Haunting the iconic Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel in Tijuana, the performer known as La Faraona remains like a ghost from the Golden Age of the Sin City.

During prohibition times in the US in the 1920s, people flocked to the borders to have a drink and a good time. The border towns also become a hot spot for smuggling activity and flourishing establishments that would quench peoples thirst. 

Tijuana was one of these border towns that saw a golden age and growth during this time. People came from the whole world to get a drink while gambling at their casino and watch horse racing and bullfighting. For the conservatives, Tijuana became known as a Sin City or was even called Satan’s Playground. 

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The demand for a good time was profitable however and attracted many people south of the border, and many resorts were established for this particular need. One of these places was Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel that opened in 1928. It was like the American Monte Carlo and Deauville that attracted American celebrities, Mexican politicians, diplomats, gangsters and gamblers alike during the 30s. This is the time that is remembered as Tijuana’s golden age. 

The hotel in Tijuana in Mexico in Baja California is said to be haunted now however, and the glamor it once held, is now under the layer of dust and only a footnote in history. It is now a high school and many of the reports of the haunting come from the students themselves. There are many stories, and especially about a woman walking past the student, whose feet don’t even touch the ground. The legend of this ghost has been called La Faraona.

The Dancing Ghost La Faraona

Agua Caliente is a place where performers had the chance of being discovered and making it big. Rita Hayworth was one of those while she was playing a show at the hotel. She went on to be a famous Hollywood star and a cultural icon. But there was not every performer that managed to get out of Tijuana. 

Haunting the iconic Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel in Tijuana, the performer known as La Faraona remains like a ghost from the Golden Age of the Sin City.
Satan’s Playground: The Agua Caliente was a famous tourist spot for a weekend away. It was also a place were many performers were employed and made famous. On the other end it was a place were many illegal activities took place. // Photo: Guy Sensor Landscape Photo, courtesy of San Diego History Center Photo Archive.

It is said that a female performer haunts the former hotel that was built atop of a natural hot spring. In many versions she worked as a singer, but in the most detailed stories, she was a dancer in one of the more popular shows. A flamenco dancer from Spain. The stories told at the school call her La Faraona, apparently her stage name as the star in one of the many shows at the casino at the Agua Caliente. 

She was supposedly also known as being somewhat of a good luck charm to keep at your side by the gambling tables at the casino. By her many admirers, she gained a lot of wealth in the form of diamonds and jewelry and there are rumors that she hid her treasures by the minaret which is the place her ghost has been spotted many times.

Crime of Passion

Haunting the iconic Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel in Tijuana, the performer known as La Faraona remains like a ghost from the Golden Age of the Sin City.
La Faraona: According to the legend, La Faraona laced her lovers drink with poison and they both ended up dead.

She was in a relationship with a man at the resort. Some call him Mr. Patrick, a British gentleman and a dealer that had made money on the alcohol smuggling business. In some accounts, he was even in Al Capone’s mafia. In all accounts however, it ended in tragedy when La Faraona killed him.

Why she did it differs from one version to the next, but it is usually by poison. In some accounts, she only poisons him, but in many versions, she does it to both of them. She supposedly poisoned her lover after stealing his money or after she realized he wasn’t intending to bring her back with him to England. In some versions it was because she saw him with another woman.

Apparently she laughed in his face when she poisoned him and even told him there was an antidote for it that she wouldn’t give him. He ran after her to get the antidote from her but didn’t get it. He then shot and killed her. 

This also meant that he would never find the antidote to the poison as well and he too died. Or they both died by the poison she laced their drinks with. Now they both haunt the former hotel where they ended their days. 

A Real Murder at the Hotel

When we look at the historical facts, there are only one murder registered at the Agua Caliente, although who knows how many that never made it to the public really happenend, we will never know. 

But a dancer working for the past four months at the Agua Caliente was found on 26. March in 1934. Named Esperanza López was found murdered in one of the bungalows at the premise that were kept for the artists at the casino. She had been shot by her husband who also worked at the hotel named Rodrigo Prieto. 

The hotel closed down in 1938 when the prohibitions were lifted in the states, and Mexico forbade gambling. Then the building was turned into a private school named Lázaro Cárdenas High School where the stories about the hauntings mostly came from.

And the students at the school keep insisting on seeing her ghost roaming about the place as she is never leaving the Agua Caliente.  

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References

Encyclopedia of Haunted Places, Revised Edition: Ghostly Locales From Around the world Av Jeff Belanger

Tijuana Was Once “Satan’s Playground” | KPBS Public Media

In Tijuana, searching for Al Capone – The Washington Post

La bailarina del Aguacaliente | Noticias de Tijuana | EL IMPARCIAL

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