Welcome to week six of the 52-Week Gratitude Challenge. I started this challenge for 2017 as a way to recognize the small things in my life that make it magical and worth living. Other posts in the series can be found here.
Week six of the challenge invites me to take a look at what makes me grateful for the city I live in. Sometimes, it is very difficult to love Tijuana. It is filled with increasing crime, poverty, and sad stories. Children have been hurt and taken from the streets here. The sex trafficking and tourism industry is ripe. There's insane overcrowding in areas near the border. The pollution is awful. The hopeless deported wander the streets aimlessly, dreaming of crossing again. Tijuana is not a place that is historically known as a place to better yourself. Most people have the impression that Tijuana is dirty and crime-ridden. In fact, most people believe Tijuana to be an unsafe place, especially for me as an American woman. Stereotypes are brought about and perpetuated by having a twinge of truth in them. Tijuana has a lot of awful things going on in it's streets. But, Tijuana has grown on me with time, and I'm learning to not necessarily love, but like this place.
Tijuana is a family-friendly place. There are parks everywhere. These aren't exactly like parks in the U.S. It's not a small grassy area with a play structure. These parks are expansive and are fun. There's a zoo, lakes with paddle boats, amusement park rides, arts and crafts, and restaurants. There's an amazing science museum here with all kinds of interactive exhibits that kids can learn with. There's play structures and schools. There's even a holiday dedicated to celebrating children. There's a small aquarium, the IMAX theater, and the history museum. The dirty streets are overpowered by the lively street art culture here. And of course, there's the gastronomy- tacos for days.
But the real reason that I love Tijuana is that Tijuana is where the whole world comes together. I've met Haitians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, American Expats, Canadians, Chinese, Japanese people, and people from all over Africa. Then of course there's Mexicans from every state in the republic and every indigenous group from Mexico. And then the Americans are further divided into groups by our areas of origin, and our reasons for emigration. Then there are the deported people who were all over the U.S. Tijuana is the real melting pot of the Americas. It boasts the title of "Most Visited City in the World", and it's easy to see why. The current political climate in the U.S. no longer lends itself to being the "melting pot" of the world. Tijuana has taken up that torch from Lady Liberty.
Not only is Tijuana this big mixture of people from all over, but they are kind to me. We are all immigrants here, from one place or another in this city. I live here, but I am not from here. Tijuana has given my family the opportunity to keep my family together. It's given my child the opportunity to go to school. It's given me a place to start my life over with minimal hassle. It's given Hector a type of freedom he never knew and helped him connect with himself and his Mexican background. I am grateful for this city, it's people and it's customs. Tijuana is such a mixture of everything: near and far, old and new, developing and modern. Tijuana is a welcoming place, even if it doesn't look like it at first. I am grateful for the city that adopted me when I was made to leave my home and was sent adrift in this world.