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Photo: “Las Villas de México”



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BUILDING OFF THE GRID: Solar is the Future By Edwin Lapschies


olar electrical systems have come a very long way since the 60’s. Without getting into equipment details, here are a few actual system design considerations. Have you got a place to install the solar panels which are somewhat fragile and very valuable ? And although you might be out in the middle of nowhere, can you get a full day’s sun on them ? Here on the Baja we are blessed with at least 5.5 hours of full useful sunlight- a good consideration in your solar design. Moreover, relative to many parts of North America, it is very consistent. So let’s look at a few details beyond last month’s discussions. RACKING THEM UP ! I vote for the flat roof and quality racking system over yard pole mounted ones. However, if you don’t have one, find a safe place where the children do not think about using them as a daytime play apparatus. In addition, bolt them down on a rack built of aluminum or stainless steel. Regular galvanized steel lasts less than one year here, even if it is powder coated. Make sure they are fastened well, because come hurricane season, they can act like a sail. The panels are rated by the manufactures to withstand the typical 150 m.p.h. wind, so your racking and roof fittings need also to be strong. Use at least a 3/8” anchor bolt when fixing the rack to a concrete roof. The alternate is to make your racking capable of folding flat onto your roof. Now there is much talk about the correct angle at which to tilt the solar panels to the sun. This is important because the solar electric panels have a glass finish, and any sunlight that reflects from the glass is not converted to electric energy. (morning sun and late afternoon sun reduces collected energy by at least 60%, which is why we like to use the figure of 5.5 hours of full sun as a design number.) If you are here all year, and need that extra power for cooling in the summer, 23 degrees is

about right. If you are a seasonal home occupier, then a tilt angle of 35 degrees may be better suited to your needs. If you are just installing a small system, you could also easily adjust the rack twice a year for the best seasonal sun angle. Sound like a bit of a chore? But hey, a bit of sunshine and a reason to drink a cold beer is never easy. I like to practice preventive measures, so if the roof surface is surrounded by a 24” parapet wall, that is my maximum mounting height. POWER IN THE DARK Batteries store energy for use during non sunny periods. This is important for a few reasons. Your lifeline usually starts with refrigeration, so you need to make sure there is enough energy to get through at least 1 day of low sunlight levels. Sizing a battery bank is quite complex, but the first rule of thumb is become and educated shopper. The second rule of thumb is that you may never have enough useful storage capacity. All batteries have an expected life span. The more they are used (cycled from full power to less than half power) the shorter their life becomes. The specific qualities and features of a battery can be found on the manufacturer’s web site, and the figures are usually based on years of official testing and consumer experience. Thus if you need 100 units of electricity a day and your batteries are designed deliver 100 units of energy a day, with and expected life span of 7 years, then that is your design criteria. This is much different from the rating on the battery label. For example; A typical brand model L16 battery is rated at a storage capacity of 300 amp hours, but the detailed specifications state that the average life of the battery is only 3 years if you cycle the battery down to 66% capacity, or 100 amp hours. Battery model SU-200 is a 200 amp hour battery. It is rated at 7 years life for a 50% cycle. Both can readily deliver the energy you need, but with different life expectancies, at different costs. In either case, you need to

consider the battery cycle rating and the useful energy available to you when you design for your storage needs. In this example, the useful energy form either battery is only 100 amp hours, not the rating as stated on the battery itself. Have you got a place to store the batteries near the electronics but separate from the electronics? Can you get the collectors, batteries and electronics close together ? Batteries use very heavy special cable to transfer energy between the batteries and the electronics, so closer is better. Count on a typical battery bank being 2 feet wide by 4 feet long, by 4 feet high. A well ventilated area is very important as battery acid vapors will exist at almost all times to some extent. And as they become fully charged, batteries also heat up considerably. The electronics that make up your charge controllers and your inverters are not conducive to the acidic conditions in and around batteries, therefore, they are best placed indoors. I have seen some real misnomers that have caused fires, explosions and rather quick electronic failures. Please don’t think you can ever store your propane cylinders in with the batteries or the electronics, or gasoline. Most architects and builders just build a separate outdoor closet space attached to the house, outside of the electrical room. The batteries will weigh between 1200 and 2400 pounds. Make sure the concrete is reinforced correctly, and put a lock and key on it. Remember, batteries have to be serviced at least once a month. So if you are stacking them on a racking system, you need to leave at least 24” between the top of one battery and the bottom of another. Yes, you will need to look inside them, and add just enough distilled “ battery grade” water. Adding too much water will dilute the power capacity of the battery. And draining out the water /acid blend is not an option Next issue of Destino HOME magazine we will cover the electronics of solar electric systems


two “all-boy” boys that keep Ellen hopping. Her highlighted choice of properties happens to be one of my favorite “older” corners of Palmilla in Los Cabos, Villas Montana. View , View, Views of the entire Palmilla Bay. By Eva Marie

Dear Home Magazine Readers:

Welcome back to my little communiqué on Los Cabos Real Estate news. I try to keep my column and associated articles filled with helpful and interesting information for my real estate associates, long-standing residents, new homeowners and prospective buyers, while hopefully addressing topics that are germane to everyone. This issue is also a direct effort to cater to my publisher’s enjoyment of content that includes the who’s who as well as the what’s what in Real Estate. Here’s hoping you all enjoy. In an not-unlike-me way of communication, I’m starting out with what might not seem all that real estate related, however, if you’re either living or visiting here, you’ll almost surely be well aware of the Los Cabos Peninsula’s previous status of the-little-fishing-villagethat-could now also encompassing its current golf Mecca status. As such you should feel comfortable enough reading the opening of this missive with some light golf anecdotes… THE GOOD OL’ GAL NETWORK The good ol’ boy network describes a system of social networking and perceptions alleged to exist prevalently among certain communities and social strata. These networks can be found throughout the U.S. and the rest of the Western world. It is typically taken to refer to informal legal, judicial, social, religious, business, and political associations among white males however, in modern times can be composed of either or both sexes. For this issue I’ve gathered some re-sale information from a number of like-minded female R.E. counterparts in an effort to impart, to you, the reader, a little bit of what’s out there on the local market. In no particular order, you’ll see what the ladies like...

Wendy Knapp of Rionda & Knapp,

Specializes in the Golden Golf Corridor. She lords over luxurious beach front condominiums within the lush gardens of the gated community of Casa del Mar Beach Resort and Spa at Cabo Real. Enjoy all the amenities of this world class resort in privately owned 1,2 and 3 bedroom condominiums.

Ellen Balch Vista del Mar Realty is headed by Ellen and her husband Mike. They have

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Blond, leggy Kim Wittman

of ICS Vantage looks as much the surfer girl type as she actually is! Kim is touting two of her listings, a 3 bedroom/3 bath, Casa Parota which enjoys breathtaking views from this beautiful ocean view, open air home located in the gated community of Laguna Hills, just minutes from the new Puerto Los Cabos Marina and Golf, and San Jose del Cabo. Also on her short list of recommendations is a brand new home, Casa Thompson, 3 bed/2 ½ baths, located in the Sub-division of Zacatitos, a short walk to a beautiful beach. . Susanne Giraud of Prudential California Realty/Cabo Gold Division is a licensed California Realtor specializing in beach fronts. Always happy to show her clients the East Cape, she professes the following considerations, “Own the point at Shipwrecks!” 3 1/3 acres on a beautiful, safe swimming/ surfing beach with 89 meters of ocean front near planned resorts and asking $3.5 million. Also touting an Ocean View Condo at Punta Perfecta Diamante, Two story three bedroom/2 bath ocean view condo. $395K USD.

Donny McGeddy,

Baja Properties is a Licensed Realtor in Florida and New Jersey.  A Realtor in Los Cabos for the past 4 years, she owns her own home in La Playita. She would like to highlight her Rancho Cerro Colorado lot.  Great location on the corridor with private beach and priced to sell at $295,000.

Michelle Geisler Dream Homes of Cabo Michelle plays an integral role coordinating Dream Homes of Cabo’s Sponsorship of the Annual Ligamac Jazz Festival Fund Raiser. She is also leading the kick off of a local Professional Organization which

will be announced Fall of 2008. Her listing du jour is Casa Hermosa. “Magnificent attention to detail, inspired authentic Mexican architectural features and quality design meld indoor and outdoor living”. Perched atop a hill in the private Querencia community this must see home is Offered at $3,650,000 USD

Connie Poirrier of Ventanas Residential

reports that the developers have announced plans to begin their first Los Cabos Condominium project. Located on 4 hectares in the sought after El Tezal area with views of the Sea of Cortez and the famous Land’s End. This is the opportunity to purchase a property in a pre-construction phase at the most affordable condo price in El Tezal. The 2 bedroom/2 bath, 800-900 sq. ft. from $150K - $200K USD. $5,000 USD initial down payment will hold your reservation.

DJ Endy-Habib of

Villas de Oro, Why wouldn’t anyone want to live here?” She recommends 2 beautiful villas near completion at Villas de Oro with excellent ocean and fairway views. A Palmilla golf and Tennis Club membership are both included with a purchase of a villa.

Holly Johnston, Baja Properties chose

to talk up her Cabo San Lucas listing of San Charbel, #2201. This contemporary 2,400 sq. ft. 3 bedroom/3 bath is located on the back side of Pedregal and has 180 degree panoramic views of the Marina and Sea of Cortez. Priced right at $459,000 USD, She & her husband, Gustaveo are proud to announce the birth of their first child, Sofia Raquel, this past July.

Ellen Balch Vista del Mar Realty is headed

by Ellen and her husband Mike. They have two “all-boy” boys that keep Ellen hopping. Her highlighted choice of properties happens to be one of my favorite “older” corners of Palmilla in Los Cabos, Villas Montana. View , View, Views of the entire Palmilla Bay.

Adali Parks, Prudential Cabo Gold is a law

school graduate in her home town of San Luis Potosi, MX., Adali has been living in Los Cabos since 1993. She is married with a 12 year old son. Her re-sale of choice is Casa Omar in Villas El Tezal. This beautiful, cozy home has a gorgeous view of Land’s End and the city lights. This two story home features 3 BR, 2 ½ BA, priced nicely at $295,000 USD. Continued on page 13


Septic Systems, Sewage & other Smelly things By Carey Ratcliff Ph.D. and Bill Bugg- H2O Millenia


hile septic systems may be a common way of disposing of residential sanitary waste, they are, at best, a temporary solution and come at a high cost to public health. All over America, septic systems have degraded ground and recreational water, creating serious safety problems. Because of failing septic systems, water is not safe to drink. Children are not free to play near contaminated lakes and streams. Outbreaks of waterborne disease become common. Quality of life is eroded. In addition, failing septic systems decrease real estate values. What do you know about wastewater treatment? Better yet, do you even care? You might be like most people and just flush anything down your toilet that you think will not stop it up. If you are in the kitchen, you just put stuff in the disposal and grind it up. How many times have you poured bacon grease down the drain and wondered if its better to run the hot or cold water? Guilty or not guilty? Well gang, its time to take some responsibility and educate yourself. You can be part of the sewage problem or become part of the sewage solution. Wastewater issues are nothing new. As ancient nomadic tribes began to build more permanent structures, garbage and wastewater became an important concern. No longer could they allow the earth and soil to treat their waste as they followed migrating herds. In the City of Ur, as far back a 3500 B.C., it was common practice to sweep wastes into the streets and raising the doors as the street levels rose. Around 2500 B.C., in what is now Pakistan, some houses had flushing toilets. As ancient cities became overwhelmed, they diverted their wastes to rivers, slowly polluting them one by one. The Minoan culture on the Island of Crete

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between 1500 – 1700 B.C., used a terra-cotta piping system similar to the ones we use today. The Greeks had the first garbage dumps and the Romans’ waste treatment methods were the most developed prior to the 19th century. Even with their advances, Rome was still an unhealthy city, and with the fall of the Roman Empire, sanitation technology entered into its “Dark Ages”, which lasted a thousand years. After the major plagues of the 12th century, waste management became a priority. In 1372, England’s King Edward forbid dumping “harmful things” into the River Thames and in 1388 Parliament “forbade the throwing of filth and garbage into ditches, rivers and water.” The cesspool was one technological breakthrough during the Renaissance, although it wasn’t until the 15th century that a “new” awareness of the dangers of human and animal wastes was recognized. The septic tank was invented in 1860; it was large and built for communities. “The main purpose of these tanks was to remove gross solids before discharge into the nearest stream or river.” The problem then and even today remains, “The effluent was largely untreated and caused pollution of streams and rivers.” The pollution of water cannot be solved by a septic tank. So what was wastewater’s driving force for these thousands of years? It’s very simple – Disease. In the mid-19th century a worldwide cholera epidemic occurred. (Did you know that we have cases of cholera here in Cabo?) Englishman John Snow traced the disease “from its origin in India to public wells that were being contaminated by privy houses.” This basically led the way to sewerage construction and separating wastes from drinking water, even though the effluent was normally discharged into a river. Sewage treatment soon followed and here we are in Cabo San Lucas, dealing with issues 5,500 years old. Thankfully, we now have the knowledge and technology to deal with wastewater treatment. All we need now is the resolve to do the right thing. Let’s have a look at our situation here in Paradise… “Man, my septic tank really stinks!”

or “my neighbors septic tank really stinks!” or “the windows are up and the AC on and I can still smell that stench!” or “did you smell downtown Cabo today?” or “Man, what’s with that golf course? How can people live on that golf course, much less play golf there?” We hear these comments all the time. What we do not hear is “WHY does my septic tank smell so bad?” or “WHY does it stink over by that bridge?” First of all, septic tanks and sewerage systems give off very little odor and are almost never offensive when they are operating properly. They do give off an odor caused by decomposition of protein, but it is barely noticeable and does not have that overpowering, lingering stench that we know as sewage. So, if it stinks, it’s probably your fault, amigo. “Septic tank” is the term applied to any receptacle receiving raw sewage from a home or business, and “Sewerage System” refers to the system of lines and pipes by which sewage travels from its point of generation to a point where it is treated. Because many people use the terms interchangeably, much confusion exists as to how each functions and why. The septic tank and sewerage system are separate entities and very different processes occur in each. These two devices are also a far cry from what is termed a “Sewage System”, where specific things happen or methods are applied in an aggressive manner. Let’s look first at the “Septic Tank” and what it does, how it does what it does, and why it sometimes (more often than not) smells with a vengeance. The breakdown of organic wastes (sewage) is a purely biological process carried out by bacteria that reduce the wastes to odor-


less carbon dioxide and water in a matter of hours (48 hours is a good number). This is accomplished in nature by bacteria found in the soil and bacteria found in the intestines of animals and humans. The breakdown of organic wastes (sewage) occurs in a septic tank but with a few differences, such as time, the type of wastes to be broken down, and the presence of the bacteria capable of breaking down the various types of wastes introduced into the septic tank. The specific aerobic bacteria necessary to degrade sewage require air to sustain their life processes (the degradation of organic matter) and are most often the limiting factor in whether or not the septic tank is functioning properly. Septic tanks are usually buried in the ground and are virtually sealed, except where sewage flows into and out of them, allowing very little or no air into the tank. Air (oxygen) depletion inside the tank causes the demise of the beneficial bacteria and an increase in the bacteria capable of living without oxygen. These anaerobic bacteria are able to degrade sewage, but at a much slower rate (about 30 days), and are the very culprits causing foul odors. The typical septic tank installed in even the most expensive homes in the Los Cabos area is a simple concrete box having two chambers and 4” lines in and out. The concrete box may or may not have an inspection hatch/cleanout opening, or may have just a small hole to pump out the tank. The basic design causes solid substances to settle out in the first chamber and water to spill over a dividing wall into the second chamber. Smaller particles of solid material settle in the second chamber, allowing “gray water” to discharge from the tank. Septic tanks are designed to accept only or-

ganic wastes from toilets, NOT from kitchens and washrooms. The presence of hydrocarbons (fats, oils, greases, and sugars) produced from cooking and soaps from the washroom upset the bacterial population providing ideal conditions for the odor-producing anaerobic bacteria. The beneficial aerobic bacteria in the settled material begin breaking down the organic wastes and quickly use any available oxygen, resulting in their death. The anaerobic bacteria requiring no oxygen take up the cause, but in the process produces very strong odors (hydrogen sulfide and ammonia) which can travel back up through the pipes into the home, or escape through any opening. Many homes never experience the odor produced because the tanks are sealed very well or buried very deeply not allowing odors to escape. Because this process of degradation is really slow, both chambers fill with solid material and require frequent pumping, adding to the homeowner’s expense. When the tanks are not pumped frequently, a curious phenomenon known as “short circuiting” or channeling occurs, allowing raw sewage to flow directly through the septic tank without any bacterial degradation whatsoever. This occurrence spells disaster for the Municipal “Sewerage System” and treatment plants. Read this paragraph again, it applies to most of you septic tank owners. Cabo San Lucas does have a Municipal “Sewerage System” and Wastewater Treatment Plant to handle all the domestic and commercial sewage produced on a daily basis. The sewerage system and treatment plant operate, in theory, just like their counterparts further north, but with some major differences. The amount of time sewage remains in the sewer pipes and the speed at which the sewage moves in the pipes dictate the condition of the sewage entering the treatment plant. These two factors seriously affect the overall efficiency of normal sewage treatment. This is not the correct venue to discuss the Municipal sewerage system and wastewater treatment plant. Just suffice it to say that grease choked, slow moving sewer mains, slow filling holding tanks/lift stations, and an overloaded treatment plant, coupled with already stale raw sewage from residences and businesses, presents the Municipal an extreme challenge with wastewater treatment. A “Sewage System” differs from a septic tank in that a “Septic Tank” is a passive device where a sewage system aggressively promotes sewage degradation. Stating that a septic tank is passive means that it is left to it’s own devices to function properly and depends upon existing anaerobic bacteria to breakdown the organic wastes introduced. Under ideal circumstances, where only human organic wastes are put in the sep-

tic tank at precise intervals, provided sufficient oxygen and the tank is not full of non-degraded material, the septic tank will perform very well. This specific set of conditions does not often present itself in Southern Baja, so, not very many septic tanks are working properly. When kitchen and wash water flow into a septic tank, it will not function at all and a sewage system will operate with less efficiency. These wastes locally known as “gray water” contain fats, oils, greases, sugars, and detergents, all of which are detrimental to healthy bacterial sewage degradation. The bacteria that consume these compounds are not the same bacteria that degrade sewage. Therefore, the fats, oils, etc. cause terrible odors and fouling. Most homeowners think their septic tanks are doing very well because there is no odor, but the reality is that the tank must be pumped out on a regular basis. When the toilet flushes, but flushes slowly, it indicates that the septic tank is more than likely full and in need of pumping. It is often said by residents of Cabo San Lucas, that, “I never pump out my septic tank, everything works great, and there is no smell”. This can only occur when their tank is well sealed and they live at a sufficient elevation so that their raw sewage problems flow down to someone else at a lower elevation (This includes our neighbors in the ocean). It is for this reason that septic tanks are now illegal in Baja California. Many of our clients find this fact hard to believe, however, it is spelled out very clearly in Article 95. Don’t join the growing list of those receiving citations and hefty fines for violating this law. Are you on of those people that will just “sneak” a septic tank in because no one will know about it?? It does not matter who told you could put in a septic tank, if you are caught, you will be fined, plus you will remove it. The homeowner is completely responsible for violations, and let’s face it, whether you are caught or not, using a septic tank is an irresponsible thing to do. A septic tank can easily be replaced with a miniature “Sewage System” by installing an approved aerobic wastewater treatment plant. These systems can be added on to an existing septic system or completely replace it. Aerobic systems such as the locally manufactured Mighty Mac, will promote the growth of the beneficial aerobic bacteria, while inhibiting the adverse forms that cause odors. With the construction of a new home, the cost is only a little more than the septic tank which you would have had to install anyway. You can become part of the sewage solution by complying with basic environmental health standards, local wastewater laws and following the guidelines Continues on page 11

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Meet the neighbor Mariano Arias Diez By Romana Lilic


hile living in Los Cabos, a place with approximately 15-times more visitors and tourists than inhabitants, you might wonder, who indeed your neighbor is. There are many interesting people living in Baja and in this column we will introduces ome to you. MEET ARCHITECT MARIANO ARIAS DIEZ You have probably seen him around: tall man, curly hair, white glasses. Some say he looks Italian, but actually he is Mexican by origin, with a flavor of Spanish and Cuban roots. By life and profession he is a “globe-trotter”. Mariano studied architecture in Mexico City, Barcelona, London and New York City. He holds a Masters in Advanced Architecture from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia “IaaC” in Spain. He has collaborated with offices like Willy Muller Architects (Barcelona), Vicente Guallart Architects (Barcelona), Sadar Vuga Architects (Slovenia), and Michel Rojkind (Mexico). In 2006 he created with Luis Fraguada, Monika Wittig and Shane Salisbury an international research group called Live Architecture Network (LaN) where he is co-director. Today, Mariano has his own practice and is currently head of architectural projects at TOKASE Properties. When you ask him about the ‘style’ of his work, he will tell you straight that he doesn’t believe in only one style of architecture. “I don’t believe in doing my architecture in a certain style all the time,” he says. “I believe there’s no specific style that can be the right answer to every project. Every project is different, as is every user, every owner and every budget of the project.” What he does believe in is constant evolution, something he calls “the learning loop”, which means learning is equal to doing, and vice versa. In terms of style he doesn’t consider himself as someone concerned with style, but in techniques and technologies for doing design and architecture. Mariano explains further: “That’s what happened to the modernist movement at the beginning of 20th century, when they created the utopia, thinking that any person needing any kind of architectural project in any place of the 10

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world could have his needs satisfied by the same set of rules to generate the project. Back then they believed in mass production but techniques and technologies today allow us to switch to a mass customization model where we can adapt to specific needs of every individual.” When assigned a project, Mariano first studies all levels of the assignment, the land, the surrounding areas, the natural environment, urban planning of the area, and proposes his vision to an optimal solution of his clients desires, needs and purpose of the property. Mariano’s current projects include environmental conscious residences in prestigious community Pedregal, Cabo San Lucas, ecoluxury off the grid developments on the Pacific, and an urban project for a park in the marina of Cabo San Lucas that will open the city to its marina and enhance social and economical activities between the marina-front and the central part of Cabo San Lucas, through the use of green and public areas, which will be enjoyed by local and visitors families.


LaN was selected the winner of Denver International Airport (DIA) and the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) Emerging Artist Program 2008, calling for a one year long art installation between two roads en route to the Denvert Airport. The [wind]ow seat project derives its idea from a commodity, which is a common factor to Denver International Airport and every citizen, traveler, or inhabitant of the Earth – air. The air we all inhabit. It is invisible, untouchable, but crucial to existence of everyone. The [wind]ow seat project attempts to visualize the untouchable into visible, touchable and attainable. To emphasize the meaning of air and its movement [wind] by capturing it into an organically shaped monument, constantly being re-created by the wind itself. The project promises to spread its vision around the world, with first next stop in Tibet. VIENTOS HOUSE “…To do a house, you grab a fistful of air and you hold it with some walls…” This Nasrid proverb was the starting point to design a house located in the street of Retorno Gravera in Pedregal de Cabo San Lucas. Superb views of the site combined with the topography invited the project to be a house which almost floats

on top of the site and allows its inhabitants to have a feeling of lightness, freshness and light. Its 11,687 ft2 are distributed in 3 levels. In the first (and highest) level we would find the access to the house by a bridge taking us to a foyer which overlooks a double height space containing the living room downstairs, and the master bedroom and bathroom, both with unblocked views to the Pacific ocean. Going down to the second level, we will find the heart of the social areas of the house, where we will have a double height living room, the dinning room and an European-style kitchen, which makes the overall layout a whole “openspace”, extending to the terraces when the user decides to open the panoramic window doors. Water features make a continuous topic through the entire house. In the lower bedroom we will find the more “domestic” areas, which would be 3 bedrooms, one event/multi purpose room, a projection room and the laundry room, all of them with access to terraces which also overlook the Pacific and give access to its inviting infinity edge pool. MARINA PARK The Marina Park is a project which emerged from the necessity to have green open spaces where the people of Cabo San Lucas can interact socially and with nature. It acts also as an urban connector between the center of San Lucas and the Marina area, opening the city to its sea front, which intends to trigger a frequency of activities and tourist trajectories, which will enhance the economical and social relationship in between the whole center area of Cabo San Lucas. The project contains green and shaded areas for users to be able to enjoy in quality open air public space. The park will act as a “gate” welcoming the tourists into the inland of the city. The project is the first phase of a 3-phase plan which will create a network of pedestrian routes which will activate the urban regeneration of the center of Cabo San Lucas. The site were the project is located had been a target of long and old legal battles in between different investors and other interests, causing the area to deteriorate and the proliferation of prostitution, drug dealing and nightclubs of doubtful reputation. This project proposes the reuse of part of the already constructed abandoned structure, but giving it a new twist which will embrace the mix of tourist services, an information area with the History of the city of Cabo San Lucas, playground areas for locals, a covered skate-park, as open shaded areas which act also as collectors for alternative energies such as solar panels. Giving this space to the inhabitants of Cabo San Lucas as a public space will cause the black areas which have developed around to disappear from such an important area of the city.


Septic Systems, Sewer Continued from page 

listed here. Remember that whatever goes down your drain or is flushed down your toilet must be dealt with somewhere!!

“How to be a part of the sewage solution.”

8. Run only full loads when using a dishwasher or washing machine and spread out wash days. (i.e. Do not run six loads on Monday and none the other days) Install a lint trap on your washer. 9. Do not use chemicals, enzymes or yeast to “start up” or “clean” your waste treatment system. They are unnecessary and may actually harm the system. 10.Use biodegradable products whenever possible. They are readably available. Bill Bugg owns H2O Millenia and

The following is a list documenting the various culprits causing the failure of someone’s on site sewage system. Avoiding the below listed compounds and products will save the homeowner or landlord many headaches and money manufactures Mighty Mac aerobic waste over the long haul just as surely as intro- treatment plants in Cabo San Lucas. and ducing these things to a sewage system also supplies and installs water purificawill quickly bring about failure. In the tion systems, pumps, etc. Carey Ratcliff is event that your residence, home, condo, a registered engineer and holds a PH.D. in microbiology. He has designed, constructtrailer, tent, or sleeping bag, is hooked ed and operated waste treatment plants up directly to a central treatment plant, worldwide and is an expert in this field. please adhere to these practices also. Dr. Ratcliff is currently a consultant and 1. Do not dispose of fats, greases or design engineer for H2O Millenia. cooking oils down the household drains. 2. Do not use a garbage disposal (or at HOME holiday issue!! least sparingly), or put coffee grounds, Deadline Nov. 1 meat, bones, shrimp shells or other food Editorial feature: products that are difficult to biodegrade, Furniture stores and Kitchens down the drain. 3. Do not dispose of bleach, fabric softeners, disinfectants, Questions? Contact Edwin at: toilet cleaners, sanitizers, antibacteria soaps, antibiotics, etc. down the drain. 4. Do not dispose of automotive fluids, such as gas, oil, transmission or brake fluid, greases or antifreeze down any A world of experience in Mexico drains. No paintbrush wash Not just Solar Energy ! New Equipment Sales, water or thinners should ever Service and Installations Serving Baja California be poured down any drains. from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas 5. Do not dispose of or rinse Cell; 624 166 9473\ any containers from pesticides, herbicides or other potentially toxic substances down any drain. 6. Do not flush any of these things down your toilet: cigarette butts, potato peels, cereal, disposable diapers, dental floss, mop strings, plastic or rubber products, paper towels, sanitary wipes, feminine products. 7. Minimize water usage. Do not run water continuously while rinsing dishes or thawing frozen food products. Limit toilet flushes when possible. FALL | 2008 | OTOÑO




Where to find things for your home in La Paz


By Qwenten Plante’

fter setting up your new home, there are a few details to iron out. These include such things as can openers, coffee maker, grinder, glassware, and hardware. Well, it’s easy. Dorians, City Club, Sorianna’s, CCC and all the local shops have a great selection of various products that cannot be resisted. But remember, once again, when you see something you like “buy it” or forever regret it. Here is a short story of regret. We went for a day trip to what I like to call the black beach “La Playa Negro” (I made up this name due to the dark sand and it stuck with the locals that we like to play with there). It’s on the way to San Juan De La Costa. The beach is located in a town with one house (or almost house) called Calfina but it has a great new sign to mark the location. We were sitting on the beach one beautiful afternoon and noticed smoke coming from the city. I mentioned that maybe it was from the power plant on the other end of town. As we drove home late in the afternoon the smoke was still rising from the city center and the phone started ringing off the hook. OH, MY! La Perla, MY favorite store, had burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was hurt but I was supposed to pick up a set of the most beautiful amber glasses that I had ordered. I was supposed to pick them up that day but, instead, went to the beach. The first thing in my mind was “Oh crap!” That’s selfish but I wanted those glasses really badly. We all hoped to see La Perla come back but, alas, the owners have decided to build a new galleria-type mall using the old façade as an en-


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try to preserve an historic city landmark (these were just rumors, of course). BUT I just noticed yesterday, during breakfast at El Cafe Callejon just off the Malecon, that there was work being done to shore up the façade. Perhaps we were right after all and the old girl is coming back. At most, you are probably only giving yourself two weeks to decorate your new villa, house or condo. You could make those three trips to Los Cabos or you could take my advice and buy what you need here in La Paz. EVEREYTHING CAN BE FOUND HERE, SO, “NOT TO WORRY”. Remember Dorians on 16th of September and also at the mall (the only one so far) at the crossing of Colisio with Calzada Forjadores (the road to Cabo). Check the top floors for furnishings and accessories. There are some great deals to be had, especially after or before season changes. Check the clearance or sale sections for the best bargains. But remember Dorians is an upscale store that stocks a lot of high-end, imported items. The La Perla annex, just across the street from the site of the original La Perla has a good selection of household items. Sorianna’s at the mall will have many household items you will need. Do be prepared to look around and deal with the crowds if going to the mall. It is a very popular place for the locals and the shopping center is very busy on weekends. Full of good buys, these stores gets busy. Don’t forget that City Club is there too. CCC will not only fulfill your grocery needs but also they have seasonal, parking lot stores that you might find helpful. The focus is on

holiday items and seasonal clearances. I enjoy the covered parking at CCC on Abasolo in the summer months. You must check out the weavers on Abasolo, in the same area as CCC. Look for the big white building on the left as you drive to or from downtown. They have a great supply of items from Oaxaca. They also weave cloth and make their own products. Napkins, rugs, pillow and bed furnishings abound. Make sure to check out the looms in the back room (open to the customers) A MUST SEE!!! Check out “Ricky Ricardo’s” for exquisite accessories as well as “Home Comfort”, a new store located in the new strip mall on Abasolo in the same area as CCC and the “Weavers”. Now, you can spend an hour or two shopping in the same area and without the need to drive all over town. Finally, there is a shopping and market zone that stretches from approximately Independencia to as far as Allende, just a few blocks from the malecon. You cannot miss this area even it if you try. You can spend the day getting both great exercise and finding just about anything you could be searching for. And the prices are very reasonable. The small shop owners are phenomenal to work with and you’ll be supporting local businesses. Get your furnishing staples and then your household basics because the real fun starts after that. Qwen Plante is a retired designer and wanna’ be author who lives in the La Posada neighborhood of La Paz. He has been featured with his family on HGTV’s House Hunters International and spends his spare time having fun with his many friends from La Paz.


RE NEWS continued form page  Mona Kochaver Dream Homes of Cabo

has sold luxury resort real estate in Aspen, Colorado, Scottsdale, Arizona and Los Cabos, Mexico since 1986. Mona touts Villa Bella Her description of the “best luxury ocean front value in Los Cabos at $486 per sq. ft. sports a private villa surrounded by the neighborhood of El Zalate. Views from Punta Gorda to Palmilla. You own 160 feet Sea of Cortez beach front. 3 BR, 3-1/2 baths, 4500 sq feet. Offered at $2,195,000. USD

Janet Jensen, Snell Realty came here in

1996 from Vancouver, BC, Canada. Janet loves to surf! She is very active in local Charities and has been known to socialize frequently. JJ’s “best buy” she’d like to highlight is Villa del Amancer, located in Palmilla Norte, a gated, guarded neighborhood. Boasting large rooms and high ceilings, a pool and spacious patio with Jacuzzi, a 3 minute walk to the most swim-able beach in Los Cabos. $2,990,000 USD.

Julie Kershner. Prudential Cabo Gold They

say when you want something done, give it to a busy person and that description pretty much describes every woman that is listed here and it can certainly be ascribed to Julie. She manages the Prudential Real Estate office in San Jose del Cabo, and holds the prestigious designation of Certified International Property Specialist. Julie is an instructor for the TransNational Referral Certification from the International Consortium of Real Estate Associations (ICREA) and is a member of FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation.  Recently, Julie and a co-worker, Dean Robbins started a new business, providing educational real estate seminars to real estate professionals in Mexico, focusing particularly in Los Cabos. Julie wanted to let everyone know about “Ken’s Condo.” Beautifully furnished, this 2BR 2BA condo in the highly sought after Villas Baja complex on the Mayan Palace golf course is luxuriously landscaped and just $290,000 USD.

Angela O’Reilly Dream Homes Her hot prod-

uct of resale’s is Casa Rand. An exquisite 2nd row custom designed courtyard style villa in the prestigious gated, guarded community of Palmilla’s exclusive La Caleta on Jack Nicklaus’ Signature Golf Course. Spectacular ocean and Punta Gorda views amenities include a 40 ft. Infinity Lap pool, Jacuzzi Spa, with its own fab BBQ area. $3,975,000 USD.

Ok, everybody, that is truly just a tip of the iceberg on realty related ladies in Los Cabos and a few of what they have in the top of their real estate pockets today. Hope you found this both entertaining and informative…till next time…. Happy house hunting,


Extra, Extra!!

AIRPORT INDUSTRIAL PARK: In the initial ground parparation stages is a 40 acre industrial park for offices, commercial warehouses, showrooms and support services, with 275,000 building out in Phase One. BP-RIO Desarrollos de Mexico the Los Cabos office for Dallas Real Estate development firm Kimco Realty. The first of it’s kind in the area with this size and commercial vision, it will fill the need for logistic companies moving the huge amount of supplies coming from the mainland for our hospitality industry, as well as large suppliers to our growing retail stores. LA PAZ INVESTMENT GROWING: Alberto Treviño the State Secretary of Tourism stated that close to 1.5 billion dollars are committed to hotel projects in La Paz in the next few years. There are several projects already building or renovating. Pariaso del Mar is expected to begin operation of 500 hotel rooms and golf course by the end of this year. Ventanas La Paz is proposing a beach area in the city, and Costa Baja resort is planning it’s 2nd phase.

Connie Meyerhoff of Baja Properties

would like to feature her Las Mananitas #4206 re-sale. This Top Rated Property offers 5 star Amenities. This 2nd floor property has been professionally decorated and furnished. Offering HUGE oversized terraces and the best sea views. $825,000 USD. A succinct bio on Connie: Hailing from British Columbia, Canada and Phoenix Arizona, USA and living full time in Los Cabos for the past 12 years, she LOVES animals and loves to cook. Clients love her for her detailed personality and she prides herself on being a professional with strong ethics and a service oriented personality. A water sports enthusiast, one of her favorite things to do is take a nap at the beach and she attests that she “loves living in the greatest Paradise on Earth,” Los Cabos!

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You think you are living ‘green’?

Think again! By Mariano Arias Diez, Architect


here is no doubt: we are all concerned about global warming and our environment. We all love the natural setting of Baja and try to change our behaviors in order to protect our environment. But sometimes, a radical switch of lifestyle can do harm if it is not made consciously and in a smart way. Remember – nothing is good in excess. Here are some old topics we thought were ‘evil’ for the planet, but if you think about them twice, they have proved to be actually better than their “so-called” green counterparts: 1. Living in cities Urban living is kinder to the planet, and believe it or not a city like Manhattan, could perhaps be one of the greenest places in the world. A Manhattanite’s carbon footprint is 30 percent lower than the average American’s. The rate of car ownership in NY is among the lowest in the U.S.: 65% of Manhattan’s population walks, bikes or ride mass transit to work. An increase of density in Los Cabos would prevent the sprawl of our urban area and a better use of economical resources in infrastructures. Try to drive less in the city, instead walk. Get off the bus one bus stop earlier and demand to our local authorities to improve the mass transit system. FACT: An average household reduces its CO2 emissions for 30% if one member takes mass transit to work instead of driving. 2. A/C is OK When it’s 0 degrees outside, you’ve got to raise the indoor temperature by 70 degrees. In 110-degree weather, you need to change the temperature by only 40 degrees to achieve the same comfort level. It takes less energy to cool a given space by 1 degree than to heat it up by the same amount. This difference has big implications for greenhouse gases. A typical Northeast house heated by fuel oil emits 13,000 pounds of CO2 annually; cooling a similar dwelling in Cabo produces only 900 pounds of CO2 a year. FACT: Heating releases 8 times more carbon over the same time period than cooling. 3. Organics are not the answer Yes, organics are good for your body but might not be that good for the planet. Dairy cows raised on organic feed aren’t pumped with hormones. That means they produce less milk per Holstein, which is about 8% less than con-


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ventionally raised cattle. That’s 25 organic cows to make as much milk as 23 industrial ones. More cows, more cow emissions. A single organic raised cow puts out 16 percent more greenhouse gases than its counterpart. Organic beef steers take longer to achieve slaughter weight, which gives them more time to emit polluting methane. While pastured beef offers some environmental benefit - these don’t require carbon-intensive corn for feed, and the land they graze stores carbon more efficiently than land used for crops or left alone. They liberate nearly twice as much methane as cattle fed grain diets, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. Remember plenty of pesticide-free foods are shipped thousands of miles in carbon-dioxidebelching trucks to make it to Cabo. So why not buy food grown by our farmers locally? FACT: 45% is the amount by which an organic chicken’s lifetime greenhouse gas emissions exceed a non-organic bird’s. 4. China is the solution China is the solution, not the problem. Who’s the volume dealer in alternative-energy hardware? Who tripled their production of solar cells in 2007 grabbing 35 % share of this market worldwide, and probably is the manufacturer of your “off the grid” house in the East Cape? Who makes inexpensive windmills and leads in technology for rechargeable lithiumion batteries critical for super-efficient electric vehicles? If you said choking, smoking, coaltoking China, give yourself a carbon credit. FACT: 35% of the world’s solar cells are manufactured in China. 5. Accept genetic engineering (but the

smart one)

Keeping 6 billion people fed boosts global warming more than all the world’s cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes put together. Agriculture accounts for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta along with an army of venture-backed startups are trying to change that. Arcadia Bio is peddling genes for nitrogen-efficient rice which will save 50 million

tons of carbon dioxide a year. Corn engineered for high yields and low fertilizer will help, but even better will be plants under development whose stalks and leaves can easily be turned into fuel. Synthetic Genomics and BP are working together on microorganisms that produce cleaner alternatives to gasoline, and Amyris is working on bugs that make jet fuel. FACT: Genetically engineered rice could save 50 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually. 6. Buy used cars Not Hybrids. A Hummer uses less energy than a (hybrid) Prius. Pound for pound, making a Prius contributes more carbon to the atmosphere than making a Hummer, due to the environmental cost of the 30 pounds of nickel in the hybrid’s battery. Prius vs a used car? Making a Prius consumes 113 million B.T.U.s, a single gallon of gas contains 113,000 B.T.U.s, and therefore a Prius emanates the equivalent of 1,000 gallons before its first mile. A used car starts with a significant advantage: first owner has already paid off its carbon debt. Let’s remember that the pollution a car produces in its lifetime comes in majority during its fabrication process. So just keep your (10 year old) SUV, to show you really care for our natural beauties of Baja. FACT: 100,000 miles a new Prius would have to travel to achieve the carbon savings that come from driving a 1998 Tercel. At the end being ecologically conscious starts by educating ourselves about what is really making a difference and what is just trying to “block the sun with one finger” as we say down here in Mexico. Also we have to be aware that Global Warming is not “just” about the Carbon emissions and that a cut-carbonat-all costs approach will just blind us to more sustainable and ultimately more promising solutions. Remember movies have heroes, but not all the truth. *The data for this article was gathered using BLACKLE the “energy saving search engine” from Google (

RECYCLED Baja METAL By Fernando C. Jordan


ne of the oldest problems for La Paz and for Baja California in general has been the accumulation of scrap metal as a by product of the purchase and disposal of used cars restricted to use on the peninsula. For decades, junk car lots have existed on the Baja as formal businesses. Bringing down vehicles from the north to sell to individuals unable to buy from an agency has often been an economic activity for the unemployed, or even a hobby. Similar to trash or automobile tires, at the end of their useful life, vehicles move to take their place in the neighborhood scenery, in arroyos, and over the cliffs where they end up in highway accidents or where they are pushed as an easy way of disposal. The alternative is for them to remain parked in front of the house of their last owner, where, in addition to being in the way, they occupy the space of the new family car. (Some middle-class families may accumulate up to five unused vehicles.) Not long ago, the municipal government established a program inviting citizens to get rid of their junk cars and/or report them to the public services department, which in theory would pick them up at the indicated address. Some families even wash and care for these vehicles to prevent them from appearing to be abandoned, and in this way evade the municipal program. Finally, about three years ago, a company called GIADA Trading, S. A. de C. V. appeared in La

Paz’ industrial area. The company is run by a dynamic father-and-son team from Brescia, Italy, who came here on vacation and fell under the spell that has captivated all of us who first arrived as visitors. They are Roberto and Demitri Trombini, and although they have never tried the “wild plums at El Mogote”, they have been attracted by the region’s numerous business opportunities. The Trombinis’ recycling plant accepts and acquires materials or waste from hundreds of junk car lots, as well as loose pieces of iron, sheet metal, and other metals like aluminum and bronze. To date, the plant has processed more than 70,000 tons of iron and another 8,000 tons of aluminum, a metal it will soon be melting into ingots in-house. The company keeps strict records of both its habitual and occasional suppliers, including their identification, address, and the origin of the materials, to avoid accepting stolen items or items of doubtful origin. To prevent crime, the plant cooperates with the government attorney’s office (Ministerio Público) to identify individuals under investigation. If required, items are surrendered as evidence for prosecution. The company’s most frequent suppliers are individual trash pickers who comb the city and surrounding areas for junk items. They often make two or three trips to the plant each day in their own vehicles, sometimes accompanied

by their families, and expect to receive an average of 500 pesos for each load—higher than a normal wage and the main or sole economic activity for most of the pickers. Plus the plant offers 32 well-paid, full-time jobs on site. The plant has two other departments that specialize in the heavy iron extracted from automobile engines and chassis, in addition to the remainders of abandoned heavy machinery. Car bodies are sent straight to a complicated process that recovers the sheet metal and all metal parts from the vehicle. The plant’s heavy metal department produces from two to three 20-ton loads per week, which are shipped on semi-trailers to central Mexico to the Aceros de San Luis foundry, one of the nation’s largest, in the state of San Luis Potosí. The Trombinis plan to install a metal recycling plant in the state of Guanajuato that will be five times the size of the La Paz plant, to serve the enormous market on the mainland.

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A visit to Maria Luisa Reynoso, an interior designer By Romana Lilic

Add a touch of color and personality to your home In the past eight months I moved three times. You probably know how it is, boxes in, boxes out, unpacking, arranging, and so on. The most attractive, exciting and challenging for me though is the decorating part. When I first came to Mexico, there were not so many places where you could buy nice (and affordable) furniture, but things are changing for the better. There are more and more attractive furniture stores opening in Baja, and I was lucky enough to meet Maria Luisa Reynoso, a wonderful person, interior designer and owner of Simmetria, furniture and decoration store in La Paz, which offers a wide selection of Mexican furniture combining colorful tradition and contemporary style, and individual personalized consulting. Malis, as her friends call her, is also an excellent interior designer and decoration consultant, and if you need a tip for what to do to give your home, an office, a store or a hotel, a special touch of your personality, she’s the one to help you with that and beyond. Living in Baja is like a dream come true. Sunny weather, amazing contrasting nature, oceans, pristine beaches, friendly people and so much more. There is this Mexican flair in the air, which you can bring also to your home with lovely strong colors, exotic details, and a touch of passion and emotions.


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At my visit to La Paz, Maria Luisa took me to see one of her recent projects, a case study and example how a Mexican home can be elegant, classy and comfortable to welcome the family home. We visited a model home of Villas Aguamarina, a development of 28 beautifully crafted Mexican villas in Pedregal de La Paz, a home to which she gave that style and that special Mexican personality. Malis explains her work: “When thinking about a decoration for this project, I wanted to give the house a touch of elegance, style, quality and simplicity, yet in a Mexican way. It is really important, that the quality of the construction goes hand in hand with the furniture that you pick. And in Pedregal de La Paz, where influence of nature is essential, I was able to focus on natural material and fabrics, which are also my favorite: wood, wool, cotton and leather among others.” She continues: “I was looking and thinking about each space individually, I wanted to create an ambient which is cozy, not too crowded, with the right amount of furniture and accessories, so people would enjoy living here.” A model home of Villas Aguamarina feels very cozy indeed, in fact, it feels like a home. It makes you want to pack all your belongings and just move in. The play of colors, materials and details is what you will find fascinating in this home. Colors are very important, says Malis. They give the house a touch of personality, and make the space warm and appealing. “When searching for colors to match the house with the ambiance and environment, I walked the neighborhood around the house, I took a piece of dirt, desert, sand and stone and created my ideas and colors based on them,” Malis explains. The composition of the ground in Pedregal de La Paz for example is completely different from the one in Pedregal de Cabo San Lucas, in Cabo it is brown, and in La Paz it is pink,

an amazing work of the nature. Playing with materials and matching them with colors creates a unique combination and connects the space t o g e t h e r. And details, which you might not even notice, but would miss them if they were not there, they add the flare to the house, that special something that catches your sight everywhere you turn and bring out the beauty of the house; even if it is for a simple thing like placing a candle in a special place. Interior of the house has some special features, like a beautiful tall, thin and elegant palm tree in the centre of the house, smart and functional arrangement of rooms (I would say it is family-friendly) and terraces from every bedroom with their own personality, but also matching the adjacent room. Every terrace and outside space has a special ambiance. It is connected with the inside of the house, but different. The concept for the outside spaces has aroused from the imagination what would people like to do outside their rooms. Have a breakfast at the terrace perhaps, or a dinner at the sunset; maybe relax or read a book, or entertain with family and friends at the patio with community pool and palapa, overlooking the aguamarine waters of the Sea of Cortes. It is true what they say, the home is where the heart is. And by adding to your home your favorite color or some special detail it will make it more personal, more ‘you’. Visit Maria Luisa at Simmetria, she will welcome you friendly, show you around her beautiful store stocked with plenty of ideas and many of details you’d love to take home with you immediately. She will share with you stories about her decoration projects, give some valuable and useful advice, and if you want, she can help you transform your house to your special home, too.

Destino Los Cabos Home Summer-Fall 2008  

For five years, Destino HOME magazine has told the real stories about the exploding real estate boom in Baja California Sur. The surging pop...