When you are so close to the border of Mexico, there is not much more you can do then at least cross that border. Right? So when I was in San Diego, I went to Mexico for a small day trip. Just to do the general stuff: eating too many taco’s, drinking tequila and corona and enjoy the guitar music on the streets played by men with sombrero’s. Olé!
Mexico has a bad reputation. Some people even said to me that it was stupid of me to cross the border. After spending just one day there I can not say anything about it, but in my opinion it is a bit exaggerated. Ok, I didn’t cross the border on my own, I went with a group of people I met in my hostel. But I believe as well that I could have easily done it on my own without having any problems. And from the people I have met who really traveled through Mexico I heared nothing but good stories about this country.
Crossing the border to Mexico was really easy, not what I expected at all. After all those bad stories in the news about the border I expected a lot. Nothing true about that. We just passed a fence and we were in Mexico. No one checked our passports. No one putted a stamp in it. So within a few minutes we were in a different country.
Coming back to the US later on was a whole other story. If you are going back during rush hour, you have to wait for hours. They check everyone and every passport. So it’s better to go back really early or really late. We arrived around noon and there was no line waiting to get into Mexico. All the people on the pictures are waiting to get into the US! Be aware of what kind of US visa you are using. You are not always aloud to leave the States so you can get real problems if you are heading into Mexico (where they don’t check your passport, what I mentioned before) and try to go back. Before you know you are in no man’s land.
I was so glad to be in Tijuana for one day! It somehow reminded me a bit of Asia, which probably sounds really odd, because you can not compare it with Asia at all. But the first days in the US I felt a bit uncomfortable. I just spend four months in Southeast Asia, living really basic and cheap. And suddenly I was standing in Los Angeles and San Diego and had to behave ‘western’ again. Which was surprisingly tough. So when I arrived in Mexico and saw the more basic lifestyle, the street foods and the cheap prices, I was happy. It is a whole other world if you compare it with the US.
Tijuana is number five of the biggest cities of Mexico and around 1.3 million people are living here. I never expected that, it doesn’t feel that big. I would not consider it as a beautiful city. There is not much to see and the centre is mainly filled up with bars and dancings. I bet a lot of Americans go out here, while a beer is just one dollar compare to the four or five dollar they pay back home. And yes, it is also allowed here to drink from 18 on, so good reason for the youth to visit Mexico now and then.
But despite the fact that the city is not that beautiful I still saw some nice painted houses with bright colors and some other fancy buildings. Pretty colorful! When you are here you should certainly visit the El Popo Market. I just had a small glimpse of it, because they were closing down at that moment. Shame! Other sights you will find easily when you are just strolling around town.
During the night the vibe got a bit less relaxed in the city I have to say. Although I haven’t seen any problems or whatsoever (only a truck with military people carrying a gun – still not sure if that feels safe or not). But still, I am glad I visited the country for a couple of hours and that I could feel a bit of the Mexican vibe, although Tijuana is pretty touristic and not the real Mexico. I made the worst food picture ever, but only this cheap and delicious taco was already worth it: