The happiest place on earth: TIJUANA!
September 11, 2014 9:23 PM   Subscribe

I am on the western edge of the United States-Mexico border to understand more about the most publicised and most crossed border in the world. Ben Stubbs visits one of the most notorious borders in the world and reflects on Australia's frontier issues.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
It tears me to pieces seeing the change that has happened in Mexico in the last ten years. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Australia. It seems much the same as it was a decade ago.
posted by 256 at 9:55 PM on September 11, 2014


I'm not sure I understand your comment, 256. If the changes you are referring to 'tear you to pieces', why would you want to see the same changes in Australia?
posted by Salamander at 11:14 PM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I see pictures of border fences like this one, it really brings home the craziness of these arbitrary nations humanity has set up. If you get born on one side of the fence, your life is likely to be shit. If you are lucky enough to be born a few metres to the north, your life is less likely to be shit. The rules and regulations and opportunities and government services you get depend on which side of an arbitrary line your mother happened to be squatting or lying on when you popped out. (Or in countries where nationality is by lineage, which side her mother or her mother's mother happened to be lying on.)

As someone from an island country who has mainly lived in island nations, borders normally seem more natural to me, but fences... they really bring it home.
posted by lollusc at 11:24 PM on September 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but you ain't speaking French unless you a French speaka
posted by oceanjesse at 11:46 PM on September 11, 2014


I visited Tijuana many times when stationed in San Diego, 1985-88. There was a roof top restaurant named Margarita Village with an excellent menu. They had a challenge, name a flavor margarita we can't make, eat for free. The other patrons were asked to judge.
I never saw a free meal.
The weirdest was bubblegum flavored, and they NAILED it. There's no fence that can deny creativity.
posted by Mblue at 11:48 PM on September 11, 2014


I'm not sure I understand your comment, 256. If the changes you are referring to 'tear you to pieces', why would you want to see the same changes in Australia?

Sorry, that comment did a bad job of expressing two different thoughts.

What I meant is that the article talks about how the cartels and the people/drug smuggling business have turned large swaths of once-idyllic Mexico into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Even Tijuana, which was always sort of a hellhole is a much worse kind of hellhole now. I spent a lot of time in Mexico in 2005-2006 and it really hurts to read about these changes. The US and their border policies definitely bear some, but by no means all of the blame.

The other thought is that the article talks about how much worse Australia is to would be immigrants and "boat people" than even the US. I understand that the xenophobia and racism directed at Asian migrants in Australia makes it look like the US-Mexico border is staffed by grandmas handing out birthday cakes. As I understand it though, this is not a recent thing for Australia. There is no better time to look back to.
posted by 256 at 6:02 AM on September 12, 2014


If you get born on one side of the fence, your life is likely to be shit. If you are lucky enough to be born a few metres to the north, your life is less likely to be shit.

Okay. Immigration is a huge, huge problem and the status of things in Mexico is certainly not very good for a lot of people, but this grossly oversimplifies things. My family has lived along the Texas/Mexico border for basically forever. Being poor in Mexico is not great, but being poor in the US is not great, either. This is like the problem of depicting Africa like it's all huts and starving children; it's not that those things don't exist, but they're only a tiny part of the story. The trailer park my dad lives in in Texas does not look markedly better than that, but nobody takes pictures there. This is also Tijuana. It's complicated.
posted by Sequence at 6:06 AM on September 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Even Tijuana, which was always sort of a hellhole is a much worse kind of hellhole now.

The article correctly notes that the violence peaked about three years before it was written and things at the time of writing and now are back to a state of normalcy.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:28 AM on September 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


here was a roof top restaurant named Margarita Village with an excellent menu. They had a challenge, name a flavor margarita we can't make, eat for free. The other patrons were asked to judge.

Looks like it's still in business, though it's moved to a new location on Avenida RevoluciĆ³n.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:57 AM on September 12, 2014


It is so strange to see that caption describing the "slums against the fence". My childhood home looked like that at one point. My grandma's house still looks like that.
posted by cobain_angel at 5:40 PM on September 12, 2014


I liked the article, mostly, but the bits about Australia seemed tacked on.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:20 AM on September 13, 2014


I visited Tijuana (and Mexico, for that matter) for the first time two weeks ago. The worst part of the trip was the egregious data roaming charges that AT&T jacked me for.

Seriously, it was a fascinating stay. Avoided all the touristy areas for the most part, and spent some time with friends who live in one of the more affluent areas, so far from an expert at this point. Great food, friendly people, and in some cases eye opening poverty, the likes of which I haven't seen since travelling in North Africa eons ago, and the August I spent working on a project at a public mental health facility in Jackson, MS.

I will go back next time with a keener eye time, and am very much looking forward to there being a next time.
posted by psmealey at 3:32 AM on September 14, 2014


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