I left San Diego this morning for Mexico. I was as prepared as I could be given how unprepared I truly was and could see no reason to delay this trip any longer.
International Border 2 Miles reads the sign overhanging Interstate 5, “The Five” in Californianese, just south of San Diego. This imaginary line with very real consequences is so much more than a geographic division. It is a separation of peoples, cultures, economies, systems of law, experiences, and expectations.
Rolling into Mexico is effortless. Traffic is funneled into two lanes and forced to slow as it flows around a few barricades and passed a handful of Mexican officials. I was never questioned, searched, or even stopped.
Getting out of Mexico couldn’t be more different. On the other side of the road, behind an impenetrable barricade, four lanes of cars slowly inch their way north. US Border Patrol and Customs agents scrutinize each car passing into the States with an array of equipment, man power, and dogs. Mexico doesn’t seem to care what comes in; the US is obsessed with what comes out.
Having visited Tijuana twice before, I was more than happy to skip the T-shirt shops, begging children, and titty bars and head straight for Ensenada – if only. TJ’s tangle of poorly marked streets and avenues coupled with an incomplete roadmap proved and immediate hurdle. After an hour of literally riding in circles I found it – Mexico 1, the road to Ensenada. Soon, the lights, traffic, and buildings fell away. A large sign thanked me for visiting Tijuana. I let out the clutch, rolled on the throttle, and rocketed free and easy down el camino. The trip has begun.