But before you penetrate Tijuana you must cross a border, a contrived line, one that disconnects us all. On one side of this line, you have a society with its traditions, foods, music, language, government, and history. On the other side, you have a society with its traditions, foods, music, language, government, and history. Yet, this invisible line tells us one side is different from the other.
While each culture has its differences, we are all the same, in the sense that we all populate planet earth. Regardless of our geographical location, as humans are we not trying to survive? Are we not trying to live? Experience love and happiness? Humans, along with all living systems on Earth are connected!
Let’s appreciate the diversity we have as human beings and obstruct those judgmental and negative thoughts that we may have of other people. Accept the differences, they are beautiful.
As I pass these borders of elitism, which decide if some people are kept in or out, I put on the shades of a tourist. Through these lenses I see: cheap lobster, corrupt cops, donkeys painted like Zebras, tacos, Mexican beers, underage prostitutes, and inexpensive souvenirs. But as my sightseeing continues, my shades begin to become transparent and the suffering is no longer avoided.
To my right, I witness men struggle over tagged fences while the USA border patrol supervises in their air conditioned vehicles. To my left I see the homes in which families dwell; shacks made of scrap wood, crates, and other items that many on the other side would dispose of.
My eyes try to escape their sockets with their constant gazing at abject deprivation. Nestled in between the legs of Tijuana, is poverty, thrusting its semen inside the streets, with no lube, no rubber.
San Diego is known to get on its back and take it, but covers it very well. Despite the poverty we have, it is hidden under freeway overpasses, behind buildings, churches, within parks, and/or on bridges. Sooner or later, it won’t be long till the covers of our poverty are pulled off, exposed to the world.
After any journey to TJ, one must end where it started — the border. Unlike crossing from the American side, going back to the US involves interminable lines of cars colonizing the streets, putting poverty in slow motion.
I see you hobbling towards me with your hunch back, folds on your face, pain in your eyes, dirt and smudge on your clothes. I see you little one, holding that box of Chiclets gum bigger than your hands, with your voice echoing anguish. I see you wheelchair, rolling a passenger to me carrying only half of his body. I see you old man, with your soiled pants and ripped shoes, being held upright by your cane.
I see you all, don’t worry, my hands are on a quest throughout the fabrics of my car in hopes of finding something that can help. Pennies, quarters, and nickels are found, do you take credit? Here is some change, sorry I don’t have more.
Within a second, hand meets hand, smiles and ease emerge. After the window of my car climbs back up, that smile is taken away. Taken away, at least until the next time that person’s hand…. meets another. I know the money I give won’t fix the problems, but I am selfish; I want to see that smile, that hope, even if it’s for an instant.
Tijuana is an industrial park on the outskirts of Minneapolis. Tijuana is a colony of Tokyo. Tijuana is a Taiwanese sweatshop. Tijuana is a smudge beyond the linden trees of Hamburg… Taken together as one, Tijuana and San Diego form the most fascinating new city in the world, a city of world-class irony… Tijuana is here. It has arrived. Silent as a Trojan horse, inevitable as a flotilla of boat people, more confounding in its innocence, in its power of proclamation, than Spielberg’s most pious vision of a flying saucer -Days of Obligation. An argument with my Mexican father, Richard Rodríguez
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