// this is an introductory piece to a fictional novel. it is based on true stories and does depict reality in tijuana //
The man drove me in a black hood towards the border. The man in the truck all had AR-15’s. Most of them younger than I. They did not speak and neither did I. I was being forcibly returned to the United States. And for this I was glad. Time passes and memories fade. The bad memories of Tijuana seem to drift away with each passing day. The good memories linger longer. But soon I am sure even they will fade away with sunlight. The years passed and I returned to the city which sincerely I have called home more often than any other place I can remember.
Tijuana ~ A Place Many Think is Home To All Sorts of Evil, But It’s A Poor Man’s America
My grandfather was a Mexican Immigrant. My grandmother a Native American. I very often am ashamed of the legacy we will leave behind. The slaughter of the Native Americans. The racist enslavery of many groups of minorities. I sometimes am ashamed to be lumped into the “White” group of people who seem to rule the land. Maybe this is why I have spent much of my life wandering around. Never settling in one place, never content with the status quo.
To each person there is a journey in this life. Many Mexicans and South Americans risk everything their past, their futures to reach our country to have a better opportunity to provide for their families. Poverty and corruption are so deep in Mexico that many people starve or die of lack of medical care. Others are pressured into the drug trade. Others die a victim to kidnapping.
This is my story. I do not attempt to romanticize Mexico or it’s problems. I merely want to educate folks on the life on the other side of the fence. In all brutal honesty what I share with you took place long enough ago that I am not ashamed of it but have moved on and learned my lesson.
Playas De Tijuana
I wake up to the fleeting sound of the waves crashing around me. I have moved into a mobile home I purchased along the Playas De Tijuana. “Playas” as it is commonly called amongst the locals is a beautiful community. Most everyone knows everyone and you feel as though you are in the middle of a small town. It’s fairly common knowledge that many drug dealers, street thugs, thieves, and cops, and politicians call Playas home. It’s where a majority of the rich folks live in Tijuana. it’s jokingly called another suburb of San Diego by many locals. My home is near the beach. In a quiet lot I share with another American. I wake up and realize that I’m just getting used to the climate. This is totally new. My spanish is slowly coming back to me. Luckily for me I took enough Spanish in school that I need not fret I understand it 100% just am not able to speak it confidently yet.
One of my first friends is a police officer here in Playas. I don’t remember how I met him. I think it was through another one of my failed “real estate opportunities” where I met one of the local imports from America. Like so many Tijuas he too had spent most of his life living illegally in the US before getting deported back to the United States. He turned to crime to etch out a living and we met in passing and we became good friends. His name was Marcos.
Marcos and his Anita were good people. Marcos more often than not would come to my house when he needed work. Honest work. I paid a living wage. An American Wage. He would clean my lot, and haul out the trash or work on my mobile home. Often times I would make a list of things for him to do and he would do them. He was always an honest man, and yet to many he was a criminal.
I guess survival creates a need for crime. But he never stole from me. He would always just let me know he really needed some work. I often times would just bring him a few plates of hot chicken and rice and we would sit around and eat. I believe it was one of these occassions I met Ignacio.
Ignacio was a local police officer. He worked in the Zona Norte. He at times acted as my protector when the local Playas police would try to shake me for a “mordita” aka a bribe. Sometimes however he wouldn’t help or just wasn’t available to come to my rescue. In those cases I would either pay the bribe, or I would act like I had nothing on me. Most of the time the police would leave me alone.
I never paid Ignacio for his protective services. He never asked. But often times he would send one of his friends to my house to ask to borrow money for some beer, or perico. When I came to Mexico I had been battling my own cocaine habit. Not truly an addictive substance like other drugs. I found Mexican Cocaine all the more enlightening.
Me, and Ignacio spent many a night swapping stories over a half piece. I rarely if ever paid for cocaine. I did however educate Ignacio and whichever police happen to drop by many nuances of Americans. Much terminology and common habits of Americans. It was all in jest. The night would disappear and morning would come and I would return home. Often hungry and wiped from a night of partying. This continued for months on end. Until I met Ivonne.
Ivonne was a young Mexican girl who became one of my best friends. She successfully managed to drag me hand over foot out of this crowd. If it were not for her I probably would have ended up just another statistic.
I’m sure there are plenty of good American girls I just haven’t met to many like Ivonne. She was 18 years old and had a son who was clearly the most adorable little guy on the planet. The only child I’d ever rocked to sleep at night. Letting me get involved in his life probably saved my life. Interestingly enough his name was Joshua. I felt a tug at my heart strings when I saw this family suffer and more than anything I needed a good friend to rely upon. Ivonne was my rock through some hard times. I saw many people around me disappear, never to return to their families. I saw carjackings, and heard shootouts at night. I paid bribes, and I tried to avoid watching the news.
Nearly every morning I would walk up to the local taco shop where my buddy Lorenzo. He was a guatamalan who I would always frequent. He was roughly 50 years old and would serve up the best breakfast on the planet, all for under $3.00 dollars most days. All the older men treated me suspiciosly at first. Many thought I was involved in the drug trade, or kidnapping trade. They couldn’t understand why an American would live down here and run around friends of police, and other ‘questionables’. Quite a few Monday’s Lorenzo and I would head up to Caliente to play the horses and I would kick back a rum and coke and would just drink a coke. Although an alcoholic these the times in-between his drinking binges.
For months things were the same. I had my routine and I worked at it. I worked hard and I played hard. The language had become part of my soul and I was spending less and less time absorbed in the drug culture. Although I still frequented a few questionable bars and ran around with a few questionable folks. I had made a clean break from my sortid 3 months of bad habits in Tijuana, or atleast as good as anyone can break a habit of bad friends in Tijuana…