Border Culture, Tijuana
Cuban cigars are prohibited in the USA . So, they can be found in Tijuana. La Casa Del Tabaco changed its name to La Casa Del Habano in an effort to alert visitors that they offer genuine Cuban cigars. There are many other places advertising these hard to get gems, but not all places have the real product.
Without thinking much about it I had noticed several signs, througout Tijuana, stating that Cuban cigars were sold at various locations. Then I came across "La Casa Del Habano" on Avenida Revolucion and was impressed with the look of the place. Not only do they sell genuine Cuban cigars and related items such as humidors, they sell coffee--espresso and cappuccino. I don't smoke cigars, but would recommend this place for the coffee.
There are numerous parking lots on the U.S. site of the border crossing point in San Ysidro. They are large and always guarded - does it mean that there are many car thefts there?
The parkings are opened non-stop (mostly) and there were quite a lot of cars but they were not full in April 2003. I paid $7 for my parking (up to 24 hours).
Look at my picture: when you walk to Tijuana, Mexico from San Ysidro, the USA you cross the border in this point - just walk througn this one-way metal revolving door.
And - what a big surprise - there is NO border check-up, no customs, no border guards just doors to Mexico! First I was very surprised but... what for to check people walking from the USA to Mexico? It does work quite another way on the opposite direction.
Although... after 11 September... I am not sure. A few terrorists were living in nearby San Diego - couldn't they escape easily to Mexico this way? Hmm... maybe U.S. and Mexico is possible to close the border immediately in emergency. Am I wrong?
When you drive a car back to the USA you must wait (sometimes more than 1 hour) in a loong line. But you can buy the last souvenirs, food, soft drinks directly from your car - there are numerous "border vendors" sometimes equipped with special carts for sold goods.
Waiting in a long line to enter the USA you can see numerous street vendors. They just lie and present their goods on the ground along the line. Suprise - there are female's vendors among them (I have never seen them in the downtown).
Hmm... I didn't find anything interesting for me there, but you can try :-).
So a serious note, if you've never left the US it is sort of interesting to see how the other half lives and experience a different culture (although its a culture that is really quite familar to lots of folks in major US cities with significant latino populations). But TJ's problem is that it really is nothing more than a cheap, tourist carnival -- at least in the major tourist areas (I'm sure there are good areas, and if someone wants to post them, please do). Please, please, however, do not think 'Oh if that's what its like oversees I'm going to stick to the US.' Don't do yourself the misfortune of not seeing the world.
Please remember that they will not check your passport as you are going in to Mexico, but American Immigration will certainly check it on the way into the US. Be sure you have your passport with you before you enter Mexico or you could be staying there a long time.