Nat Geo just ranked Tijuana as a top travel destination for 2016. Unfortunately, this came out AFTER I went. I did not intend to go to Tijuana nor did I intend to make this video. I did not decide to cross the border from San Diego until the morning of. At 7:45AM I was on my way to TJ, but at 7:30AM I still had not decided, was not packed, and was actually still asleep…
Tijuana’s stereotypes pushed me away. No part of me wanted to come between a cartel war – I just saw Sicario and got robbed TYVM. Nor did I want to go to an American underage party haven. Little did I know the cartel war ended and there is a lot more to Tijuana than just tequila. I was in the middle of a 3 month roadtrip and I was supposed to start heading east.
7:30AM and the alarm rang. My Couchsurfer host in San Diego, already dressed and awake, kindly told me that he realized he won’t be back after work and that I had to be out with him in 15 minutes at 7:45.
Where do I go? Despite my friends and my hungover brain telling me no on Tijuana, I really had no other plans – I had no couch to sleep on in Tucson either. What’s the worst that could happen in Tijuana if I don’t bring any of my valuables? Forget tripod, I almost left my camera out of my backpack too.
Two hours later, I was in a whole ‘nother country. I met up with Leo, a random couchsurfer who decided to host me for free on a moment’s notice. I not only got my own bed, I pretty much had my own guest house. It was also my first real bed after 2 months of being on the road. I was ecstatic. In those 3 days Leo told me it was his mission to show me Mexico. What an amazing dude! He drove me around Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Bufadora, and even Guadulupe for wine tasting.
At the end of each day when Leo was tired, he handed me off to Martha and Fernando who showed me Tijuana night life. We stayed up till almost sunrise both days I was there. Completely in love with Tijuana and what it offered me, I decided I wanted to depict the real Tijuana, beyond the stereotypes. Hastily, I asked Martha and Fernando for an interview. That’s how this video was made, with a lot of love, spontaneity and kindness from strangers in a wonderful place called Tijuana.
Here’s to Tijuana, my favorite city that I’ve been to. I hope you make it out there as well.
Tijuana Free Walking Tours with Martha + Fernando. They do roundtrip pickups from San Diego too!
Here’s Leo’s contact information. If you have never used Couchsurfing.com, it’s the most wonderful community on earth. I only ask that you keep in mind its philosophy of paying it forward.