Friday, December 2, 2011

Tijuana, Mexico- Part One

We had a much better time in Mexico today compared to last week when we visited Algodones. This time we took a Gray Line tour to Tiajuana. Our driver and guide, Juan, proved to be a fountain of information about anything and everything in regard to Mexico. He was born in Mexico and had spent his childhood there. He explained the two different meanings of the word Tijuana. In Spanish it means "Aunt Jane"- the Native Indians pronounce the name a bit different and claim that in their language it means "men of the river".  After we crossed the border into Mexico we drove through a hilly countryside. Juan said that in this area  there are 26 canyons many of which have had tunnels dug into them by Mexicans trying to enter the United States illegally. He told us stories of how he also tried to enter the United States when he was a young boy but always got caught. Finally at the age of 23 years he entered the United States legally after a lengthy application process, and eventually became a citizen. It was sobering for us to look out at the steel fence which divides San Diego from Mexico, also to see the tall lights and cameras which sit on the American side.
Parts of the wooden fence on the Mexican side are rather rundown. Juan pointed out to us holes in the Mexican border fence where, in the past, it was the only place where families could meet up with loved ones who lived in America. Also on a portion of the Mexican fence were white crosses. Juan said they represent the 6,000 Mexicans who died attempting to cross into America illegally. Our first stop before entering Tijuana was at a plaza overlooking the ocean. This is where the fences between the two countries end. America's fence extends 1900 miles from Brownsville, Texas and stops here at the sea.. Some Mexicans have tried crossing into America by boat, many of them have been unsuccessful doing that. Juan discussed why so many Mexicans want to enter America. He pointed out that Mexico has a 60% poverty rate, minimum wage is $6.50 a day. However, unemployment is below 4 per cent, there is plenty of factory work available. Electronics is Tijuana's biggest industry. I need to clarify here that all the information given regarding Tijuana in this posting I obtained from what Juan shared with us during the course of the day.
Most of our day was spent in the shopping district of Tijuana. However, while John and I walked those streets we were able to see the heavily populated hillsides where a majority of the town's people live. The city is the fourth largest in Mexico and has around 4 million people.

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