HomeBlog › Mongolian Grill – Rosarito

Mongolian Grill – Rosarito

There are plenty of sushi restaurants in Rosarito, but not many other good types of Asian cuisine. That’s why we were so happy to discover Mongolian Grill on the south side of Rosarito.

Mongolian Grill is actually more Asian fusion. But yes, they do have true Mongolian grill.

Their claim to fame is the phenomenal pork bulgogi tacos.  And yes, before a purist corrects me, I know that ‘bulgogi’ means that it’s beef.  So ‘pork bulgogi’ is not a correct statement, but that’s what these tacos are called in common terms.   Chef Roy Choi’s LA Food Trucks burst into the scene with his version of Asian/MX street food fusion.  Mongolian Grill does the same thing, only way better.  You have to go there, if for no other reason then to try their Korean tacos.

Lee, the owner of Mongolian Grill, is experimenting with pork bulgogi pizzas now.  I hope she keeps working on perfecting them, because she’s on to something for sure!

Oh, our other favorite thing is freshly made gelato.  Here are pics of coconut (FRESH coconut in FRESH gelato – amazing) and green tea gelato.  We dove in a little too fast and then remembered we were supposed to take a picture.  (Bad blogger!)

You can find the Mongolian Grill at:  http://www.themongoliangrill.info/reviews.htm

HomeBlog › Buyer (and Renter) Beware in Mexico

Buyer (and Renter) Beware in Mexico

Not all of living in Mexico is sweetness and light.  There are problems, just with any situation in life.  You make the most of the good and minimize the bad as best you can.

Most of La Vida Baja is good, but there are a couple of bad parts.  One is that you have to be careful where you go – stay away from bad places at night, just like any other city in the world.  The other is more uniquely a MX problem.  That has to do with renting or buying property.

Coming from the US, there are certain things that I take for granted.  If I buy a house, I will get a title search and title insurance that insures my rights to own that house.  It will spell out any liens, easements, CC&Rs and the like.  And anyone can find out that information on any house for a few dollars fee and a little bit of time at the county courthouse or property recording office.

It’s not nearly that simple in Mexico.  There are squatter’s rights in Mexico.  There are some properties that are held by the government but allowed for certain use by Mexican citizens.  There are strictly enforced (but not public noticed) zoning restrictions.  And enforcement of the rights of the government and rightful owners can be painfully slow, decades in fact, so that everyone thinks the problems have disappeared…until the swift enforcement happens in the early dawn.

That’s what happened to almost 200 Americans who were ordered out of their houses one day at gunpoint in the Punta Banda area (near Ensenada, Baja California).  You’ll find a lot of stories about that on the Internet, most of them now with spins on what the Americans did wrong.  (After all, the Mexican realtors know that if the word gets out about how messed up property ownership can be in MX, they will lose any future buyers.)  The fact is, though, these Americans did ignore the rumors and figured, “It’s Mexico.  It’s all going to be okay.”  Justice can be slow sometimes, but it’s inevitable.

The same thing is happening with some of the gated communities in Rosarito.  For example, the community of Baja Del Mar has been under 2 or more lawsuits for years now.  Some of the owners of houses that sit on the beach on double lots actually don’t own the land under them, at least according to the lawsuits.  And as we saw with Punta Banda, justice may come slowly, but it does come.  (Can you just imagine buying one of the houses for sale right now on a double lot and then one day being told, at gunpoint, that you have to get out of half of the house?)

The beach houses often don’t own the concessions necessary to be next to the beach.  This is something granted by the MX federal government.  If you don’t have one for your house, someone else can get the concession and actually take over your property by paying a small fee to the government.

If you rent, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe either.  Some of the gated communities, again most notably Baja Del Mar, can and do, at will, turn off power to properties, make renters park their cars outside the gates in an unsafe area, and have incidences of theft by employees and their families.

We love living in Rosarito, but it definitely is “Buyer/Renter Beware” when it comes to property.  Be very clear about what you’re getting.  Get your contract reviewed by a Mexican lawyer first.  And if you hear a rumor that things might not be good, believe it.  It can save a lot of trouble down the road.

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HomeBlog › A Little Restaurant We Call “ A Chicken Runs Through It”

A Little Restaurant We Call “ A Chicken Runs Through It”

Hungry for some homestyle Mexican food?  Here’s our favorite place in Rosarito, Baja California.

It’s definitely not fancy.  In fact, one friend says it looks like they started building the restaurant, got the floor poured, walls up and said “Forget it, let’s go cook some food.”

Let’s start with the menu.  There are two:

The pre-printed menu is available every day but Tuesday, when they’re closed.  But sometimes they’re closed on Monday or Wednesdays too.

And those prices are pesos – about $12.50 to $1 USD.

Then there is the special menu that changes every day.

There are a whole array of condiments on the table – onions, limes, two kinds of salsa, pico de gallo and oregano.

My husband usually has the bistek ranchero.  It’s kind of a pot roast cooked in tomatoes and chiles, with rice and beans.

I like the enchiladas.  You have your choice of carne, cheese and/or onions.  It’s all covered with a salad and cheese.  It’s mounded high…figure on at least two meals worth!  By the way, the corn tortillas are handmade and fresh.

The birria is fantastic and comes with rice and/or beans if you request it.

I love their soups (caldos) too.  This is a mole flavored one with vegetables and a bone for flavor.  J   The greenish vegetable you see on top is one of my favorites.  It’s called chayote.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the chicken that makes a mad dash through the restaurant every few hours.  The kids always get a kick out of him.

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HomeBlog › Fishing on the Beach

Fishing on the Beach

Bernardo works one day a week for us doing yard work and miscellaneous handyman stuff.  He’s got a couple of gigs like that, but when the fish are running – he’s at the beach.  This picture is taken right out our back door.

Here’s Bernardo, fishing the surf right outside our house.  Richard joined him to catch the mojarra run.

Step one:  Dig up some sand crabs.

Step two:  Put one on the line and cast out.

Step three:  Haul in a fish.

The fish have been coming in fast and furious.  This past weekend, a couple of kids came out with their parents.  The boys waded out in the surf with a net to try to catch more.  I don’t think they were too successful at fishing, but they had a lot of fun in the ocean.

Here’s a traditional recipe for mojarra, complete with pictures: click here

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HomeBlog › Bites and Scratches

Bites and Scratches

We have five dogs.  We never meant to be the crazy people with 5 dogs, but somehow it just happened.

Buddy, our 140# Rhodesian Ridgeback, was a pound puppy who was supposed to be 40-50#.  He got bigger than that.

Daisy is a chow/coyote/who-knows-what mix that David had found as a tiny puppy when he was at the Juarez orphanage.  He bottle fed her until she was grown enough for solid food.  When we adopted David, we got more than a son – we got his dog too!

(She’s smiling for the picture here.)

Mancha is a long-haired Chihuahua who comes with a huge pedigree.  She was too big to show, but she’s a great pet.  Still, with a half brother who placed 2nd in the US, we decided to breed her.  She had a deaf dog in her first litter, which we couldn’t bear to part with.  And he needed a hearing ear dog to help him.  So…

Nacho is the deaf puppy.  (nacho ordinary Chihuahua)

Amigo is his brother’s keeper.  He knows “Find Nacho” and just generally keeps Nacho out of trouble.

Owning five dogs means you need a good vet.  On the recommendation of a friend, we tried “Bites and Scratches” and were delighted with how professional they were.

Alejandra rescues street dogs, gives them free medical care, spays/neuters them and gives them obedience lessons.  She then places them with families for the fee of one bag of dog food.  She donates everything else (the facility, her time, the medicine) but the cost of the food gets to be a burden.  So we started bringing 50# of dog food to her every week.

She’s now expanded into rescuing cats as well.  Anyone up for donating cat, kitten and/or puppy food on a regular basis?

I love that these vets have hearts.

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HomeBlog › Life in a Small, Coastal Baja Town

Life in a Small, Coastal Baja Town

First a little perspective.  We come from Phoenix, a giant city that probably has no business existing as big as it is in an environment as hostile as it can get.  No, I don’t mean Sheriff Joe, I mean the temperature.   In the summer it’s either hot and dry or hot and humid.  Either way – hot.  It makes people cranky.  And there are millions of people there too.  So, it’s definitely a big city.

Moving to Rosarito meant moving from a big city to a smaller town.  I’ve heard about 100,000 people but that even seems like a lot.  Plus it’s on the west coast, which generally means it’s laid back. Plus, it’s Mexico which means it’s friendly too.

Richard dropped our car off at the local mechanic’s.

Coky speaks English and one of his head mechanics, Adolfo, does too.  Prices are reasonable, time estimates are reliable and they do good work.

Richard was in a hurry, so he just dropped the car with someone (not Cokey or Adolfo), showed the mechanic that a light was coming on and then he hopped in the car with a friend who was giving him a ride back.

When Richard got back I asked him when they were getting back to us.  He didn’t know.  Richard had gotten a new cell phone and I asked him if Cokey had the number.  He didn’t.  I asked him what Cokey or Adolfo had said, and Richard said he’d left the car with someone he’d never seen before.

But, it’s a small town and he didn’t worry about it.  He’d give them a call later or drop by and see what was going on.

A few hours later, Richard’s new cell phone rang.  It was Cokey.  To this day, I have no idea how he found Richard’s number.  I’m sure he recognized the car, even though he has a pretty busy shop and then just kept calling people he knew who knew us until he got the number.

But that’s just part of La Vida Baja.  Looking for Ramon?  Just go down to the store he usually shops at and tell someone.  Someone will know someone who knows Ramon and in no time flat, Ramon will call you.   Need some sand for a building project?  Mention it to the guard at the gate and you’ll have 3 different guys stop by your house to sell you sand.

And start a bonfire at the beach, invite some friends and tell them to bring their friends.  In no time, you’ve got a barbecue going.  Bring out a bottle of tequila and some shot glasses, and you have friends for life.

Cokey’s

Colonia Reforma

Take Rosarito Norte exit toward Walmart, pass in front of Walmart, left at the Oxxo store, past the Tensho maquila and Cokey’s will be on the left.

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HomeBlog › Living on the Beach

Living on the Beach

There is a story about a wealthy, retired American and a young, poor Baja fisherman who met on the beach everyday, fishing in the surf.   They built up a friendship and talked about the differences in their lives.

The young Baja fisherman explained, “I fish for my family.  We don’t have much, but I have a good wife and healthy children.  My life is good.”

“But, what about your life’s purpose?  Your accomplishments? Your dreams?” exclaimed the older American.

He continued, “In the US, I worked day and night, building my business and investments.  I never had a chance to see my family except when the kids were asleep or on vacations. I did that, so I could someday have my real dream.”

“And what is it you really wanted to do?” asked the Baja fisherman.

“I wanted to fish, everyday, just enough for my family,” explained the retired American.

Richard and I live in a gated community just north of Playas de Rosarito, BC.  We’re about 30 minutes from the border.  It takes anywhere from 40 minutes to 2 hours to cross into the US.  Coming back into Mexico can take 5 min – 1 ½ hours, depending on whether it’s a holiday and time of day.

Our community is mostly vacation homes for Americans and wealthy Mexicans.  Most of the time, we have the place almost completely to ourselves.  There is good security, a helpful homeowner’s association and in general, a small town neighborly feel.

Why do we live here?

  • Price (It’s what drew us here originally).   You can live like a king here for $3,000 per month.  We spend a little more, but we also have pledged to support some local charities and have over-the-top services like weekly, in-house massages, full-time housekeeping, etc
  • Views.  This is my backyard.  Seriously.  This is why I have to shut my office curtains if I want to get any work done
  • Gardens.

I’m learning about growing next to the crashing waves, but meanwhile, what fun to have a place to grow things next to the beach.  The Prickly Pear cactus above (with the ocean behind) is in my garden.  We harvest the young leaves (nopales) from the cactus for a wonderful cooked vegetable and the fruit (called tuna) is sweet and delicious.

  • Food and wine.  More about that later on the blog.  The Baja is a treasure trove of organic, rare fruits and vegetables, seafood and fish.  Valle de Guadalupe, about an hour south of us, is coming into its own with its own wine aficionado leading the charge.  Sitings of Hugh d’Acosta can trump a siting of Johnny Depp.  (Hugh d’Acosta has been called the Robert Mondavi of the Baja.  And Valle has been called the Napa valley of 60 years ago.)

When the economy crashed, Richard and I knew we needed time to rebuild our businesses and especially our passive income stream.  August 2010, we hit financial freedom again.  Our passive covers about double our monthly needs now.  Since I’m still earning active income from the business, we could live anywhere.  But we’re not leaving.  The low cost might have brought us here, but La Vida Baja is why we stay.

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