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Be careful drinking the tea in Peru.

posted Jun 24, 2016, 2:06 PM by George Ching   [ updated Jun 25, 2016, 6:09 AM by Richard D'Ascoli ]
Francisco Escobar

You may know PSAR REALTOR® member Francisco Escobar; he assisted in organizing the PSAR Global Real Estate Council’s recent program called “Do’s and Don’ts for International Transactions.” Speakers at this well-attended event discussed challenges and opportunities faced by REALTORS® who represent foreign investors, including visa restrictions, financing, exchange laws and overseas corporations.

But did you know that Francisco started repairing automobiles at age 8?

“I’ve been working on cars since I can barely remember, I probably started when I was about 8 years old,” said Francisco. “My older brother got involved in Baja desert racing when he was a teenager and I followed him everywhere. Baja racing was a lot of fun but there were a lot of close calls and I never got hurt.”

Today, Francisco still works on cars occasionally as a hobby. He’s hoping to begin soon restoring a 1960 Volkswagen Beetle.

Francisco, 62, was born and raised in Tijuana. He moved to Chula Vista at age 16, where he lives today. He met his wife Norma while they were both attending Montgomery High School in Otay Mesa. They married in 1974.

He attended Southwestern College and San Diego State University with plans to become a school teacher. Instead of teaching, Francisco started his own remodeling company called Escobar Construction. Then, in 1999, he switched to real estate sales. “I enjoyed construction, but I wasn’t getting any younger,” he said. “My bones told me that it was time to make a change.”

Francisco worked with several real estate brokerages before founding his own company, California Homes Realty, in 2011. Norma works with him in real estate, along with a small group of agents. They have two grown daughters. Norma is a teacher who works with students who are visually impaired at the Ramona School District and Julia is a hair stylist who operates her own salon at the Otay Ranch Town Center.

Francisco and Norma (his wife) enjoy traveling. “We like to fly to Mexico City, then hop on a bus and visit different towns,” he said. “It’s fun to learn about their food, way of life and see all the different things.” They also have visited the Dominican Republic and the Panama Canal that spans the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific, as well as Peru, including the 15th century Incan city of Machu Picchu in the Andes Mountains.

Francisco recalls an amusing story about their trip to Peru and arriving in Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes that serves as a gateway to Inca archaeological remains. Cusco is 11,152 feet above sea level.

“As soon as we arrived at the hotel, an old lady tending the front desk immediately gave us coca tea that is made with coca leaves in hot water and ask us to go lie-down and rest for a couple of hours,” Francisco said. “She said that it would help our bodies adjust to the Cusco altitude. We were not sure if the coca tea would be good for us but we were tired from the long trip and decided to follow her instructions. We were told by different natives not to drink coffee, only this coca tea if possible because it would prevent altitude sickness. Fortunately, we never got sick and we loved the tea and enjoyed its refreshing spearmint flavor a lot. Only later did we learn that the coca leaves are used to make the drug cocaine.”

According to Wikipedia, coca tea is legal in Peru, Columbia, Bolivia and Ecuador, but it is illegal in the United States. Also, coca tea is used to wean cocaine addicts off the drug. “We didn’t know it at the time about the connection to cocaine, but we laughed because no wonder we liked it so much,” said Francisco.

Francisco has been a PSAR member since he started working in real estate. “I have learned over the years the importance of the Association,” he said. “They do a lot for the members and they help us in our business. I like the people and feel welcomed and comfortable at PSAR events. Many of my friends who are agents also belong to PSAR. It feels like a family.”