Death and Tijuana

Travel

I was reading a column on ‘recharging your soul’ out in nature,Β and the section on how to deal with bears made me start thinking about good and bad ways to die.

“10. In grizzly or polar bear territory, carry bear spray (which is a bit like mace). Frankly, the spray is unlikely to stop a 1,000-pound bear hurtling toward you, so experienced hikers respond to a menacing bear by using the spray in one of two ways. The first option is to spray yourself in the face, so you no longer care what the bear does to you. The second option is to spray your best friend beside you, and then run.”

So here is my wish list of ways I DON’T want to die:

1. Attacked by a sharp-toothed animal.
2. Drowned.
3. Buried alive.
4. Murder.
5. Torture.
6. Fire.
7. Eaten alive by small animals/insects.
8. Slip-and-fall in the shower.
9. Random blood vessel exploding in my brain.
10. Crushed by a large vehicle.

I hope that wasn’t too morbid.

On the topic of that column, I’ve been following all the worldly exploits of my friends and “friends” on Facebook. It seems as though everyone’s run off on some adventure or another. I, of course, went to San Diego last month for Comic-Con. After the convention was over, I managed to see a bit of the town – some on my own, most with the help of a friend of mine who lives there.

I’m not a fan of Los Angeles, so I was pleasantly surprised that San Diego was much nicer. The layout of the city was much more pedestrian-friendly and not so hilly, and the architecture was much nicer. I especially liked the highly Mexican-influenced Old Town area, where I saw the play ‘Noises Off.’ Seaport Village was a bit touristy, but the kind of touristy I like, with lots of little shops, old popcorn carts and people flying giant kites.

Seaport Village, San Diego

Seaport Village, San Diego

I also really enjoyed visiting Hotel del Coronado, a very old, very fancy hotel where some of Some Like It Hot was filmed, as well as a very old episode of Baywatch that featured a ghost! (By the way, I totally recognized the hotel from that episode, which I saw years and years ago.)

Since I was in San Diego, which is really close to the Mexican border, I took a quick day trip to Tijuana as well. It only took about 45 minutes on the trolley to get to the border. When I got there, I only had to walk through a tunnel over the highway and through a turnstile to get into Mexico. As soon as I realized I was officially in Tijuana, I had a sudden flash of “should I start being more cautious? Is that guy staring at me?” This eventually wore off. I was instead distracted by all the drug stores and dentists just minutes from the border.

I decided it would be most interesting to just walk around and see where I ended up, although I ended up exactly where my guide book said I should go: La Revo, a long street through downtown Tijuana. I spent most of the day walking by little carts and shops selling the same souvenirs (hammocks, Frido Kahlo mesh bags, Mexican wrestler masks), along with a lot of bars and restaurants (3 tacos for a dollar!). I also saw a lot of guys on corners with mules (or donkeys) dressed up for $1 photo ops. *tear*

Downtown Tijuana

Downtown Tijuana

Tijuana souvenirs

Tijuana souvenirs

Unfortunately, what they say about store owners calling out to you as you walk by is completely true. It was exhausting. One guy yelled “asalam alaikum” and another called out “one rupee in my store! One rupee!”

Even though the heat and sun were nearly killing me, I later walked toward the cultural hub of the town, but it was really boring.

Centro Cultural Tijuana

Centro Cultural Tijuana

I eventually stumbled by way back to La Revo, found a store run by a woman who didn’t harass me, bought some stuff from her, and took a cab to the border. I stood in line for about 5 minutes, had a lady quickly scan my passport, said “that’s it?”, passed my bags through security and walked back through the turnstile. And that was Tijuana!

I am committed to returning to Mexico one day, to see the country properly. I think it would be ideal to go during the Day of the Dead festivities. Who’s with me?

Comic-Con: Day 1/2

Culture, Entertainment, Travel

This has already been one long-ass day, and I haven’t even made it to the convention centre to grab my con badge yet. But as I wait for the hostel phone to be free so I can call my dear mother, I figured I may as well recount my adventure thus far. (These will be a combinaton of Toronto and local times. Frankly, it’s all a blur and probably inaccurate.)

4:45am: Took a cab to airport. Had a frustrating conversation with driver about the purposes of flat rates.
5am: Told airport personnel that ‘Dallas was not my final destination.’ Immediately thought saying ‘final destination’ in an airport is like saying ‘Macbeth’ in a theatre. Have stopped saying it since then, just incase.
5:45am: Was man-handled by security for ‘random search.’
6am: Spent $9 on drinks and snacks.
6:45am: Left Toronto for Dallas.
9:45am: Arrived in Dallas. Immediately accosted by ‘Everything’s bigger in Texas’ and similar paraphenalia.
10:00am: Was offered a $300 voucher with American Airlines to take a later flight since they overbooked. Took the offer with pleasure.
10:15am: Toilet flushes four times while I’m on it.
11:30am: While waiting for new, later flight to San Diego, surveyed boarding area for other people going to Comic-Con. Guy with Joker tattoo? Check. Guy with poster tube and Watchmen t-shirt? Check. Guy with thickest glasses I’ve ever seen, looking somewhat unkempt and a little detached from reality? Double-check. Of course, there were probably others in ‘civilian’ clothes, like me.
12pm: While boarding plane, lady scans my boarding pass and looks confused. Asks me if I’ve already gone on the plane. I say ‘no.’ She says, ‘That’s weird. It says you’ve already boarded. Oh well, on you go.’
12:05pm: Confusion reigns as another woman and I realize we have the same seating assignment. I win when flight attendant discovers they accidentally printed my boarding pass a second time and gave it to another lady. Lady is offered a first-class seat on a later flight.
12:25pm-1:55pm: Stalled at gate while ‘engline problems’ are fixed on the plane (!), followed by seemingly aimless taxiing around until take-off, about 1.5 hours late.
2:30pm: Arrived in San Diego!
2:45pm: Claimed baggage, was flooded with relief it didn’t get stolen since it arrived on the earlier flight that I gave up my seat on.
3:00pm: Enjoy a tour of San Diego as I take the shuttle bus to my hostel. I get an eyeful of the convention centre as we drive by. Am excited. I also become smitten with San Diego, which is gorgeous and very well planned out.
3:30pm: Arrive at hostel after being delayed in crazy convention traffic. Check-in with lovely Australian lady and collapse on bottom bunk. Have not seen roommates yet.
4:30pm: Use free Internet to update you all on my journey thus far.

‘Til next time!