San Diego and a brief moment South of the Border
Trip Start Oct 15, 2011
18Trip End Jul 31, 2012
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When I arrived I was staying at my most expensive hostel to date, which ironically was also the shittiest hostel that I've stayed in so far. The location was brilliant, but that was all it had going for it. It was weird. Everyone was Irish.. the girls dressed up to the nines like I'm talking sky high heels and all just to drink at the hostel and no one was all that friendly. I was beginning to think it was just me but then ran into Jonas, Erika and Jessica at this hostel too.. and they felt the same.. except a little bit worse for me when they saw my room with no locks on the door (then charged 25c per entry to your tiny locker and everyone from the party would just barge on in), a very disrespectful staff member in the room and a 1 inch gap in the wall next to my head and the party area
I didn't know anything about San Diego, well maybe even less than I knew about other cities - (bar Seattle which I thought was Chicago, I don't know.. it was a very confusing time for me!) and I probably wouldn't have gone there if it wasn't for Stace living there. But wow SD has so much going on for it!
SD has a really strong beach/harbor theme to it and just seemed to have a very chilled, relaxed manner.
We visited some historical old town which had the first school in California - it was like an authentic Ferrymead (you know how much I love that shit!), whilst there we asked the information woman the history of California as I'd been told by someone that California used to be Mexico up until just over a hundred years ago (which explained all the Mexican city names, random bells along the highway etc) anyway it got weird fairly quickly and she basically managed to brush over the question AND ramble a lot at the same time and all we really got was that California had been occupied by many different people in the last 150 years including the Russians, Argentina and Mexicans..
The bays were absolutely beautiful and seemed to be no lack of them in SD! We went to one with a market type thing going on where a man who rescues "pretty" birds works and asks for donations to hold them and get photos. I do not like birds. I don't know why, I just don't - actually I know exactly why. My mother has a bird phobia and it rubbed off on me, that and when my Dad was away when we were pretty young (I think I would have been 5/6) my cat caught a bird and brought it inside half dead and bleeding everywhere. We were meant to be heading to school but obviously couldn't leave with this thing flapping around the house and Mum couldn't deal with it and OBVIOUSLY I just HAD to be involved.. after a mighty battle my brother managed to catch the thing and put it outside, but not after me chasing it and screaming and basically aggravating the whole situation and terrifying myself! So anyway, I turned my back to the bird man because the birds were creeping me out.. next thing he's thrown a giant parrot thing on my shoulder. AND WOULD NOT TAKE IT OFF.. Stacey and the bird man were cracking up as tears were streaming down my face and shouting "GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF".. and I think he may have shouted "FACE YOUR FEEEARS".....haha not impressed
We decided to head to Tijuana, Mexico for the day on Saturday. I had the impression it was super touristy with Americans everywhere... so I didn't look into anything.. Luckily Stace had sorted how to get around, where to go and the emergency phone numbers (although we both ended up locking our phones in the car in the USA - doh!). To get into Mexico this way there is a border but NO form of customs.. basically you walk through a revolving door like they have at theme parks with some dude and his machine gun standing right next to you. No passport check or stamps, no baggage check, nothing.
Once we got into TJ we were obviously taken for Americans so people were trying to con us into anything and everything but we didn't fall for it. We got to the main street and were literally the only obviously "Non-Mexicans" around, actually the whole day we didn't see any others! I had been given the impression the place was bustling with Americans, this was not the case! And it really was not all that touristy - besides the several poor donkeys they had painted to resemble Zebras and they showed us pictures of all the girls posing with them, needless to say we were not interested AT ALL!
We managed to break away from all of that - and lose our map in the process, but we ended up at a really cool Mexican local restaurant. The servers were all so friendly even though they barely understood us and it took A LOT of explaining for them to figure out where/what NZ was - we tried telling them it was near Australia etc.. but one guy finally got it when we said Lord of the Rings.. apparently he's a massive fan! We had the most amazing lunch ever - Mole chicken! Asked our servers for a stack of directions (one even offered to drive us, we politely declined) and headed off to the Playa (beach).
Whilst there we ran into a heavily pregnant woman in her 40's who reckoned she was German but had lived in the US but moved to TJ to make money (she was selling baked goods on the side of the road) to move to Australia. Probably one of the more interesting characters I've met so far.. definitely not all there, wish we'd chatted to her for a bit longer!
At the beach you could see one of the border fences going right into the ocean and US border patrol behind it. There were white crosses put up on the border where people had died (and an tribute poster which I would of SWORN was Billy T - somehow I've deleted my photo of this!!!) I felt pretty awkward in TJ, there was a weird vibe - a very solemn feeling, it's hard to describe (despite the Mexican biker festival going on at the beach.) I can't even fathom seeing all those crosses on the border and feeling so desperate to want to get across even though you know it's basically a death sentence and being so close you can see SD everyday knowing you are most likely not going to get there
The line up back into the US was crazy long - we did spot maybe 1 or 2 visibly "Non-Mexican" people, but again I was surprised. I'd been painted this picture that TJ was a massive tourist city... I would say that's very far from the truth, but I'm glad for that! Getting back into the USA the border guards were just so gosh darned nice.. FALSE. Because you don't get a stamp when you enter TJ they have no clue how long you've been there.. and they almost seemed a bit skeptical I'd only been there a day, my US visa doesn't actually expire until October and we both only had tiny handbags with us so I feel like they didn't need to have their cranky pants on quite so much. All of the local people we met (I don't count people trying to hustle us to buy things) were so incredibly nice and genuinely wanted to help and chat to us. It made me wish I had considered actually going to Mexico on my trip - since scaremongering "If you go to Mexico you WILL get kidnapped" had worked on me (thanks Mum!) it hadn't been an option before now
Back in SD I moved to stay with Stacey and her host family (she's a live in Au Pair for a massively rich family, with an AMAZING pool). I had the BEST time! It was like we were 16 again having sleepovers, stayed up way too late talking and realized how similar we really are/have become.. I LOVE that girl!!!
I decided on Tuesday that I had no interest in returning to Vegas or in going to DC so booked flights down to Cancun, Mexico to then bus down to Playa Del Carmen... and on the Friday I flew out..
The hard thing about writing these is I only get a chance when I'm super tired (like now I've been awake almost 24 hours.. and traveling most of that time) - and someone has accused me of sounding like I'm depressed in most of them! Haha far from the truth!!!! Also because it was a couple of weeks ago now and so much has happened since then I know I'm forgotten a bunch of the awesome things that happened there!!!