Archive for the 'Mexico' Category

Feb 02 2009

Is Baja Safe Again?

Published by under baja,Mexico,Travel Tips

picture 1 Is Baja Safe Again?

The Most Compelling Reason for a Baja Trip

Photo: Mike Marincovich (Surfline)

The glory for surfer and their love affair for Baja ended abruptly in the fall of 2007 with repeated violent car jackings and a startling increase in violence and killings in Tijuana by drug gangs. The two were not unrelated. Baja fell off the map for most of us and most likely the magical beach breaks and points of Baja were left empty through 2008. Surfline discusses whether it’s safe to return. The short of it: not really. It’s still risky, but can be done when done right. Surfline article quoted below:

Dedina cautions, however, that this doesn’t mean that surfers should not still be vigilant. Dedina also warns that just because Mexican police seem to be helping in the border corridor now, that doesn’t mean surfers should ignore the long history of corruption tied to police in the region. “Most police officers are not our friends,” Dedina said. “Just this past weekend, a WiLDCOAST staffer asked a Tijuana police officer for directions to the border, and he was extorted to pay $80 for parking ‘illegally.’ And longtime residents of northern Baja still advise on avoiding highway travel after dark.”

Polischuk seconds Dedina’s advice about staying off the roads after sunset, and is also still wary of the police. “Despite the current control of the Tijunana-Ensenada toll road corridor, you must still use common sense,” Polischuk said. “If the police puts his lights on, you drive to the nearest public area, Pemex station or small store. The police are aware of this practice and expect it. The car should be clearly marked.”…

Despite the progress in safety measures along the toll-road corridor, Baja is still growing increasingly more dangerous for surfers. Not because they are targets – they’re not – but because of the narco-criminal culture that infests Tijuana and Northern Baja. The Mexican government and Calderon administration have had virtually no effect on stemming the violence associated with the drug war. If, because surfers haven’t read or heard reports of attacks they begin to think the violence and instability in the region has been remedied, and return to Baja thinking it is the Baja of old, they run the risk of getting caught in the crossfire…

Mexico is on the edge of the abyss — it could become a narco-state in the coming decade,” McCaffrey wrote. “The Mexican State is engaged in an increasingly violent, internal struggle against heavily armed narco-criminal cartels that have intimidated the public, corrupted much of law enforcement, and created an environment of impunity to the law.” He went on to opine, “Mexico is not confronting dangerous criminality — it is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism.” …

The message here isn’t don’t go, but rather, be smart when you go. “For an average surfer the sight and sounds of Baja may be a bit different,” Polischuk said. “You may hear some sirens; get passed by a speeding caravan on their way to mop up the latest violent mess. But remember, unless you have a coke addiction or are a gunrunner, surfers are not part of this violent cocktail of greed, power and money.”

According to Polischuk, that’s fine by him. The pros outweigh the cons in his book. “On most days I can surf alone or with a few people,” he said. “The experience of scoring empty point breaks and reefs, even on a weekend, is because most Americans are scared and staying at home.”

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Oct 13 2008

Jamie Sterling – Red Bull Road Trip to Puerto

Published by under Mexico,Travel,Videos

Even Pipeline chargers get bored. So Jamie Sterling for reasons unclear starts off a road trip somewhere in Texas to drive to Puerto Escondido for the Mexican Pipeline. The first two videos of the series on RedBullSurfing.com show exactly why it’s a worthless idea to fly from Hawaii to Texas just so you can then backtrack 700 miles to Arizona to drive down to Mexico. The third video installation though shows what we all dream of at Puerto. Long glassy roping barrelling waves. In fact, the waves are so good and long they don’t even look like the beach break Puerto we’ve all heard of.

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Jun 04 2008

Seeing Sharks, La Nina and Tagging Sharks in Mexico

Published by under Mexico,Sharks

OK, I promise I’ll get back to surf travel related posts, just one more shark post…

If you wondering whether all the shark-attack hysteria has had an effect on your psychology, it probably has. Beach goers have called in 50-70 shark sightings to lifeguards in San Diego since the April fatal attack on a swimmer in Solano Beach. Compare that with 1-2 reported sightings in the previous 15 years!!! A group of surfers reported seeing a shark last week by 11th street, but lifeguards could not confirm that there was a shark in the area.

Scientists are speculating [link and video] that the recent surge in shark attacks in Mexico are due to La Nina, a weather patterns that results in cooler water in the Pacific. La Nina also causes the boundary of cooler/warmer water to be closer to shore which may be why so many more sharks are in and around the beaches of Zihuatanejo.

Local official in Zihuatanejo have started a study expected to last a year where they will be tagging hundreds of sharks and tracking the sharks via electronic radio device [Reuters link]. Biologists running the study will also also local fisherman to report back on any sightings, catches, or encounters with tagged sharks. Smaller sharks will be tagged with telemetric tags that reports location via radio emitting tag. This is a welcome change in their original response to the fatal shark attack in April where local authorities hunted and killed sharks in the area.

It’s good to see Mexico engaging in a thoughtful and well-design study that will provide useful data for the area and for science in general. Their initial response of hunting and killing sharks was short-sighted and ultimately back-fired as there were two additional attacks after the hunt.

shark tag Seeing Sharks, La Nina and Tagging Sharks in Mexico

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May 29 2008

Blog Coverage of the Shark Attacks in Mexico

Published by under Mexico,Sharks

troncones surfshop Blog Coverage of the Shark Attacks in Mexico

The news coverage of the shark attacks in Zihuatanejo and Troncones, Mexico has been out of hand with pretty much every major news outlet and TV outlet adding to the feeding frenzy! Concierge did a good summary of the blog and news coverage here. It’s especially ironic considering how much a sleepy surf village Troncones is. One thing for sure, the line-ups in Guerrero are going to be empty now. So while scientists and reporter can debate whether global warming is to blame for the increasing global incidence in shark attacks, the fact is you’re more likely to die from a “collapsing sand hole incident” (yeah, I don’t really know what one is either) than from a shark attack (shark attack risk of death). So, if you want to score empty waves, now may actually be the best time to head down to Guerrero, Mexico (check out our guide to surfing the area of Guerrero and Michoacan). Your biggest struggles on a surf trip may more likely be from dealing with the logistics like getting scammed renting a car than with anything in the line-up. Regardless, don’t let it keep you out of the water and from exploring. Go surf!




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May 28 2008

Local Officials in Zihuatanejo and Guerrero, Mexico Alarmed at Recent Attacks

Published by under Mexico,Sharks

The recent shark attacks (and deaths) on surfers in the Zihuatanejo area of Mexico (state of Guerrero) has alarmed everyone in the area and even brought in the Mexican Marines and Navy to patrol and spot for sharks. So far, the Navy has reported not spotting any large sharks in the area; but locals remained concerned.

After the first shark attack in April, officials responded by hunting sharks in the area. There was a large backlash from environmentalist, tourist, and surfers. Unfortunately, the approach did not work as there were two additional attacks in the same area (one fatal). [See related posts below for more info] Local officials now are working hard at determining the species involved by catching and releasing them and trying to spot sharks instead of haphazardly hunting and killing them.

The attacks and recent press coverage is sure to dissuade travelers and surfers considering going to the area. Bruce Grimes, the American who was attacked on Sunday and lost his thumb to the attack, owns a surfshop in the Zihuatanejo area and is concerned about the effect of the attacks on business. In spite of his injuries, he’s planning a return to the water after his recovery.

“I’ll go right back. Yeah, I’m that stupid,” Grimes said, examining his bandaged arm outside the hospital where he just had his daily cleaning. “I’ll go right back out as soon as I’m able to.” [AP Press article]

shark attack fatalities Local Officials in Zihuatanejo and Guerrero, Mexico Alarmed at Recent Attacks

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May 27 2008

Mexican Navy Secures Coast After Attacks, Jaws IV Scouts Mexican Location for New Film

Published by under Mexico,Sharks

So this shark thing is getting a little out of hand, and I promise some non-shark related posts after this one. The authorities in Mexico are taking the shark attacks very seriously (especially since the area is so dependent on tourism and surfer tourism). They’ve brought in the marines and the navy (the marines oddly had a strong presence when I was down there a month ago before the attacks in Troncones). From Reuters [link].

The response seems much more tempered and reasonable than their last response after the attack in April which was to go on a shark killing spree. And yes, the title suggesting a Jaws IV location in Zihuatanejo was a joke.

Reuters: The Mexican Navy searched for sharks in the ocean near Pacific surfing beaches on Monday, after two bathers were killed and another maimed in a rare spate of shark attacks.

Three boats and a helicopter patrolled the sea while Navy and rescue officials scanned the horizon with binoculars from popular beaches around the southwestern Mexican resort of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. They warned surfers not to go far out.

“We’ve been monitoring the beaches; we’ve done reconnaissance flights,” Rear Adm. Arturo Bernal said, adding that no big shark had been detected yet in the area.

sharks cartoon Mexican Navy Secures Coast After Attacks, Jaws IV Scouts Mexican Location for New Film

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May 08 2008

Destination: Guerrero and Michoacan, Mexico

Published by under Destinations,Mexico,Travel

I just got back from my 10 day trip to Guerrero (North of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa) and Michoacan. We scored two solid swells down there and great waves all around. It was an easy trip from the West Coast (Alaska has direct flights from LAX to Zihuatanejo and last minute fares were cheap ($450). There’s plenty of good breaks down there (favoring the goofy foot though) with good swell exposure. Winds generally picked up late morning, but did not always blow out the surf and many afternoons were still surfable. Don’t expect to partying until dawn every night (or any night), but Zihuatanejo has an old-town charm and there’s incredible fishing up and down the coast. North of Zihuatenajo there’s hardly anything on the coast at all except a few fishing villages. Overall, the area is a great area to plan a trip or to score last minute waves.

manzanillo bay Destination: Guerrero and Michoacan, Mexico

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pixel Destination: Guerrero and Michoacan, Mexico

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