A Monday Afternoon in Baja

“Look at that…,” I said in a soft voice, my head shaking in amazement.


Isn’t there something on Ellis Island around Lady Liberty that has the following scribed on it?
          “Give me your tired, your poor
           Your huddled masses yearning
           to breathe free…”


“Look at that.  Can you believe it,” I said in a soft voice, my head shaking in amazement.

A friend of mine responded simply, “Jesus.”

We both sat in the back seat of a big SUV while passing through Tijuana, Mexico.  We looked out at the border, a dry, heartless landscape where idealism dies in the hot sun of reality.  The old, chain link and metal fence that sits in front of the newer 20+ foot-high stone-column wall tells the true story of this region.

While looking at the fence, I couldn’t help but think of the many Mexicans that live here in Adams County.  I’ve talked to several who have made the crossing through Tijuana.  They tell of hiding under bushes, lying in ditches, sprinting, falling, praying, crying, being scared…all in the name of the American Dream, which for them often is portrayed by a rose-colored dollar bill.


I looked at that damn fence for a good 5 minutes or so.  I assessed it with a certain four-letter expletive.


We decided beforehand to not stop in Tijuana, opting instead for a little jaunt on South 1. 


Off we went.

We wandered down the Baja coast, stopping for beers and beef tacos in Rosarito–a coastal town where college-aged Californians frequent to get wasted.  We looked out at the ocean, told beach sellers we’re not interested in buying their junk, downed our beers and moved on.

(The coast is beautiful.)

A handful of Dos XX Ambars and a couple of hours of 7 and 10 piece Mariachi bands later, we professed that Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada is a fine place to spend a Monday afternoon.  The locals were friendly, and the margaritas (so I heard) were even friendlier.

(We are hungry.)

Lobster tails a little bigger than a jumbo shrimp wrapped in frisbee-sized flour tortillas with beans and rice were the perfect way to end our day-romp through nothern Baja.   

(Full bellies and tired.)

The sun sat and we crossed back over.  The border patrol guys said only “Are you U.S. citizens”.  We said only “Yes”. We were waved through. 

(SUV + white, clean-cut faces = innocence.)

Home free.


“Well look at that,” I said cynically.

(A yellow traffic sign with a black image of fleeing adults dragging a kid.)


(written 24 June 2000)

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