April 11, 2003

Spring Break in Rosarito isn’t what it used to be

It’s Spring Break Season again, but don’t expect too much partying in Rosarito beaches this year. Some locals say the war and the fear among Americans to leave the U.S. are contributing to the low attendances.

By Pablo De Sainz

During last year’s Spring Break season, Javier Urrea made an average of $80 a day as a waiter at a club in Rosarito. This year, however, he’s not even making half that amount.

“There aren’t as many students this year,” said Urrea, as he was opening some beer bottles. “It’s been really slow in this club, but also in the other ones. I think it’s happening all over Rosarito.”

And that can be noticed: Clubs are empty. Taxi drivers stand near their cars, waiting for clients. Waiters sit on the tables where students were supposed to be drinking and ordering lots of beer. Taco shops and other restaurants don’t have many costumers. The streets of Rosarito are like those from a ghost town.

On a recent trip to Rosarito, I was ready to party with some friends. I expected the clubs to be packed and full of students, and bikini contests and such. But it didn’t happen. Yes, there were a few groups here and there, but no crowds.

I interviewed several San Diego State University students to see if they were afraid to leave the United States for Spring Break. Some of them said they just wanted to relax and they weren’t afraid. Others, however, made changes to their plans and decided not to cross the border.

“I feel more secure in my own country,” said an SDSU junior who asked not to be identified.

Some club owners and waiters in Rosarito also said that the war in Iraq has affected the local economy, and, as noted, tourism has dropped.

“It’s been hell for me,” said David Caro, another waiter in Rosarito.

But this isn’t only happening in Rosarito. According to a recent Associated Press report, Cancun and other beach resorts in Mexico have experienced the downfalls.

“Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, between 150,000 and 200,000 college students were descending on Cancun during the eight weeks before Easter. Last year the number slipped to just over 100,000 and could fall below 75,000 for 2003. A local hotel association said occupancy rates are down 20 percent from this period last year, when they slid 40 percent from spring break 2001,” the report said.

Although Rosarito tourism officials didn’t have official figures on this year’s visitors’ rates, they agree the numbers are down from last year.

So this year the music and the alcohol and the bikinis and the fun haven’t been the same at all.

Urrea said that he hopes things get better during Holy Week, the two-week period when Mexican families make trips to the beaches.

“Hopefully people from Tijuana will come to Rosarito. Although they don’t spend as much as the students from the United States, I think I’ll make money.”

As the Spring Break season comes to an end, some students said they weren’t impressed by the mood in Rosarito this year.

“I’m so ready to go home,” said Kelly Cassey, a 19-year-old from northern California. “This is my first time here and I thought it was going to be great. But it sucked.”

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