Tijuana at 30 miles per hour

Published 01 September 10 11:58 AM

Sandra Dibble holds a cup of clamato juice, a popular treat in Baja California, on Sunday in Rosarito Beach.


By Sandra Dibble
Monday, August 30, 2010


This was a difficult assignment: In the space of just a few hours, give my new editor, Hieu Tran Phan, a tour of Tijuana. On one quiet Sunday afternoon, what could I possibly show him? Tijuana has about two million people, hundreds of neighborhoods, vast contrasts. After 16 years of reporting here, driving across Tijuana still fills me with a sense of wonder, and more than anything I wanted him to get a sense of the city's rich texture and variety.


We started at Colonia Federal, a tiny neighborhood just southwest of the San Ysidro border crossing, cruising past the house where drug smugglers once dug a tunnel. Now a binational group has taken over, converting it into an arts center, La Casa del Tunel. We headed east into Colonia Libertad, to the top of a steep hill that offers a breathtaking view of the border. Then down into the Zona Rio, past the giant pastel globe and deep red cube that make up the Tijuana Cultural Center, past the Via Corporativo, a new office building that is Baja California's first certified green structure.


Zooming down the Via Rapida, a highway that crosses the city, we headed toward El Cerro Colorado, Tijuana's tallest hill and the gateway to eastern Tijuana, where the city has been growing rapidly in recent years. We drove and drove, past the huge boxlike factory buildings that make up El Florido Industrial Park. Past tens of thousands of tiny houses that make up the newer housing developments.


In El Nino, we stopped for tacos and ran into a church group from San Clemente whose members had come to build houses. We pressed on, toward Tecate, into Valle de las Palmas, where authorities are planning a satellite city with more than one million residents.


We drove down Boulevard 2000, and in no time found ourselves in Rosarito Beach, taking in the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Then back into Tijuana, to Colonia Chapultepec, whose large hillside mansions reminded Hieu (he was raised in Vietnam  and Orange County) of the hills of Laguna Beach.


A day after our tour, Hieu says he was struck by the city's contrasts and the determination of its residents to make the most of their circumstances, wherever they may find themselves

 Sandra Dibble

Hieu Tran Phan in Valle de las Palmas near the future Geo housing development


Your real estate in Baja



No Comments
Anonymous comments are disabled

This Blog