I was warned not to tempt fate in Tijuana because I would become the victim of unspeakable horrors, but at the same time I was encouraged to explore Tijuana for the delicious food and low, low prices on silver, serapes, tequila, and vanilla. The truth of the matter is, it probably would be dangerous to venture over the border alone in a rental car not knowing where I was going. But a three-hour bus trip with a group of tourists and a knowledgeable, experienced bus driver seemed like a fun way to spend an afternoon. I was right. After the trip, I asked Rick the bus driver if there are ever any problems on this tour. He said in 24 years of driving busloads of tourists back and forth over the border, he can only count three instances where people had problems. In each instance, the tourists had wandered off the main tourist street and had money or jewelry stolen.
Rick told us everything we needed to know on the way south from San Diego.
1. Stay on Avenue Revolucion between 1st and 10th streets, (otherwise unspeakable horrors...),
2. Don't pay the first price quoted: haggle. (I got pretty good at this mainly by stating that I couldn't afford that price and heading for the door.)
3. Whatever you buy has to be carried over the border at customs,
3. "If he's holding a gun, don't take a picture,"
and the scariest of all to me,
4. "Don't eat at that restaurant up there." (Evidently there's a custom where they force tequila down your throat and then shake up your brains to disorient you.)
I was warned not to take a Tijuana taxi. Here they all are getting gassed-up at one of the government-controlled stations:Rick warned us about purchasing prescription drugs cheap at the many drugstores in the tourist area. This was no temptation for me since I take no prescription medicines, but if I had the slightest inclination to save some money this way I would have been discouraged by sights like this:Rick even drove his bus up and down Avenue Revolucion to point out the more reputable establishments. I stayed close to those, bought some Mexican textiles, some geegaws, and had a fabulous lunch of chicken mole preceded by chips and the most awesomely delicious salsa ever. If I lived in Tijuana, I would eat at Tia Juana Tilly's (recommended by Rick) everyday. By the way, there is a legend in Mexico that Tijuana was named after someone's Aunt (Tia) Juana. This is not true, but that nickname is seen a lot.
What I would not do everyday if I lived in Tijuana is get my picture taken behind a striped donkey, but this was fun to do once.