A Castle Not In Spain, But Almost Next Door

Mexico is often a romantic destination for couples looking to get married someplace special.  And for those couples, a wedding can happen in a chapel, a church, a daisy-filled field, on a beach, a boat or – well, how about in a legendary castle.

“A castle!” I hear you cry.  “How romantic is that!”

But hold on just one minute while I tell you a little more.  Yes, it’s a castle. Kind of. Yes, it overlooks the ocean.  There’s even a small scale replica of the Coliseum on the grounds. Yes, there’s a definite air of romance about it.  And yes, it was built for a legendary owner – namely Al Capone.

If you’re too young to know who Al Capone was, I direct you to Wikipedia (you can find that yourself) where you’ll learn among other things that the gangster to outdo all gangsters had a real presence on Baja California, less than 30 miles from our door.  No kidding.

But like many things in the world, there’s a true story and there are legends, and who knows where one stops and the other starts.  One piece seems to resonate throughout – the three things Capone required of any property he owned and occupied:
–bullet-proof walls (lava stone works great)
–a clear view of the road leading to and from the place (this is now Highway 1 to Ensenada)
–an Italian touch (hence the “Coliseum”)

We had a wonderful private tour with the current owner of The Castle, David Perez Elfman, who told us good stories about both Capone and the place itself.  Once destined to be a nightclub – post-Capone – The Castle is now home to many events in the neighborhood, mostly weddings.  Elfman has added to the stonework and furnishings but retains the photos of his beautiful mother (once mistaken for a movie star – it’s a good story) and James Dean (part of another great story).

Between The Castle and the equally legendary Rosarito Beach Hotel (once a refuge for the Hollywood crowd), the area is a mix of local culture and the glamorous mid-20th century lives of the rich and famous/notorious.

Other discoveries this past week or so include finding a couple of Rosarito’s small treasures, those tiny shops that look like they couldn’t hold another thing and finding the other things we’re looking for.  One is an “office center” along the lines of an internet café/office supply store and the other is a tiny hardware store filled with all the best things a hardware store carries.  Having alternatives to Home Depot, Walmart and Office Depot is great.  Support your local business!

Next time I’ll write about the neighborhood art center/public library where the murals are gorgeous and the air is fine.

‘Til then, adios amigos and amigas…