Gen3, is tracking motion-activated regardless of the level of tracking you choose (Basic, Unlimited or Extreme). A vibration sensor tells your SPOT to send track updates when you are moving and to stop when you do. (This is a great new battery-saving feature!)

New Tracking Options:

Unlimited Tracking
Set it and forget it. Pre-set your SPOT Gen3 to send tracks at the speed of your adventures. Change your tracks to send every 5, 10, 30, or 60 minutes. SPOT Gen3 will send tracks at your chosen rate for as long as your device is turned on and moving (no need to re-set after 24 hours). Tracking doesn't stop until you do.
Extreme Tracking
Get all of the great features of Unlimited Tracking, but with the added ability to vary your track rate down to every 2 ½ minutes. Don't miss a step with increased track rates!

Longer Battery Life
SPOT Gen3 has approximately twice the battery life of the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger!

Battery Options 
4 AAA Energizer® Ultimate Lithium 8x Batteries (L92)
4 AAA Energizer® NiMH reusable batteries (NH12)
Line power with a 5v USB connection. (SPOT Gen3 is not waterproof when line powered.)

Basic Features included with your SPOT Gen3:

With the push of a button, GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center provides your GPS coordinates and information to local response teams - for example contacting 9-1-1 responders in North America and 1-1-2 responders in Europe The S.O.S. button is for emergencies only.
Check In
Let family and friends know you're ok when you're out of cell phone range. Send a pre-programmed text message with GPS coordinates or an email with a link to Google Maps™ to your contacts with your location. With a push of a button, a message is sent via email or SMS to up to 10 pre-determined contacts and your way-point is stored in your SPOT account for later reference. Your stored way-points can be easily integrated into a SPOT Shared Page or SPOT Adventure account.
Help/SPOT Assist
Alert your personal contacts that you need help in non-life-threatening situations. Or, use SPOT Assist for professional services on land. (Additional service
Custom Message
Stay in touch while off the grid by sending your custom message. Set up a message before leaving to send to contacts with your GPS location. Use this feature as a secondary OK message or transfer your personal help alert to this message function if you are using a SPOT Assist service on your Help button.
Allow friends and family to follow your progress online in near real-time and save way-points so you can review your entire route at a later date.

Incentive for our TalkBaja Group Members
Receive a $25 credit on the first year of SPOT Gen3 service (valid for new activations only). To claim this offer, email the ESN from your newly purchased device to:

Be sure to include "TalkBaja Service Discount" on the email subject line. This introductory offer is valid now through March 14th, 2016.

Worldwide Rescues to Date

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Legend of Hotel California in Todos Santos

The Hotel California was founded in 1948 by a Chinese immigrant named Mr. Wong. After three years of construction, the hotel opened on February 5th, 1950. Mr. Wong lived in the 16-room hotel with his wife and seven daughters. Trying to fool the locals into believing that they were Mexican, Mr. Wong changed his name to Don Antonio Tabasco. That plan didn't quite work out as planned as the locals simply began calling him "El Chino".

In the 1950s, "El Chino" brought ice from La Paz to the hotel and it was the first business in Todos Santos to serve ice. That was a big hit with the locals as it was the only place in town where one could buy a cold beer. El Chino eventually opened a restaurant as well. The business prospered and El Chino became very well known in the region, eventually opening a store called "El Popular", inside of the hotel. In time he also opened the first gas station of Todos Santos, right next door to the hotel. El Chino was establishing himself as a successful businessman and built a good reputation as a man of vision. This was just the beginning of the colorful history of the hotel, which over time would become even more intriguing.

During the 1960s and 1970s, precise details of the story of the Hotel California are a bit "hazy" at best but not that uncommon either when compared to the local culture of that time period in general. There are many stories making the rounds about the hotel and how much of it all is true, nobody knows for sure.

One such rumor, saying that the hit song of the group The Eagles was based on the hotel. Some even said one of the members of the group owned the hotel at one time. Both a rumors are false. However, many visitors continue to come to the hotel, captivated by the "coincidences" between the lyrics of the popular song and architecture of the hotel and its surroundings.

There are many other rumors, legends and stories surrounding the hotel and its history. Most remain unsubstantiated but the Hotel California, located less than an hour drive from Cabo San Lucas, continues to fascinate people from around the world today. 

The Eagle's now famous song, is often heard playing in the background when you first walk in...