Mexico: Trip to Tijuana - The360 Travel

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  • Sunday, December 15, 2019

    Mexico: Trip to Tijuana

    Mexico: Trip to Tijuana

    One destination may hide another. This is the case of San Diego, ideal base camp to discover Tijuana, take the step of the gap that separates the two cities yet distant of just 30 km. Excursion.


    It is a nice park. The beach is inviting, clean, lined with a boardwalk decorated with giant hearts, multicolored. We would really like the place, if it was not for this huge metal fence, as tall as three men, which throws itself far ahead in the ocean. San Diego is right on the other side, you can see through the interstices of the barrier and barbed wire its modern skyscrapers. Signs of prosperity. Symbols of the formidable gap with Tijuana where there are not, indeed, office towers.

    The wall that Donald Trump is talking about already exists between San Diego and Tijuana, built by the previous administrations on the third of the border. A ribbon of rusty sheet metal, omnipresent, which imposes itself at the end of the eye, always. Sad orange background, except when budding artists have come to put a little color: especially messages of solidarity, sometimes rage or adolescent love. Near the beach are the names of veterans who fought in the US military before being deported for an offense or crime that draws attention. Closer to the city center: a huge "Empathy", graffiti in light blue. Empathy.

    "There are things you need to see to better understand," says Derrick Chinn, a former San Diego journalist turned tourism guide since he moved here in 2009. Because, yes, there is of tourism in Tijuana. The San Diego Tourism Board is also encouraging and announcing on its official website the possibility of going on excursions, recommends agencies, and explains how to cross the border without worry. "People do not realize yet that by coming to San Diego, they have access to two destinations. They kill two birds with one stone, "said Robert Arends, spokesman for the San Diego Tourism Board.

    An easy visit

    It must be said that for Americans or Canadians, crossing the border is particularly easy. Simply board the trolley on the blue line that serves downtown San Diego to San Isidro. The ticket for the day costs US $ 7. The trip takes just 45 minutes. From the terminus, it is not five minutes to walk before passing the customs officer. Tchak, a stamp and a piece of paper to keep to return later. Still a few tens of meters and Tijuana is revealed, there, just in front.

    The journey begins with an odor. Sweet and sweet, pancakes with dulce de leche - this condensed milk caramel - sold by a girl in the shade of a small umbrella. Then comes the sound of taxis, horns or bodywork that grumbles into a pothole, drivers who hail customers.

    Large colorful posters announce 50 centavos (5 cents) toilets, discounted pharmacies and surgical operations of all kinds at a good price. Nothing to do with the clean San Diego left less than an hour ago. Rarely will we travel as much as crossing 30 km.

    A significant proportion of tourists come here to receive health care at a lower price or without waiting (the state is also promoting medical tourism). Young people cross to drink alcohol at age 18, rather than 21 years on the American side. As Anthony Bourdain did for the Travel Channel, many also do so for the gastronomy of Baja California. "The food is amazing. You have to come for that, to discover another culture, to get to know the world around you," says guide Derrick Chinn.

    Local flavors

    Any stay must include a stopover at the public market of Tijuana, condensed life where you can find everything from mangoes ripened just like insects to make traditional tacos, banners and birthdays piñata for children. A few hundred meters away is the unique architecture and cultural center that exhibits the works of artists of today and yesterday, describing the history of the region in drawings. Very pretty works.

    At noon, we restore tacos, of course, it goes without saying, especially since it is in the region that would have been invented tacos stuffed with white fish, breaded, served with spicy salsa, onions, tomatoes diced and shredded cabbage. They are eaten in a popular canteen, in front of the cook who is not stingy of smiles. To meet the trendy youth, go to the Gastro Park, a popular gathering of street food trucks. To taste a historic dish, go to Cesar's, where, against all odds, an Italian restaurateur invented the Caesar salad during Prohibition, one of those nights when there were too many customers and the food was too scarce.

    After, you have to go to the beach, the wall, the walk to the hearts. Guides offer tours of microbreweries, vineyards just a little further south, or rare pre-Hispanic remains.

    Derrick Chinn welcomes families with young children, many foreigners, quite a few Americans. "It always surprises me. Americans are afraid to come here or do not care about Tijuana, "he says. Violence is a real and growing problem: 2,500 murders were committed last year, compared to 1,740 in 2017 and 910 in 2016. The blame for the fight between the cartels of Jalisco and Sinaloa, local media reports . "Yes, you have to be a little more careful than in San Diego, for example, but on the fly, basically. Violence is especially prevalent in outlying neighborhoods where tourists do not go, "says Chinn.

    And then, tourists usually spend only a few hours in Tijuana. A day, an afternoon, rarely a night. Afterwards, they will walk quietly back to the border, glancing at the long, long line of cars waiting to be able to return to US soil, while Canadian or American pedestrians will generally pass quickly (out of hours). point).

    There are less marked frontiers than others: we pass without noticing from France to Switzerland or to Italy. Between Mexico and the United States, it's something else. Two separate universes of a flip. It would be a shame to deprive oneself of both.

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