Monday, September 12, 2011

Tijuana and Ensenada

In many ways Tijuana, Mexico and Alexandria, Egypt share many surface commonalities such as the chaos and energy; a paradise for insomniacs. As for the stretch between TJ and Ensenada I could easily spend my remaining days there in a house on the beach catching waves at least a couple of times a day while taking a break from making art. That begs the question of what defines home; is it purely aesthetics, activity, or company? I've always struggled between the three and in the long run it makes you sort of crazy and potentially unstable. In my time together with Ana I've must have told her at least a dozen different places I wanted to live; a partial list includes: Lisbon, San Francisco, Portland, Tijuana/Ensenada/Northern Baja, and Belgium (Flanders region). I'm envious of people who are content with where they're at physically and emotionally. By the time I was in my mid-20's I had been to 47 of the 50 states and in retrospect that time seemed to be a prepping course from where I'm at today. I'm sure by this time next year my list will have expanded.    
Tailgating bullfighting style. Step one is to find a primo/tio/compadre who parked his car in the lot. Next walk over to the Oxxo (the Mexican 7-11) for a 12-pack of Tecate and a bag of Hot Nuts. Head back to your cousin's/uncle's/friend's truck or SUV and drop off the Oxxo goods. Finally send a burro over to the taco stand in front of the bullring to fetch the tacos.  
The taco master grilling up some mean carne asada with all the fixings. 
Zotoluco is one of the top Matadors in Mexico pictured here with Señor Lugo and Chikle  
Picadores are the necessary bastards of the art. 
Ana's tias y primas live about 100 yards from the fence dividing MEX/USA. Their house sits on a hill overlooking Tijuana. Since Ana is afraid of dogs, her aunt put the dog outside on the unfinished balcony.   
In my top 10 best views in the world (so far) is the rest area 20 km north of Ensenada. I'm sure it has a name and at one time it looked to be a destination spot with remnants of a salón (events place-weddings, quinceañeras). The rest area sits high on a cliff overlooking fishing boats and rings. To the right (on the other side of the hill) sits the Sempra Energy plant that closed down big wave surf spot Harry's. Another good break is Salsipuedes (lit. get out if you can) and some olive trees are a couple of km down the winding coastal road. 
Koko, Midori, and Ana taking in the view. 
In late 2002 I started coming down to Ensenada for weekend surf trips and the first person I met was Joaquin. We hit it off talking about music, he was once a singer for a metal band and an artist working at cigar stores on the main strip. Throughout the years he moved up and down the block putting his time in at various shops. Today he is the proud owner of his own business.   
Ex-Hotel and Casino Riviera del Pacifico
Centro Estatal de las Artes had a grabados (printmaking) exhibit. 
Sculpture outside Centro Estatal de las Artes.
Plaza Civica is better known for the busts of three historical figures Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, and Venustiano Carranza. Occasionally the plaza doubles as a make shift skate park. The burning mountainside was an added bonus.
Parque de la Bandera not only plays host to Ensenada's enormous flagpole but is home to The Whale Man sculpture and teenage girls singing along to Julieta Venegas' hit Lento.
Fresh seafood at the Fish Market.
Seafood fixings.
Surf's not up. There were plenty of beach bums hanging out late in the evening catching small waves (myself included). In the morning Ensenada Beach is out of control with exercise enthusiasts and their pets.  
A building mural near Plaza Santa Cecilia. If you need a trio or mariachi there's a good chance you can find one there. Walk a couple of blocks north to callejon coahuila and you're in the heart of Tijuana's infamous red light district.  
Mexican zebras can be found on Avenida Revolución (Revolution Avenue).  
A free-for-all off of Revolución.
This fairly new mural is located across the street from Ciruela Eléctrica (Tj's best record store) on 6th Ave. Below the painting was once a fresh juice shop serving el vampiro-a beet based concoction.  
Some artwork along Revolución.
Apparently a whole lot more (y algo mas) like tree branched armed babies.
Tacos and more. 
El Foro (the former Jai Alai arena). You might catch a concert here these days. The Misfits, Julieta Venegas, and Morrissey all played El Foro. There is also a small side club; The Black Box hosting punk and metal shows.    
I thought I wandered into a vacant lot, but that wasn't the case. I came across a couple of squatters living in the back who were content on letting me take a couple of shots. 
This might be a nice addition to your home if your homeowners association would allow it.  
You can never go wrong with Cyclops Cat.
A few meters from the former Cafe Revolver is an alley with older street art. It looked a little sketchy- even during mid-day.   
While I was snapping this photo, a guy yelled out to me from behind his full cage door guard (think of bars to a jail door). He asked me what I was doing then told me to hold on while he got the key to let himself out. After he walked out the door his lady friend followed still adjusting her bra and black skirt turning the opposite direction towards the main street.  
The shaved head man with prison tattoos introduced himself to me as The Clown (El Payaso). He asked if I liked art and showed me his ink he got while locked up. He told me about his brothers who are amazing tattoo artists but said they are lifers and will never get out. The Clown confessed he was living in the wrong neighborhood and there are people after him. I didn't want to be guilty by association by chatting with him, but the conversation continued. Just as our chat was becoming more interesting a Federales vehicle turned the corner and inched slowly towards us. The Clown told me that he had to get going and ducked into another apartment. I got a couple of hard stares from the men in blue; I was more of afraid of them. That go the heart rate going. I quickly walked across the street to grab a taco and assess the situation. 
No fancy name needed for what this shop sells. 

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