‘Shine On Baja’ Lights Up Baja’s Pacific Coast from Tijuana to Ensenada

by Carla White

Wish lanterns will illuminate Baja's northwest coast during 'Shine On Baja'

On Nov. 3, 2012, the sun will set at 5:49 p.m.  Assuming fair weather,  the western sky will transition from fiery orange and fuschia hues to the deepest purple-black of night.  This is the time when the northwestern coastline of Baja California is peaceful, illuminated every few miles by light clusters that represent cities, towns and fishing villages.  But on this special Saturday night — a changeable climate notwithstanding – there will be something different happening.  At exactly 7 p.m., hundreds and even thousands of beautiful multi-colored ‘wish lanterns’ will be released into the atmosphere as ‘Shine On Baja’ lights up Baja’s Pacific Coast.

‘Shine On Baja’ is a nonprofit community art project and the brainchild of artist interior designer Debbie Shine, along with producer Robin MacKenzie.  Both have a profound fondness for Baja and thought that there would be no better way to express this than through what they refer to as a ‘mob art’ event — the largest and possibly most unique in Baja’s history.  Like many Americans who live or travel to this part of Mexico, the women feel that the region has been somewhat beaten up in recent years by negative media attention and misconceptions about Baja.  ‘Shine On Baja’ is their real and symbolic way of sending a message of beauty and hope about the region’s present and future.

As simple as the idea sounds, though, staging an event of this scope is an entirely different matter!  Shine and MacKenzie have managed to bring awareness of the project to Baja residents from Tijuana to Ensenada, and so far hundreds have gone to a website to purchase wish lanterns — four-foot-tall biodegradeable units that will stay alight for about 12 minutes — have been acquired for $2-$4 in preparation for the release.  Debbie Shine notes that there is even a discount available on the lanterns (coupon code Baja2012).  Although individuals and communities can elect to have their own release parties, it is anticipated that many will opt to join launch parties at ‘safe zones’ and restaurants and hotels up and down the coast in the hope that the result will be a jewel-like effect for more than 35 miles.

Among the venues that will host launch parties are Splash!, the Lighthouse, Rosarito Beach Hotel, La Salina Cantina, Javi’s Paradise, Plan B (km. 22), Castillos del Mar, Las Olas Grand & Las Cristales Restaurant, and Puerto Nuevo #2.  A number of communities will host group parties, including Club Marena, Las Palmas, San Antonio del Mar, Campo Lopez, Calafia, La Jolla, Popotla and Las Ventanas. Shine notes that the list of venues is growing rapidly and encourages potential ‘launchers’ to visit the ‘Shine On Baja’ facebook page frequently. For more information, contact event organizers Debbie Shine, debbieshinebaja@yahoo.com or Robin MacKenzie, tatblue@aol.com.

Want to visit Baja for ‘Shine on Baja’ and the release of colorful wish lanterns?  Find out where to stay!

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurants, hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.



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Grand Baja Resort: Family-friendly Oceanfront Resort in Rosarito

Just south of Rosarito, and right next door to the famous Lobster Village of Puerto Nuevo, is the welcoming Grand Baja Resort.  With recently remodeled rooms, suites and villas overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this large hotel complex offers dining, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and great amenities for groups and families.  Accommodations at the Grand Baja Resort are suited for short, weekend stays or — especially in the comfortable and well-equipped suites — longer stays, giving visitors the chance to get to know the whole Rosarito area a little bit better.  Because of its outstanding location and vistas, the Grand Baja has also become a popular venue for weddings.

Grand Baja Resort


Although this part of Baja enjoys mild weather all year-round, October through March have the additional lure of being what is referred to as “lobster season’.  What does that mean?  Succulent, aromatic fried lobster served in all kinds of gastronomic styles…and not only can you experience this local luxury at the Grand Baja Resort, you can walk right next door to the bustling little village of Puerto Nuevo for an evening out and shopping in the tiendas (little stores) that sell everything from serapes and purses to tequila and ceramic wares.


Grand Baja Resort on the Pacific Ocean


Conveniently located, the Grand Baja Resort is only 10 minutes south of the main shopping area of Rosarito Beach and its many art and furniture galleries, and only about 45 minutes north of Ensenada and Mexico’s wine country.  The Grand Baja Resort works with local tour operators to arrange day-trips to and from many of Baja’s most interesting locations.


The Grand Baja Resort: A perfect start to a great vacation or honeymoon

Room packages are always available at the Grand Baja Resort, especially during lobster and holiday seasons. The Grand Baja Resort is located at Km. 44.5 on the free road (visible from Highway 1, taking the Puerto Nuevo exit).

Want to sleep to the sound of the waves?  Or maybe dining on lobster and drinking fine wine is your idea of a vacation get-away…   

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about local restaurantshotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Lunch Beneath Concrete Cleavage with Tijuana Sculptor Armando Muñoz

By Turista Libre’s Derrik Chinn

La Sirena, Puerto Nuevo, south Rosarito

Sculptor-architect Armando Muñoz Garcia has been a pilar of my take on Tijuana’s cultural landscape ever since I was driven past his 55-foot, 18-ton livable concrete statue — a giant nude named “Tijuana III Millennium” hidden in a canyon near the airport — on my very first escapade around the city in 2006.

Tijuana III Millennium

Years later, while on the freeway to Ensenada, I caught a glimpse of his second project, a mermaid house overlooking the Pacific near Puerto Nuevo on Calle Zihuatanejo appropriately titled “La Sirena.”

Time and regular snooping around “Tijuana III” eventually led to meeting him in person, an occasion which he generously gestured into an impromptu open house that allowed me to interact one on one with not just the statue but the mysterious man responsible for what are arguably two of the region’s most iconic, infamous pieces of architecture. The day ended with an official welcome to bring entire Turista Libre groups to tour both of his voluptuous monstrosities.

Fast-forward another few years to a recent Tijuana installment of Pecha Kucha, where — while presenting Turista Libre to a cafe crammed with 100 or so of the city’s artists, writers, intellectuals and critics — I mentioned our visits with Armando and his statues. This prompted someone in the audience to mutter aloud, with no apparent remorse, “Está loco.” He’s crazy.

That commentary follows suit with the talk of the town, a general consensus that I began hearing long before Armando and I actually met. Perhaps it would be the talk of any town that’s home to a man who builds a giant naked lady house out by the airport (and then another one down by the beach). Eccentric, sure. But crazy? I personally have no reason to believe that to be true, based on our conversations and the manner in which he shares his ideas with awestruck tourists. I really don’t care either, just as common opinion regarding his reputation seems to cause him no bother.

A week or so ago Armando wrote to say La Sirena was now operating as a sustainable gourmet restaurant that would be serving French cuisine and Mexican delicacies like chile en nogada, pescado la veracruzana and mole — cooked by Armando, a former chef at a French restaurant in La Jolla — and that I should come check it out. His four-course menu included liver pate atop sylvester oregano leaves, beet leaf salad, tomatillo soup with chunks of squash and cojita cheese, grilled salmon and filet mignon, a spread for which he charges around 200 pesos plus the cost of wine.

Sitting on the sun deck below massive cleavage along the edge of what would be a swimming pool at the base of her stomach if it only had water, it’s easy to assume La Sirena is destined to be a never-ending work in progress. Already more than 10 years old, the top half of her hairdo is still spiked rebar and her paint job is sporadic and splotchy at best. Maybe she’ll never be completely finished, and that’s OK. I could dive deep into existentialism here, but I think the symbolism between this statue-house-restaurant and the particular corner of the world which she calls home is pretty obvious.

That thought rounded third and slid into home as a pickup full of curious Mexicans who now live in Indio pulled up to inquire about what exactly happens in the giant mermaid house. They left with plans to come for dinner the following week.

The lesson? Ignore all adversity; dreams suffer enough internal distraction and delusion as it is. In all honesty I suppose that’s what I admire most about Armando.

The irony of it all? What the world says of Tijuana, Tijuana in turn says of its own. Está loco.

Derrik Chinn- From unassuming reporter to freedom-loving Turista Libre (free tourist), Derrik Chinn’s reputation as underground concierge to the traveler has grown. Chinn, who has been spidering about in Tijuana with groups of tourists looking for a different kind of Mexico experience, is now sharing some of his insights and perspectives on Baja.com.  You can visit him on Facebook.

Baja.com is a comprehensive online source of first-hand travel information for the Baja California Peninsula, supported by a full-service tour operator staffed by Baja locals (our “Baja Travel Savants”). We offer Baja travelers expert advice about localrestaurants,hotels and vacation rentals, as well as guides, maps and articles about events, sports and activities. We provide bilingual customer support, information and sales seven days a week, 365 days a year.  For more information, please call toll-free (US/CAN) 855-BAJA-411 or email us at info@baja.com.