Whew! I’m back, and I’m ready to get all blogalicious. I’ve been hanging out in Tijuana all weekend more and more these days. Before, when I didn’t have any Mexican friends and my American friends refused to come down (most of them still refuse to come down, by the way), I was afraid to venture out on my own. My cell phone doesn’t work outside my apartment, and let me just tell you, it feels like a limb is missing when your cell phone is gone. Plus, I’m a single, young lady who doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, so you can see why going out in Tijuana alone, without any contact to the outside world and without a way to communicate, would be a bit nerve-wracking.
Now, finally, I have Mexican friends and my Spanish is getting better, so I’ve been exploring. This weekend I met a lot of interesting people, many who are expatriated gringos just like me. The people were interesting, so I decided to start a weekly series on Tijuana expats.
I want to start with a guy I meant months ago, when I first moved to Mexico. Lynn DeWeese-Parkinson, a retired trial lawyer who represented the American Indian Movement for 13 years. Lynn was respected by his Native American clients, so much so that on a prior visit to his Tijuana beach house he showed me the precious eagle feather he’d been awarded (usually an honor bestowed only upon tribal members).
As a progressive, rebelious human-rights fighter, Lynn felt stifled and uncomfortable living in the United States. Two years ago, he packed up his things and he and his wife moved to Mexico. He chose Tijuana because, believe it or not, there are less gringos living on the beaches of Tijuana than there are in places like Rosarito and Ensenada.
And that was important to Lynn. He didn’t want to be your typical retired whitey using Mexico for its cheap, beach-front property; instead, he made it a point to learn the language and even get involved with local politics and human-rights groups — he volunteers for a worker’s rights group in Tijuana called CITTAC.
When Lynn’s not fighting for equal rights, he’s writing about bullfighting, life in Mexico and more on his blog, Tijuana Bible. He’s also the man in charge of Bibliophile, an email list for buying and selling hard-to-find books.
Lynn is a good expat to start this series out with, ’cause he’s expatriated to the bone. Perhaps through his work with AIM and other liberal groups back in the States in the 60s and 70s, he’s managed to get himself on some kind of FBI list that makes it hard for him to travel or cross the American border. He doesn’t really care though; he can barely stand crossing into the US.
You see, Lynn says he’s seen greater struggles and poverty in the US than he’s seen anywhere else in Mexico, and he’s says it’s more of a problem because less people are aware. He says, in a sense, Mexico is closer to being a free country than the US because Mexico (Tijuana especially) wears its problems on the surface and people are fighting to get them fixed. The US, on the other hand, covers it problems with a buy-this-new-car-and-don’t-pay-attention band-aide. We seem to be the furthest country in the world from any kind of paradigm-shifting revolution. The rich in the US will just keep getting richer — so says Lynn.
For more about Lynn, read this fantastic interview by Barbara Lightner.