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Something from Nothing: The Baja Joe Interview

What do you think about the violence going on in the border towns? How safe is travel in Mexico?

It’s safer to come to Mexico, I think, than it is to drive through some parts of our big cities in the United States. There’s much more violence and killing going on there. The drug problem in mainland Mexico and the border towns is an issue, but there’s no problem traveling in Mexico if you use your head.

If you cross the border in the morning and you head south for four or five hours, it’s very safe. I’ve been traveling down here many years, and I have a lot of friends who travel a lot, and nobody has had any real problems.  If anything down here happens to an American or Canadian, it’s all over the news, where if they broadcasted every murder in an American city the same way, you would never go to that city.

Photo Courtesy Baja Joe's

Can you tell us about the Baja Paws project?

Well, I’ll let Angie talk about that, since it’s her deal.

Angie: It started out when a friend asked me to get a friend’s dog spayed. It was such a great deal when this dog stopped having puppies because she was having eight puppies three times a year. It evolved into this thing where we started raising funds and getting all the local dogs spayed. When all the kiteboarders are here, we try to place dogs with them, but that’s not really our mission. That’s just an extra.

We want the dogs to become pets, and spaying and neutering is very successful at making these animals pets. Instead of being tied to a tree in the yard, they get to come down to the beach. It’s totally successful, and we have five dogs on the waiting list right now. We probably do about 25 a year. It’s $60-$80 to have a dog spayed, and the average daily wage here is $20-$40, so it just doesn’t get done. They dump the females and keep the males. Now the girl dogs are finding homes. It saves a lot of dogs from suffering.

Photo Paul Porter

Do you still windsurf?

I pretty much kiteboard 98% of the time, but I still windsurf every once in awhile on a big day like today. I still have my gear out there in the sail shed, so I go out sometimes to have a little fun and to see if I can still do it, but each year, I get a little more rusty on doing a jibe. But definitely, kiteboarding is my main sport.

Do you think there are still places like La Ventana out there that have yet to be discovered by kiteboarders?

I don’t think there’s a place like this that has as consistent of a wind. There are a lot of places up and down the Sea of Cortez that are definitely kitable on the El Norte days, but they don’t have the thermal and the island Venturi effect. Of course, there are also a lot of places on the West Coast where you can do it, but I don’t see anywhere that has the potential of this place.

This is a pretty exceptional place. How many places are there where the wind comes up at 11 and backs off at sunset? It blows when you want it to blow. You don’t have to get up early and go out before breakfast, and it doesn’t bother you at night unless it’s an extreme El Norte.

A lot of people seem worried that La Ventana will become too developed and the unique feel of this place will die if larger resorts are built. What’s your take on that? Are the resources here even capable of supporting much more development?

I don’t think we’ll get really big like Cabo San Lucas because of the wind. The only people who enjoy this place are the people who do windsports. I don’t see it getting that far out of hand. I think it will stay at a low-key level for a long time.

No big developer would want to come in here, because there’s a short season, and the people from Cabo don’t like La Ventana because it’s too windy, so we’re not going to get that kind of crowd. The wind blows them all back to Cabo. We have fisherman in the summertime, but that’s an off-season here. People want to go someplace warm in the wintertime.

With resources, people are always worried about the water here, but the biosphere, which is a nearby wilderness area in the mountains, gets up to 35 inches of rain every year. That water comes out of the mountains and goes underground under these arroyos that go through Los Planes. They have thousands of acres of farms over there, so they have a lot of water.

I do a lot of dirt bike riding and I can go up into the mountains behind La Ventana and see a lot of water up in the canyons. There’s more resources here than most people realize. A lot of people have the attitude of, “Well I built my house here, now don’t let anybody else build their house.” I think we’re going to grow, but not really fast. I think you are always going to have pros and cons about places growing. People want things to stay the same, but you can’t stop progress. You might as well go with it.

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