Thursday afternoon, August 15
Rosarito Beach is holding its breath today. The anticipation is tangible and by tomorrow night, this little resort town will be a different place.
In 2018 the population here was reported as 70,000 including locals and ex-pats. By this weekend, that population is expected to rise to 100,000 adding an anticipated 30,000 concert goers for the second annual Baja Beach Fest.
The promoters of the concert are hoping for more, “maybe 60,000 for the two day concert.” We’ll know soon.
To show they’re serious, the promoters have constructed a many-story concert stage with all the trimmings on the beach. Heavy equipment, heavy materials and a busy crew have put in hours on this project and last night they tested the sound equipment.
The view from our balcony
I’ve done enough theatre and other performance to know a sound check when I hear it, but this one blew the doors off. Did I mention this is a Latin rap concert? With major performers? Loud.
Today, the entertainment troops are mostly wandering the beach site, making last minute checks on the fencing, the gates, the Tecate beer stands, the portable toilets, the stage and backstage areas. Tomorrow, the streets of Rosarito will be jammed, the ones that are open because several will be closed.
And today, Rosarito Beach is holding its breath.
The economy here has suffered the last few years because of a little brother identity with Tijuana and fears of similar violence. Rosarito Beach is a relatively safe place. We’ve lived here many months and experienced no crimes personally although a few have happened and we see the police pickup trucks daily with their loads of people under arrest for one crime or another – mostly, small time crimes we suspect.
So for Rosarito’s sake, the Baja Beach Fest will give a boost to the suffering economy – a boost of sorts, largely for the food and drink and hospitality industry. Hotels and BNBs are already full. Taxis are at the ready as are buses and shuttles. Cars are discouraged as there’s a minimum of parking although every enterprising property owner within a five-mile radius is turning every spare inch of yard space into a parking lot.
For the sake of the sanity of many of us who live within earshot and eyesight (the lights all night in our windows are blinding), we’re getting out of Dodge and heading one direction or another. Us? We’re headed north to San Diego to take care of other business and see a couple of our docs and get some sleep.
I haven’t seen the rest of Mexico, so I can’t report on anything except our Baja California area. And it’s a confusing place for me. On one hand, Mexico wants to be seen as a first-world country and heaven knows there’s a lot of evidence that this should be the case – the arts, the universities, business and more.
Events like the Baja Beach Fest are trying to accomplish it in one arena – entertainment.
On the other hand, we read daily of serious corruption, we walk trash-filled streets, experience power and water outages and note the many bathrooms with signs reminding us not to flush the paper as it will clog up the system. This doesn’t feel like a 21st century first-world country.
We like the simpler, more relaxed take on life. It’s one of the reasons we wanted to move to Mexico. Perhaps we simply made a bad choice for where to land with that move. We visited Rosarito Beach in the fall when things were quiet and the beach was lightly populated with no spring breakers or music festivals – just the kind of beach we like. But we’re not everybody and we don’t get to choose for everybody either.
One bikini-clad young woman summed up the experience both for those who come to party here and for those of us who live here: “We came for a good time, not a long time.” And there you have it. We’ve lived with the noise and the crowds since March. A long time.
We can only choose for ourselves. And our choice at the moment is to not spend another “noise” season in Rosarito Beach. What that means, exactly, is still being worked out.