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The Sound of a New Year in Tijuana

The night sky in one of Tijuana’s neighborhoods explodes with energy in the early hours of 2007. My nephews and I share in the improvised community pyrotechnics to welcome the new year. The spirit of celebration emanates all around us.

borders life photo tijuana

Holiday Border Traffic

Leaving the Tijuana airport as Sunday became Monday, Rosario and I stood in the cold air, waiting for the taxi. After a delayed return flight from Guanajuato, we prepared ourselves for what border traffic we might encounter. On a typical Sunday night at this hour, you can expect to cross in an hour or less. But this was the Sunday end to Thanksgiving weekend. And anytime there’s a U.S. holiday, border traffic is exponential.

The taxi drops us at Rosario’s sister’s home, where the trusty Nissan Frontier waits. We transfer luggage to the truck and head like zombies for the Otay crossing. When we arrive at 1:30 a.m., there are only two short, thin lines. “Mira, it’s not so bad,” I say to a reclined Rosario. I undo my seatbelt and make myself comfortable for what should take 30 to 40 minutes. At this hour, the customs agents typically work slower than normal, but after 45 minutes and only advancing 10 cars, I start having my doubts. Cars continue to gather in other rows, to the point that I no longer have an exit option. After asking a passing window washer, and seeing cars turn and head back, my half-conscious mind realizes the lanes are closed. No one is getting through.

I see a brief opening between cars and shove my way into the outside lane, making an overdue escape. Too tired to be outwardly angry, I take my grumpiness to San Ysidro to give it another shot. Otay is supposed to be open 24 hours, but because it’s a secondary entry point, it can be less consistent. We arrive at San Ysidro to much longer lines full of sleeping cars, lights and engines off. “Let’s just go to a hotel to sleep,” Rosario offers. But I’m not in the mood. I want to sleep in my bed tonight even if it’s just for a few hours. “Let’s just sleep in the SENTRI lane. It opens in a couple hours,” I decide.

It’s now 3 a.m. as we pull alongside one other car already waiting in the lane. I put it in park, turn off the engine, and pull out the laptop to play solitaire. I hit a second wind, now unable to sleep. After a half-hour losing repeatedly at the Vegas-style three-card game, I take out the camera.

Waiting for the SENTRI lanes to open

Lanes Closed

At 4 a.m., the lane opens and we cross the line. The final leg of the drowsy marathon came to a close another half-hour later, and sleep came soon thereafter. As a privileged member of the SENTRI program, my heart goes out to all of my compas who were already beginning their workweek as I recoup a few hours sleep under the high thread-count sheets and synthetic down comforter of my king-sized bed.

life photo video

One year ago…

Wedding Ceremony (August 21, 2004)

It’s hard to believe its already been a year!

Wedding Video:broadband or dial-up

Wedding August 21, 2004. Century Fox Beach Resort, Tijuana, MX. Produced by Avila Producciones.
6:25 min / Windows Media Video

Life in Tijuana: broadband or dial-up

Life in Tijuana
Scenes from life in Tijuana, MTV-style. Produced by Avila Producciones.
3:39 min / Windows Media Video

Reception Slideshow: broadband or dial-up

Reception Slideshow
Photos from childhood, youth, and together. Scenes from Perú, México, USA, Canada.
8:03 min / Windows Media Video

My Valentine: broadband or dial-up

Valentine Scenes from dating. Made by Nathan for Rosario on Valentine’s Day 2003.
1:04 min / Windows Media Video


I’m sitting in front of my computer with the case on the floor, the monitor resting on top of the case, keyboard in lap, and mouse on a piece of paper to my side. I’m moving.

You see, my wife is a Mexican citizen. We’ve been blissfully married for the past year, living in Tijuana, and we’ve come to that point where its time to process her legal residency paperwork (the infamous green card). Even before we got married, I looked at all the government forms, got an idea of how much it would cost and how long it would take. The process is quite complicated, but I’ll sum it up: in our situation, the US gov’t requires her to come to the US, give up her visa, stay in the US for 2 weeks pending work permit and travel visa, then wait for a year for final approval. This means, she was going to take a 2 week vacation from her job in Tijuana, and everything would proceed as normal.

Enter the war on terror. The processing I just described used to happen (prior to April of this year!) on a local level. But now, with xenophobia topping American cultural charts, our beloved gov’t has decided to send all immigration processing through one office. This means 2 weeks just turned into 3-4 months. Ahh, freedom at its best. So with a special thanks to Uncle Sam, we’re moving. My wife won’t be able to work or visit her family 25 miles away until the end of the year (fingers crossed).

Here’s our new place. 7272 Saranac St., La Mesa, CA 91941. It’s actually a pretty decent place. We’re right off the highway, about a mile from the trolley, and about 2 miles from my job. There’s a large swimming pool and the rent is fair. I’ll post some pictures once we get settled.