I got an email on June 9th from Jillian, a student at SDSU and redditor who saw a post of mine, saved it and decided to contact me. For weeks we emailed back and forth planning a Tijuana Adventure and a Valle de Guadalupe winery tour for her, her boyfriend and other friends. The group ended up being the most diverse I’ve tour around and also the longest tour I’ve done.
We met up on Friday afternoon for a classic TJ adventure that ended up before midnight. We walked a lot and did some light eating and drinking, saving our energy for Saturday morning. I dropped my group at a quaint and old hotel in the downtown area where they got two double rooms for cheap.
By 8:30 am on Saturday morning we were all eating a quick breakfast of tacos varios in one of the best Mexican restaurants (especially for breakfast) in downtown. We met our tour guide, who I nicknamed Hectour, from Baja Viajes right outside the restaurant who had a nice van waiting for us. I previously have spent days trying to get my own van and driver, but I did not succeed and had to succumb to another travel agency. I didn’t have to join them in this tour, but felt like learning more about the wineries myself that I spent half of what they originally paid me to go on a tour with them. It was a wondrous tour going through 4 different wineries with samplers included (I’ve been to one of them before).
The ride back to Tijuana was quiet that some of us took a quick nap. Though the plan was to spend all night of Saturday partying, everyone was too tired so we decided to eat in an Argentinean restaurant and call it a night.
We met up on Sunday to close the tour where we had breakfast at the same place. Then we went to Mercado Hidalgo to experience a classic picturesque Mexican market. From there we did a quick visit through the museum near the border, CECUT (Centro Cultural Tijuana). And finally back to the border, where a painful 2.5 hours awaited to go back to America.
Tijuana is the only place where you go on a ride and then have to wait in line.
So… announcing my tours on Reddit has generated me some clients and much interest on the website. This past Friday I announced a tour that included all the shows going on in Tijuana, but there were too many at the same time that it was pretty much impossible to go to all of them. An impromptu tour was booked basically at the last minute.
A Redditor (who prefers to remain anonymous), sent me a message – “Hey me and a friend are crossing over to TJ tonight. I’ve been a couple of times, but it is going to be his first time. What do you recommend we do? I was planning on tacos, beers, and stoping by hk just to see lol.”
I replied about all the shows going on, my personal recommendations and I told him I was willing to meet him if they paid for my beers and what not. He answered “Hey im down to meet up and get a brief tour im drinking at restaurante el torito on revolucion. I have data reception here.” I fucking hate el torito on revolución. Please if you read this and you visit Tijuana, never go to that place. It even inspired my first published article in the San Diego Reader. Also, apparently telling people I’m a writer for the Reader can help validate my credentials as a tour guide, since this particular redditor was a fan of the magazine.
The Redditor that contacted me and his friend decided to remain anonymous for a a good reason. I forgot the basic rule that XXX tour sales very well, so let’s called them “Pepe” and “Esteban.” I met them before 7 pm outside that shithole of a place named el torito and headed for some craft beers at Mamut. Then we walked around downtown but the people in Tijuana do not come out to party until around midnight. Since there was not much to do, we decided to go check out the famous Hong Kong, aka adult Disneyland.
There I had a conversation that I thought I would never have with Esteban, who is a recent college grad thinking about moving to San Diego. “I think I might move down here to Tijuana, do you think you can find me a place with parking?” Esteban asked me as a girl danced completely naked in front of us and were surrounded by hundreds of other beautiful women. They were both keen on a cute girl with glasses, but both were very shy when it came to talking to the girls, though they claimed to be fluent in Spanish (Pepe has a girlfriend, so we can pardon him).
We spent a few dollars on titties and beer but we left before things got to heavy. We found our way back to 6xth street were a number of events were going on. Mezcal shots went down in La Mezcalera which got Pepe and Esteban a bit drunk, but it was still too early for Tijuanenses to be out in bars. So we went back to the XXX area, where is always packed with people, and into Adelita bar. There we sat next to four Americans (3 guys and 1 girl) who claimed to be regular patrons of the area. Esteban chatted up the girl, even though she seemed to be with her boyfriend. The girl gave us dollars so we could spend them on the strippers, Pepe refused to partake. In fact, Pepe was getting tired and by 11:00 pm he decided he had his last beer and the party was over. Esteban insisted in walking a few more times through the XXX area while drunkenly try to talk to the hookers, but a few minutes later I accompanied them to get a taxi that would take them to the border.
Again, there were no pictures of the adventure, but it looked something like this other previous adventure.
After they left, the party was just starting in Tijuana so I headed down to Mous-Tache and La Mezcalera for an Adventure of my own. Both places were packed to the brim, Phantoms (two DJs from LA) played and an awesome show at Mous-Tache. I made it back to my place a bit past 3 am and downtown Tijuana had no signs of slowing down. I heard my roommate come back at around 6 am.
The party in Tijuana goes on for much much longer than what people imagine (it’s virtually 24/7). But this is not that practical for tours, especially for those who do not want to stay in a hotel and plan to make it back home. I’m sure that most people want to cross back to the USA before 10 pm, which defies the purpose of a true Tijuana Adventure, but nonetheless they are a blast. I hope next adventurers stay for long to have the true experience, but TJ is a blast no matter what.
The first group came from Santa Barbara, Ca. They have already bought tickets to an all include spa in Rosarito, so it was never their intent to stay too long in Tijuana, but they still wanted to see a bit of the city. I met up with them by the arch in Tijuana and gave them a quick tour of downtown, we had some home-brewed beers at Mamut Co, followed by some of the best street tacos in the area. After that, I guided them to a collective cab that charges $1.25 to take them to their destination all the way in Rosarito (saving them over $30 in transportation and delivering with a true Tijuana experience).
Next was a photographer/videographer from Colima who ended up in Tijuana because he was hired to shoot a wedding. After his job was done, he decided to stay some time in TJ to check out the city. I gave him an extended tour of the city, took him to Playas de Tijuana and let him crash on my couch. I pretty much convinced him that he should move to Tijuana in the near future and I know that he will.
To finish up the month, one of my best friends from my hometown came to visit Tijuana. It was his girlfriend’s first time here and he hired me for private tours of the best parties, more specifically during Halloween. That night had an overwhelming number of parties and more than half the people on the street were wearing costumes. We went to Zacas bar near Zona Norte where DFMK and San Pedro el Cortez were playing a Halloween special. After the show, we bar hop for a while, showing them the very best of Tijuana, stopped by amazing tacos in handmade tortillas and finished up the night at Chips bar.
Also, to finish up the month, Tijuana Adventure is expanding from night time tours to more! Medical tours are now available for those who are in dire need of healthcare or dental care. Tijuana Adventure works with Club Medico USA to provide you with the best healthcare available at an affordable price. Tijuana is full of surprises, is not only the place to party all night, is also the host of the top doctors in Mexico and the world.
I expected these guys to show up to Tijuana during the weekend, but they ended up backing out and partying in San Diego for their Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Hmm… another no show for my tours, they were probably too afraid for Tijuana. But I heard from them early on Monday, they have decided to check out TJ and were on their way down here. Little did they expect that Tijuana’s Monday nights are way wilder than any night SD has to offer.
The tour started at lunch time, they drove their car across and I met them in “La Corriente” a fancy place with amazing fish tacos. As we chatted and got to know a bit about each other, I find out that these guys have had adventures around the world and they take a stuffed banana with them (water guns and more fun stuff also available in the trunk of their car). After eating, we walked around the city on the quiet Monday afternoon as I showed them everything. With not much activity until the sun is down, the best option was to go to the beach.
Honestly, these guys reminded me of all my white friends in the USA, so everything flowed in a natural course and after a few beers it was just like hanging out with my friends from college again. From there we went to Zona Norte, where most my tours tend to end up at…
… We were there in Zona Norte and they were basically out of cash. Sorry that I had to leave the details out of how that cash was spend, but trust me, it was fun. With the few bucks they had left, I took them to Dragon Rojo Bar that coincidentally was the last night of the 36 year old legendary bar. We had tequila and beers there… and then they wanted to go back to Zona Norte
(Goodbye Dragon Rojo, you will be missed!)
After hitting up the ATM, where both got plenty of pesos to have an even funner night, we went to a different Zona Norte bar that wasn’t a gringo favorite one. All their pesos were very well spent in what was one hella fun Tijuana Adventure… I expect Jesse, Max and Banana to come down again some day soon.
“Jesse | October 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm: Mateo is the pinnacle of tour guides in Tijuana! He showed us delectable restaurants, the city, beaches, and all sorts of nightlife. Thank goodness he was there to assist with the language barriers. Take no visit to Tijuana without Mateo on your side!”
The first month since I created Tijuana Adventure has ended and towards the end of the month work piled up unexpectedly. It started on Tuesday, September 15th with Bryan, an online co-worker from Los Angeles that I have never met previous to the adventure. Bryan, a 20-year-old decided to move to Tijuana without knowing much about it. He booked me for a tour of the city and as friends, I naturally did it for free as long as he paid for all food and drinks.
I went a bit hardcore right away and took him to Adelita Bar, which happened to be his first bar and first strip club. Cheap drinks and naked ladies everywhere, Bryan was going a bit insane and bought the first girl that sat next to him a drink. Girl? I didn’t mean girl, I meant old lady hooker. She was probably over 40, wearing nothing but fishnets and a thong, on the plus side, but still a decent body. She was perfect for a first timer as she was the nicest she could be and did not pressure the poor guy. When we were done with our drinks, I decided to change trajectories towards a completely different type of hardcore place.
We went to a shitty dive bar, with a name I cannot mention since it is a common space for drug dealing. The beer is cheaper than stores there and Bryan was again shocked by the place, one beer there and we were out. With not much going around in town and with not much money to spend, we went to my favorite dive bar, Chips. There I met with friends and introduce the new Tijuana citizen to the locals, since Bryan moved down for good.
That same week, my friend Nick from college who was working near Fresno, CA. wanted to have an adventure of his own. I offered him a place to stay for the weekend and the whole tour for free as long as he paid for all food and drinks. As we are both beeraholics, it was a weekend of almost all beer.
Nick parked in one of the most expensive parking lots near the border, and I met him there near the Burger King. We crossed the border together and he was disappointed that when you enter Mexico there’s no one to stamp your passport or anything. The first stop after walking to downtown was to the new microbrewery in Tijuana, Mamut. There we enjoyed a couple of their new brews and then head back to my place so he could drop his stuff. On his way down from Fresno, Nick stopped by Stone Brewery and got a Growler of there “Enjoy By,” we drank it before going out again. It was one of the best IPAs I’ve ever tasted in my life as we both got a good buzz from the 10% beer. We then head down to Sexta street where the local nightlife goes wild. Barhopped around and ended in my favorite dive bar again where we called it an early night at around 3 a.m.
The next day I took Nick to Kokopelli Tacos, some of the best fish tacos in the world, then walked all over Tijuana towards my favorite coffee shop. On our way back to my place we picked up a cuban cigar and head down to Mamut brewery to have a couple of their delicious beer. I walked him through Zona Norte as he was curious how it would compare to Amsterdam, but we did not enter any brothel. Near sundown we cabbed to the beach where a local house party was going down with live bands. We arrived to the party and they were just setting up, so we went down to the boardwalk and to the border wall on the beach. There, we lit up the cigar, enjoying a Cuban the closest you can to the USA, Cuban smoked made it past the border, take that ‘Murica!
We head back to the party for the crazy live punk bands as we drank and drank. Bryan somehow made it to the party by himself without getting lost, so both of I ended up hanging out with my two TJ adventure clients. The house party ended a bit after 1 a.m. and we grabbed a cab back to downtown. Back in town, the party was just starting, we bar hopped for a while and ended in Chips again. Without being able to drink much more beer, we called it an early night again at around 3 a.m. Tijuana Adventure was over…. but there was more to come.
On Sunday, I accompanied Nick to the border and super grateful for this TJ experience, he wanted to buy me a beer at Stone Brewery up in Escondido, Ca. It was my first time in like a year that I have gone further up from San Diego to have an adventure of my own. We went to Lost Abbey and Port Brewing company up in San Marcos for a couple of beers, then to Jack in the Box and finally to Stone. Nick paid for everything still and he even bought me some beer as an appreciation token for his Tijuana Adventure.
The co-creator of Youmakemytrip.com, Vincent Romain, contacted me via couchsurfing.org asking for a place to stay in Tijuana. After visiting a great deal of the world he was visiting Tijuana to complete a challenge that his viewers voted on. Interested in his travels, experiences and the challenge, I decided to dedicate my whole week to have a Tijuana Adventure with Vincent. The voting for the challenge was close between the nightlife of Tijuana and investigating the border. Interviewing deportees, migrants, people who wanted to cross illegally and the whole migration issue ended up winning, but we ended up doing both anyway.
We went to places that no many people dare to go, not even Tijuana locals. El Bordo is where a lot of deported people end up in a catch 22 type trap. They can’t leave the river area because the cops will arrest them and throw them in jail, but they have no where else to go. Living in the worse conditions imaginable after the comforts of living as an American, many end up doing heroin or more drugs. They have to deal with the pain of not being able to cross back to the United States to see their families, they live in a nightmare world where they have no friends or any help. It was Vincent’s challenge for YMMT, so I helped him shoot with his cameras and for his work. But I managed to take some video and pictures with my smartphone and I decided to do some editing to make this video:
The making of YMMT with Matingas of Tijuana Adventure: