happnin' Mexico - welcome to Tijuana, tequila, sexo y marihuana...

Yolanda’s bit
We got to Tijuana at 6am after an all-night bus. We are in Latin territory!!! watch out! New rules and lots of dodgy people. Off the bus and everyone knew where they were going or took the first offer. We stepped back and watched. There was left only an American rough traveler bloke who seemed to know the place and started to bargain hard -in Mexican Spanish!!! -with a cabby man. We decided not to act silly and walked to our selected cheap Hotel del Prado at Calle 5a Zapata. It shouldn't be far. Tijuana -as many other Mexican towns- was built in a square grid of Calles perpendicular to Avenidas and, also as many other Mexican towns, they would have repeated names of Revolucion Generals and historic and religious characters.

Hot. There were a few wobbly people around, all-night drunkenness settling in, they hadn't hit the bed yet. We crossed the main Avenida Revolucion which is the central nerve of the small town and is packed with bars -mainly-, restaurants and all kinds of shops -gold being one of the strongest commerce.

A Mexican woman who looked at us full of suspicion opened the door and said a room would be free around 11/12pm (check out in Mexico is average 12-1pm), we couldn't have a look, we had to pay in advance and come back later. While all this negotiating was going on, a group of girls -southamerican but not Mexican- asked for rooms available and the patrona kicked them off angrily. We were a bit shocked by her rudeness but later on we would realize the girls were in Tijuana for "business" and the patrona wouldn't have any of it.
For Mexican breakfast you have a mad choice of burritos, tortillas, chile, various meats and all the typical heavy spicy stuff. Going for "continental" makes you a fuzzy tourist and you pay for it. We passed the time in a hot daze waiting for our room and finally crushed in a cool dark room facing the patio for a few hours.

And we went to check out the local tequila. At every door there was some Mexican bubbly girl offering you cheap shots, 2 for the price of one, happy hour was 24 hours in Tijuana. Everywhere was packed with tourists, mainly American, having a bit of a wild time. It is a bit of an outlaw town, a bit of a brothel, lots of parties and any kind of commerce you may be interested in. In any case, it's allright for a couple of days and we did have fun.

From early in the morning there were the "chiquitas" at bar doors enticing you to go in and have a tequila. In restaurants we started to see two things: one, it was going to be damn hard to be vegetarian in this country and two, the mariachis. They do sing around loud while you eat and ask you if there's any song you want and then pass around for money.

We suddenly realized that we hadn't crossed any immigration check points when we arrived in Tijuana, part of the Southern California, which was allright for Miles who would go back to the States before his American visa ran out, but I needed a stamp on my passport. So we went in search for the immigration office which was quite a quest. The officers looked very scary with their macho attitude, their mustaches and their guns and we knew enough about Mexican corruption to be a bit wary of the fact that we might have entered the country illegally. But even if they didn't make us feel comfortable in the least, it was allright. After the stamp we had to go to a bank next door to pay for my visa (???).

I had to get ready to be on my own in Mexico soon so I had to buy two things for protection: a bra and a wedding ring. I found the most armour-like bra and then we went hunting for wedding rings. There's lots of gold shops around and lots of wedding rings for some weird reason! We went shopping for prices and everytime there was a funny look and a "you want two, yeah?" "no, just one, for me" and weird look of the salesman who wouldn't ask anything else. I found a 15K one for just $15! real bargain. Right, I was sorted. Miles bought some real Cuban cigars for presents and we kept drinking tequilas for a couple of days.

Next we would take a night 20 hours bus through 1500 km of cruel and beautiful Northwestern Mexican desert to Los Mochis, by the coast. Awful expensive hotel. The town was no better. We just spent a night there to get the amazing Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico next morning.