January 17, 1999
After an extremely busy last few days in San Francisco before departure (Hi, to all of you at Hillsdale High, Farnham School, and Leadership High!) we hit the road and arrived late Friday night in San Diego. After spending a day with my family in San Diego, we all headed to Tijuana where I dropped off Kavitha, Shawn, Abeja, and Jamila, who headed south. This area has a fascinating history that goes back long before this border even existed. (Check out "The Border through Time".) They all had on their packs and in the street one man asked Jamila, "Is your backpack heavy?" She replied, "Por supuesto," (which means "of course" in Spanish).
We took the red Mexicoach van from a parking lot on the U.S. side to the Mexico side. It costs $1.00 each way. After we arrived, there was a slight scare when Shawn thought he lost his passport. You don't need identification to enter Mexico, but you need ID to re-enter the U.S., and you definitely need a passport to go around the world! Abeja and Kavitha chatted with a silver ("plata") salesman, while I made a phone call home to see if Shawn left his passport there. But, he found it, dug way down in his backpack, nice and safe.
We trekkers walked to another bus stop, where the "camion" would take them to the main bus station, where they'd all take yet another bus. On Avenida Revolucion, the main Tijuana (TJ) street, I noticed some replicas of various sculptures in Mexico. One was a carving with Mayan figures, you could tell because the foreheads were quite flat and the eyes were somewhat crossed, a symbol of Mayan beauty. Modern-day Maya still look very similar to their ancient predecessors. The other trekkers will be following a route touching on important Mayan sites, while Klaus and I will be bringing up the rear.
I hugged Jamila goodbye but had a caramel-filled churro in my hand, and got caramel all over her shirt!
On my way back to the Mexicoach stop, I talked with the silver salesman. Once he found out I was Filipino, he said, "Mexicans, Filipinos, they are the same people. What's your name? Maria? Luisa? Joaquina?" When I told him my name, Monica, he smiled and gave me a discount on a necklace I decided to buy. On the 15-minute Mexicoach ride back to the U.S., my seatmate told me he always gets his dental work done in Tijuana: dentures that would cost at least $800 in the U.S. are around $300 there. Keep in mind that thousands of people travel between TJ and San Diego every day: it's the most heavily-crossed border in the U.S.
I'll be crossing this same border with Klaus on Tuesday the 19th, but under somewhat different conditions! (See "Ready or Not?")
Check out our future routes in Odyssey Maps.
Team - The Border, Through Time
Team - Seeking "El Norte"
Klaus - Ready...or Not?...
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