am a Canadian expatriate and have lived in Baja
California for the past 10 years. My husband,
Patrick, and I bought a home on the ocean halfway
between Tijuana and Rosarito – now situated in
the middle of the Drug Corridor.
gated community of approximately 800 homes,
composed of Americans and Mexican nationals,
endures the usual crimes such as theft – no more
or no less than one would expect in any community
north of the border. After the 2007 elections in
Mexico, newly elected Rosarito Mayor Hugo Torres,
together with other municipal, state and federal
officials, cracked down hard on the drug trade,
resulting in the arrest of high-ranking drug lords
operating out of the Tijuana area. These arrests
left the Arellano Félix cartel without leaders
and a violent power struggle took place. Coupled
with the ongoing fight between the Arellano Félix
and Sinaloa cartels, the death tolls rose and
sensational headlines resulted.
Torres has been straightforward and diligent in
keeping the expatriates and nationals informed.
Security has been raised in Rosarito with 50 state
police officers arriving to assist the 150-officer
Police Department, and the army elements are
highly visible in their continued patrolling of
the streets and outlying areas of Rosarito.
of this drama, however, has had very little effect
on our daily lives in Baja. The community in
general, including expatriates and visitors, has
not been targeted.
travel back and forth across the border as always,
we shop in Rosarito and Tijuana without incident,
and drive down the coast to Ensenada on a regular
of the media coverage, defending Baja against
unfavorable and unfair press has become routine.
Our biggest challenge living south of the border
is to persuade our family and friends that it is
safe to visit. We ask that they not allow the
sensational headlines and biased reporting to
frighten them, thus preventing them from enjoying
this wonderful and affordable tourist locale.
has about 140,000 residents, 14,000 of which are
foreigners. With its many new reasonably priced
condos and homes for sale along the coast, it is
an ideal location for retirees. Although the
expats live miles apart, from Playas de Tijuana
down the coast to Ensenada, there is a real sense
of community in the area. The groups and
activities to join are many, such as a large
expatriate group called the United Society of Baja
California, the Baja Bridge Club and the Rosarito
Theatre Guild, to name a few.
are luxurious spas to pamper your every need. Two
wonderful golf courses are within easy traveling
distance. Shopping is plentiful with high-quality
furniture, wrought iron pieces, blown glass, wood
carvings and fine art from all corners of Mexico.
Rosarito also boasts some very fine gourmet
restaurants for those with discriminating tastes,
and taco stands abound along Benito Juarez
also have numerous charitable nonprofit groups to
join including Cruz Roja (Red Cross); the Flying
Samaritans, which operates medical clinics for the
needy; Friends of the Library; and Baja Animal
Sanctuary. There are several English-language
churches of the Protestant denomination in the
area and weekly English-language Roman Catholic
services are held in downtown Rosarito.
we, who make Mexico our home, are a unique breed?
It certainly is not a life everyone would choose
but for those of us who do, there are no regrets.
have been no visible signs of expatriate residents
leaving Rosarito because of the increased violence
between the drug cartels. We get used to seeing
the army driving around in their Hummers, masked
and armed with machine guns; somehow it makes us
feel safe. We willingly stop at the various
checkpoints and are usually sent on our way
Mexico will win the battle with the drug cartels
but in the meantime, Patrick and I, together with
our friends, will continue to enjoy our life here
in Baja California.
Hines is president of the United Society of Baja
California, an expatriate group that conducts
social events and supports various local
charities. Their website is www.rosaritotowncrier.com