Wrong Turn, Right Direction
Positive reports about police and public safety in Tijuana have been few and far between lately. Headlines on both sides of the border have been dominated by half-day long shootouts between law enforcement and drug cartels, kidnappings and the bodies of five teenagers and 20-somethings piled on top of each other .
Tourism officials say millions of visitors have avoided Tijuana during the last three years. Violence, long border waits and stories of extortion that tourists toted home like souvenirs killed many people’s desire to cross. Tijuana police officials say during the previous administration, 12 people complained everyday they were extorted by the police.
Sunday night, I was driving from Playas home to San Diego. As I neared the San Ysidro crossing, I got stuck in traffic on Avenida Internacional, the road that runs right along the border fence. Thinking I’d avoid the backup, I turned right on a little side street to cut through the Zona Norte.
Immediately after I made the turn, a Tijuana police pickup stopped me, its lights flashing. An agent came up to my car window and asked me, in both English and Spanish, if I spoke Spanish. He then explained to me that both I and the car in front of me had turned the wrong way down a one-way street.