Mexican Border

I've always had a fascination with borders. Looking at them on the map, I wonder what they look like in real life. Is there a fence? A wall? Does the land really change on the other side of the arbitrary government border line? What's it like peering into "exotic" Mexico from the US side of the border?

I had journeyed as far south in California as I could without leaving the US, so I turned right and went west on Route 94 along the border. My first stop was the little town of Jacumba. In remote areas, the Mexican border is just a barbed wire fence, or nothing at all, but here in Jacumba it was a wall. I had a little chat with the Border Patrol agents parked guarding the wall, and learned that Jacumba is an active border for illegal crossings and drugs from the Mexican town of Jacume just on the other side of the wall. I also spotted this nifty spiral staircase to nowhere in the yard of one Jacumba resident — a watchtower I assume. See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 32.6160, -116.1927 

Jacumba - Mexican Border - Looking into Jacume (May 31, 2006 11:46 AM)Jacumba - Mexican Border - Border Patrol (May 31, 2006 11:44 AM)Jacumba - Watchtower (May 31, 2006 11:46 AM)

San Ysidro Mountains Trail

Further west, I took a scenic gravel ridge road over the San Ysidro Mountains, with excellent views into the US and south over the Mexican border into Tecate and Tijuana. The start of the road was marked with a "Not a through street" sign — not true. Along the road I also spotted evidence of past forest fires and an interesting sign proclaiming in Spanish (only) "Es difícil escapar de un fuego en acción." (It's difficult to escape from a fire in action.) On the west end of the mountains, before they drop down to the Otay Mesa and the San Diego suburbs, I took a detour south along a trail right up to the Mexican border. There was no fence here, just a cement border monument. I found some Mexican soda bottles along the way, evidence of past border crossings. Standing at the border monument I had a fantastic view due west to the Pacific Ocean, where I could see the distinct transition between the busy city of Tijuana on the south side of the border and the fields on the north. See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 32.5568, -116.8655 

San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Sign - Not a through street (May 31, 2006 1:12 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Flowers (May 31, 2006 1:31 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Sign - Es difícil escapar de un fuego en acción (May 31, 2006 2:10 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Sign - Es difícil escapar de un fuego en acción (May 31, 2006 2:10 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Looking into Mexico - Tecate on the left, Tijuana on the right (May 31, 2006 2:31 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Flowering Yucca (May 31, 2006 2:41 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Mexican Border - Detour south to the border (May 31, 2006 2:51 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Mexican Border - Looking west along the border to the Pacific (May 31, 2006 2:58 PM)San Ysidro Mountains Trail - Mexican Border Monument (May 31, 2006 3:01 PM)

San Diego - Border Field State Park

Finally, I descended to Otay Mesa and last Pacific beach in the United States, Border Field State Park. Back in 2002, I had visited the other Mexican border beach, where the Rio Grande (almost) reaches the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. The Texas beach border was nothing but a few sticks and logs. What would this one look like?

The beach park access road was closed due to some kind of contaminated sewage flood, so I had to walk a couple miles in, along a horse trail. It was an interesting experience standing a few feet from the wall (yes, there was a was a big wall) separating Tijuana and the US. I was within talking distance with the construction workers building big fancy houses just on the other side of the wall, with a view of the United States. On the beach itself, the wall turned into a series of 15 foot poles, extending out into the surf, looking somewhat like giant prison cell bars, with the Mexican beachgoers on one side and me on the other. A Border Patrol officer sat in a Jeep nearby on the sand, watching for any people crossing over, and I could see other Border Patrol trucks dotting the other nearby hills. See in Google Maps See on a USGS topographic map See in Google Earth 32.5351, -117.1234 

San Diego - Border Field State Park - Looking into Mexico - Tijuana (May 31, 2006 4:17 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Looking into Mexico - Tijuana (May 31, 2006 4:16 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Looking into Mexico - Tijuana (May 31, 2006 4:16 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Sign - Sewage Contaminated Water Sign (May 31, 2006 4:20 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Sewage Contaminated Water Flood (May 31, 2006 4:21 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park (May 31, 2006 4:42 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Fence on Beach - Looking into Mexico - Tijuana - Border Patrol Jeep (May 31, 2006 4:50 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Fence on Beach - Looking into Mexico - Tijuana (May 31, 2006 4:56 PM)San Diego - Border Field State Park - Border Patrol Truck on Hill (May 31, 2006 5:22 PM)