I don't understand why Tijuana has a bad reputation. I really think it is a beautiful city.
I think I expected Tijuana to be like Juarez. And I love Juarez and I think it still is a beautiful city, but now I see that my picture of Juarez has always been during this episode of extreme violence and perhaps it is lacking something that it had not too long ago. Perhaps not so long ago, the vendors were not so desperate, the streets not so empty, the presence of the feds, the municipal police and the military and their giant guns not so palpable.
In Tijuana, the downtown area is busy and vibrant and well-kept. The buildings in downtown Juarez look run down, but in Tijuana, downtown looks new. There is tons of street art, there are musicos, there is a beach, and tons of people are just bustling around. I think Juarez is surviving, but Tijuana is thriving. See this article from the Washington Post on Tijauna's turn around. I really hope to come back and continue exploring.
|Musico mural at Las Playas|
Eric and I had a Sister contact in Tijuana, and it was she that asked a neighboring family to host us. And thus we were so privileged to stay with Armando and Dalila and their little boy Emanuel. They are an extremely humble family, but they welcomed us warmly. Armando is 31 and can no longer work due to a lung condition. Dalila is 22 and so sweet faced and quick to giggle. She serves some food from her kitchen and gets temp jobs to get by. Emanuel is 4 years old and has anamazing imagination; on our last night he drew and cut out a salt water chicken.
|Dalila, Armando and Emanual|
|Emanuel and his gallina de agua salada/salt water chicken!|
Both Armando and Dalilia work closely with Sister Alicia in the church. They live in one room and they recently built another that is not attached and that is where we stayed. We spent most evenings together, lingering and chatting long past dinner. Armando told us stories of his illness, cutting his fingers in a factory that makes door frames (he admits that he was half asleep when the accident happened because he had stayed awake to watch a 3:00am World Cup game), and his expertise at ¨borrowing¨electricity (there is no other paying option and last time he was messing with the wires someone from the company came by and just made him put on gloves). Dalila shyly encouraged her husband´s stories and was proud to show us her albums of photos. The morning we left we had our own photo shoot--I can´t wait to send them the pictures!
|Armando and Dalila seeing us off on our last morning|