Barra Azul Ensenada




by Ensenada Gringo Food Editor, Cali Cucaracha

Friday night, enjoyed another happy hour Ensenada sunset on the rocks and we are waiting for a concert at CEARTE.  Food?  Something light and easy?  We need a tapas bar at 6:30PM.  BARRA AZUL!

Barra Azul looks like one of your old college hangouts.  It’s in a residential neighborhood on Calle Once(11th) at Espinoza.  You would expect some poets, musicians and professors to be gathered around discussing Hunter S Thompson’s writing or whether Hendrix or Stevie Ray was better.




The menu is seafood and simple.  We started with a salad, which was big enough to split.  It had crisp greens, tomato, strawberries, apples, cucumber and raisins in a light vinagrette dressing.  Note to self: add some more fruit to your salads at home for a sweet changeup.

I continued my Bohemia streak started at happy hour, as that beer is my favorite Mex cerveza.

She ordered shrimp ceviche and I ordered a shrimp cocktail.  My photo of the food, below, is weak, but, the presentations of both of those dishes is outstanding.  But, the taste is every bit as good as your favorite mariscos stand with the addition of comfy chairs, adult beverages and a bohemian atmosphere.



Barra Azul Website

barrazulmapclick map to expand

Barra Azul is easy to find.  For you weenies that never venture uptown further than Lopez Mateos, Calle Once is about 3/4 of a mile inland.


Food comes with a basket of BAKED and fried tostadas plus crackers.  I have become a fan of baked tostadas.

Four beers, salad and two nice seafood plates totaled 315 pesos, approx $24USD.  Add a tip for our attentive service and that’s an easy, fresh and inexpensive dinner.  That’s only a shade higher price than a taco stand.  Our trip to Barra Azul was extremely satisfying.

State Department Baja Warning

Bajadock: Hung out late at night in downtown Ensenada Thursday and Friday night and all was well.  Local newspapers are showing more crime.  I especially notice crime increase in Tijuana and Rosarito.  Does the State Dept also publish travel warnings for Chicago and Detroit?

The State Department, in the United States this week warned the citizens of the country that there are risks when traveling to certain parts of Mexico including Ensenada, Baja California.

Although the document acknowledges that the Mexican authorities are committed to the fight against organized crime, the State Department has a record of 71 civilians killed in 2012 and 81 in 2013 in various violent situations.

“American citizens have been victims of crime, including homicides, shootings, kidnapping, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon. While many of those killed in violence related to organized crime have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent people have been killed, “mentioned.

In the case of Baja California, Tijuana mentioned, Playas de Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali, considered as the main destinations visiting Americans should exercise caution especially at night.

“The criminal activity along the roads and beaches is a problem of continued safety. In 2013 the homicide rate in Tijuana and Rosarito 48 percent and 67 percent increased compared to the previous year, according to the Secretary of State for Public Security of Baja, and both cities experienced further increases in rates homicides during the first half of 2014, “they said.

While most of these killings appeared to be targeted by a criminal organization, rivalries between groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by American citizens, where the shots hit innocent people during the day.

Suggest to visitors to reduce their personal profiles and avoid wealth indicators such as fine jewelry, watches and cameras. Maintain awareness of your surroundings and avoid situations where they can be isolated.

This latest travel warning replaces published last August 15, 2014, with an updated pattern.

Las Brisas Tacos Ensenada



by Ensenada Gringo Staff Food Editor, Cali Cucaracha

Las Brisas Tacos is one of a handful of taco shops among hundreds available in Ensenada that provides outstanding food values.

Stopped in at Las Brisas Tacos on Friday afternoon during my whirlwind 2 day Ensenada Food and Beverage tour.  Normal etiquette at a taco shop is to ask the owner if its ok to bring your adult beverage with you.  My experience is that approx 2 out of 3 taco shops are happy to accommodate your thirst, as they are hungry for your business.

Las Brisas is located just south of Ensenada Centro, on Costero, sea side, 1/4 mile south of The Riviera.  Yep, that’s the Las Brisas that had the fire in September 2013.
Love the “con mas fuego que nunca” and “mas explosivas que nunca” jokes since the fire.
My team and I ordered carne, chicken and my favorite, adobada tacos, for our mid-afternoon snack.
Here are the naked adobado and chicken tacos excitedly awaiting their toppings.
Tacos formally dressed for the occasion, this is the “after” photo.  The trick is getting enough of your flavor combinations while still having enough room for the taco and your hands to cradle the swaddling  yumbunches up to your salivating lips.
My taco shop preferences revolve around the freshness and variety of toppings available.  A chunky pico de gallo salsa is always my favorite.  Throw in some guacamole, cilantro, veggie selections, cabbage for crunch and lime and I’m all yours, baby!
Las Brisas Tacos’ toppings are fresh and fun.  The toothpick holder is a nice luxury touch
What’s your favorite Baja taco shop?
Mon: 11:00 am – 3:00 am
Wed – Fri: 11:00 am – 3:00 am
Sat – Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 am

Scenic Road La Mision Caution


by staff traffic editor, W.E. Coyote

Northbound at La Mision Saturday, where the Free Road connects back to the Scenic Toll Road CAUTION.  That entry ramp is CLOSED, per my 18 October northbound trip.

Still closed on my way south today, 19 October. The northbound lane is merged with southbound lane for about a 1K stretch north of La Mision/La Fonda exit. Relax and enjoy the Free Road’s sights, beverages, food and art.

BTW, anyone buy/test the quality of the molcajetes being sold at the La Mision southbound exit yet???


Ensenada Gringo’s art staff interpretation of barrels and tape blocking northbound Scenic Road entry at La Mision.

Re-entry northbound on Scenic Toll Road is now at the Splash entry/exit, approx 5 miles north at K58.

Ennio’s Italian Restaurant Ensenada



by Ensenada Gringo Staff Food Editor, Cali Cucaracha

After our incredible Thursday happy hour sunset on the rocks, we headed downtown Ensenada for Ennio’s Italian Restaurante.

Per LTBL’s comment below, Ennio’s Menu looks like it no longer has Peruvian dishes.  Other than Peruvian ceviche, I would not know Peru’s cuisine vs. the Cleveland fried perch dinners of my youth.

I have never been south of Panama.  Will ask Ennio on my next visit SOON!



We were the first diners of the evening and received a warm welcome from Luis.  Our first order of business was beverage refreshment.  Not only did my VIP guest get next door’s 101 Vino wine by the glass menu, she also received a taste test her Montefiore chardonnay before  getting her complete order.

Luis gave us his opinion of the menu highlights with information that the portions are of good size.  We ordered the anti pasta salad and the mixed seafood pasta and shared both dishes.


The salad can easily be enjoyed as it own meal.  Veggies are crispy, meat is generous and the italian dressing is light.  Fresh herbs, including basil, are involved in this dance.

The pasta, seafood and sauce also had excellent spicing with rich flavors.  We were satisfied, but, not stuffed.  This was also after our 8 mile hike in the hills.  Both of us could have ordered another entree, but, this 6PM meal was an early dinner for us late eaters.


Ennio also came out to say hello and make certain everything was as needed.  We were very fortunate to receive a complimentary tiramisu dessert.

Ennio’s Italian Restaurant is easily the finest Italian dining in Ensenada.

999 Costero(between Blancarte and Alvarado)



Entre Dos Guitar Duo Ensenada

Yudy and Tomas played Thursday night at Bar Andaluz, Riviera, Ensenada.

A good crowd of about 50 enjoyed more than an hour of classical and latin guitar music.  Yudy, from Cuba, is on vocals and lute(laúd).  Tomas, from Tijuana,  plays guitar left handed.

Above is their opening song from Thursday night.

Come out and enjoy some music next Thursday for the 4th of 5 October concerts.  Entrada libre!








Late notice, but, saw chairs being set up in back lot at CEARTE for tonight.

Thursday 8 miler


Thursday’s workout included a hike/run from Puerto Escondido over to Arboles and the cove beyond.  8 miles and 1600 feet of climbing had me enjoying the fresh squeezed orange juice available from the cafe at Commercial Mexicano Ensenada.

My knees no longer can handle the pounding of my 10K days.  33:31 at altitude in the Mile High City of Denver is my best 10K effort.  That’s a 5 min 23 second pace translation for you couch potatoes.  A long hike with a handfull of uphill running episodes during today’s hikes helps keep my beer belly modest during my old age.

Post previews: Happy hour last night was on the rocks and dinner was Ensenada’s best Italian.   Bar Andaluz guitar and lute duo were very entertaing with a good crowd turnout.  A glass of wine at 101 Vino followed by another glass in our clean and quiet hotel room made for a great sleep.

Broadcasting from Cafe Kaffa this morning.  CHEERS to your weekend.


Scenic Road Alternate

Bajadock:  The route in my map above is just an approximation of the alternate route.  Unfortunately, this route has been in the “discussion stage” within the first week of the 28 December Scenic Road landslide”.  Hindsight(retrospección) is easy from my keyboard, but, this alternate could have been completed by now.  Hope someone puts it into action. article on alternate route funding

SCT reviews the proposed alternate route to Scenic

Monitor Economico

Ensenada, Baja California, Oct. 16.-In response to the letter submitted to the Presidency of the Republic, in which an alternate emergency route with little investment and rapid construction, the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) is proposed, assigned a group of experts in the field to validate that choice.

Mario Zepeda James, president of the Canacintra, recalled that 20 business organizations and civil society, most legislators, delivered the first of this month a letter in the office of the Presidency, to demand the fundamental solution to the problems generated by the Scenic collapse.

In that paper it was suggested that the repair is done in km 93 + 050 93 + 300 of the toll road Ensenada-Tijuana, is completed as soon as possible, without compromising quality, safety, and to take the appropriate measures to prevent another collapse.

Were also required to be provided to the Tijuana-Ensenada free road, infrastructure and modern design to meet the vehicular flow is increasing and provides optimal conditions to ensure the safety of drivers, vehicles and carga.Además to order an investigation for fincar responsibilities and full force of the law and SCT officials Capufe applies, by the lack of foresight and failure delivery dates announced, and management of funds for reconstruction.

The document provided through the federal deputy Ricardo Medina Fierro, proposed to be built immediately, a safe and effective alternative route, which experts in the field suggest they are 6 km from the node Bajamar the toll road, to the 72 + miles 500 Libre Tijuana Ensenada.

Mario Zepeda According to James, the maximum cost of the alternate route would be 60 billion in 2-lane and 4-lane 125 million, with a maximum length of 6 km, where there is already a dirt road with little difficulty orographic.

After the issue was handled by the Director of Technical Services of the SCT, Clement Poon Hung agreed that experts from the federal agency, will on Monday to meet with business representatives of civil society, and local engineers, at 10 am Bajamar.

That representatives of the College of Engineers of Ensenada shall file the emergency route that ensenadenses considered the best alternative for the advantages of time, cost and benefits.

Previously, the group will meet at the Hotel Las Rosas, from there to the tour that starts in Rancho Jatay, and end at the junction with the 72 + 500 mile of open road, to collect the necessary data for the preparation of the opinion it must be ready to no more than a week.

Ghost Train

Geography is not only about things that can be seen, touched and measured. Many branches of geography consider how people think, how communities make decisions and how nations interact.

At a local scale, one of the characteristics that is often overlooked is sound. We often ignore the soundscapes of places, either because we are “too busy” to listen and take in the local sounds, or because we are “too busy” tuning any distinctive local sounds out while using our cell phones or listening to favorite music.

Soundscapes vary greatly from rural areas to urban areas, and from one region to another; Mexico’s urban soundscapes are among the most distinctive on the planet.

In previous posts, we listened to The distinctive sounds of Mexico’s towns and cities;covered our ears as we analysed Noise pollution in Mexico; and also described the amazingWhistled language of the Chinantec people in Oaxaca.

In this post, we take a look at Chris Watson’s intriguing 2011 album “El Tren Fantasma”:

U.K.-based Chris Watson is a preeminent freelance recordist of wildlife and natural phenomena, whose work has been featured in many BBC programs including David Attenborough’s series, The Life Of Birds. As Watson has remarked, sound recording allows you to put a microphone where you can’t put your ears, to enable you to listen to sounds such as the groaning ice of a moving glacier. His work for the BBC was audio vérité but more recently, including in El Tren Fantasma, Watson has experimented with post production techniques to meld field recordings into a narrative.

The result is strangely compelling, dramatic and in some respects, awesome!

The soundscapes of El Tren Fantasma (the title is identical to that of a 1927 Mexican movie) offer a trip from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast of Mexico condensed into little more than an hour.

The first six tracks cover the section of railway best known as the Copper Canyon line, one of the few remaining routes in Mexico with regular passenger service.

El Tren Fantasma has 10 tracks (pun intended):

  1. La Anunciante
  2. Los Mochis
  3. Sierra Tarahumara
  4. El Divisadero
  5. Crucero La Joya
  6. Chihuahua
  7. Aguascalientes
  8. Mexico D.F.
  9. El Tajin; El dia y La noche
  10. Veracruz

If you don’t have time to listen to all 10 tracks, the most interesting, from a geographical point of view, are probably the following:

The trip was nicknamed the ghost train by Watson because there are no longer any passenger trains connecting the two coasts. Several years ago, Watson was the sound recordist for a film crew making a program in the BBC TV series Great Railway Journeys. Even then, part of the line was freight only, but in earlier times, there had been regular scheduled passenger trains across the country.

The promotional material asks potential listeners to, “Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history.”

“In this album, the journey of the ‘ghost train’ is recreated, evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects.”

Reviews were almost universally positive.

Several reviewers recognized the connection between the soundscapes of El Tren Fantasma and geography, in some cases also attributing reasons for the decline of passenger train services in Mexico. For example Martin Hoyle, writing in The Financial Times, described how “From desert to rainforest, hummingbirds’ wings to the boom of heat rising from the Copper Canyon, it recalls a beloved passenger train system abandoned by privatisation.”

Pete Naughton in The Daily Telegraph wrote that the sound portrait painted by Watson “jostles with human, animal and mechanical life, filling the room with an atmosphere that is more richly evocative of Central America than any TV travel show I’ve seen. Diesel engines thrum, cicadas chirrup and passengers chatter, sing and argue.”

A reviewer in The Milk Factory (UK) drew attention to the “tremor of excitement as the sound of a diesel engine temporarily swallows the clunking noise of metal on metal and the strident hisses as wheels grind again rails and breaks against wheels”, before adding that, “Watson doesn’t aim to recreate the journey in any consistent chronology. Instead, he gives a taste of what this journey actually was by using nature and wildlife sounds to hint at the landscapes passed on the way.”

Spencer Grady, reviewing El Tren Fantasma for BBCi (UK), wrote that: “While Chris Watson’s previous sets – such as 2003’s critically acclaimed Weather Report – have generally concerned themselves with this planet’s myriad beasts and habitats, this narrative inevitably bears an anthropological mark. Indeed, the first voice we hear doesn’t belong to a cuckoo or coyote, but station announcer Ana Gonzalez Bello putting out one “last call for the ghost train”. It’s an unusually contrived opening gambit, from which point the listener is jettisoned into a collision of screeching breaks, rolling stock rattle and hot hydraulic huff. Over half of El Tren Fantasma’s tracks (pun definitely intended) are given over to locomotive sound – gears shifting, hoots, bells and whistles – climaxing with El Divisadero, where Watson manipulates the monolithic machinations into a surging, phantasmal bellow, like a choir of angels struggling to be heard over the rumbling thrum of running gear.”

For an academic geographer’s perspective on El Tren Fantasma, a good place to start (for those with academic library access) is a recent issue of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (Vol 39, No 3, 2014). In “El tren fantasma : arcs of sound and the acoustic spaces of landscapes”, George Revill, of the Open University, draws on Chris Watson’s soundwork “El tren fantasma” to consider “how sound participates in the production of the railway corridor as a complex, animate and deeply contoured historically and geographically specific experience of landscape.”

El Tren Fantasma offers an extraordinarily evocative sound summary of a trip across Mexico; what a shame that there are now so few passenger services left on Mexican railways!


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