I’m Proud To Be A Rotarian In Mexico

By JOHN M. DERBY
Times Founding Publisher
November 29, 2018

Two hurricanes hit Baja California, Mexico, before we arrived in late October, however, since Florida had its own devastating hurricane, there was little printed in the California press or shown on U.S. national television.

We knew the roads would be rough but we were unsure how rough. Two other families who live in the same area as we do, said they would not take Mex. 5 which goes south after crossing the border at Mexicali.

That was exactly the route we planned to take, however, we changed plans and headed to the crossing at Tecate and the “Wine Road” which had not suffered much damage according to the reports we got.

The Wine Road runs south from Tecate to Encenada and in our estimation is one of the most beautiful roads in Baja, taking in the wine country which is booming. It is like the Napa of Baja with wineries lined up, one after the other, serving the local vintage as well as fine meals.

Roads were somewhat torn up near the town of San Thomas but it was not because of the hurricanes, the government was working on massive road projects. In Mexico, they really do use gas money to improve the roads.

Our trip down the 600 miles from the border went well, and it was not until we reached the little town of Mulege that roads were so bad, we couldn’t drive to our favorite stores.

To our surprise, it had nothing to do with the hurricanes, however, it was due to the town installing sewer and water lines beneath the roads.

Ever since we came to Mexico, the area had a problem with good water and the sewage which flowed into the river still untreated.

American Rotary clubs had offered to help, but the help was slow going and the cost was substantial. A giant pella or water tank was purchased and installed, but there was not a big enough pump to deliver the water to the homes, and there were little or no pipes for the water. The sewer system was even worse.

Years went by before water pipes could be installed and most of those pipes were for the newer areas outside of the main town. Tearing up the streets to install water pipes was a massive job.

Rotary stepped in with funding, along with government assistance, and finally this year, the project was undertaken.

Local merchants could barely keep their doors open for business the roads were so torn up.

We arrived at the last of it. The streets were nothing but dirt and heavy equipment trenched where the pipes would be installed. However no one complained and indeed seemed very happy that at last they would have a water supply and the sewage would no longer ruin their river.

Since that time, we have seen people fishing in the river which we had never seen before. While the roads are still unsurfaced, the tourists as well as the locals, are back doing business at the stores in town.

Word has spread around that this project has been sponsored by the International Rotary Clubs, as well as their own.

When I wear my “Rotary at Work” T-shirt, it is with a feeling of pride, and the Mexicans who live here take special note and even thank Rotary members for being the ambassadors of goodwill.

I am proud to be one of them.


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