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From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada


May/June 2008


Volume 6 , Number 5/6


A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®

True Traveler Publishing

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San Diego , CA 92166



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“It’s even better when you help… You don’t have to say anything and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”




Below is a photo this author took at the bullfights visiting Pamplona 28 years ago. Notice the trail in the dirt where the last bull was dragged off to the butcher and his fate as that night's evening meal in a local eatery.

In early July, 1980 I was in Biarritz, France, enjoying my second surfing trip to the country after an 8-year absence since my last trip. I have been to this area of the south of France four times through the years and being primarily French to mix in with my Irish and Cherokee Indian, I have often boasted I drink hard with a lot of class and still can find my way home… Biarritz is the little port town south of Bordeaux and just north of the Spanish border. If you ever have the chance visit this beautiful area of our planet, please do! At the approximate latitude of Coos Bay, Oregon, you will find incredibly pristine beaches bordered by forest enclosed castles and multicolored vineyards.

This trip included many adventures, which integrated the 24-hour Le Mans car race, the Monaco Grand Prix car race and a running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The trip to Pamplona was a short drive southeast through the Pyrenees Mountains to a villa that was the property of friends I had met during a previous trip. We arrived at the height of the insanity of the event celebrated every year as a week long excuse to neglect your job and family in an incredible adulation of the bulls, the bull fighters and the many intoxicating local elements surrounding the opposite sex and alcohol. Every morning after the break of day the bulls run through the streets with the neighboring populace and visiting tourists to eventually spill into the arena where later that day they will be fought by brave men who are exalted and hero worshiped by those Spaniards who follow the “sport” and frenzy to see the spectacle. One who attends these events as a new spectator is reminded of the Romans and the awful coliseum events that predisposed the down fall of that culture. One of the signs of a decaying culture was the Roman practice of the construction of myriad sport complexes and their emphasis on sport and reality TV. Pardon me while I digress and distort history a bit...

The 7 am hour is an ominous one as the hospital personnel, ambulances and doctors are all assembled in their strategic places along the course the bulls will take though the town. The fierce and entirely pissed off bulls are released from a little paddock at one end of town at the top of a very narrow corridor comprised of a street bordered by tall building. There is absolutely nowhere to escape the bulls at this location and only the bravest and well known participants of the local area are at his extremely dangerous part of the bull’s trip through the streets of town. Tourists are not allowed here and only videos and photos of the area are any record of what happens, as there is no room for spectators. The entire length through town is covered by photographers, which later that day collect in various parts of town to sell you a photo set of your run with the bulls. In these photos, you will be a fraction of a group of local men and women dressed in the traditional garb of all white with red bandanas and red berets. The scuffs on these white articles of dress caused by the bulls passing or falling on the street are the badges to be discussed over drinks later that day and during the week. No one dare wash their outfit or change clothing all week as these stories are recounted and celebrated repeatedly during the 7-day event.

After the running of the bulls each morning, the entire town takes a nap, as the last 18 hours or so were spent generally drinking and reveling in each other’s drinking. As the sun rises and the day becomes hot, the party begins anew just after the lunch hour as the sound of ticket hawkers for the afternoon bullfight begin to fill the town square and city streets. The bulls that were encountered in the run that morning will be the snorting stars of the 4 pm event that afternoon at the coliseum. As the afternoon bullfight draws near, the city is filled with the sound of many bands playing in all corners of town now stimulating your reawakening sobering senses. It is at this time of the day that my friends and I purchased our tickets for our first bullfight. Lucky for us, we got tickets on the sedate side of the arena, as there is a marked contrast to where you sit at a Pamplona bullfight. Either you are seated with the refined and somewhat sober aristocrats or you are among the beer-throwing scoundrels. But all around the assemblage is an interesting array of bands, playing all the time in their little cheering area various songs and um-pahs to fuel the crazed and sun/cerveza-intoxicated crowd.

That day we did two things that are very rare in the tradition of bullfights through the years. The first bull came out and was the epitome of your neighbor’s pet poodle. No matter how he was prodded or encouraged by the picadors and other pre-fight personnel, the bull would not perform. As the many seat cushions rented for the event streamed out on the arena floor thrown at the bull in a show of disgust for his behavior, the bull proceeded to prance daintily around the now littered dirt pitch sniffing at the cushions as if looking for the special scent of a past acquaintance. The crowd erupted with a sea of twirling white bandanas and a chorus of ah-yah-yah-yah to summarily dismiss this reject to an instant conversion to that evenings steak dinner. The offending wimpy bull was whisked away to his fate and the cushions were collected and the crowd, even the sedate side, were entirely now out of control with the occurrence of this recent past event.

As I intimated, this saving of the bull does not happen often in bullfighting lore. As the Spanish sun beat down in its mid-summer late afternoon intensity, the next bull came into the ring as if a golden characture of what a truly noble beast of any description should in folklore ideally be. Slim wasted, tan colored, broad shouldered, and multi-ripped muscles made all in attendance draw a deep gasp at the sight of this seemingly 10 foot tall beast. No bullfighter emerged as the bull paraded around the arena and faced all in the crowd as if to say, “you want some of this?” Without more than a breath of hesitation the crowd looked at each other in awe and again erupted with a sea of twirling white bandanas and a chorus of ah-yah-yah-yah, this time in gleeful respect rather than distain.

After the events the bands poured into the street in a parade with their respective followers dancing and singing into another entire night of wild drinking and partying, and we all shared in the amazement of what had happened that day at my first and probably last bullfight.

Bullfights can be attended at the Bullring-by-the-Sea as you leave Tijuana on the toll road or at various other small provincial rings in the Tijuana to Ensenada area.


There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
  - Pablo Picasso




The aesthetic of bullfighting, which is regarded as a deeply ingrained part of the culture and an art in the countries where it is practiced, is based on the interaction of the man and the bull. Rather than a competitive sport, the bullfight is more of a ritual which is judged on artistic impression and command. Bull fighting (Spanish tauromaquia) is a spectacle whose variations are popular in Mexico, Spain, Portugal, some countries in Latin America, and in the south of France. Bull fighting goes back to ancient Rome, when many people killing animal events were held as a warm up for gladiatorial sports. The event's earliest roots are probably religious. The Spanish version of the event, called a corrida de toros, begins with a procession accompanied by band music aficionados.

If you are not familiar with a corrida, you will find here listed chronologically the events that you will witness. It consists of three parts, called tercios, being separated by horn signals. A corrida starts with the paseillo, with everybody involved in the bullfight entering the ring and presenting themselves to the public. Two Alguacilillos, on horse's back, direct themselves to the presidency and symbolically ask for the keys to the puerta de los toriles (door to the bulls). Behind that door are the bulls. With the door being opened and the first bull entering the ring the spectacle starts.  The bullfight starts with a trumpet flourish and the bull charging pell mell down the chute. Anger management is not a bull's strong suit. The first performer to enter the ring after the bull is the picador. This is one big and burly guy on an even bigger and burlier horse. This is the part of the bullfight ritual that doesn't get advertised to other cultures. The picador cuts the bulls back with his pike, weakening the beast. The lance’s thrusts further enrage and weaken the bull, and, crucially, weaken its neck muscles. The audience often objects to excessive use of the lance to tire the bull too much. You can get an idea of how hard the bull is trying to gore and tip the horse by how far the horse is leaned over. The horse has a thick pad, which certainly dulls the effect of the sharp horns. And yes, it is a really huge horse. Still, the horse's ribs are taking the full force of an enraged bull, sometimes enough to lift the horse off its front hooves. To quell the horses fear, the horse cannot see what is going on, it is blindfolded. This keeps the horse from knowing what’s really going on, if it did it would probably bolt out of the ring throwing its rider.

Next the peones (the matador's footmen and bullfighters in training) calm things down a bit with capes, and eventually the bull stops running around crazed and out of control in its gyrations . The matador (main bull fighter and star of the show) does some high-speed preliminary work with the bull, and then commences the suerte de banderillas, in which three banderilleros goad the bull so they can stab the bull's shoulders with colored, sharpened sticks, further debilitating the bull before the main event involving the matador.Finally, in the suerte de matar (death act), the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape. Having dedicated the bull to an individual or the whole audience, he uses his cape to attract the bull in a series of passes, demonstrating his control over it. He then attempts to maneuver the bull into a position to stab it between the shoulders and through the heart. The object of the event is for the matador to show his faena, his ability to dominate the bull, thus establishing an artistic symbiosis between man and beast. Leading the bull back and forth, or, in the lingo... "dominating the bull". The bull ends up bellowing, involuntarily urinating and sticking out his tongue in exasperation and sheer exhaustion. The bull is pretty worn out by this point. He has endured a bit of blood loss, a pike, a few spears and a lot of running about. He now needs some time and encouragement from the matador to gather his strength. Aggression is deeply encoded in the beast, and a noble amount of fight remains until the bitter end. This instinct counter productively drives the bull forward in an unsteady and stumbling half charge, which the matador can easily dodge. The objective now is to get the dazed animal to do a few party tricks, turn and weave, and otherwise let the matador really show his stuff in close quarters. The next target for the matador to drive the sword into the bull's heart. The picador's pike opens up the thick skin and muscle, but if the matador doesn't plunge the sword in accurately and hard, the bull won't die right away. Sometimes the bull wanders about for a few seconds with the sword in him, slicing up his insides. This often fails to kill the bull, and the matador must cut the bull's spinal cord with a second sword, killing it instantly. If the initial sword work is done right, however, the bull goes down instantly in a big heap and is carted off. After the fight is over, trumpets blare, and the matador takes some applause. A typical bullfight will involve three matadors fighting two bulls each though, occasionally, a mano-a-mano event confronts two matadors fighting three bulls each. Trophies and prizes (usually a bull's ear, or both ears, or both ears and the tail) are awarded to matadors, mostly according to the reaction of the crowd to the fight. Very occasionally, a particularly resilient bull will be spared. 


Origins and History of the Bullfight

Bullfighting is certainly one of the best known, although at the same time most polemical Spanish popular customs. This Fiesta could not exist without the Toro Bravo, a species of bull of an archaical race that is only conserved in Spain. Formerly this bull's forbearers, the primitive urus, were spread out over wide parts of the world. Many civilizations revered the bulls, the bull-cultists at the Greek island Creta is quite well known. The Bible chronicles sacrifices of bulls to honor divine justice. Also in the religious ceremonies of Iberian tribes living in Spain in prehistoric times bulls played an important part in those rites of realization.The origins of the Plaza, bullring, probably are not the Roman amphitheaters but the Celt-Iberian temples where those ceremonies were held. In the province of Soria, close to Numancia, one of them is conserved and it is supposed that there the first bulls were sacrificed to the Gods. While the religious cults dedicated to the bull date back to Iberians, the Greek and Roman influences converted the bullfight into a spectacle.During the Middle Ages it was a diversion for the aristocracy to torear on horse's back. That was called suerte de cañas. In 18th century this tradition was more or less abandoned and the poorer population invented the bullfight by foot. Francisco Romero was a key-figure in laying the rules for this new sport. For its fans La Corrida is of course rather an art than a sport, and a classic challenge of the man fighting against the beast. It is an archaic tradition that has survived in many countries, just as the Toro Bravo has done.


Animal rights campaigners object strongly to bullfighting on account to the slow, painful death the bull suffers, and bullfights that involve killing the bull are banned in most countries. "Bloodless" variations, though, are permitted and have attracted a following in California. The Portuguese version is conducted on horseback and does not involve injuring the bull. A number of animal-rights activist groups have undertaken anti-bullfighting actions in Spain and other countries. However, these views are not widely understood in the countries where Spanish bullfighting is practiced; the argument is that bulls are bred for the ring, live well before they are killed, and if the bullfight disappears, the bulls would too. Furthermore, part of the artistic impression of a corrida is based on the "cleanliness" of the kill; prolonged suffering is regarded as part of a very poor performance, and experienced bullfighters are able to avoid it. Spanish bullfighting is a traditionally male sport. Only recently have a very small number of women ever been toreadores, such as Cristina Sánchez. Many bullfighters have met their deaths on the horns of a bull, including one of the most celebrated of all time, Manolete. The most prominent bullrings are to be found at Madrid, Sevilla, and Mexico City.


I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
  - Stephen Hawking




Seguaro smiling, sailing and painting

Hi Everyone,

When we wrote last we were just leaving Cape Town bound for Trinidad.  We had a great trip, just over 39 days at sea with two stops—each for four days—at the islands of St. Helena (UK) and Fernando de Noronha (Brazil).  For the most part, it was an uneventful trip—the best kind.  Here are a few things that stand out in our minds: 

Seguaro did very well.  He hadn't sailed since he was a few months old, so we were very concerned—prepared—even, to throw in the towel if he couldn't handle the boat motion or was just plain miserable.  We left Cape Town on a stiff southwester, with big beam seas, and while Josh was a bit green, Seguaro could watch Curious George videos and swing around the boat like his hero.  He apparently inherited his Mom's stomach.  The better part of most days was spent doing crafts, emptying out Dad's tools, reading kid's books, baking snacks, etc.  Basically, he took to the whole thing better than we ever imagined—and we were so relieved.  He never did appreciate it when both parents had to go out and do sail changes—not only would he be alone, but the sounds of sails flapping, winches turning and parents swearing always freaked him out.

Coming into port was always a good time for him.  He would help hoist the yellow quarantine flag, (the "new people" flag) and enjoy the ice cream and kiddos we had promised would be waiting for him.

Every morning Suzy would wet down the teak and Seguaro would follow her around and collect all the flying fish that littered the deck, tossing them back into "Momma Ocean".  It was his chore and he was proud to do it.

Light airs were a bit of a problem—we did probably half of the first leg under spinnaker.  Sometimes winds were light and steady enough, and the squalls mild enough, to tempt us into leaving it up at night (mistake).  Even with Josh sleeping in the cockpit and looking about every 15 minutes, a squall overtook us and blew it clean in two.  I suppose that's better than a boat we met in St. Helena who got caught the same way but instead of parting, his spinnaker held until his boat was completely on its side and water was flooding in the portholes. 

St. Helena was a throw-back kind of place: all very clean and British, pastel colored buildings, tea shops, etc., and so removed from the world—no airport, and only a (decreasing) population of about 4000.  Steep-to and volcanic, with lush valleys and high plateaus and the population being blended English, black and Asian (the latter two groups having been brought as labor in previous centuries) that spoke in a sort of pigeon English w/cockney accent.  Incredibly friendly and accommodating, the people seemed to really appreciate being able to live in a remote, completely clean and crime-free corner of the world—although much debate was going on about the British Government's plans to build an airport and gradually curtail the subsidies that keep the place going.  We enjoyed a day of hiking with a single-hander fellow.  Another day we joined a local family on a picnic at a cricket match.  Our favorite was eating curry in the "Castle Gardens"—with a fountain and grass for Seguaro to run around on.  The damp, green scent was heavenly after all the days at sea.

We celebrated Seguaro's 2nd  and Suzy's 32nd birthdays underway.  Low key, obviously, but highlighted by cakes covered in melted Cadbury bars—Seguaro's topped with a tractor carved out of chocolate and caramel.  We don't feel too bad giving him that kind of stuff on occasion since the little guy only eats about three bites and is full.

Some nice fish were caught—mahi, tuna & wahoo.  Too much, in fact and Josh was told to put the gear away.  It's funny how when starting out on a trip we're never interested in  catching fish, but later on we actually sail (way) out of our way to troll across sea mounts and around atolls.  Protein deficiency?  On the subject of deficiencies—Josh's gums began getting sore when flossing—cured quick enough with vitamin C pills.

The Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha was beautiful, but very hot and very, very expensive.  Just to anchor in the bay we were whacked for $140.00/day!  We know the dollar is getting weak, but that's insane.  We did rent a buggy and Josh got to surf each day—one spot in particular is known as the Brazilian Pipeline and is a beautiful, sand bottom peak that really heaves.  Other than the waves, the best thing about the place was this drink made from crushed, frozen acai (ahh-sigh-ee) berry and banana paste and sprinkled with toasted oats.  It was even better than it sounds.

At 4 degrees south of the equator, we anticipated the southeast trades to continue for awhile.  But on leaving, we basically found ourselves in doldrums conditions which lasted until we found the northeast trades at 2 degrees north—a bit sketchy as we were down to 35 gallons of fuel with 1600 miles to go.  For days we would work the squalls for a push, making as little as 70 miles a day and constantly changing the sails to keep the boat heading (drifting) due north.  Suela glided across the equator at 0130 in the morning after 5 years in the Southern Hemisphere.  When the first puffs of breeze began to fill in, a trace of chill could be felt—serving notice that it was winter and we'd soon be wearing clothes.

Although the "rhumb-line" distance was 5400 nautical miles, with all the zigzags the trip ended up being just about 6000 (not those Zigzags).  After clearing in at the lush cove of Chagauramas Bay, Trinidad, we enjoyed our first freshwater showers in two months, not to mention a sit-down feast at an Italian restaurant.  You would have thought we were ordering for six—and all that followed by a full night's sleep.  It's good to go cruising from time to time if nothing more than to be reminded to really appreciate the little things (while having endless time to look around and ponder the big things).

We're flying back to the states tomorrow and hope to see some of you before Josh rejoins his ship in Brazil and Suzy goes . . . wherever she likes.  Next go-round we'll aim for the canal and spend time enjoying the Pacific coasts of Panama and Costa Rica.

Take Care,
Josh, Suzy & Seguaro
March '08 



  Here in Ensenada it is a Tuesday in April and we as a group in the marina always have a tough decision to make. Will it be 3 for 2 burgers at Q’Burger (see our October 2005 Newsletter article about this fine eating establishment) or 2 for 1 fish and shrimp tacos at Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix? Since Q’ Burgers offers the 3 for 2 deal on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we usually opt for fish tacos on Tuesdays. Browsing and editing the below photos for this newsletter made my choice easy for today (my mouths watering as I write), as after I finish this article I am headed for the festive and friendly Fenix fish shop. These are by far the crispiest and most fresh tacos we have found in Ensenada. The fish and shrimp you will eat slept in the sea the night before! See photo 9d for the pricing comparisons between Tuesdays and the rest of the week’s days. Fish tacos are regularly 80 cents and are roughly 40 cents on Tuesdays, while shrimp tacos go from 1.05$ to roughly 80 cents. Sodas are the same price, 80 cents, and bottled cold water is roughly half price at 40 cents. That’s at today’s exchange rate of 11 pesos to the dollar.

You will find Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix one block west of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at the corner of Ave Espinoza and Calle Sexta (6th street). Street minstrels are usually entertaining the crowd, for a few pesos or a taco. It will be crowded on Tuesdays at lunchtime but at 1 pm or so, as the crowd filters back to work, the place quiets down. We also like this place for the fact that is has a bar and a few bar stools. On the side of the restaurant there is an area with tables and chairs, and two clean restrooms. Most taco stands in Ensenada are a stand next to the cart type serving environment. Your taco is accompanied by bowls arranged on the counter; the selections include limes, peppers, white taco sauce, hot green avocado taco sauce and various other condiments including a collection of red salsas and vegi delights including radishes, shredded cabbage and a chopped cilantro, onion and tomato mix. Tipping is suggested because the ladies you see slaving over the hot oil are there for 14 hours a day sometimes 7 days a week. Time to shut down the computer and take the drive to downtown Ensenada and Tacos Mi Ranchito El Fenix for a bountiful fish and shrimp taco lunch!


Click on these photos and the following photos in this newsletter and use your web browser back button to return to this page

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Would those of you in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry.
  - John Lennon




April 14, 2008
Drug violence in Mexico prompts travel advisory

MEXICO CITY — The U.S. State Department reissued a travel advisory for Mexico on Monday, warning Americans of increased drug-related violence and kidnappings, particularly in the embattled border region.

"Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades," the alert reads.

It says Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and Tijuana are particularly dangerous.
U.S. officials justified the need to update the previous alert, issued in October 2007, to include details on the ratcheting up of the drug war over the past year. Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of troops to combat the narcotics cartels, which, after a brief retreat, are fighting back.

The alert "reflects the current reality in Mexico, including the increased violence on the U.S.-Mexico border," U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said in printed comments.

More than 2,500 Mexicans were killed in gangland-style violence last year, and the death toll could exceed that this year, according to news reports. Police and soldiers increasingly count among the victims.
In addition, the alert said, "armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez."

The alert stopped short of warning Americans not to visit Mexico, which receives more than 12 million American visitors a year. The Mexican government did not have an official comment on the alert, which was issued late in the day.



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Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?
  - James Thurber





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