Spring break raves and mission trips. Maybe a port visit while on a cruise. That’s why people go to Mexico, right?
In 2004 I was in France for a semester and spent a weekend with a friend’s family in Paris. His parents were profuse in their praise of the cultural heritage and sites of Mexico, from whence they had just returned on a long-anticipated vacation. Historic ruins. Fascinating architecture. Storied history. Legendary food. Breathtaking topography and geologic features. And the beaches. . . But you’re American, so you already know. Obviously, you’ve been to neighboring Mexico.
No, I had not. Numerous countries in Africa and Europe? Yes. Neighbor Mexico? No.
At least, not yet.
Sixteen miles from one of the busiest international border crossings in the world, I gaze at the hills of Tijuana every day from my kitchen window. When I drive around town on my daily business, the digital signs on the highway remind me how close I am. Border – 13 minutes. In only 13 minutes I could be there, feeling instantly at home, because home is everywhere, anywhere. (That’s what happens when you’re a third culture kid).
So we go.
Six years ago, the first time we took our car into Mexico, I was shocked. We just drove right in. No passport check. No “show me your documents.” Nothing. Just a long line of thousands of cars funneling through multiple lanes as cameras flashed pictures of license plates. Then bam, we were in. I felt so privileged. I have driven across many an international border on several continents, but never, not once, did I not have to show documents (the E.U. being the obvious exception). When entering Mexico by car, it’s on your honor to ensure you have a passport and have purchased Mexican insurance (available online).
So we go.
On the return, the line to enter the U.S. can be long. Several years ago after returning from a family trip to the Sea of Cortez, we waited in line for over three hours – with an infant and a potty-training 2-year-old. We survived as I relived memories of border crossings in Africa as a child, crossings that could take hours and hours just waiting for nothing (or a little something to an official, whose desires were ultimately unrequited). To expedite future entries, we purposed to acquire SENTRI passes – an immigration fast pass.
So we go.
After all the border shenanigans, one may ask, is it worth it? What do you actually do in Mexico?
Oh, that’s easy. Drink fresh-roasted coffee, eat local food and play at the playground. Same as everywhere else.
5 responses to “Crossing the Southern Border – San Ysidro, Mexico”
[…] Read more about our U.S.-Mexico cross-border experiences here. […]
Always bring your passport just in case!
There’s so much in Mexico to explore. It’s such a vast country, but I’m glad we can at least discover the treasures in this little corner.
Well I’m not coming again without my passport! Probably not time during my Oct trip. We have to make a plan, though. …. Great post, Peach. I love your writing. >
Thank you, Heidi! I so enjoy your writing!
You photos are enlightening! We don’t realize how beautiful Mexico is!
Love, Cousin Dorothy (once removed)
Dorothy Tish Cell: 206-409-2672