Friday, July 21, 2006

Holiday in the Sun Part Dos

Vivage made arrangements to take a tour bus to Tijuana on our first Monday in Solana Beach. There must be as many tour companies as their are touristas. We got lucky. Raoul showed up at our doorstep with his bus at 7:30 Monday morning. We hopped on the little bus and headed South to the Coronado Hotel to pick up the the Beechwood contigency.

The first thing Raoul said was "The air conditioners don't work, so all the windows are opened. The parts are on order."

Raoul was was a man of stories, yarns and opinions. He was an author of four books and numerous articles, talk radio show host, Republican, guest speaker, historian, newspaper reporter, entrepeneur, immigration proponent, botanist, bon vivant, ranter, debater, gourmet cook, and recanteur. We knew he was telling the truth because nobody could make all that stuff up. He knew how to get in and out of Tijuana like a master thief. Easy and without a trace.

I hadn't been to Tijuana since I was a teen. I went with my friend Gar and his family. We drove to one of those border lots and walked across. There were swarms of little kids selling Chiclets then. Not so many now. On the way back Gar had me pocket the little switchblades and firecrackers he bought. Of course, we were told to empty our pockets upon our return to the land of the free and I was busted for having little switchblades and fireworks. We were put in a room with a bunch of criminal types and then ordered to pay a fine. My life of crime South of the Border.

Raul took us to Avenida de Revolucion to shop for cheap liquor, silver, leather and all manner of gaudy cheapness. Ya seen one store, ya seen 'em all.

Met one old redheaded Americano at his store which looked more like a flea market than a tourista trap. He was sitting out in front smoking a huge cigaro and playing and singing with a friend as they strummed their guitars. He was some kind of famous singer in Mexico at one time and recorded many LPs. They were all hanging on the wall.

Raoul pointed out the nightclub that Redd Foxx did his very blue act in after being banned in the U. S. of A.

Saw the Jai Lai Auditorium. When we were kids we used to watch Jai Lai every odd Sunday night on our black and white Magnavox T.V. on Channel 5 coming out of Los Angeles. Now I got to see the place up close.

Raoul took us North one block to Avenida de Constitucion. This block was not for touristas. The street was lined with produce markets with swarms of bees flying around, street vendors selling churros and other foods, and beggars. The sidewalks were very narrow compared to Revolucion and they were jammed with people; locals, Indians from the Southern states and not many touristas. One legless guy sat on the sidewalk playing a guitar. He had fake rubber feet sticking out of his pants. Another pale man without eyes, arms or legs sat on a chair.

On the way North, we got across the border quickly and without trouble. The traffic jam coming back is world class. We were in the bus lane. And we were lucky.

Heading up the strand between Imperial Beach and Coronado we stopped at a light and Raul asked "Did anyone notice that there are five different species of palm trees on this corner?" We hadn't. Perfect Raoul.

We met some friendly people in Tijuana; Raul at the silver shop, the old man and his wife who owned the leather shop and the redheaded gringo. But there was a sense of desperation about the place that was disconcerting.

A guy on T.V. tonight said that Mexico is a sad culture. But because of its sadness, its celebrations are joyous and there is a gleefulness in its people.


Post a Comment

<< Home