Today we found out what all the hype was about in Tijuana, Mexico. As we were on our way to San Diego, CA, someone suggested that we go to Tijuana for a few hours. I’d heard about Tijuana, but I was never allowed to go. There were a lot of rumors and stereotypes about this growing border town, so it was always known as the “Forbidden City.” Thankfully, today we put all of those rumors and stereotypes to rest.

Tijuana border with the U.S.

Tijuana border with the U.S.

We started off by taking a vote. Did we want to walk into Mexico or drive into Mexico? Along with a majority of the group, I voted to walk, so we parked the car off of the last U.S. exit and proceeded to walk to the border. We were almost at the border when I realized I didn’t have my passport, so I had to run back really quickly to get it. . I knew I didn’t need ID on my way into Mexico, but I was going to need it on the way out.

We went through this loud, clanky metal gate, and we walked immediately into the customs area. I looked back to see a sign that said “San Ysidro” with an arrow pointing to the U.S. side and “Tijuana” with an arrow pointing to the Mexico side. I learned something new: San Ysidro, California is the town right before you cross the border into Mexico.

The walk to downtown Tijuana took us about 15 minutes, and that was at a good pace. Our mission was to get to Revolution Avenue or Avenida Revolución, which is the heart of shopping and entertainment in Tijuana. My Tijuana tour book said to follow the arch, and Revolution Avenue would be at the other end of the arch, so that’s what we did. We had to cross a bridge before we could get to the end of the arch. I don’t know why there was a bridge in the first place; the river below was just as dry as could be. We could have walked across the bottom and not gotten wet. There was a HUGE Mexican flag at the end; sort of like “X marks the spot.” Then we were finally at Revolution Avenue, which is the second most visited tourist spot in the western hemisphere (New York City being the first).

I chose to do some shopping. I went in and out of the stores trying to bargain shop. The guide book said that no price was ever final, so I put in some work to negotiate the best prices. I would tell the shop keepers that the cash in my hand was all I wanted to spend, and most of them would take my offer. There was one guy that wouldn’t bite, so I went to walk out of the store and he chased me down to accept my offer. Got ’em!

Avenida de la Revolucion - Photo by Johntex

Avenida de la Revolucion – Photo by Johntex

I was super hungry by the end of shopping, but thankfully I didn’t have to go too far because there were plenty of restaurants on the avenue. Everyone else chose to eat at the fast food chains because it was fast and easy. My thought was, I don’t want it if I can eat it every day at home. I wanted authentic, so I sat down for a real Mexican feast. As I was leaving, I caught up with the group. They were chatting about how the price for fast food in Mexico wasn’t any cheaper than the fast food in the U.S. I paid less money than they did, but I got more food. Hah! Guess that’s what they get for not going for the full Mexican experience!

Activities:

  1. What are the rumors and stereotypes about Tijuana the writer is referring to?
  2. Go to Google Maps and find out where Tijuana is located. Describe its location in relation to the US.