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Chapter 10. New Apartment, New Not-crazy Roommate, Co-worker Experiences Zona Norte.
I haven’t been working lately. It has been slow these past few days. I don’t like it because I’m not making any money.
I started taking pictures of pretty girls posing. I’m back in the photography game. I’m good at it. But I’m not sure if I love it. I just want to do it to make money. And I figured taking pictures of pretty girls is where there is money.
That. And pictures of food.
I can do all types of pictures. I’m making some money out of photojournalism. I have a gig to take care of this week. But I need more money.
And I just started taking pictures of girls modeling. I’m not sure where I’m going with it. I’m never sure where I’m going in life.
I don’t think no one ever does.
I haven’t been writing. But I finally pitched something to my editor and I will be working on it next week. Leaving Tijuana for a while. I need to get away.
Just like I got away from living with Mrs. Palída Hortaliza.
Holy shit that was terrifying.
So now I was living in the same ghetto building in downtown Tijuana. I never described it well.
It’s a red building. It’s almost prison-like but not that horrible. The narrow corridor is dark and the stairs are of simple cement with black handrails. There were 12 units in there. The apartment that I moved out of was on the third and last story. It had nice light and a small balcony with nice views. Neighbors on each side that were okay and some in the bottom that I never really saw.
The apartment I moved in was in the middle level of the building. Surrounded by every apartment and right in front of the main stairs.
I heard every single movement in the complex.
The grumpy mechanic neighbors. The weird neighbor that owned a BMW and claimed to be a videographer but still shot film. Families that kept to themselves but looked scared. The guy that most definitely sold drugs. You know. Downtown Tijuana.
Boxy small two-bedroom apartment in the middle of the complex. The balcony for that apartment hit a wall of the building next door. The saddest balcony in history. That was the view from my room as well.
The light was shit. And I had a dusty extra room for rent.
Almost no furniture at all. Just my computer and my kitchen shit. Still, no internet and my new room didn’t reach the Wifi from the old corner.
It was shitty. But I was happy.
Working every day at an office for $800 a month and paying $280 for a two-bedroom wasn’t that bad.
It didn’t take me long to find a roommate to split rent with. He barely lived in Tijuana so I barely saw him.
We are still good friends to this day. So for the purposes of this text let’s call him Ricardo. Yeah. Why not.
Ricardo showed me the joys of Zona Norte outside Hong Kong.
Up to this point, I have only been talking great about the sexual palaces in Zona Norte. Well… now it’s time to talk about the shitholes.
Introducing La Nueva Pachanga.
Just a few steps away from Hong Kong is this lovely place.
Ricardo took me walking through Zona Norte, but the opposite way I’m used to entering. This time, we walked from west to east on Calle Primera. Before this, I haven’t even walked on Calle Primera besides by the Hong Kong area.
The area is gnarly. I rarely walk through that area now. Despite living a block from it. And a few blocks from Calle Primera, near La Internacional… Yeah. Don’t walk there. It’s too gruesome.
Shit. I live right there and I don’t dare cross certain streets. Too many drugs in this town.
And that’s where Ricardo was taking me.
Behind heavy blue curtains with a heavy stench of smoke, you’ll find a more pleasant stench… of piss and ammonia. Rats crawled by the floor and by the cracks on the ceiling. Beers are cheaper than in the store. And Ricardo walked in as if nothing. As if it wasn’t a weird place. As if it wasn’t the shittiest bar in existence.
The joys of La Nueva Pachanga.
This is where sad hookers end the night. The old ones that couldn’t make any money sit at the bar and let old men buy them drinks. That’s all they need.
It’s a wormhole into another dimension. A few yards away people are living lavishly surrounded by beautiful naked women throwing money in the air like they just don’t care.
And in La Nueva Pachanga people count pennies to get a drink.
Shoe shiners come in and offer to clean your shoes if you buy them a beer or a taco.
Junkies come in for a fix that is easily available in one of the shady corners of the bar.
Drunk old hookers with scars or barely passable men dressed in drag dance on the dirty pole hoping someone will give them a dollar. Usually, no one does.
There’s a gambling machine similar to pachinko but with a soccer theme that is supposedly illegal. But who cares. The short employee dances while he mops the floor over and over. Tipping him a coin would result in him promptly going to the soccer pachinko machine to try his luck.
Somehow, the jukebox is outstanding, it has an eclectic collection which includes numerous great bands. And the speakers sound good for how loud they usually have them and how shit the bar is.
Posters on the wall seem to be there since decades ago. Chivas, the soccer team, stomping on their rivals, America. Pictures of the team from seasons ago when they were actually good. Misspelled handwritten signs inform you of the prices.
“2 Pasifico Caguama 50 pesos”
Ricardo bought me a 10 pesos shot of tequila.
“Tequila el muerto, 10 pesos”
You read that right.
That’s around 60 cents for a shot.
Obviously, it was fucking disgusting.
But there we went again. Took a couple more 10 pesos shots and got some beers.
Beers, again, are cheaper than the store. They don’t taste right but for around $3 for two giant 1.27 liter beers it’s a steal. Jukebox is cheap. The soccer pachinko machine is fun. The people that enter are insanely colorful.
It’s the end of life.
I became addicted to it.
To that disgusting yet interesting wormhole and walking around the gruesome Calle Primera.
I rarely walk through there anymore.
I became addicted to the stupid soccer pachinko machine. 5 pesos for seconds of entertainment and every once in awhile win some money. I’ve lost around $30 playing that stupid shit but got much entertainment out of it. Worth it. I would still go back just for that fucker.
And the pool table is not that bad. It’s crooked and used as fuck. But 25 cents games. Beat that.
It’s been a long time since I went to La Nueva Pachanga.
It’s been a long time since I went to Hong Kong.
I had a co-worker who was moving from Los Angeles to Tijuana to join the gang of writers in the office.
El Pinche Kevin. A Mexican-American kid that wanted to pursue a career in writing sports. The kid now is an editor for some other shit.
But I remember to perfection when I introduced to el Pinche Kevin the double whammy.
Fucker was only 20-years-old when he moved to Tijuana. He had never been in a bar in his whole fucking life.
Can you imagine that?!
Of course, he had drunk before. This kid went to high school in California and partied.
But not bars.
And not like this.
Hong Kong. Or I think for starters it was Adelita’s.
It was Adelita’s.
He had never been to a bar, much less one with naked women everywhere.
I lied. I don’t remember the night as perfectly as I wish. Memory is a bitch. And I’ve been Zona Norteando way too much that memories mix.
It had to be Adelita’s. It’s usually better to start there than to go to Hong Kong.
I remember he bought a girl a drink and was disappointed by it.
That got him ready for Hong Kong. Yadda yadda yadda.
Strippers and fun.
Dollars poorly or very well spent. It depends on how you look at it. It depends on how much money you make.
I wasn’t making much.
Neither was him.
So we didn’t stay there long.
I just showed him the joys of Zona Norte at around 2 pm.
Of course, no trip was complete without Nueva Pachanga now.
That’s the TJ experience. Well… the real Zona Norte experience.
Shithole to fancy sex palace in seconds.
You have to see both.
Otherwise, you are doing it wrong.
And behind heavy curtains in Zona Norte, you don’t know what you are going to find.
It’s like a game show where you get to choose a door and see what happens.
Some might be shitholes with sad old dancers, drunks, and drugs.
Others might be completely empty with maybe one hot girl.
Playboy for some reason always has a group of Asians.
Just enter it. At any fucking given time. It’s almost 11:00 a.m. right now and I could venture behind heavy curtains indoors of Zona Norte and who the fuck knows what I’m going to find.
Hong Kong is a guarantee that it will be the same for now. Same with Adelita’s.
But the rest.
Who the fuck knows. Some shit for sure. I was curious to find out. And I did a lot.
But for now.
Let’s go back to the double whammy.
Leaving Hong Kong is difficult. Or it used to be. There are too many naked women that it’s hypnotizing and it pulls you back.
So it’s best to snap the fuck out of it.
And how better to snap the fuck out of than entering a different reality.
That’s what I ohh shit… Come back to it later, I just got called for some work.
If you enjoyed this, please support me at: https://www.patreon.com/Matingas