Leaving Tijuana: A wish list

Goodbye Tijuana by Kinsee Morlan

"End of Trail" by Kinsee Morlan

UPDATE 7/28/09: Because I heart Tijuana, I’m going to continue posting emails I get about the city.  I won’t be producing any original content, but if you want to post Tijuana news, events or opinions, send me an email.

I’m not leaving Tijuana because of the violence — let’s just get that out of the way.  I love TJ and, no matter how hard the mainstream media tries, I refuse to be afraid. The violence isn’t targeted at people like you and me. The drug war is an all-out battle fought in the streets of Tijuana and other Mexican border cities, and yes, every now and then, innocents get caught-up in the crossfire, but the relative safeness of Tijuana is no worse than Washington, D.C., Oakland or any other urban city with an edge.

Wish for TJ No. 1: People, journalist especially, should lay off Tijuana. Focus on the artistic and ingenious side of the city and quit adding to the black cloud that hangs over the place like the undeserved bad reputation of  poor, misunderstood high-school students who smell weird and act a little strange only because they’re different and creative.

The seedy side of Tijuana is notorious. Just this morning, I got an email from one of my readers about La Zona Norte. He wanted me to explore his and other gringos’ love and apparent addiction to the prostitutes and strip clubs located in the “Red Zone” just north of downtown.  I’ve been to the barely-legal strip clubs and photographed the prostitutes in the Red Zone; I too am drawn to the things we don’t often see out in the open in the U.S.

And admittedly, I go out on Revolucion every now and then to get tequila poured down my throat and stay up until 5 or 6 a.m. acting like an idiot.  I’ve hit up some  of the hundreds of pharmacies the city is infested with and taken advantage of their lax rules and regulations.  I’ve been a bad gringo who benefits from Tijuana’s bad side.

I actually wouldn’t like Tijuana if it didn’t have all those naughty and dirty things, but that’s not why I love the city.

What made me fall in love with TJ were places like Estacion Federal, La Casa Del Tunel: Art Center, Galeria H&H, The Lobby, La Mezcalera, Tacos Salceados, Dolce Salato, Dandy Del Sur, Lui Velazquez, La Estrella, Cafe La Especial, Mercado Hidalgo and Cielo; things like two-for-one specials almost everywhere you go in playas, the liveliness of public places and plazas, bright colors, tacky ads, bustling streets, taco shops on every corner, strange and different smells on every block, farmers markets, mariachis, fire-spitting and juggling beggars, big families and underground parties; and people like  Jorge Tellaeche, Derrik Chinn, Luis Ituarte, Gerda Govine, little Nanette and Rafi, Tania Candiani, Beam, Louie Navarro, Lucia Sanroman, Giacomo Castagnola, ERRE, Astronauta Jackson, Toni V, Guerro and all of the Radio Global peeps, Lesli and Dream Addictive, Charles Glaubitz, Foi Jiminez, Caballo, Sergio Gonzales, Daniel Ruanova, Mely Barragan, Aldo Guerra, Adrian Posadas, Memho Sepulveda and the drag queens at Mike’s.

Wish for TJ No.2: Look at my list above. Seek these people, places and things out. Explore Tijuana. Take a camera. Think about volunteering and helping the city get better and better.

The only thing I do not like about Tijuana is actually no fault of the city itself. The line — the bastard-ass intolerable line to get back inside the U.S. — is a nuisance.  It disrupts the natural flow of the city and turns all Tijuana drivers into nuts. It’s embarrassing and disrespectful, unnecessary and a giant waste of money. I still can’t believe that, in modern times, we have walls keeping people apart.  It makes me giggle until I start thinking about how serious and horrible it really is.

I’ll miss Tijuana. I’ll miss the quesadillas and the beautiful language. I’ll miss the brown skin and the beer. I’ll miss defending the city every time I tell people where I live.  I’ll miss arguing with assholes who think illegal immigration can be stopped through stupid legislation and building multiple walls.  I’ll miss the culture, the excitement and the adventure.  I’ll even miss the smelly Tijuana River and the scruffy street dogs. Oh, and I’ll miss the churros and raspados for sure.

I won’t miss wondering if my car is going to be outside of my apartment when I wake up every morning. And I won’t miss going without water for days, or even weeks at a time (or hauling drinking water, for that matter). I won’t miss having to dust off anything and everything I’ve left outside because of what one Mr. Chinn likes to refer to as “Tijuana dust.”

I’m leaving this exciting city because it’s time for a new chapter in my book of life. I’m ready to do the more internal adventuring and finally allow myself to really fall in love, get married and, eventually, have kids.  I’d do that here in Tijuana but I’m not even going to pretend that I can do the kid thing without the help and support of my mother and father.

I’m sorry to those of you who will be disappointed in me.  I’m sorry to those who think I’m giving up or giving in. But, most of all, I’m sorry to the city of Tijuana. I hope other voices spring up where I’ve left off.

Wish No. 3: Keep up your interest in Tijuana by visiting these very good Tijuana-related blogs: Derrik Esta Aqui, Across the Border, GisLuis.com, NathanGibbs.com, and Tijuana Bible.

This will be my last real post.  I plan to maintain the site only if there is an event or community notice that I feel needs to be posted. Keep up with me on my new blog, Durango Dirt, or by following me on Twitter.


About Kinsee Morlan

Arts and web editor at San Diego CityBeat. Interested in art and the Tijuana/San Diego border.
This entry was posted in Animals, Art & culture, Blogroll, Border beauty, Border issues, Border wait, Crime, Events, Expats, Feminism, Food, history, Immigration, indigenous people, Language, Life, Love, Maquilas, Minutemen, Music, Myths, News, Nightlife, Oddities, Politics, Sex, Spanish speaking, Tijuana events, Workers rights. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Leaving Tijuana: A wish list

  1. sergio cielo says:

    Kinz….gracias por todo!!!! Gracias por tratar de entender nuestra ciudad y de aceptarla. Lo mejor de la vida en tus nuevos proyectos y mucha, mucha suerte.
    Te vamos a extranar.
    Besos desde el Cielo.

  2. nullrend says:

    I’m pretty sure you’ll come back every now and then to behave like a bad gringo taking advantage of the bad Tijuana 🙂

    Best of luck

  3. sangroncito says:

    Te deseo mucha suerte y muchas aventuras!

  4. Nathan says:

    Thanks for all those links in a nice summary. I still have a lot to see. It was great that you documented so much of your time in Tijuana. Plus, without you in the mix, I’ll have to ramp up my TJ postings… they’ve become fewer and fewer.

    Best of luck with your future adventures! I’ll see you around online 🙂

  5. Sheena says:

    Best of luck Kins, and congrats on getting out of California, er, sort of California.

    I wish you nothin’ but the best :]

  6. Javier says:

    mucha suerte Kinz, fue un placer tenerte en esta tu ciudad…

  7. cleo says:

    Bon voyage, you will be sorely missed.
    And while I’d heartily agree that the “mainstream media” could take a broader view of life south of the border, please cut us some slack. There are some, and I am thinking especially of the many brave Mexican reporters, who report at great personal sacrifice and risk the events that must be reported as well, even if they are not so pleasant.
    But yes, v. sad to see you go. I love your love of Tijuana, and share it.
    Best wishes.

  8. caroline says:

    Bon voyage, you will be sorely missed.
    And while I’d heartily agree that the “mainstream media” could take a broader view of life south of the border, please cut us some slack. There are some, and I am thinking especially of the many brave Mexican reporters, who report at great personal sacrifice and risk the events that must be reported as well, even if they are not so pleasant.
    But yes, v. sad to see you go. I love your love of Tijuana, and share it.
    Best wishes.

  9. bub says:

    Glad that you are embarking on a new stage in your life. Sorry that there won’t be any more posts from “stairs to nowhere.” This is one of my favorite blogs. I loved the non biased view and the non sensationalist stories. TJ is one of my favorite cities even though they have made it almost impossible to go to anymore. Thanks again for all the great writing that went into this. Via con dios, amiga!

  10. Luis says:

    We all love TJ!

    Reading your blog has been a complete pleasure. May this experience give you the courage to raise your kids with a multi-national, multi-cultural, multi-lingual world view.

    Vaya con dios.

    Best regards,

    God bless Mexico and Viva USA. Chingao!

  11. maria says:

    On the one hand, boo 😦 on the other, is your flat for rent now? how many bedrooms did it have? and how expensive is it? 😉

    We’re sort of looking for a new place.

  12. d.a. kolodenko says:

    As I’ve said before, I will miss your thoughtful, engaging reports and fabulous photography from the other side of the line. I look forward to bidding you farewell at the party Sunday, and I wish you & Jefe the best of luck in Durango.
    Send me some cute photos of the kid(s) you make.

  13. Enrique Limón says:

    Every time I trip over a scabies-infested prostitute (on average 2 or 3 times a day), I’ll think of you with a smile, my sweet, sweet Kinz.

  14. acearley says:

    Best wishes, Kinsee! Your voice from here will be sorely missed. Thank you for showing your readers a different side of Tijuana and for making her your home. I look forward to seeing you here again, because I’m sure you will remain connected. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through your written words first, and then in person.

  15. JK says:

    Hi. I’ve loved your blog as well and definitely wish you the best. It’s been this great reminder of how much incredible stuff there is to do in Tijuana. I’m still trying to make it down there for Lucha Libre. Not sure if you ever made it to the bullfights, but those are pretty amazing as well.

    And as much as I hate the wall between the San Diego and TJ, I do kind of feel like it helps maintain its uniqueness. I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of people’s lives.

  16. mostlychaff says:

    Awww… It’s gonna be sad to see you go. I loved your blog. 😦

  17. Hansen Hunt says:

    Kinsee, I am sorry I am just now reading your Tijuana Tales blog. Your recent post about Tijuana put into words feelings that I have been struggling with expressing verbally for the last few years. I love Tijuana, it is my second home and maybe someday it will be my first. I hope someday we will be able to connect for a cerveza and tacos. Thank you for writing the post, and I hope all of my friends read it to understand what Tijuana is really all about. I respect all you have done and I hope one day I can do the same.

  18. Pingback: Saying goodbye to Kinsee’s Tijuana blog-venture « Across the border

  19. RG says:

    Thanks for Adapta – best wishes on the next chapter.

  20. Rene says:

    I wish you luck! And dont worry there is a Tijuana is everywhere.

  21. Trayden says:

    First blog I read after wakeup from sleep today!

    Mind Blowing!

  22. 0trepur says:

    Hope that one day you comeback … your twitter link doesn’t work ..

  23. Pingback: I’ve been a bad, bad blogger but… « Durango Dirt

  24. Beam says:

    Me perdí la despedida. Gracias por mencionarme, una pena que no pudiéramos vernos mas seguido… nunca hubo tiempo. Buena suerte en tus nuevos proyectos de vida.


  25. DonCarlos says:

    While the good that Tijuana has, I know it quite well. Your wishes are going to be just that, wishes.
    Tijuana is dying for two reasons. Los secuestradores y el gobierno corrupto.
    All the places that you have mentioned are great, but did you know that some have to pay “piso”, others decide to live on the other side, always terrify of being kidnapped when they leave their businesses, and others just shut down and leave.
    So little by little, a business at the time, TJ is dying. La Cruda Realidad!

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