Restaurante Familia Samarin


My favorite restaurants are locals’ hangouts that tourists would only find by accident or if they possessed the locals’ secret handshake for discovery.

Restaurante Familia Samarin is located in the little burg of Guadalupe in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja.



The adobe brick walls, dirt floor and wood stoves let you know you are part of the familia.  Yes, those are fresh flowers on each table.  The Cracker Barrel(that’s racist, whitey) is a Hollywood Star Wars special effects fantasy compared with Samarin’s genuine charm.  Ain’t no Minnie Pearl statue with a dangling price tagged hat here, padnuh.

I was enjoying an easy coffee and breakfast on this morning visit, so I guessed Samarin was simply a breakfast and lunch spot.  But, they are open 8am – 8pm with local craft beer and wine of the valley.


The visual appeal of the rustic decor and art scattered throughout Samarin is fun.


This “Ruso” ommy was fun with a creme sauce surprise.


This egg, tortilla and potato dish was enough to feed two.  The fries are done approaching medium well crunch that is my preference.  The bacon follows that texture lead.


Got empenadas???

Will need to return soon for a dinner affair and try more of this menu and the wine.

Restaurante Familia Samarin facebook page


Find Samarin on the inner Valle de Guadalupe Road, halfway between the funky Jersey kids park and the junction of Hwy 3 to Tecate.  Or look for the sandwich sign to cure your troubles.





Tijuana Border Lane Merge


I have been crossing the border to and fro my home on the south side of Ensenada for the past 9 years.

It took me a while to learn that the righthand land of I-5 merges with the left lane of 805 approx 1/2 mile north of the border.  This merge doubles the time of the crossing for those 2 lanes and is especially hairy with road rage on Friday afternoon crunch hours.

But I just learned this Friday that the the lane next to the leftmost 805 lane also merges into this mess.  That’s 3 for 1 happy hour merging special, AMC Gremlin fans.  I was on 805(plz forgive my non-cali dismissal of the definite article to raise the prominence of I-805 to “THE 805”) yesterday due to some shopping in Eastlake that got me into this merging mess.

Hey Doc, it’s 5 minutes, loosen your grip and enjoy the ride.   Yes, that is true.  But, my Friday was a grind for time on several projects.  My edge was a bit prickly.  I sincerely apologize to the 6 vehicles I dented and scraped during my merge.

Easy memory is that on I-5, the left lanes of this merge, STAY LEFT.  On 805, the right lanes of this merge, STAY RIGHT.

It is natural for those wanting access to the Scenic Road/Hwy1 in Baja try to catch the right lane on I-5.  But, I have always found it ez to sift through the cars along the “hallway” after the WTF turn westbound.  Speed bumps, distractions, nervous nellies smuggling contraband and other factors leave plenty of openings to get to the right hand lanes approaching the Mexican crossing gates.

More on the WTF turn into the hallway, what is with the Mexican cop car blocking the left lane on my last 3 trips?  I do not see a churro or doughnut cart nearby.

On the after Mex inspection station merge, if you have the right attitude, you can get across from the left lane to the right lane for the bridge over the Rio.

BTW, it had been 18 months since being waved into my last Mexican secondary inspection.  But, yesterday, they pulled me over, immediately went to my back hatch and asked to open the box of my new TV receiver.  Friendly guy asked where I lived and how it was in Ensenada.  No prob and I was on my way with a whopping 60 second delay.

Total wait time southbound at TJ Friday at 6PM was approx 20 minutes.

Border Crisis

washington post

Haitian immigrants are surging across America’s southwest border, blazing a path through Mexico to the U.S., where they have been coached to claim asylum, earning them quick processing and almost immediate entry into the country.

Analysts called it a backdoor amnesty that’s increasingly being abused by illegal immigrants who normally would have no shot of staying in the U.S., but who, by claiming asylum, can gain a foothold here. The Haitians are the latest to discover the route, likely encouraged by smugglers who stand to make thousands of dollars from each migrant they transport through Mexico and up to the U.S. land border.

A video obtained by Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, which originated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shows Haitians massing outside of a Mexican detention facility on that country’s border with Guatemala, ahead of what analysts said was likely a long journey north to the U.S.

“It’s a method for backdoor entry that presents a real exposure, because it’s virtually open to anyone to enter the U.S. without any real scrutiny or undergoing the regular process,” said Joe Kasper, chief of staff to Mr. Hunter. “The fact that 300 Haitians show up in Mexico and from that point are virtually guaranteed entry into the U.S. underscores one of many major problems with the president’s immigration policy — and Americans need to recognize it.”

The new surge has overwhelmed American authorities, and sources said Customs and Border Protection has imposed a cap of 150 Haitian asylum-seekers a day at San Ysidro, America’s busiest Mexican-border crossing.

Haitians have been given special treatment since the January 2010 earthquake that decimated the island nation’s government and devastated its infrastructure. Haitians who were in the U.S. by January 2011 were given Temporary Protected Status, allowing them to stay, while illegal immigrants who came after that were generally overlooked.

But the new surge on the southwest border has alarmed Homeland Security officials, who tried to send a signal back to Haiti on Thursday.

Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that his deportation agents would once again begin deporting Haitian illegal immigrants picked up at the border through a process known as expedited removal. But Mr. Johnson said those claiming asylum will still be allowed to make their case.

“Consistent with law, individuals who express a fear of return to Haiti will be screened by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officer to determine whether they possess a credible fear of persecution or torture. Those determined to have a credible fear will be referred to immigration court for removal proceedings where they may apply for asylum or other forms of relief,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement.

Those cases usually require an immigration judge to get involved, and the proceedings last for years, giving the illegal immigrants a foothold in the U.S.

“They know that if they show up for that court date, they might get asylum. If they don’t show up, nothing’s going to happen,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “It’s been made perfectly clear to everyone that if you’re not a serious criminal, you are not going to face deportation.”

The Haitian embassy didn’t return messages seeking comment on the new surge of people fleeing their homes to try to reach the U.S.

Mexican officials, meanwhile, said Wednesday that they would seek answers to questions from The Washington Times, but hadn’t provided answers by Thursday night.

In this case, the situation has forged better cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, including building temporary housing at the San Ysidro crossing, which Homeland Security officials said is used in handling surges, to keep the migrants from exposure to the elements while they wait for a chance to make their claims in the U.S.

Analysts said Haitians find it difficult to get visas to enter the U.S. but relatively easy to get visas to enter Central America. So they go there, then hook up with smugglers who bring them through Mexico and up to the U.S. border, where the migrants make their claims of asylum.

The video obtained by Mr. Hunter’s office shows Haitians at the southern end of that journey at Tapachula, a city at the tip of Mexico on the border with Guatemala. From there, it’s a 2,500-mile journey to San Ysidro, the border crossing into the U.S. that’s become popular for Haitians.

Rep. Scott H. Peters, a California Democrat who represents San Diego, said at a hearing Thursday that his city is playing host to some 4,000 Haitians right now. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldana said they are posing a problem.

“Those and the other increased numbers of families from Central America are really taxing our resources,” she said.

Ms. Vaughan said the asylum-seekers should be applying for status from Mexico, which is supposed to accept them, rather than continuing on to the U.S.

She said until the 1990s, the U.S. had a policy of turning asylum-seekers at the Mexico border away, telling them to make an appointment with U.S. consular officials in Mexico City. That had the effect of weeding out those without valid cases, she said.

But under the current policy, asylum applications have skyrocketed, both in defensive claims made in the interior of the U.S. and affirmative applications made at the border.

In 2013 the government recorded about 3,000 credible fear referrals a month — the process Mr. Johnson mentioned for claiming asylum at the border. So far this year the number is nearly 5,500 referrals a month.

“It’s nuts. It’s a backdoor immigration program,” Ms. Vaughan said. “Our government is facilitating the movement of people into the country who are going to end up as illegal aliens.”

Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride Saturday

Warning to Ensenada visitos for tomorrow/Saturday is that you must get to or through Ensenada by 10AM or delay your trip until 4PM or later.

From the Ensenada toll booth, they will close the 2 west, ocean side lanes for the bicyclists’ use.  Traffic north and southbound will be squeezed into one lane each from the toll booth to downtown Ensenada, YUCK!

And Costero Blvd downtown will be a major flustercluck due to the finish line and party surrounding it.

Downtown Rosarito will also be stuffed with people, bicycles and cars Saturday morning.  Ride starts at 10AM, but, crowd begins at 8AM and Rosarito doesn’t ease traffic until after noon.




Ensenada Bass Farm



Responsible management of the natural resource and the enviroments we operate.
Responsible animal husbandry and a commitment to healthy and happy fish.
A deep understanding of and commitment to the biology required to operate a sustainable and responsible marine aquaculture operation.
A promise to our employees to share our successes and enable them to grow and succeed as we grow and succeed.


Our PACIFICO AQUACULTURE open ocean site operates in 179 hectares near the shores of Isla de Todos Santos, an island eight miles west of Ensenada, off the coast of Baja California.

Our site features an environment perfect for responsible aquaculture:

  • It is located away from the mainland to ensure the waters are free of contaminants that accompany densely populated living centers.
  • It offers ideal conditions for fish growth with gentle but cleansing currents and an underwater canyon that acts as a natural filter and barrier, maintaining a pristine environment for our fish.


We rigorously guard against factors that could affect the health of our fish by using our on-site laboratory and technicians to conduct daily analysis and verification of water quality through out our growing area. We check for and maintain records on water temperature and dissolved solids, salinity, and dissolved oxygen percentages. In addition, we monitor phytoplankton populations found naturally in and around the site to detect changes to levels that could affect the health of our fish.

Our technicians also analyze the ocean water column on a regular basis, to ensure that the characteristics of our local environment remain virtually unchanged. Additionally, on a regular basis we hire a 3rd party laboratory to conduct an in depth analysis of the marine floor sediments below our growing areas, confirming the absence of organic build up and heavy metals.

Our fish are stocked in low densities with plenty of room to swim and grow in their floating sea cages. In addition to creating the ideal growing environment, low density stocking also minimizes the impact of our activities on the environment. The result – healthy fish and a healthy environment.

We partner with the Comité de Sanidad Acuícola del Estado de Baja California, a 3rd party NGO tasked by Mexican Government to be responsible for food safety, health and sanitation though out the aquaculture process. They regularly audit our operations and provide verification that our practices produce healthy food products with minimal impact on the environment.


Pacifico’s location is only 70 miles from the border of the United States, giving us easy access to our principal markets. This results in reduced freight costs, increased shelf life and a much lower carbon footprint compared to other imported seafood.

Our closed production system provides buyers and users with the assurance of full transparency and product traceability from egg to market sized fish.


We at Pacifico have consciously aligned with feed producers who have like minded sustainability strategies and who work closely with environmental groups and governments to minimize the impact of feed production on the environment. Our primary feed producers utilize trimmings from existing fisheries to minimize the use of wild fishmeal in the feed they produce, while maintaining the highest quality product.

Through these and other efforts, we have consistently been able to achieve a fish-in-fish-out ratio of less than one. You can rest assured that every time you eat our fish, you are contributing to a solution for meeting the worlds’ food requirements for today and for the future.

Speaking of the future, we also actively support fishmeal replacement research, by working in partnership with leading scientists in the field to explore and pursue viable alternatives to fishmeal, with a goal of developing alternatives that will benefit the aquaculture Industry as a whole.

Passport Renewal

My thrilling trip to Italy this summer ended with my passport leaving me at O’Hare Airport on 1 July.  Could not find it recently and Chicago immigration point after Rome to ORD flight was last time I had it in my hand.

So, off we go to figger out replacement.  Last time I lost it in 2009, made an appointment at my trusty little post office in Imperial Beach, CA and had new passport in a couple of weeks, EZ.

It took 2 hours one morning this week to get on the phone to get through to the Imperial Beach PO.  Contact person, not Owney, the official Post Office mascot in photo right, told me that they no longer handle passports and gave me an 800#.  BARK, GROWL!

Called the 800#, with tail dragging, low expectations.  Result was even lower.  “Please leave your name and phone number, so that we can call you back to make an appointment for your passport.”.

Good Gawd, could you invent more inefficiency than this?  Well, Amtrak comes to mind.

Why would you not have an online pasport application?  Fill out the form, attach a recent photo jpg, Paypal or credit card the fee and within a week, ok 2?, go to designated guvmint office with ID and pick up your new passport.

Heck, credit card companies handle this within 1 hour to 24 hours to give you an answer on your credit worthiness and mail your new card for shopping pronto.

Imagine calling an airline, bookstore, computer retail shop, “Sheets, Shower Curtains and Spoons” store or “Wine and Sex Toy” vendor and coming to the dead end of “If you leave a message, we will call you back”.  That is nearly as fatal as the famous Microsoft blue screen of death.

Astonishing news flash!  The passport clerks called me back the same day.  And they had the best news ever.  “This is the passport appointment center.  If you still need help, call us back, at 1 800 800 one 9800 one.  Thanks a lot.”

geewillickers and goshdarnits.  That was so kind of them to invite me to call them again(wtf is up with that 800-801-9800-1 phone #?) so that I could leave another message for them to call me back.  Guess it’s a shovel ready jobs project to have a phone bank of clerks instead of a user-friendly website.  Speakin of shovels, my favorite take on bureaucracies comes from economist Milton Friedman:

The story goes that Milton Friedman was once taken to see a massive government project somewhere in Asia. Thousands of workers using shovels were building a canal. Friedman was puzzled. Why weren’t there any excavators or any mechanized earth-moving equipment? A government official explained that using shovels created more jobs. Friedman’s response: “Then why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

But, guvmint bureaucratic sludge spawns entrepreneurs.  There now exist agencies, non guv, who will “expedite” your new passport for a fancy fee.  OK, if I were headed off to Thailand or Barcelona soon, I might jump on an expeditor.  But, it’s just me, an overfed, long haired, leaping gnome, needing a passport for my next undesignated adventure next year.

For whatever reason, I decided to continue an online search approach for my replacement passport.  Good fortune was mine, as I found a website showing a handful of locations in San Diego that still do the passport thing.  Chula Vista library at the Otay Lakes shopping mall does it all.

Called the library, was greeted pleasantly, told I did not need an appointment and please bring a check for the service.  When was the last time I was in a library?  I look forward to seeing what a library has to offer in 2016.


Will report back on my experience and turnaround time for application to delivery.


written by Crusty Curmudgeon, our staff chronic whiner

Hurrican Paine RAIN


08:17 update and light sprinkles have been steady for the last hour,…aaahhhhhh.


Rained for approx 15 minutes here at 5:30 this morning yippee.

Ensenada Margarita Origin


Two women called Margarita, two historic bars, two different styles. Stagecoach canteen or elegant casino. In any case, a trip filled with nostalgia. You decide: who makes the best margarita?

The margarita is Mexico’s most international cocktail. From the Baja California frontier to bars all over the world. Two landmark bars in Ensenada dispute the credit of inventing the margarita: Cantina Hussong’s, a former stagecoach cateen, and the Bar Andaluz, a beautiful bar with the feeling of yesteryear, at the old Casino. Two travels in time for nostalgia lovers. We suggest you try both and decide which one you like best.

The #margarita at Hussong’s, the most famous canteen in #Ensenada

Legend goes Margarita Henkel, daughter of the German ambassador, came into the Hussong’s canteen just as the barman was trying out a new mix tequila, lime juice and Damiana liquor. Admittedly the new cocktail was received with enthusiasm, for that same day it was christened and soon it would conquer bars around the world. Few things have changed at Hussong’s since that day.

Hussong’s is the oldest canteen in Ensenada. Open in 1892, it was first an inn for stagecoaches and keeps that frontier flavor. Go during the day to take your time and enjoy your margarita. The light filters through the glasses at the entrance but the room insits in staying in the warm semi-darkness. Green and red on the walls, barely seen behind photos, paintings, memories and menus. The barman’s image reflects on the tired mirror behind the bar,  flanked by a century of memorabilia. Stories of the border. At night, partying and music take over this classic of Ensenada.

If you’d rather go to a more quiet place, sip your margarita at another landmark bar of the city: Bar Andaluz.  The Bar Andaluz is located inside the former Hotel Playa y Casino (today Centro Social Cívico Cultural Riviera de Ensenada), which opened its doors in 1930 with the most famous people of the times. That night the opening ball orquestra was no other than Xavier Cugat’s. Glamour from the golden age of Ensenada.

The Bar Andaluz also claims to be the original birthplace of margarita, this time after Margarita King, owner of the hotel during the late 1940s. Coming into the Bar Andaluz is a trip in time as well. A classic bar with hardwoods, fresco paintings decorating the bar, ceramic floors and marble tables. A magnificent atmosphere to chill over Mexico’s most international cocktail.

While your lips touch the salt and the palate receives the acid, refreshing and at the same time soft touch of lime, you may wonder how that Margarita must have been to provoke a barman to name a cocktail after her. By the way, did you decide which margarita you liked best?

Fix your margarita at home with this simple recipe #BajaStyle


2 oz (60 ml) white tequila

1 oz (30 ml) Cointreau or Triple Sec

Lemon juice

Crushed ice

Salt for the glass rim


Prepare the margarita glass dipping the moist rim in salt. Put the crushed ice in a cocktail glass, add the tequila, the liquor and the lime. Shake till it gets frosty. Serve immediately with a lime slice for decoration.

Tropical Storm Paine

The western U.S. will have to brace for localized flooding downpours as two storm systems descend on the region this week.

Tropical Storm Paine off the Baja California coast and a strong system over the Rockies will help to bring unsettled weather to the West for a few days this week.

Tropical Storm Paine is currently spinning a few hundred miles south of Baja California. As it tracks northwestward over the next couple of days, it is expected to strengthen into a stronger tropical storm.

Paine is expected to slowly parallel Baja California early this week and eventually stall offshore.

“The cool water west of the northern Baja California Peninsula will prevent Paine from directly reaching the southwestern United States,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Despite this, moisture will still be drawn northeastward into the southwestern U.S.

This moisture will bring drenching showers and thunderstorms and the risk for isolated flash flooding from western Arizona to western Colorado late Monday through Tuesday.

Localized downpours could cause dry stream beds to become rushing rivers in a short amount of time. Motorists will need to watch out for flooded and washed out roadways.

Powerful fall-like system to bring unsettled weather, cool air to the interior West at midweek

While unsettled weather comes to an end on Wednesday across the Southwest, the focus will shift to a new area and a new storm.

“A chilly storm system will drop into the northwestern United States during the middle of the week and slowly push across the West before emerging onto the Plains Friday,” Pydynowski said.

This will bring an unsettled end to the week for a large section of the interior West as this storm produces widespread showers and thunderstorms.

Locally drenching showers and thunderstorms are expected to soak the Rockies from Montana to Utah and western Colorado late Wednesday through Friday.

“The steadiest rain could partially be fueled by moisture from Paine,” Pydynowski said.

Some of the storms can bring heavy rainfall in a short amount of time. The combination of the heavy rain and runoff can lead to a quick increase for water levels on local streams and rivers.

The storm will also bring an increase in winds across the West. Afternoons could become quite gusty and some areas across the Southwest may experience blowing dust for a time that could hinder visibility and cause slow travel.

Dollar at 22 Pesos?

Come dollar at 22 pesos by year-end; NY closed today at 19.62 wholesale

New York, United States, September 16.- The Mexican peso again suffered another jolt on international markets and on Friday raised its rate against the dollar to 19.62 pesos on the wholesale market with what is definitely en route to 20 pesos.

Inflation figures to rise in the United States to strengthen the Federal Reserve to raise its interest rates next week, catapulted over the Mexican currency recorded levels not seen since last June while in intraday reached 19.77 pesos.

Also, concerns about a possible victory of Donald Trump in the race for the US presidency and put a new roof on the currency up to 22 pesos per dollar, no matter what measures you can take the Mexican government that with this level of depreciation will be disrupted their finances via inflation and weak growth dad could bring its economy into recession by early 2017.

The US Commerce Department announced that in August the consumer price index increased 0.2 percent, double what analysts expected and inflation remained at 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile the Dow Jones index closed today with a loss of 88.68 points (0.49 percent) to stand at 18 000 123.80 units.

Major stock indicators finished the New York Plaza in negative territory, affected by declines in the shares of the energy, financial and industrial sectors.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 5.12 points (0.10 percent) to close at five thousand 244.57 units and the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined 8.10 points selected shares (0.38 percent) to two thousand 139.16 units.

Friday did not open Mexican markets, so there could be a rebound in the retail market for Monday, knocking on the door of 20 pesos.

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