Tijuana Journals

Border Crossings

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A February 2001 trip to Tijuana by Elli Metz

Welcome to Tijuana Photo, Tijuana, Mexico More Photos
Quote: Despite its bad reputation for underage drinking and dancing girls, Tijuana is a border city like no other. A first-timer's view of this much-misaligned city by the border.

Border Crossings

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Overview

The Mexicoach Buses Photo, Tijuana, Mexico
Quote:
Aside from the long border crossing waits if you drive yourself, Tijuana residents have another whole paradigm for driving. After discovering this, I chose to take the Mexicoach across the border -- a giant red bus that shuttles tourists back and forth between countries every twenty minutes. It deposits you on the Avenue de la Revolucion, a main thoroughfare, filled with shops, bars, and street merchants who will barter with you incessantly to relieve you of some of your American dollars. Drinks are cheap and food is reasonable, especially at some of the clubs that double as bars. Look for the ones that have windows that overlook the avenue for some fabulous people-watching while dining.Quick ...Read More

American Nostalgia

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Restaurant | "American Nostalgia, Mexican Style"

American Nostalgia Photo, Tijuana, Mexico
Quote:
Stolling along the Avenue de la Revolucion, it is a shock to most American visitors how enthusiastic restauranteurs can be in their attempts to woo you into dining at their establishments. We accepted the offers of the criers at Escape Club for two reasons -- to get away from a street vendor who had decided to follow us, and to sit next to the open-air windows during lunch. The entire establishment is done in this strange Mexican-American nostalgic hybrid. Old license plates and movie memorabilia from fifties' television shows (American, both) line the walls, and sitting inside is like being in a Mexican version of TGI Friday's. Despite that, the huge glassless windows that line all sides of ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 17, 2001

American Nostalgia
939 Avenue de la Revolucion
Tijuana, Mexico
(52) 6685-6343

Amigos del Artes

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Attraction

Quote:
Though small, the Amigos del Artes is like a history museum and art museum wrapped into one. Aside from the small front room with all the photographs of Tijuana in its older incarnations, there are galleries upstairs (oddly enough, segregated into men and women's sections, since having the two on the same wall would be considered offensive), and a classroom where they teach english to natives, and art classes to anyone who wishes to attend. Local artists and artisans hang out at the Friends of Art museum, and they are more than willing to tell you anything you'd like to know about the processes of art ... and the wonders of Tijuana. The man who runs the place is an amazing soul. When...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 18, 2001

Amigos del Artes
Avenida Revolucion
Tijuana, Mexico

Quote:
At two different points on the Avenue, you'll be bombarded with large red signs with the RX symbol on them. The men inside in the white coats are pharmacists -- and you won't find anything cheaper in the US.The thing about Tijuana is that any drug is legal, with or without a perscription -- for personal use only. I know, even as I mention this, that there is a certain percentage of the population that's already got their shoes on and headed for the door to drive down here for their own personal drug du jour, but that's not the point here.Drugs in Tijuana are extremely cheap -- a fraction of the cost that they are in the US. A friend of mine goes her...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 6, 2001

1 - Approaching Tijuana

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Story/Tip

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Tijuana is a unique experience. Only twenty minutes away from San Diego by car, it hardly seems as if it could be a "foreign" country. The pervading sentiment in the U.S. -- at least in this area of the US these days, is that our border should be closed to Mexico. It's a poor country, the advocates say. Our system can't handle the influx of immigrants from the South that would occur. I've read the editorials, the jokes, the letters to the editor. I've seen political cartoons and heard of the propositions before California's state congress that would give police the right to stop anyone who appears "Mexican" to ask for proof of citizenship. Still, it seemed remote to me, des...Read More

2 - The Avenue de la Revolucion

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Story/Tip

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"It looks like parts of L.A.," Henry said as the bus pulled into an impossibly small lot halfway through the Avenue de la Revolucion, into an alcove on the side of an auspicious building -- so close, in fact, that I thought we were going to hit the wall in front of us. When it came to a complete stop, we disembarked into a welcome center/bus station indoors. Honestly, it was a little anticlimactic for me in the station. There were little stores all over, catering to the tourists -- it was like being inside a foreign strip mall. The only difference I found was in the shops themselves. The salespeople, trained to entice customers to buy by sheer will, are hyperagressive. Walking by, ...Read More

3 - Eating and Escaping

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Story/Tip

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Drinks were two for one. It was, according to the waitress as she delivered the bucket of Corona for Henry and two virgin pina coladas for me, always Happy Hour at Club Escape. With his duo of beers, she also delivered a little Nyquil-sized cup of Tequila, a packet of salt and a lime wedge. Neither of us had had anything to eat before leaving the states, figuring that since we both liked Mexican food, getting it IN Mexico was probably a good idea. The waitress disappeared after delivering our drinks. The pina colada was great. I'd ordered non-alcoholic drinks so that I could be steady, and because alcohol dehydrates me -- with all the talk about the water being what it is...Read More

4 - The Alley of Art

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Story/Tip

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We couldn't stay forever at Club Escape, though I wanted to. I wanted to watch all day from my perch at the window, drinking up the atmosphere with the pina coladas. We waited for an opportune moment ("opportune" being defined as "chain-vendor-free"), and darted out into the fray. Along the street were statues of rock, commemorating various Mayan and Aztec gods. This one of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, stood at the opening of an alleyway that wound back as far as we could see. People milled around the shops lining the alley, and we followed them, looking to get awy from Revolucion's more touristy nature. * - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ...Read More

5 - Bartering for Lizards

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Story/Tip

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The alley appeared to curve, but further back, a small cul-de-sac held a fountain and several shops. One sold metal lizards to hang on your wall, and the proprietress was more than willing to make a deal with me for a beautiful blue iguana that I wanted for the side of my own iguana's cage. "For you, only seven dollars," she began. "I only have five," I said, taking out a five-dollar bill. It was a lie, but then again, so was her initial offering "just for me". "All right. Today only. Five dollars. For you." Shopping in Tijuana has a sort of thrill of the chase that you don't get up north, where the price tags are pretty much the bottom line. ...Read More

6 - A Reality Check

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Story/Tip

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I won't lie to you. Some parts of our trip showed an urban city, away from the main tourist areas, that weren't as polished as Revolucion. The smells of urine and sewage were strong there, graffiti and decay decorated the walls, and the people milling about looked much less than friendly. It looked, really, like any urban area. The difference is that Tijuana, a city of a million people, is crucified for these areas. Whereas, say, Philadelphia for example, is not. I've seen Camden, New Jersey, and it is far worse than what I saw in Mexico, and probably has more seedy bars and strip clubs. Nobody says that the whole of Philadelphia is bad because of Camden or areas of West...Read More

7 - Coming Home

Story/Tip

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Six hours after we'd arrived, we boarded the Mexicoach bound for the U.S.. We were exhausted, carrying cameras and purchases, and full of excitement from the day. The bus was much more full on the return trip, most carrying bags and looking like they'd enjoyed just a wee bit too much of the good Mexican tequila. "It wasn't that scary," I said to Henry. "No, it wasn't." "We should go back soon." * - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - * The Mexicoach stopped at the border. We were let out of the bus, and made to walk single-file through customs. A scrubbed, fresh-faced Marine looked at our drivers' licenses ...Read More