A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben in the summer of 2003....
Day 26--Thursday, July 3, 2003
We drove over the border to Tijuana, Mexico. It was easy to get in, no border checks whatsoever. I was a little concerned when I realized that I couldn't read any of the street signs, but I somehow managed to find a parking lot on a major street. After some confusion while attempting to converse with the attendant and discover the price (at which point we realized that we had no idea what the currency or the conversion was), we set off to explore Tijuana.
We quickly discovered that we did not really enjoy this experience. We hadn't prepared for the trip by learning anything about the city or the culture; we just said, "Hey, let's go to Mexico!" We wandered up and down the street, being accosted by vendors trying to sell their wares and feeling pretty foolish about our obvious American-ness. We decided that since we didn't have any specific aims in mind, we were going to go home.
It took forever to get back to the United States. We waited for about an hour in the stand-still traffic on our way to the border patrol. Mexican citizens walked in and out among the cars, trying to sell various useless products. One teenage boy was washing windshields in hopes of getting paid. This is when we realized it would have been useful if we had kept up on our Spanish lessons. I mean, really, how do you say, "No thanks, I like the bugs where they are"???
I was worried that we might have a hard time getting back over the border because the only form of ID I had was my driver's license, whereas Ben had a copy of his birth certificate. However, when we got up to the guards, they barely glanced at us. They didn't look at our drivers' licenses or anything; they just waved us on through. We decided that our Indiana plates and car-top carrier must have been a sign that we were innocents. But, as I pointed out to Ben, we could have been smuggling huge quantities of drugs or illegal firearms, or heck, even Mexicans, into the United States and they would never have been the wiser. (For the record--we were not.)
We actually did find La Jolla Cave on the way back to our campsite, but there were no parking places to be found. We did, however, learn that we would have to buy our own snorkeling equipment because we couldn't find a place that rented it. We did this by investing in one mask and one snorkel from the camp store back at South Carlsbad beach. We went swimming in the Pacific Ocean, meeting with some huge waves that made it rather difficult to get back to shore. We took a nice long walk on the beach, and we spent the rest of the evening reading before going to bed.