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Evening of the Sun"
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 info@TourMexico.com. Tickets can also be ordered a Spanish-language website, TicketMaster Mexico www.ticketmaster.com.mex. You can also place an email order for tickets through to Miguel Cetto at email@example.com 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 1903
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.
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.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.
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.
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.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.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+).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. 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.