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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Monday, 25 July 2011

July 25th: Tijuana

On July 25th 1975 I was in Tijuana in Mexico.  I had just finished the process of hitching from Northern New Hampshire into Mexico.

Parts of this journey:    New Hampshire to Denver.    Denver to Monterey.    Monterey to Tijuana.

From Monterey I got a lift early in the morning to the Big Sur area.  I camped quite near the road in a site which seemed to be for hitchers and cheap travellers; someone was supposed to come and get a fee but they never came, and there was a water-tank with a painted sign which said "Danger: do not drink - this water comes from LA.".  I spent the days on the beach, which was a hike away, or on short trails in the forests.  The evenings I spent talking around fires with the other camper: these included a long haired blonde guy who had been shot at while cycling across Texas with his dog on his way to California, and a strange fellow who talked about his time living on the Manson ranch.  Eventually I got a lift from a couple to Venice Beach, just to the north of Los Angeles and spent a few days with their friends in a little wooden house just behind the beach, a suitably bohemian place for young men who were into booze, Kerouac and Henry Miller.  They showed me the sights, Hollywood Boulevard and so on, and we spent time on the beach.

A few days later I walked up Venice Boulevard and spent a long slow day hitching around Los Angeles, not an easy place for hitch-hikers.  After three short lifts in several hours, I got picked up by a young Canadian doctor working in Irvine.  He took me to his house, wife and baby.  They looked upon Southern California as if it were a fantasy land and they were outsiders.  They saw me as fellow outsider, sympathetic to the cause, not hard.  They fed me well and gave me a tour, to Laguna Beach and other spots; we went to a beach for an open Jacuzzi in the evening to give me the Orange County experience. 

Border near Tijuana:  Picture by Kalavinka,  CC
I had difficulty the next day starting to hitch, these two days the hardest I had.  I only really got started when I risked going up on the freeway.  The second lift took me further, from a gay Chicano and his older (say 25) Mexican boyfriend who kept on going on about his wife and how bisexual he was, and how I might fit into the scene.  They were driving to Tijuana to get an upholstery job on their beat-up Volkswagen.  In Tijuana they wanted to show me the sights, but I wasn't too keen on that, so they took me to the bus-station.  It was four hours until the next bus south, so they drove round the dirt streets a few blocks behind the main drag until they found a hairdressers where they discussed the styles and chatted up the girls and discussed how beautiful they would look.  I left when I had had enough.

It was a good bus, air-conditioned and I had a seat up front.  In the evening we had driven to the top of a huge canyon, all lit up by the moon which was just rising, huge shadows all around;  the moon seemed to be far below where I was looking from.  At midnight we pulled into a big city of wide avenues and low houses, Mexicali, and the temperature was forty-one degrees centigrade according to the signs.  Later in the night there was a long delay for a sort of immigration.  In the morning I woke up in a landscape of bare earth and cactus, mile after mile after mile of it.  Now I knew I was in Mexico.

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