So last month I had my first trip to Mexico. Tijuana and Baja California to be specific. The trip was to visit the girls’ extended family, so we stayed with their relatives and a fairly significant amount of time was spent in the style of a family reunion…hanging out with family.
One of the most interesting aspects of Tijuana as I saw it was the drastic topographical change, literally when you cross the border. While San Diego is fairly flat with mountains rising to the east, Tijuana is comprised of steep, plateaued hills and flat valleys. The architecture is different (and I didn’t take any pictures of the city…oops) and varies from house to house. Apparently squatters get land rights if they have been on a piece of property without being evicted for 5 years. This can then lead to the construction of unsound buildings, disconnected from the electric and water grid.
A sub point of the city of Tijuana would be safety. Since I was with the family the entire time, I never wandered into a dangerous area or felt unsafe. I did hear later that a few years ago there was a shooting a playground we visited…hmm. But as with many cities, I imagine there are safer sections. All the same, considering the current state of affairs with Mexican drug trafficking, I wouldn’t advise journeying to Tijuana unless you are with people familiar with the area.
One evening we drove along the border, which was fascinating. I’ve driven across the border into Canada and crossed borders in Europe, but seeing the multiple walls differentiating countries was entirely different. I also had the experience of walking across the border back into the States. The family member driving us back to San Diego has a pass that enables a much quicker drive across the border, but the driver cannot have any passengers. So it ends up being faster to have us walk across and meet him on the other side.
The Sunday we spent in Mexico involved a day trip down Baja California to Valle de Guadalupe where vineyards abound.
The hills and vineyards were beautiful (as was the drive down the Pacific coastline). One of the stops we made was at a gorgeous vineyard/house/bed and breakfast.
Of the wines I tasted, my favorite was LA Cetto‘s Nebbiolo.
Having my first taste of Mexcio be through staying with a Mexican family was perfect. Even though I felt somewhat out of place, they were so welcoming to me and by the end I felt like part of the extended family as well. And they gave me the opportunities to try some delicious food like chorizo, tortillas made of flower four, and spiced mangoes (while in the States it seems we primarily think of food in terms of sweet or salty, in Mexico a necessary third option would be spicy).
I’m not sure when my next trip to Mexico will be, but I do know that I’m excited to go back and see more of the country. 🙂