Penny Centavo

A Youth Orchestra Is Planned for San Felipe

This summer promises to be another season of getting the most out of places to stay cool.

There is no compromise with weather conditions in San Felipe for July and August. It will be HOT…it will be HUMID. But this year the summer will be alive with cultural and art experiences available to everyone.

Recently I was introduced to a marvelously talented family that will be providing six weeks of art and music at the Cultural Center next to the municipal pool. It is an understatement to say that this is a great opportunity for our community.

Sergio Vela Castro will be teaching guitar to students in a collaborative effort to begin a student orchestra here in San Felipe.

There are donated musical instruments waiting to be held by our young musicians. This is the beginning process of a monumental undertaking for cultural diversity in our city. The lessons are free.

I dropped in on one of the first classes. Mr. Castro is a successful musician with the vital energy needed to inspire the young to play guitar. By the time I left the children were playing chords together in a beautiful meticulous rhythm. Yes… success already!

This is a great summer activity that will challenge and define our future musicians. Instruments are provided and the free class will last for six weeks!

Just imagine these delighted children someday playing in an orchestra! What a great way for them to spend summer days… learning musical skills with their friends…in air conditioning. Sounds perfect to me!

Centavo’s Wise Words: Keep the beat!

Changing The Meaning of a Word – 11th Cancer Walk

Centavo’s Two Cents

The word is CANCER. Cancer defined is a disease, a constellation, and the 4th sign of the Zodiac in Astrology. It is something evil or malignant that spreads destructively. The cancer word is all those things. As a disease it is hidden resentment; stealing time in this world away from loved ones.

At one time cancer was whispered, feared, delineated, by machines capturing images of doom. Hopelessness waited as family and friends took the news of cancer to their hearts.

You simply died of cancer if you had it. It was not compromising.

In 2017 our Town of San Felipe marched for the 11th year to remember the recovery and deaths of those loved ones who beat or lost the odds to live with cancer.

No words can describe the loss, the cancer that ends a life.

It has been many years of consistent research that has provided avenues for inflicted people to heal. It is these marches however, that tell the real stories. They have changed the vile word of cancer through hope and faith. They have made us remember that the word cancer can morph into a spiritual miracle word.

So many of us here have embraced the idea that cancer is defeatable. We have proof…. friends that have survived. They marched with us.

Our cancer walk was completed in February this year. The organization of this event was not an easy task. Yet it was so successfully orchestrated …and well attended. Money was raised of course…lots of it, especially for a village this small.

All those who came together profoundly moved me.

We were not defined by race, religion, or ethnic diversity. We were one.

When the walk was completed lunch was served on the Malecon. A band played. We cried. We danced. We sang. We remembered. We forgot.
We forgave the word Cancer. We know that the fight will continue. We know that people will still suffer and some will be healed.

This is the miracle… that a disease so devastating can bring us together in love.

That day we were a family celebrating the endless task of support that every being deserves. If you participated you felt this and were grateful that you made the walk important for so many lives. You showed your town, your friends, your family, your children that you cared. The word cancer was just the beginning of a word more powerful, and more rewarding…cancer-free.

Thank you to all those behind the scenes that made this event possible!

Centavo’s Wise Words: A word can be redefined

Enthusiastic Chefs “Stir” Up The Menu at The Pavilion

Centavo’s Two Cents

I am learning that everything takes a little bit of time to measure up to personal expectations.

For instance…if I want a tan I have to work on it, you know, get the notion, the lotion and the drive to lie out in the sun.

Nine years of living in San Felipe has brought many ideas into my head of what I thought I needed. In terms of meals, my expectations have risen to culinary heights. The food here is delicious and sometimes unbelievably good. Walk down any street and you will find what you are craving.

This is a town where recipe items must travel great distances. A head of lettuce has seen many miles before it lands in a salad here.

If you want a pizza the cheese is imported. In fact, everything on the pizza is imported.

Eating out is a pleasure for our townspeople and our tourists.
You can buy a fabulous meal off a street cart. You can eat in a restaurant and feel special.

I have often thought about how difficult it must be for a chef here in our village. They must order their supplies in advance, and may end up having to discard precious produce and food.

The Pavilion at El Dorado Ranch recently hired a young chef from Ensenada. This was a perfect opportunity for me to find out about the secrets of keeping everything fresh.

The texture, the aroma and the presentation of the food…all of these issues have gone through many changes at the Pavilion. Every chef hired there brought their own recipes and particular style… to the table …so to speak!

This restaurant serves the public and the El Dorado residents.
It is located on the golf course where the dining room and patios have views of the ocean. Very nice.

When I went to interview the head chef he had brought along his sous chef. I thought it was generous and kind of him.

Joshua Caleb Cazarez Rodriguez, as head chef, has the responsibility of overseeing 13 kitchen employees. He has been at the Pavilion for eleven months.

Julio Cesar Saveedra Gonzales is the sous chef. He is dressed meticulously in chef white and is smiling with diligence.

Joshua (orJosh) is dressed in black and speaks perfect English. Julio struggles to understand. Josh will interpret my questions for him so that he can be part of the interview. This impresses me.

Both men found their love of food preparation through their families. Josh studied with a top chef in Ensenada and spoke of this man and his talents with great respect. Julio worked with his family making pizza as a boy.

I have watched the ebb and flow of this restaurant for years.
Uniforms mean business and it was a pleasure to see that the Pavilion’s chefs are proud to wear the uniforms that define them.

In eleven months Josh has found his niche. He runs an expert kitchen and finds joy in teaching his workers how a restaurant should operate.

Food is an art form and both these men understand that.
Their plate presentations have a flair of elegance and fun.
I am not surprised that the food is delicious, generous and varied here. There is always something different to be served because these chefs continue to challenge themselves. Those who dine at the Pavilion are lucky for that.

There is a daily stream of trucks bringing food items to our town…and to the Pavilion. Josh and Julio accept the groceries that will be someone’s next meal. For this, the kitchen must be well ordered and clean. Food preparations are made with attention to health requirements. Josh makes sure that his kitchen is organized and time effective.

It is challenging and nerve racking. It is something they love.

San Felipe can entice many people to venture out into the food “unknown”.

The Pavilion is stirring things up. Josh and Julio make sure you will come back and try something that you didn’t even know you wanted. All good!

Centavo’s Wise Words: “Are you going to eat that?”

Bikers By The Sea

Centavo’s Two Cents

I was on my way to get my mail when I heard the sound of motorcycles. Well, we do ride quads around here…no this was different. About six or seven motorcycles proved to me that quads are no match for Harleys as they zoomed toward our town. The sun and the speed of their machines blurred the helmets and black leather clothes of the owners. I watched. These folks were “bikers”!

Often there is a group of motorcyclists ready to spend a weekend by the sea here. By the time I got back in my car another set of twelve were traveling down the road… then another and another…all day long. They came alone. They came in groups.

They were stopped on the road helping each other. They were getting refreshments at convenience stores. They were…well everywhere!

Bikers to me have always been thrilling, dangerous; dare devils that ride through town looking for a place to play pool. Their leathers and patches and pins and monikers tell you they mean business. Every movie I have ever seen that portrayed them always had them fighting in a bar.

The fact that hundreds were arriving at our town worried me. We certainly couldn’t accommodate their supposed lifestyles here. But I could not have possibly be more wrong!

This was the weekend that our village celebrated the biker, the mechanic who created unbelievable machines, the airbrush artists that decorated them…and of course the people that road them!

Hundreds of bikes were parked along the Malecon that was closed for this event. Tents were set up and chairs. It was a fashion show of dedicated metal, pipes, tires, chrome, leather, zippers, boots and blue jean material. Owners hung by their bikes waving to and kissing folks they hadn’t seen since the last roundup. There was pleasant chatter and distinct camaraderie. It was the Woodstock of the biker world, I thought…and I wanted to be right in the middle of it.

A huge stage celebrated the event with music. Children’s toys were passed up to the stage where lucky kids waited to receive them. An announcer in a bandana spoke from a mike as people clapped for his presentations. Vendors were ready with food, drink, and a plethora of items existed for sale.

Local restaurants were bulging with bikers needing a sit down meal. Their bikes glistened in the sun while they ate and they beamed with pride when locals took pictures of them.

There were bikes so beautiful that you had to get up close.
So many of them looked impossible to ride. Some bikes were so expertly airbrushed that they were pieces of art with stories to be told. All were parked up and down the Malecon next to each other as far as you could see.

The riders were as colorful as their bikes. Women leaned against their Harleys, couples, old and young clung on their bikes like an appendage.
The first time you were able to ride a two wheeled bike by yourself is a distinct memory most of us have. It was so freeing. Wasn’t it? We were able to explore the world around us, without parents and restraints.

Seeing these “bikers” reminded me that our first successful ride is never over. You can attach a motor to it, ride for fun, ride for charity, and ride that “Magic Ship” in endless adventure.

I suppose, in my fantasy, I could have roared into the sunset straddled on any one of those bikes…wind blowing, going 90 miles an hour, perhaps not alone, and just conceivably, as a decent person looking for the return of my youth. I’ll go with that.

Centavo’s Wise Words: Never ride a motorcycle in a dress.

Scorpion Club FUN DAY

The San Felipe Scorpion Club just finished their FUN DAY last Tuesday February 7th.
Each year they plan an outing in the desert with their members and guests.

The scorpion group here in San Felipe is very serious about desert safety and rescue. But this event was a day of fun with their 4 wheel vehicles. Trophies were handed out for various abilities such as driving backwards or the slowest driver. Lunch was available for $6.00. Fully loaded baked potatoes were dished out in record time!

Like many events in our town this was a fundraiser for the Sunshine Hacienda. This is a facility that houses children in lieu of parental care.

The members of this club spend many hours rounding up items for a silent auction and raffle. The raffle had many services and huge gift baskets to be won. The auction gathered gently used items of all types from jewelry to auto and home decor.

Nate and Sue Jansen

It is always a delight to see what people are interested in buying…and bidding wars are pleasant and necessary for financial success.

We are grateful to have such dedicated men and women who appreciate the beauty and possible dangers of a ride into the desert. They are ready at all times to be a rescue service for the community.

The weather was perfect for this type of activity…And the desert was left as everyone found it.

Scorpion Club FUN DAY

11th San Felipe Cancer Walk

The 11th San Felipe Cancer walk will be held on February 18, 2017.

It is organized by the San Felipe Cancer Society in cooperation with the Rotary Club of San Felipe, S.F.A.R.P. and Club Las Amigas.
Registration time: 8:30 a.m.
Opening Ceremony: 9:00 a.m.
Walk begins at San Felipe Arches: 9:30 a.m.

The funds raised for this event will be used for local cancer education; screening, and assisting with treatments for San Felipe Residents.

This is a no stress walk that our community has been participating in for many years.

Your support will be greatly appreciated!!

11th San Felipe Cancer Walk

SECOND CHANCE could be your best chance!


It is a sad day. My favorite pair of jeans has refused to fit me. No matter how hard I try to pry myself into them. We have been together for a long time. Now it seems “fitting” to sadly deliver them to a place where they can be worn and loved by someone…ok…I will say it….”skinnier”.

Many women here have had the luxury of very nice clothing, brand labels. It takes a long time to part with items that look good on us. We have to talk ourselves out of things. Especially clothing that is hanging in our bulging closets, waiting for the moment to be worn again. Clothing and shoes don’t talk. But all those years ago they distinctly said, “You look hot darling!” when you gazed into your full-length mirror. Right? The word “hot” faded into some other word as time meandered viciously around your aging body. The word “seriously?…” comes to mind. Yeah? Right.

Fortunately for me and all those other women (and men!), about three years ago a group of women living here had an idea. Every once in a while the female gender needs what has been called “retail therapy”…yes even in our little village. Women just have to go look at clothes, shoes, linens, often. Even if they don’t buy anything, it just makes them feel good. The group’s idea was to open a really nice resale store, so they drew up a plan, recruited five daytime managers, found a suitable location, donated their own time, labor, and money for start-up costs, and opened Second Chance, a 100% volunteer- and donation-based resale store. All items in the store are donated and all proceeds after meeting expenses are “paid forward” to the community.

At first, Second Chance donated all of its proceeds to VIVA [Volunteers for Indigent and Vulnerable Animals], to help with its spay and neuter and education programs. At the end of its first year, Second Chance realized it was far more successful than it had ever imagined, and the decision was made to share its good fortune not only with VIVA but with other local causes and organizations. Some of those include the Cancer Society, Cruz Roja, Volunteers Without Limits, C.A.M., K.O.Hambre, San Felipe United, both orphanages, and the San Felipe Rowing Team. It can be said that Second Chance is really making a difference!

One of Second Chance’s managers speaks to me in a back room where every item is meticulously checked, hung up, and made ready for sale. Donations of items come in regularly and they must be dealt with. Volunteers take button replacement and simple sewing needs home. Efficiency is paramount and from my view things get done fast. Some clothing and household items not appropriate for Second Chance will be sent to other organizations such as Volunteers Without Limits or to other local segundas. It is unusual to have to throw things away. People who are donating understand that everything should be clean and gently used.

It is volunteers that keep the shop new and lively. It is volunteers that keep the clothes, shoes, and small household items neatly stacked and displayed. Racks, shelves, and tables have been either donated or built. Most maintenance and repairs are done by the enthusiastic husband of one of the managers. The volunteers here seem to be having all the fun. Really. I am told that and I imagine it is true.

Second Chance has morphed into a place where everything that was once old is new again to someone else. It has become a very social place. The community walks in and out with lovely things.

Prices are pleasingly low. This was done deliberately to encourage a quick turnover of items and to entice everyone in this village to consider shopping here. It is catching on. Local shoppers tell their friends the drive out from town is worth it. It is tempting for them to keep the place secret.

Very reasonable price lists hang on the walls. You need not ask for more discounts because you can’t do any better without feeling guilty.

Let me give you examples: Dresses, jackets, and swimwear list at $6.00 per item. Sweaters and tops, a mere $5.00…shorts $4.00.

The managers of Second Chance know the value of good marketing and display. Right now it’s Christmas in the store…and yes, there are Christmas items to buy.

A local artist who used one of the manager’s clever designs painted the outside of the building. This has made finding the store easy… and has brought in many more customers. In fact, it has motivated other shop owners to “dress up” the outside of their buildings as well. All the colors of the buildings are delightful as you drive into our wonderful town.

There is nothing like going to a place of comfort. It is a wonderful store to try things on in private. Delectable fragrance fills the air, jewelry sparkles and shoes beg you to try them Go ahead…you deserve it.

There are many stories to be told here. I will keep you posted on those later. Just know that your money will go far here and a lovely present of love will cost little.

I could be sad about my jeans. But they will belong to someone else… all good.

Centavo’s Wise Words: If the shoe fits… try another pair on!


SECOND CHANCE could be your best chance!



Joe Alexander and Jody Michele. Photo by Centavo

Centavo’s Two Cents.

Rumors in San Felipe are always very interesting. Did you ever play that telephone game where the last person reveals what has been said around the circle? Yeah…I know …good luck with that. It is never remotely what was said in the beginning of the game.

I thought about the telephone game when I had heard a rumor that a new barbecue restaurant was coming to our seaside village… not just any barbeque joint but an “award winning one”. In fact, the proprietor Joe Alexander had won numerous awards for his finger lickin’ entries.

This is not the South… award winning barbeque? I think not. Someone pointed to the location where it would be…right on our Malecon!

Still I was not convinced.

True, it looked like the building was going through some renovation. I decided I should watch their progress.

Sure enough a Red SMOKIN JO’S AWARD WINNING BBQ sign appeared after several days of stalking the area.


Photo by Centavo

Somehow I missed what is called a “soft opening’’ of the restaurant. If you are not familiar with that term it means come and get free samples. I never miss an opportunity like this. I was told later that the opening was a success… lots of napkins needed…delicious.

A few days later my partner said… “I’m going into town. Shall I stop at that new barbeque place you have been obsessing about?”

I stayed by the window till she came home.

When she arrived she had a large brown paper bag emblazoned with the Smokin’ Jo moniker. That’s classy I thought.

She knew to bring me samples of everything. We sat and devoured the bags contents… except she forgot to add barbeque sauce of choice to the pulled pork sandwiches. “ Don’t eat those”, I said in a panic.” We’ll go tomorrow and get the sauce.”
And so we did.

Joe Alexander has lived in San Felipe for twelve years. He remembers the trips his father took here when he was a boy. He liked San Felipe so much he retired here.

Jody Michele is his business partner. She oversaw the renovations. She knew exactly what the interior needed. Jody is a tiny thing in stature but she was from New York, the city in fact. She had gone to culinary school and considers herself an able interior decorator. If I were still teaching she would have gotten an A Plus for both.

I am from New York and I was reduced with joy to mimic her accent.
You get the idea that Jody is no nonsense… but the twinkle in her eyes reveal she is kind.

I think it is wrong in someway to be cooking barbeque outside of your restaurant. People must pass its tempting fragrance daily. You find you can be in a trance about the smell and find yourself at their door before the place opens…a barbeque addiction…truly.

The restaurant business is a tough nut to crack. 90 % of these endeavors fail within a short amount of time…so this is risky.

Joe and Jody are convinced that they have a good product, location and service. I must agree.

Originally they had thought they would just serve take- out. But the ocean view called for people to sit and linger and ask for more napkins.


Photo by Centavo

Yes, Joe took first place in the challenging Best In The West Rib Fest in Sparks, Nevada. He has numerous awards for his barbeque. This festival has been going on for 28 years and is the largest Barbeque contest in America… so the judges have already applauded what you will be eating when you arrive. Just eat it and be grateful.

Joe tells me a quick story about his father emotionally adopting a young boy and raising him here in this town. Years passed and Joe was eager to find this person… a grown man. He found him and now he and his relatives run the restaurant in tandem with Joe and Jody. No one is beyond the hard work it takes to run a successful business. They are family.

I was thinking about future summers and stopping in for pulled pork sandwiches. But Joe and his barbeque family travel around the country during that time to the barbeque fairs that will bring more awards. I look sadly at their outdoor barbeque smoker.


Photo by Centavo

I asked Joe what it feels like to run a restaurant where you look straight at the ocean all day long. He replied,” It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Neither does his barbeque.

Stop by…Wednesday through Sunday 11 am to 7pm… Can’t miss the red sign on the east end of the Malecon! Bring friends!

You can probably talk them into catering your next celebration.

His award winning barbeque sauces are on sale too.

Centavo’s Wise Words: Food is love…but don’t talk with your mouth full.



Does This Shrimp Make Me Look Fat?


Our celebrated 2016 Shrimp Festival has gone in a flash. Early in November, and every year, our seaside village dresses up our Malecon for the expected shrimp crowd. People will descend upon our quaint little fishing town to sample the finest shrimp cooked in a myriad of ways.

The Festival usually runs all day for three days. People come to this event from everywhere. We are famous for this. After all, the fish taco was invented here.

One has to wonder when it was discovered that you could actually eat these bizarre crustaceans? Someone must have pulled one out of the ocean and bravely took a bite. Right? This was long before Sport Fishing and electricity came here…and before you or I were born. It is this action that is revisited with great enthusiasm.

During some point during the festival notorious food judges roam the Malecon sampling concoctions made with shrimp. The best recipes receive trophies of a larger than life size shrimp. They are carved in ironwood and coveted by all who deal in shrimp food. First place is revered in a way that only locals can understand.

I would love to be a shrimp food judge here but I don’t know what criterion gets you there. They have my respect though for this is a tough gig.

When the Shrimp Festival time frame arrived I was in Phoenix and cut my visit short so that I could attend at least one day of the festivities.

On the road to San Felipe people from California, Phoenix, Mexicali, El Centro, Yuma and parts unknown joined me in the trek home. They must have been newbies for they drove with outrageous speed. Ha! I knew there was plenty of shrimp…. but I felt my foot press on the gas pedal…just a little… just in case. A car passed me. He must have been doing 80 miles per hour… and another.

I would like to tell you that I unpacked my car when I arrived home, but I did not.
You could say that my body literally zoomed to the Malecon, which it did.

First stop…colossal blue shrimp stuffed with cream cheese with bacon wrapped around it. Somewhere in the cooking process it is battered…then fried. This is a food miracle I will never understand. I would like to say that I just had one…but that would not be the truth.

Then I see a woman with fried butterfly coconut shrimp on a paper plate. She is walking very fast and eating at the same time. There are plenty of tables to sit but when you are on the move with food…sitting is not an option. I grab her shoulder. I do not know this woman but when she looks into my eyes she knows that she must give me the location of where one can obtain such delicacies. She must act fast. The Malecon is long and there is only so much time to eat shrimp.


At times people don’t have to use words. Gestures are easier…a shift of their neck pointing to the direction of where one can find the shrimp they are eating is enough. We are veterans of where the best shrimp is waiting for us. We know the unspoken signals.

I become a shrimp detective. I locate all kinds of shrimp like a hound dog. The smells of delicious peppers, onions, chili, cheese, rice and hot sauce permeate the sea air. In my hunting process I have made new friends…I think.

You can be told there are different sizes of shrimp. The brown ones are mediums.  The blue shrimp are colossal. Amazing things can be stuffed into these beauties.  The medium brown ones have the best flavor to me. They are the staple ingredients to most shrimp dinner dishes around here. I am thinking size doesn’t matter….then I become worried that I may not fit into these jeans tomorrow.

Never compare a shrimp cocktail from where you live or lived in the states. Four shrimp smothered in ice and hanging around a glass bowl is hilarious here. Think of an old fashioned ice cream three scoop soda glass filled with…yes well I did count them one time…27 shrimp!!! That is the medium shrimp cocktail size. The juice and veggie items added to it can be slurped up after the shrimp are gone. Delicious and healthy!  You can bet that will fill you up. And yet shrimp is a word that defines something small…go figure.