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edited by:
Jens D Kolbowski 

  • Mexicali,Introduction
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    Mexicali scene

    "The Evening of the Sun"
    in Laguna Salada, the Mexicali Desert
    on Saturday, October 18, 2003

    On Saturday, October 18, Luciano Pavarotti will perform at Laguna Salada in the desert of Mexicali, Baja California.  “Pavarotti Without Borders: The Night of the Sun” will be the famous tenor’s farewell performance to Latin America.  The concert is part the centennial celebration for Mexicali, which is the state of Baja California’s capital city and one of Mexico’s most important agricultural regions.  More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the concert.  Tickets range in price from $10 to $600, and can be purchased through several agents.  Arthur Carey at Mexico Destinations is the Authorized Agent for ticket sales and he can be contacted at (888) 295-9669 or (619) 295-5116, or via email at  Tickets can also be ordered a Spanish-language website, TicketMaster Mexico  You can also place an  email order for tickets through to Miguel Cetto at in partnership with TicketMaster Mexico.  An English-speaking agent at the Mexicali Tourism Office can also be reached regarding tickets at 01152(686) 841-2002.

    Founded the
    14th of March
    Its name comes from the anagram MEXI-co and CALI-fornia, which in an inverse way also generated the name of Calexico, access door to the state of California and frontier with Mexicali. It is the capitol of the state of "Baja California" and a modern city called "The city that captured the sun," since during the summer, temperatures range between 35_C and 45_C.

    Population:850,000,Income:Agriculture, Industry (Electronic, Automotive, Power), Tourism

    The Building of an Agricultural Empire

    After the Jesuits left, the Spanish and later the Mexicans had little to do with northeastern Baja, perceiving it as an untamable, flood-prone desert delta. Around the time of the American Civil War, a Yale geologist, while surveying a route for the Southern Pacific Railroad, wandered into the delta and discovered what the dwindling population of Yumanos had known for centuries: the 2.5-km-thick sediment was prime farming soil. The sediments extended far to the west of the river itself, accumulating in a shallow basin below the Sierra de Cucapá. All it needed was the addition of water to become an agricultural miracle. 

    In 1900 the U.S.-based California Land Company received permission from the Porfirio Díaz government to cut a canal through the delta's Arroyo Alamo, thus linking the dry basin with the Colorado River. To attract farmers to the area, the developers named the basin the Imperial Valley. In March 1903, the first 500 farmers arrived; by late 1904, 100,000 valley acres were irrigated, with 10,000 people settled on the land and harvesting cotton, fruits, and vegetables. A collection of huts and ramadas that straddled the border was named Calexico on the U.S. side, Mexicali on the Mexican side. 

    Seeing that the equally fertile Valle de Mexicali lay undeveloped, another American land syndicate, the Colorado River Land Company, moved in. Led by Harry Chandler, then publisher of the Los Angeles Times, the syndicate controlled some 800,000 acres of northern Baja and in 1905 began constructing a Valle de Mexicali irrigation system. Instead of using Mexican labor, as the Imperial Valley developers had, Chandler imported thousands of Chinese coolies. After a major 1905 rainfall, the channel dug from Arroyo Alamo ended up diverting the entire outflow of the Colorado River into the Imperial Valley, taking Mexicali with it--unknowingly, the syndicate had tapped into one of the river's original routes. The Salton Sink, a dried-up remainder of the Sea of Cortez, became the Salton Sea virtually overnight. 

    Neither the U.S. nor Mexico wanted to take responsibility for the growing "New River" created by Chandler's mistake. As both valleys became increasingly inundated, the Southern Pacific Railroad stepped in and, to protect its tracks, dumped a sufficient amount of rock into the river to head the Colorado back into the Cortez, leaving a canal to the Valle de Mexicali. From then on, both valleys became highly productive agricultural centers. 

    Mexicali was born the 14 of March of 1903, and  it is now the Capital city of Baja California, the 29th state of Mexico. Shortly after the first irrigation canals were built, most of the land was bought by the Colorado River Land Company from the USA The company developed commercial crops and became almost a monopoly until it was decided to sell its land to Mexican farmers in 1936 and 1937.

    A lot of Chinese people were brought as farm workers, others opened small businesses. Cotton became the most important crop of the Valley and it helped to develop the dressing and textile industries. In the early 50's, the Mexicali Valley became the biggest cotton producing zone in the whole country. Production increased even more in the mid 60's reaching more than half a million parcels harvested in just one year.

    Though it's less commercial than many of the border towns, and relatively hassle-free, it's not a place you'd choose to spend time, except possibly to prepare for the next stage south, a daunting trip of at least nine hours on the bus to Hermosillo, the first place you might remotely choose to take a break, and a further hour and a half to the much more appealing Guaymas. Mexicali is an increasingly important destination for Mexican migrants looking for work in the maquiladorasand, as in Tijuana 160km to the west, the city's hinterland is rapidly being covered by shantytown sprawl.

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    Even though some industries were developed with agriculture as its source of prime materials, industrial investment and employment rates have been mostly handled since the mid 60's by the ensembled manufactured goods for exportation industry (maquiladoras). This industry has an intense labor force and most of its sources of materials come from the United States.

    Today, with approximately a quarter of the total employment offer in Mexicali, manufacturing is a great source of income. This activity is becoming more diversified: automotive, autoparts, electronics, food processing, glass, plastics, steel and textile. Some of the names of important companies include: Bimbo, Kenworth, Maseca, Coca-Cola, Marinela, Nestlé, Sabritas, Vitro, Sidek, TV Azteca and Televisa.

    Also on the ensembled manufactured goods for exportation industry (maquiladoras), there area some very well known firms such as Black & Decker, Emerson Electric, Calavo Foods, LG-Goldstar, Allied Signal, Rockwell, Mitsubishi, Daewoo, Acer and Sony. Most of these companies have taken advantage of being located in the Mexico-USA borderline and close to the Pacific Rim.

    The Japanese company Mitsubishi, is finishing the construction of its second plant in Mexicali with an investment of more than 300 million dollars.

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    If you look for sports, Mexicali has a wide variety to offer the whole year. The "Aguilas" baseball team is part of the professional winter league. If you like bullfighting, you can find a brave matador in Plaza Calafia. There is also box and wrestling. But the most electrifying international event in the region is the world famous off-road race "Baja 1000" organized by SCORE international.

    If you look for something more relaxing, how about golf? Mexicali offers a professional 18 hole course. Some close places for the practice of ecotourism include the thermal springs of the Guadalupe Canyon, the Cucapah Sierra, the salt fields of the Laguna Salada and, of course, the beautiful beaches of San Felipe in front of the warm waters of the Sea of Cortes. 
    Guadalupe Canyon Hotsprings, Sizzling hot water bubbles from the Earth, feeding lush groves of native fan palms. Rock-rimmed hot tubs filled with sparkling-clear geothermal mineral water. Cascading waterfalls, ancient Indian caves and endless opportunities for hiking create a paradise in Baja's desert. Visit the remote palm oasis of Guadalupe Canyon and find yourself in a private paradise. Follow the links to discover more.

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    MEXICALI AND ITS VALLEYThe Mexicali Valley, agricultural heart of the state, with more than 200,000 irrigated hectares, is responsible for some of the biggest crops in Mexico, including wheat and cotton. With an ensured supply of water, Mexicali has become an important exporter of sparagus, broccoli, green onion and radish for the whole world.


    As well as the urban development has been benefited by the border localization of Mexicali, so has commerce and other activities. Despite its rural beginnings, the city has evolved progressively into a big urban and manufacture center. All the national banks operate in the city with more than 60 branches. There are several first class hotels with facilities for conventions. Mexicali also has excellent malls and a wide variety of restaurants being particularly famous the Cantonese cuisine, important part of the heritage that the city has from China.

    There are three superior learning institutions: The Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC), The Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) and The Instituto Tecnológico de Mexicali (ITM). All of them offer a wide range of careers which exploit the intelligence as well as the technical abilities of the youth.

    The city also has the State theater, art galleries and a regional museum which helps to preserve the history of the city.

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    The Municipality of Mexicali covers an area of 5,254 square miles and has an approximate population of 750,000. A physical characteristic which outstands is the weather. Mexicali, which is under the solar band, has long and hot summers and short cold winters. The weather is dry and the average rain precipitation is a little more than 3 inches a year.

    Mexicali is gifted with geothermic energy, the Cerro Prieto plant is not only the biggest facility of this kind in Mexico but the most important one in Latin America.

    The growing importance of international trade is being attended with more infrastructure. An example of this is the new commercial custom which will start to operate in July of 1996 accommodating a great number of freight transports which move constantly between Mexico and the USA. Mexicali is also connected to other cities of Baja California and the interior of Mexico through highways.

    The Municipality has two international airports: one outside of the city and the other one in San Felipe, on the shores of the Sea of Cortes. The rail service is available to the interior of the country and it is also connected to the South of California.

    During October you'll find a few cultural activities - live music, dance, cockfights and the like - taking place as part of the Fiesta del Sol; at any other time of year you can fill an hour browsing the local history exhibits at the free Museo Regional de la Universidad de Baja California,on Reforma at c/L.

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    Border Crossing, The Mexicali border crossing is open 24 hours and, except at morning and evening rush hours, is usually relatively quiet, the procedures straightforward. Remember to visit Migración if you're travelling further on into Mexico. In Calexico, Imperial Avenue leads straight to the border, lined with handily placed auto-insurance offices, banks and exchange places that offer almost identical rates to those in Mexicali; the Greyhound station is just one block from the frontier on 1st St. 

    It's possible to get a Golden State bus from LA to the Central Camionera in Mexicali: the bus only comes as far the border, where they bundle you into a taxi for the rest of the journey. The airport lies some 20km to the east. Fixed-price taxis and minibuses bring passengers into town. 

    Broad avenues lead away from the frontier: straight ahead is López Mateos, which will eventually take you straight out of town, passing close by the train and bus terminals on the way. To the left, off López Mateos and following the covered walkway from the border, you find yourself on Madero, which, along with parallel Reforma, is the main commercial street downtown. The local bus stand is at the back of the small market just up from the border - a couple of blocks up López Mateos to the right. Taxis wait at ranks around the junction of López Mateos and Madero. 

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    Information,The tourist information booth (nominally Mon-Fri 9 a.m. -1 p.m. & 3-6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. -1 p.m.) right by the border seldom seems to be open; the main office (Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.; 65/57-25-61) is a very long way down López Mateos at Camelias, a journey not worth making unless you have some special reason. There are several banks and casas de cambio very close to the border - Bancomer, on Madero, is closest, Banamex a couple of blocks up Madero near the post office.

    Hotels ,Most of Mexicali's cheaper hotels can be found in the older streets around the border. Not that there are any great bargains here - indeed, if you're looking for somewhere to stay Calexico is arguably better value, with several motels charging around $30. Try for example the Don Juan Motel, 344 4th Street East, between Hefferman and Heber (619/357-3231; $35-50), or the El Rancho (619/357-2458; $25-35) opposite. 

    In Mexicali, there are a couple of cheap and fairly decent places: the youth hostel, Coahuila 2050 at Salinas Cruz (65/57-61-82; $6) - take the blue-and-white "Tercera" or "Once" bus from the local bus stand - and 16 de Septiembre, Altamirano 353 (65/52-60-70; $12-18), just south of Mateos. 

    The Hotel del Norte, Madero 203 just off López Mateos (65/52-81-01; $35-50), is one of the first things you see as you cross the border; it looks better than it is. The Imperial, Madero 222 (65/53-67-33; $25-35), just beyond, and Plaza, Madero 366 (65/53-63-33; $25-35), in the next block, are simpler places, but better value. For the same price as the Del Norte, the Hotel San Juan Capistrano (65/52-41-04; $35-50), Reforma 646, not much farther from the border, is a far better deal - a rather bland business hotel with a decent restaurant. The Motel Azteca de Oro, de la Industria 600 (65/57-21-85; $18-25), right by the train station, is comfortable and handy for transport: the Camionera is only about ten minutes' walk away up López Mateos. More expensive hotels are mainly on the outskirts, particularly along Juárez - the modern, international-style Lucerna, for example, at Juárez 2151 (65/66-10-00; $50-75). One exception is the new Crowne Plaza, near the Centro Civico on López Mateos at Av. de los Héroes (65/57-36-00; $100+).

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    Restaurants,There's plenty to eat in the border area too, with lots of stalls and small restaurants around the market and on Madero and Reforma. The restaurant in the Del Norte is convenient, and better than the hotel itself, while on Reforma at D, about six blocks down, La Parroquia serves good Mexican food, albeit a bit touristy. Entirely off the tourist track are the many restaurants and cafes in and around the Centro Civico, on Independencia a couple of blocks from the Central Camionera. The Centro itself has a branch of Sanborn's, reliable as ever; Café Petunias, at Plaza Cholula 1091 off Calafia, is one of many in this area serving sandwiches, juices, and lunch for office workers and shoppers. 
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    Transportation , Mexicali's Central Camionera (65/57-24-10; guardería) is 4km from the border on Independencia at Anahuac, close to the new Centro Civico development and not far off López Mateos. To get there, take a "Calle 6" bus from the local bus stand off Mateos. Altogether well over fifty buses a day head south (20 to México), and there's at least one local service an hour to Tijuana.Golden State has an office at the station: 3 buses leave daily for LA via Palm Springs. On the other hand, you'll have far more choice, and save a few dollars, if you walk across the border to Calexico's Greyhoundstation.

    The train station is just off López Mateos, not quite as far out as the Camionera; buses and colectivo taxis heading up Mateos will take you there. The "express", first-class train leaves for Guadalajara at 10am daily, arriving some 34 hours later. The second-class slow train leaves at 9:50 p.m., and takes about ten hours longer - tickets for both are sold at the station an hour or so before departure. You can reserve - advisable for first-class during holidays - by calling 65/57-21-01, ext 221. 

    Flights to México and Acapulco leave daily from the airport 20km east of town.

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    What is it that brings us back to Mexico?
    by Summer
    When you meet a person for the first time, there are a few things that create that first impression. It's the same when you travel to Mexico.
    The Eyes
    Such an devine design.... They tell a whole story in an unspoken exchange. The eyes of Mexico are deep and broad, yet old and wise. These eyes have seen more history than can be told in a book. Even in our imaginations we can't begin to travel where Mexico has been.
    The Smile
    How a person smiles or if they smile at all can unravel their own story....People sometimes hide behind a smile, not realizing we see through the disguise. Mexico doesn't hide behind it's steadfast smile. It is there for the taking. We receive smile after smile, everyday of our visit. Even in the face of adversity, we can depend on Mexico to give us the gift of a warm smile. And we respond with our hearts.
    The Voice
    Is it high pitched? Is it deep and rough? A voice can be a cruel joke, not matching the landscape.....For me, the voice of Mexico is a warm whisper that can't be heard. It is something you feel inside. It is a silent sensation that speaks of heritage, simplicity and rich colors. We experience an endless season of celebrations through this whisper. I fell in love with the voice of Mexico many years ago. This love grows stronger with each visit.
    Something Else.
    Put the eyes, the smile and the voice in a bookmark for a moment. There is something else that keeps calling us back. Is it the scenery and the recreation we experience? Of course, but even that isn't it. It's the one thing that keeps Mexico stranded in our minds for endless hours....
    The pace of Mexico gives us permission to live each day, one at a time.
    We don't have this privilege in our everyday lives. We are far too busy preparing for the next step, the next meal, the next day. We are not happy unless we are predicting tomorrows problems and preparing for every possible disaster that may fall in our path. We spend our life preparing for life but we are far too busy being "productive" to live it. When you wake up in Mexico the pace will greet you and it will remind you. At breakfast you'll be enjoying the morning, not worrying about the afternoon. At lunch, you will simply enjoy the afternoon. There is no need to worry about dinner. It will arrive. If you need to look at your watch to be reminded go ahead, but why bother? Evening will arrive without a clock and you will often find that you are still enjoying the afternoon when it does.
    The pace of Mexico is what draws us back year after year. If you don't take the time to savor it you just might return home with the wrong impression.
    reprint from the Cancun Net
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