The tuna universitaria has come to Baja California

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Tuna UABC at Giuseppis

If you’re in the right restaurant at the right time, something unusual will happen. A bunch of guys show up dressed in Renaissance clothes, carrying Renaissance instruments. They begin playing in bright tones and quick rhythms – possibly Italian, to gringo ears, but the lyrics are unmistakably Spanish – while the little guy with the tambourine capers theatrically.

What happened to the mariachis and “La Bamba”? Has Tijuana suddenly become addicted to Lope de Vega? Or maybe the restaurant thought we’d like to watch “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in translation?

It’s a bit disorienting, here in the city that began as a Hollywood-style fantasy, to encounter something so deeply traditional and so authentically hispanic as Baja’s first tuna universitaria. Even the name is confusing … the locals know tuna to be cactus fruit and the gringos think it’s a fish … but the term refers to a group of tunos, university students who sing for their supper.

The tradition can be traced back continuously to the beginning of the thirteenth century with the founding of the Studium Generale (now University) of Palencia during the reign of Alfonso VIII. Nowadays tunas are established throughout the Spanish-speaking world. They’re even found in such unlikely places as Oxford, Belgium, and Japan. In central Mexico, tunas date back to the Porfiriato. For UABC (the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California), however, the tuna arrived in 2008.

Tijuana’s health industry prepares for international competition

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by Laura Durán

Tijuana Health without Borders, the medical tourism business cluster that was created two years ago, now counts one hundred eighty organizations as members and has created the first academic program for medical tourism in all of Latin America.

Today more than ever Tijuana is looking to develop its tourism. Not necessarily the leisure tourism of earlier years, because that has been depressed by fear, Customs lines, and the recession. Instead, Tijuana’s new tourism is being fueled by medical necessity. Patients come here for the high quality of our medicine, because our doctors spend time with their patients, and because health care in Tijuana is much more affordable than it is in the United States.

“The response to our educational program exceeded anything we imagined” said Jorge Gutiérrez, the treasurer and logistics coordinator of the Cluster. “It demonstrates the degree of interest that exists in this area. We thought maybe twenty people would show up and instead we have one hundred thirty who are committing one hundred sixty hours of their time, an entire semester, to earn this university certificate.”