A donkey gets his stripes, Tijuana, June 2017
At the ripe old age of 21 my best friend and headed to Tijuana (we were inspired by The O.C. – YEP). We caught a Greyhound bus from Los Angeles, stayed in a dodgy motel, got drunk on Revolucion Ave and used shared taxis everywhere. We even spoke Italian to get around which at one point resulted in us ordering goat instead of beer, and actually receiving goat.
In the years since then Tijuana became a not so safe place to go (and to be honest, 21 year old me probably shouldn’t have gone either), so despite it’s proximity to Los Angeles I never ventured back. Over the past couple of years I started to hear good things, it was cleaning up it’s act, it was much safer, fun places were opening up. So last year, when my friends Andrew and Natalie invited us on a birthday trip (it’s actually Andrew’s birthday today – happy birthday!) we jumped at the opp.
I should be clear, traveling with Andrew is a treat. He was our host and guide when we first went to Cuba and it wouldn’t have been the same without him. He speaks fluent Spanish and finds the best things to do and will talk to anyone. If any of the below interests you, they offer a multitude of trips through his company Coast to Costa, so check them out.
Andrew booked us in at One Bunk. A hip boutique hotel bang smack in the middle of the action Revolucion. Rooms start at $48 a night and it’s impeccably designed (think Ace Hotel goes South of the Border) and very hospitable.
Our first stop for food, and a little lubrication was at La Justina, immediately outside the hotel. Everything was delicious. Everything. Eat it all.
After lunch we headed to a bar that was extremely fun and extremely raucous. The owner, in a move that rang of Tijuana of old, would randomly grab patrons and force Mezcal down their throats…. I thankfully managed to avoid this fate. After drinks we headed to dinner at Cine Tonalá, a rooftop restaurant overlooking Revolucion. The spot was hipster enough to be running Woody Allen movies, but Mexican enough to have amazing tacos.
After dinner the festivities ran long into the night in the many bars around town, the ones we headed to had shed their American tackiness and were embracing an aesthetic and atmosphere that felt like it belonged to Tijuana not to the hoards of tourists.
I headed to bed relatively early (ummm 2am) leaving the group behind thanks to an unshakeable migraine. The good news was this meant I woke up early enough to grab breakfast at Bresca, a simple but yummy coffee shop known for their breakfast sandwiches.
After breakfast the group arose and we went to get more food. This time stopping at food cart pod Telefonica Gastro Park. There’s a beautiful evolution in that the Mexican food cart gave way to the overall food cart and ultimate food cart pod trend has now come full circle in Mexico. Despite being pretty full from breakfast, we tried to sample as many carts as possible. So much good eating.
Now feeling ridiculously full we headed to a pop up on Revolucion selling locally made wares. Particularly impressive was the jewelry selection and I picked up a few things before stopping on the roof for a beer and oops, another taco…
I’d heard some good things about a couple a breweries that had popped up in Tijuana and we decided to check out the Teorema/Lúdica Co-tasting Room and sampled some great local beer.
Not having satiated that shopping bug we headed to the Pasajes near the hotel right off Revolucion. There were a number of local boutiques, some selling Mexican crafts, some art, a record store and the store pictured above that looked right out of Los Angeles or Portland. Hipsters are the same everywhere I grumbled.
Shopping bug satiated we had to stop for a spot of “street meat” before walking back across the border. These were rumored to be the best tacos in Tijuana, but I couldn’t tell you for the life of me where it was. I guess you’ll have to book a trip with Andrew…. ;)
See, so many happy faces.
Lastly, it’s taken me a minute to write this, and today being Andrew’s birthday, so a year later, it seemed like a good time to post it, but it would be remiss of me to post about crossing the border without acknowledging the horror that is happening at our borders. While Trump may have written an executive order to prevent the separation of families (a horror he created) there will be many repercussions to come. If you’re looking to help, here’s how (this list was pinched from Emily Henderson)
DONATE AND VOLUNTEER
- ACLU: This organization is currently raising money to help “defend asylum-seeking parents forcibly separated from their children.”
- The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): They are the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas. The money that is donated will be used to pay the bond for parents currently being held in detention (which usually varies between $1,500 and $10,000). It will also be used to pay for legal services for immigrant children in Texas’ court system.
- Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project: Also known as ASAP, this is a project of the nonprofit Urban Justice Center and whose goal is to “prevent wrongful deportations by connecting refugee families to community support and emergency legal aid.” This is a volunteer-based organization and needs donations to help fund the legal services they provide asylum seekers. They are also looking for volunteer attorneys and interpreters.
- Together Rising: If you feel like your head is spinning and not sure the best way to donate, this great organization disperses funds to other organizations that specifically help these children get proper legal support. They have helped fund Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Kids In Need of Defense and RAICES, to name a few.
- The Young Center: Their mission is to “promote the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children with due regard to the child’s expressed wishes, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and state and federal law.” You can volunteer to become a Child Advocate. This is an “adult who volunteers to spend time with and advocate on behalf of an individual unaccompanied immigrant child while he or she is subject to deportation proceedings.” They also expect donations.
Local Border Organizations:
- The Texas Civil Rights Project: If you are in Texas and want to volunteer, they are looking for people who speak Spanish to help translate for families and their children who have been separated. They also need volunteers to help with the legal intake process.
- The Florence Project and Refugee Rights Project: This organization provides free social and legal services to immigrants who are detained in Arizona, another border state. They are also looking for lawyers to take cases on pro bono.
- Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: LAIAC is “dedicated to serving the legal needs of low-income immigrants, including refugees, victims of crime, and families seeking reunification.”
- Al Otro Lado: California is not immune to immigration problems. Al Otro Lado is a “bi-national, direct legal services organization serving indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Tijuana, Mexico.” These services include helping deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S.
- Pueblo Sin Fronteras: This organization provides humanitarian aid and shelter to refugees and migrants on their way to the U.S.
- Families Belong Together June 30th Rally: Continued pressure on our government is necessary to make sure the families who have already been separated get reunited as well as making sure this can never happen again. Check the site to find a rally location near you.
CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
- Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-
3121 which will connect you to your local senate member.
- 5 Calls: If you need help with what to say, 5 Calls is a great resource to speak your voice on this and many other issues. You just need to enter in your zip code, select the issue that you care about, and they will provide you with a script to read.
- Whoismyrepresentative.com: In situations like this, we’re constantly prompted to call our representatives, and this website makes it super easy to find out who your representatives are in Congress, as well as their contact information.