"Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

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"Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Chivis
Administrator
Hitting the waves in Baja

The waves of Baja: I wanted to go longboarding at Las Gaviotas. But my desire to surf ran up concerns about safety. In the end, no problemo

The T-shirt hanging on the wall at K-38 Surf Shop is about as blatant as it gets: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers."
 
It was a message that surf-shop owner Jacindo Garcia wants to get out to the surfers who once made their way down south past the border but who are now hesitant because of reports of violence by rival gangs that put a dead stop to tourism in the region for the past few years.

I recently took a surf trip down to Las Gaviotas, Mexico, where a beachfront-rental community that once bustled with business continues to struggle under the bad rap Mexico has gotten with violence near the border.
 
Like others eager to rediscover nearby Mexico, I hesitated to take a trip to the region. I'd been to Las Gaviotas before and knew the surf was stellar – but was driving down worth the risk?
 
The big question loomed: Is it safe?
 
Everyone will have a different answer, with different experiences to base their conclusion on. In other words, travel at your own risk. All I can do is share my experience and hope that the area will once again become a desired destination for people looking for a quick getaway for waves. You can see the sadness in the local business owners' eyes, the desperation for things to change for the better.
 
Las Gaviotas is a simple drive about 45 minutes from the border, just south of Rosarito and north of the lobster haven of Puerto Nuevo. Most importantly, it sits just outside a perfect, mellow right-hand break with hardly anyone on it.
 
It's a perfect place for people skittish about visiting Mexico – the upscale homes sit behind big gates, with security guards who check in residents and diligently keep watch 24 hours a day. About 200 homes line the cobblestone-dotted community, with everything from one-bedroom townhomes for about $100 a night to a six-bedroom villa with ocean views found online for as low as $150 a night. Most rentals are offering heavily discounted prices, and some even offer a third night free.
 
By the time my boyfriend, Jon, and I got to Gaviotas, the wind was up and our arms were already exhausted from a surf stop at Pacific Beach in San Diego on the way down. So we took time to scope out our rental, owned by a Cal State Fullerton professor named Dennis.
 
The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home named Una Mas offered an ocean view from a big balcony and had a quaint style with a mix of Mexican and surf influence. A bullfighting scene plays out on a rug hung at the entrance, and surf photos and paintings dot the walls. We scour the DVD offerings, a mix of surf movies like "Riding Giants" and "Step Into Liquid," along with random mainstream flicks to keep us entertained during off-surf hours.
 
It wasn't long before we hit the Jacuzzi, where a group of four fiftysomething women on a girls trip from Los Angeles joined.
 
One of the women – who owns a second home at Gaviotas and travels here often – told of how it's been like a ghost town around the development, but she said signs of better times are showing. For the first time in five years, the development was sold out last Memorial Day weekend.
 
On our second day at Gaviotas, we got up to check the surf – high tide caused the waves to be a bit mushy, but after grabbing some coffee from the market and waiting it out a bit, we saw a few others paddle out and decided to do the same.
 
Perfect, smooth rights came in, one after another at the rock-bottom break. Soon, there were a whopping six people in the lineup – three of which were a group of girl longboarders from Orange County, along with two stand-up paddlers.
 
"I can't believe how amazing it is here," I overheard one girl say. "I can't wait to come back."
 
In desperate need of afternoon fuel and feeling exhausted, we paddled in for a break, making our way up the street to K-38 for a few tasty carne asada tacos from Taco Surf. Then, it was back to the waves – a bit wind-chopped on our second session, but still a blast with only two other people out.
 
That's pretty much how the days go here – Should we eat now? Should we surf again? Those are your biggest concerns.
 
"When you get down there, it's just a whole different world, you immediately unwind," said Dennis, who goes down at least once a month with his wife, Vicky.
 
The second and final morning was pretty much perfect: glassy, cleaner, waves rolling in one after another with not a soul in the water. It's something I don't think I've ever witnessed in Orange County. It was simply beautiful, and no doubt the reason surfers fell in love with Mexico decades ago.
 
Garcia opened his K-38 Surf Shop 15 years ago, and has been surfing in the area for 30 years. Gone are the days when 100 people would come through the store, or the Taco Surf stand next door would sell an entire cow a day, he said.
 
People are simply scared to come.
 
"They don't want Americans," Garcia said of the cartel. "They don't want the heat of the FBI and the DEA here."
 
He said this summer was the first time tourism showed improvement in the past few years.
 
"We need people coming here," he said.
 
By the end of the trip, we could hardly move our arms and were all surfed out, bellies were filled with authentic Mexican food – and no one mugged or kidnapped us along the way.
 
 
 
Checklist
 
GETTING THERE: Take I-5 until it ends. After you exit the customs area, keep right and follow signs that read Ensenada/Rosarito. Continue south along the coastline, with two toll roads ($2 each) along the way. Exit at Puerto Nuevo/Calafia; make a right for one mile. Las Gaviotas is on the left-hand side.
 
WHERE TO STAY: To find a rental, go to las-gaviotas.com.
 
WHERE TO EAT: There are no restaurants in the Gaviotas complex, so you have to go out to eat unless you bring food to cook. Here are a few favorites:
 
•Puerto Nuevo: If you like lobster, this will be heaven for you, with a few dozen restaurants specializing in lobster in a small area a few minutes from Gaviotas. There will be plenty of guys hustling for your business. I ate at Ortegas – likely pricier than other options ($20 for a lobster), but one that offers a great ocean view at sunset. Small shops line the area selling trinkets to bring home.
 
•Tamales: There's nothing like moist, fresh tamales, and the small shop just south of Gaviotas has some of the best I've ever had. Both chicken and cheese have a nice spicy kick thanks to a green chili wrapped in each; and don't miss the sweet tamale for dessert! Each cost $1.
 
•Teresitas: This small restaurant and market at K-38 is a surfer favorite, serving up a small but tasty menu. Don't miss the chorizo and huevos for breakfast, and fish or shrimp tacos for lunch after your surf session – all served with tortillas made right in front of you.
 
WHAT TO KNOW: You need to get car insurance for Mexico before you cross the border. The last exit on I-5 freeway offers plenty of options, priced from about $12 a day.
 
•Most places in the area take dollars so no need to exchange, just make sure to have small bills.
 
•Passports are needed to cross the border.
 
•There's a new program called Fast Pass that can get you back home faster at the border. Certain restaurants and hotels offer the pass, which gets you in a faster line. Find participating businesses at bajabound.com.
 
WHAT TO BRING: Water: As nice as it is at Gaviotas, I still stay clear of drinking from the tap.
 
•Wetsuit: The water is chilly here; pack a full suit. Bring booties if you don't like walking barefoot over rocks.
 
By LAYLAN CONNELLY / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
All Voices
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

†.©ĤİVǾ.†
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J
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

J
Clearly you are misinformed, tourists, esp. white ones and white looking ones are the safest.  You just don't want to be mistaken for a narco, or a rich kid, or any other kind of target.  In Tijuana, tourists may be the victim of a scam, a pickpocket, maybe even a robbery (if you are being careless and reckless and stupid), basically inviting a robbery by buying drugs or attempting to, but as far as kidnapping or murder, it's a very slim chance.  Like any other city, stay out of bad neighborhoods, or exercise caution if going, be cautious and observant, and you will be fine.
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Chivis
Administrator
well said J...i was about to say something similar.  Bottom line know what is happening where you are travelling to, register with the consulate follow advice from the state department..etc etc etc.

though in coahuila and NL light skin, hair and/or is pretty nuch the majority, I stand out with my dark features.  I remember going to a meeting in Saltillo and looking around the conference room of about 50 and I was the one and only person with black hair and though I would call my skin "med" toned I looked negra in comparison...
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
J
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

J
It's so frustrating to hear people say stuff like that, offline, I know more then a few 'white' friends' who won't step foot in Mexico, regardless of destination, even Cabo, they are so misinformed.  I can't blame the media, they report the violence, and the location, it's up to the audience to not be idiots, and realize going to Ensenanda or Baja Sur is not the same as traveling in an SUV thru Tamps. or wandering around in narco bars in Juarez.  It's a very close minded and ignorant state of mind.  Yes, there are vicious wars, and brutal violence, but it hasn't descended into complete savagery, or even close.  I had to back to TJ for myself, so I could say firmly it was safe.
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Guerro
In reply to this post by †.©ĤİVǾ.†
Please Chivo you have zero knowledge about Mexico and your ignorance shows. In Mexico we have plenty of Mexicans that are blonde hair with blue eyes. Imagine that? And if you have ever visited Mexico or even knew something about Mexico you would know that the violence doesn't affect the majority of Mexico. Imagine that?

If you would actually do your research many Mexicans despite the cost of human lives in this drug war, still support Calderon's war on drugs, but of coarse dumb Americans like you wouldn't know that. You wouldn't know that majority of Mexicans see cartels as evil and not sporting teams. And this has been proven in national polls time and time again. The only psychological confused person seems to be you when you try to judge an entire country, esp one you haven't never even visited. So next time get out of your basement before you open your mouth. But than again ignorance is a bliss.

PS. You finally have a picture that fits your image jaja. Also if your going to be racist with your racist remarks again, how about you just leave and stop worrying about my country and start to worry about yours?
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Chivis
Administrator
In reply to this post by J
I am going to TJ for foundation business in December several times.  I have no fear at this time subject to change of course but I am still afraid to go further into Playa Rosarito.  But if I had to for a good  reason I would.  Our family has a beach house there and it is an awesome place I spent most summers at.  Back in the day there was only the Rosarito Beach Hotel and lots of open space.  So nice.

I laughed at the SUV in Tamps.  Once I found myself in Tamps in Reynosa in a black escalade a detour because of a hurricane flooding out bridges and roads, then we went into nuevo laredo and got lost.  In the worse place imaginable.  Before I could stop her my friend, a professor, yells "JOVEN!" to the car next to us.  which had 4 tough looking guys who gave us directions to the bridge. but  they  made a motion for her to lowered her window again.  and changed the directions.  I smelled a rat and said not to turn where they said to, I looked up the hill as we passed and it was a dead end.  I have no doubt they would have been there waiting for us.

That was the last time I ever drove or rode in a SUV in Mx.  I like all people look for a nacamobile as long as it has a/c the uglier the better
 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Havana
In reply to this post by Guerro
I have spend so much time telling people that Mexico is a huge country with so many incredible areas that are not tarnished by violence.  I go on and on Blah, blah, blah. I truly believe I'm right. Many people just can't see beyond Juarez, Acapulco, Veracruz etc. and corrupt police and kidnapping. No one believes me over the media.  So, I continue to go Mexico and they don't.  If you use your head, you will be fine.
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

yankagoot
In reply to this post by Guerro
you again?  why don't you limit yourself to silence , your ignorance is offensive  and you exude a malodorous arrogance, obviously a spoiled, privileged child.
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

curioso
In reply to this post by Chivis
I feel much safer going out here in Piedras Negras, Mx than I did when we used to go to the big nice Mexican neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago.
Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

dario
In reply to this post by Chivis
Anyone who wears this is an idiot.

Only a matter of time before somebody trying to provoke a cartel gets a response. What do they think will happen when they run into a truck of Z sicarios up for several days on crystal? They will see it as a provocation, a challenge. Maybe they do it to test loyalty of a recruit.

Z will cut your head off to test a new knife. Lazca might be smart about avoiding purposeless American deaths but you should see some of the scum they put on the street.

Americans need to be aware of it but keep their thoughts to themselves. Stay in safe areas, don't drive dangerous cars, don't flash cash, stay away from drugs prostitutes and casinos.

We don't always know who is who so tourists don't either. Halcones are everywhere especially in tourist areas where cartels run the drugs and women. A man's brother could be in the cartel. Come and enjoy yourself, not get mixed up in narcopolitics.

People should keep their eyes open and enjoy the ocean. Their opinion of cartels on a shirt is not helpful.

I read elsewhere American deaths here are at a 10 year high.
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Chivis
Administrator
Hola Dario!

I think the guy at the surf shop was just using it as a sign to make a point.

Where did you see that Americans killed in Mx is at a 10 year high?  can you remember?

I follow those sort of things, in all of Mexico deaths were 111 for americans in 2010.

and that number is all inclusive, not necessarily connected in anyway to narco activity.
though we know at least two are; the consular employee and her husband killed in Juarez.

In 2010; 19.5 Million Americans visted Mexico

In 2010 ; apx 1 million americans reside in Mexico full time, interesting is that of the million 200K live there legally 850K are illegals

21 million americans in Mexico in the year 2010  

111 deaths

The Entire Los Angeles county only has 9.8 Million people.. homicides are apx 400-1000 per year


here is stats thru oct 2011 for LA county  http://projects.latimes.com/homicide/map/   

the are US State Department figures

so I am thinking 111 for all of mexico with over 20M americans doesn't seem so bad.

 
The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please
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Re: "Cartel doesn't kill surfers." So Reads the Tee

Guerro
In reply to this post by yankagoot
Yep its me again and it will always be me. Why don't you limit yourself to silence and contribute to saying something more, than the usually same BS?