Baja.com recently hired one of LA’s finest public relations company to pump Baja tourism. Since January 2012, there has been some grossly shilled hype about the food in Tijuana, and Baja is being touted as the “New Tuscany”.
Of course, there are non-believers:
There is no doubt sleepy coastal towns such as Todos Santos offer the rat race a fantastic chance at being itinerants, but to actually visit Tijuana (or other border towns such Mexicali) for a puffy taco? What’s the phrase for “no fucking way” in Spanish?
Peep a “gourmet” Mexicali restaurant:
O yah… We’re living large now. Did everyone know there are over 120 Chinese restaurants in Mexicali? And the city’s most well loved, well known dish is arroz frito chino? That the “C” is no longer capitalized because, well, it’s become xerox/kleenex?
Now, the realities of border crossing — A few years ago, I tagged along with a Latino and some pals to Ensenada for the hyped “lobster fest”. I remember the greencard holding Spanish speaker fearlessly arguing with the traffic polizia after getting pulled over 10 minutes out of the crossing. He shrugged off the encounter, and everyone had their merry ways with US$10 lobsters later in the evening. More recently, I was not so lucky. A $10 lobster meal turned into $50 lobster meal after repeated wallet rapery by the police. On that trip, I was pulled over 3 times in a clapped out Japanese car. One local constable was so brazen, and Godless, he whipped out a bible as his billfold. Keep it corrupt, Tijuana. Couple of weeks ago, I visited Mexicali again for work. Same shit, different day. Trying to help the Mexicali business community? Screw you, give me “twenty dollars” — which happens to supposedly be the only English the poliziaman speaks during the shake down. What kills me is the police doesn’t just try to stick it to gringos in Minis; everybody gets hassled, even the natives with Baja plates. Why would anyone drive 4 hours round trip, get stuck at the border return for another hour and a half, just to eat some local shell fish, when far tastier crustacean can be had at Seafood Village for US$10? When Tijuana says it’s readying itself for the tourist season, they’re silently telling you they’re prepped to take your cash. Even in Vietnam, a country always knee deep in corruption at the lowest civic levels, the police doesn’t accost foreign visitors ala Mexico.
God forbid you want to visit the Baja capitol after feasting on the Northwestern Baja coast. Check out the only connecting highway between the city which takes you in between the La Rumorosa mountains:
I’ve driven a POS stick shift 4wd type vehicle through mountains in Costa Rica, I’ve ridden scooters in busiest of Thai streets, and I’ve faught China traffic before the concept of red lights arrived in Guangzhou. I’ve done the Tail of The Dragon, and I’ve run down Tuna Canyon in a 5000 lb station wagon. That road above? Screw that, no way. This dude, along with early Nineteenth century Chinos, has way more balls than me. God forbid there’s an earthquake — kiss the only road goodbye. But it’s not the road, it’s the lawlessness of the drivers on the road. Apply to that vehicular anarchy to the entire Mexico-US border region and you have the number one reason why the border towns will never be a tourism destination in this lifetime. Then again, maybe the American dopeheads are the devils causing this tragedy?