Roar through streets dodging buses, kamikaze taxis and mad dashing pedestrians. We pass Avenida Revolucion - el Revo, to the locals - all is what you expect: petulant flabby tourists shuffle in the beating sun ignoring the barking of the pitchmen squinting under that bright blue Mexican sky. Young pacheco kids in their funky hip-hop clothes walk by arm in arm around a tired whore clop-clopping in her cha-cha heels brown eyes drooping and looking forever up at Guadalupe. The shop venders selling gold, silver, leather, liquor, sex - they scream unrelentlessly into the deaf ear of the sweaty tourist. Overpriced restaurants, massive discos, and farmacias vending Viagra with enough potency to kill an elephant, lost among fading whorehouses crumbling into time reflected in the sad eyes of the weary Zonky.
Blocks are splashed with the primary colors of restaurants and consumer store facades of any other Mexican metropolitan city - the dust rises, the trash burns, police patrol by with young cops hanging off the sides of white trucks - black rifles glistening and the mothers sprinting across the traffic with young flailing and babies wailing. Cervezas and guacamole - no matter how diluted with sour cream - still bring in the Mexican culture of memory to the old and young. Culture is life. Life is change. Change is culture - and change is the beauty of Tijuana, no matter how desperate - no matter how congested and overflowing, omnipresent as a McDonald’s baño.
Spitting heat upon pale skin. Dust swirls, thick and ominous like mountainous fog, yet there is little silence among this thumping surge of sprawling land and sea convergence. It's bright and it’s hot, alighting the nonexistent patterns as people and their many motors crush upon humanity and culture - their culture.
It is their land; their noise and debris, the rising dust - clouds into the eternal heat, the rapturous signals, the stoplights and padding feet across cracked pavement before the next race of exhaust pipes flood the streets. The young boys standing in a 1950s truck bed and the workingmen folding leathery hands in deep cooling shadows. Coronas, Pacificos, Dos XX and Sol bottles crushed down dirt side-alleys. Pass peeling paints of white, green and orange. As I sat in the back of the taxi, heat and the accompanying dust drew into the interior through the open windows that sucked like a famished mule.
A dangling faded CD flashed in my eyes, as Jesus and Mother Mary spun from the driver's rear view mirror. Through the dirty window, I watched my beloved Mexico and its culture, passing high-walled penitentiaries and catching the drafts of burning trash and piles of rubber. I breathed in, deeper than the previous, and as rusted tin and red brick turned to unfinished concrete with spikes of rebar, the city-center approached.
Burnt paper and smoky chemicals infused into the sea air until the salt purified the wastes. Suddenly, it froze. A culture - historic in its patternless flow of work, family, tradition, rice, beans, corn tortillas and cerveza, with mother dodging traffic as she interlinks her arms throughout her five children, and the federales rolling in their crisp black '06 GMC pickup trucks and Ford Mustangs, fat signs and stripped lands of acres of sweating asphalt surrounded by cheap simplicities of blue and white, and orange and white swallows its environment.
Then the abominable. Things and their monsters. They let loose to dilute the beauty of this original style of living and culture. Gorging, the corporations find their way as Mexico expands with the born faces of Wal-Mart and Home Depot. My heart pinged. It skipped a beat. Nevertheless, I drew another inhale, observed the life around, and continued to witness an unburdened Mexico thrive. Dust tickled my nose. I sneezed. It reached my throat. I coughed. How unburdened can a culture remain? I was about to find out.
Taxi screeched to a halt in front of the Hotel Coliseo. Old man sat on wood chair by the door focused on me with cataract eyes and junky stoop as I paid the driver and enter the crumbling whitewashed building. The smell of sewage and feces filled the lobby. An obese transvestite sat on an overstuffed green velvet couch sucking a silver tooth as I paid the front desk cien pesos and made my way up to the third floor - old well-worn wooden stairs creaking.
My room was painted olive green, paint flaking. Bed sagged to one side with graffiti scratched above wooden headboard, the toilet ran, and I had roaches for roommates. The distant moan of a whore earning her rent mixed with the banda music wafting through the pungent, dark halls.
I showered in tepid water, got dressed, and left my key with the front desk. Walking sideways through the group of six Amazonian transvestite hookers that guarded the lobby door; avoiding catcalls and grabbing at my crotch.
I strode through the choking night air, the klaxon of car horns and high decimal banda, the cries of cigarette vendors, the smell of scorched meat and sewage, vicious cops patrol and gave me a sour eye. Queers passed staring and giggling and pointed at every bulging groin. Dogs sifted through trash next to their masters.
A few blocks from my hotel was park Teniente Guerrero - by day an idyllic spot for lounging families amid the sounds of playing children among swaying palms and colorful flowers. You look around and see happy smiling faces, the absorbed cancerous faces of police officers, you hear cantina music from across the park of balloons and popsicles and shoeshine stands. In the middle of the park is a gazebo for concerts - generations of mariachi playing Mexican anthems to honor El Gobernador.
By night, the park takes on its sluttish reputation - a notorious hotbed of male prostitution and drug pedaling with sex being acted in the midst of darkened bushes and shadowy corners. When the day boils away and the shoe stands close-up, the boys come out. Every bench is occupied - the trees lining the sidewalk host someone leaning with hip hooked and hands in pockets. Silent shadows beckon and the smell of sex vibrates through the park mixed with the whispering lusty grunts and sighs under a baneful moon.