Internet Newsletter

From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

November 2005

Volume 3 , Number 11



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












            This past August a plane daily circled the skies of Ensenada heralding the “SPEC-TAC-U-LAR!!!” arrival of the Circus Norte Americano to Ensenada. Two big horns mounted on the wings pointing straight down beamed the same Spanish recorded message over and over to those who could not read or afford a paper- smart advertising!  It got my attention and Mark on Luna Sea mixed a strong brew of Margarita Mix in a gallon water jug and we headed to the huge circus tent erected near Cruiseport Marina. Below is a collection of photos from that night.

            We arrived early to take in the entire flavor of the event. It being two for one ticket night we bought our tickets earlier in the day expecting a large crowd. Also being Monday and the first week of school in Ensenada that big crowd never materialized and we had a small and thoroughly entertained group to share the festivities with. The stars of the show are the tigers and a magician named Eriko. We saw 2 loud motorcycles circling a brave girl in a small round cage just inches from her body. A trapeze and high climbing ribbon act in the heights of the tent defied death without safety lines. Funny clowns selected people from the audience and took them on stage for fun and good-natured humiliation. All the while the crowd roared with hoots and uncontrolled laughter.

            The prices were affordable for the local Ensenada crowd. Seats were 5, 7 and 10 dollars. I wanted to be as close to center stage as possible and level with the stage and that put us in the 5-dollar seats. So, at two for one we enjoyed a lot of entertainment for 5 bucks! You will notice in the photos that the girls in the red and blue outfits that greeted us and took our tickets were actually performers in the circus. This was a nice touch and made the visitor to the tent feel a part of the performing family. The blonde in photo number 010 was the trapeze artist and is seen emerging from the box through which a multitude of swords were thrust in photo 034; the ticket taker on the right in photo 006 is Eriko the magician’s wife and is the performer in the above photo appearing in a Shrek skit which the children attending the Circus thoroughly enjoyed.

            I was fortunate to meet Eriko and his wife Karla in Ensenada at a local restaurant recently after midnight after one of their shows (they do two performances a night). I asked him if he would tell me how he does the trick with the box and the tiger. The tiger is loaded in the box and after spinning the box and a wave of a hand, his wife pops out of the box (photo 031) and the tiger disappears. He asked me if I could keep a secret and of course I assured him I could… his response was “well, I too can keep a secret” with a sly and sparkling smile. Visit Eriko’s web site at for more information about this talented artist. He is based in Las Vegas and travels the entire southwest of the US and throughout Mexico performing magic and creating awe in the wide eyes of both children and adults alike. If you are in Ensenada and would like some excellent and inexpensive entertainment, be sure to take in the visiting circus! A Mexican circus is an event not to be missed! You will not only enjoy the event itself, but will also be entertained by the celebrating crowd surrounding you.

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Since April I have been able to enjoy good quality and speed due to the Coral Marina installing a router and antenna array that transmits wireless Internet throughout the marina. This service is currently priced at $45 US per month for 24/7 unlimited connection and can be arranged for your use at the Coral Hotel front desk. We had some bugs to iron out but now the signal seems to be flawless. If you need aid getting this working by my helping you configure your computer, please come by my boat and I will be happy to help you out. Other wireless services are also available in the downtown marinas from transmitters located in downtown Ensenada. See Jerry at the Cruiseport Marina and Diego at the Baja Naval Marina for information about these Internet wireless services available.  



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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.


Read our article about our experiences at the running of the bulls event and a bullfight attended at Pamplona, Spain in our Archived August 2004 Newsletter. Below is a photo this author took at the bullfights visiting Pamplona 25 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.


As you pass the Red Cross Hospital on Highway 1D en route to Ensenada’s 10th street entry you may look to your left and see a hill that has an interesting array of house placement and varied residence architecture. Squatters as well as bona fide homebuyers inhabit this prominence, and a drive through this area is an interesting insight into Ensenada home life both wealthy and poor. The view up on this hill is unparalleled and nearly every picture window whether in a properly built house or a house built with industrial palettes and then tar papered, have a panorama and incredible Buena Vista of the city and port. Many of these houses are remote to the few roads that transverse the area and folks have to walk great distances to reach their house and family.

I discovered this hill through a friend who is a Jehovah’s Witness. He has walked this hill many times to meet with the residents and spread the Word about spirit and love. The Jehovah’s Witness population in Ensenada is growing with 15 congregation buildings that each share services with all age groups and lingual groups. The English speaking sect in Ensenada numbers 70 to 80 from week to week and they all do their best to witness the Word to all those they interact with. If you are interested in joining this group or would like to simply attend a service contact Spike (pictured below) at Marina Coral.

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The following photos will illustrate more than the thousand words per picture that I may write. The water is pumped up in above ground blue pipelines and the electricity is sent up an interesting collection of picket posts. There are schools on the hill and you will see school children in their easily recognizable uniforms walking the streets after school. The little public transportation busses serve the area for those that may not have a car.

          Yes, many of these houses are unfinished and abandoned. Poor families that scrounged up some rudimentary building supplies and simply poached a spot on the incline inhabit many of the completed houses. Among this mix of architectural scenery are also some expensive and properly conceived abodes that complement the landscape and are obviously owned by Ensenada residents of some personal monetary worth.

          Rarely do you see such a disparity of classes in such a confined area north of the border in the U.S. This all adds to the flavor and color of your Mexican visit and we hope you too will drive through this area while you are in Ensenada. Many life experiences make us thankful for what we have and where we came from, this I hope will be an epiphany for you and will help you realize the many blessings we have to share.

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One of the favorite pastimes for local residents and tourists alike is a ride on one of the colorful Ensenada scenic horse carriage tours.

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