Lessons Learned In Tijuana (Las lecciones aprendidas en Tijuana)

In Tijuana you’ll notice a unique relationship between cars and pedestrians. Whether it’s nearly hitting a guy as he darts across the Internacional or brushing up against a slow motion crowd as you inch your way through one of the ubiquitous neighborhood flea markets, when in Mexico you will encounter the Mexican Pedestrian.

Unlike the schizophrenic American Pedestrian, who waits angrily for the walk signal to turn green, then ventures timidly onto the asphalt, looking both ways, the Mexican Pedestrian exhibits a sort of entitled insouciance with a dash of willful defiance as if to say, “It’s your job to watch out for me because I am King of The Road”. Bottom line? You better pay attention to pedestrians because they are not paying attention to you.

I was driving in the Soler area of Tijuana the other day, looking for a particularly good Birria cart, circling the blocks, avoiding pot holes and motorcyclists, trying to figure out the best way to reach the place while avoiding the flea market. Then opps, crap, wrong turn and straight ahead, no  escape, it’s a tiny neighborhood street teaming with booths and people.

There’s no way to back out since the car behind me made the same mistake, as did the car ahead. We’re boxed in by pedestrians who are in no hurry. There’s lots of cursing and furrowed brows from the drivers while the pedestrians don’t spare a glance, even as tons of deadly metal  brush against their shirt sleeves.

I wait for the car ahead to realize he can’t back out or turn around. He makes some progress. I nose my car into the crowd, acutely aware that nothing but a layer of dust separates my moving car from toddlers and elderly women. Thirty minutes, and three blocks later, I’m free.

Lesson learned? To the Mexican Pedestrian, a car is just another person in the crowd and it’s every man for himself.

Lesson learned? Don’t go for Birria in the Soler on a Saturday. Stay in Playas and get the tacos.