gringo tijuanense

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Tijuana Mapatext
a geographical & historical meander
un meandro historico y geografico

Tur Info

Part Three:
   La Mesa
          Camionera Central, and the universal


ONCE UPON A TIME Tijuana was an old rancho born in a river valley surrounded by canyons and hilltops.  Then it would grow into a border megalopolis where one world ends and another began.  Along the way a lot of heat will fit the shanty.

La Mesa.

La Mesa is the eastern half of the megalopolis.  She is mostly a valley, but other, too.  The name is official, she is a delegación, a big-section of town. 

The river runs right through her, and puts together three branches in her plain. On one side of the river you come to Cinco y diez (5 & 10), and on the other you will find the CAM CENTRAL the great central bus station.  These are only a few minutes apart from each other, but by appearance seem very different.  5 & 10 seems to be smack dab in the middle of the delegación, at the important crossing of two major boulevards, while the Camionera Central looks like it is hung below the hills outside on the edge of town. 

You will also see, above the river and Insurgentes, the world's biggest shiny white Jesus.  Soon enough, however, the world turns beyond, toward Presa and Otay and Lagos.  They shake hands with La Mesa, in the hills, in the gulleys, in the dirty water and the distilled fresh, where a million huts and shops are getting built. 

There's a good piece of parkland out here, on Insurgentes before the Cerro Colorado.  They have concerts and a little train ride with animals and lots of picnic room everywhere.  Parque Morelos is what the river zone could be like if anyone cared to make it better.

Once, not too many long ago, the part of town called La Mesa was all farmland and orchards.  It was was not a part of town, it was the countryside outside the little old town of Tijuana down there on the corner of the river. Before they grew up it was - and it is - a big valley upriver from the narrow part by Agua Caliente, where the railroad crosses over, and the river changes direction, and focus, into another open place, another greater room within the moving forms of a valley in California.

0.0.1 Ancient History
Layout of the Town:
0.0.2 The River :
0.0.3 La Mesa :
0.0.3 5 & 10 :
0.0.3 Camionera Central (bus terminal) :
0.0.4 Downtown Centro :
0.0.4. Revolution Avenue :
0.0.4.Zona Rio :
0.0.4.Zona Norte/Coahuilla :
0.0.6.Hills :
0.0.5.Agua Caliente and "the boulevard" :
0.0.6.Otay Mesa :
0.0.6.Cerro Colorado :
0.0.6.El Florido :
0.0.6.Playas de Tijuana :
0.0.6.La Gloria :
Points Beyond:
0.0.6.Rosarito :
0.0.6.Ensenada :
0.0.6.Tecate :
Other Mapping Sites

TO: S.D.S.U. Tijuana River Watershed Site Highly recommended for real geography....

In this new piece of the valley from sacred mountain, the river will break from three arms and leave ragged canyons and cactus, to embrace a climate we must call Mediterranean and a valley that used to be farms and now is factories and superstores and houses houses houses. 

Back in the coast, much closer to my pen from the valley of La Mesa, "Olde Tijuana" was more than ten or seven miles back down the river at today's downtown (centro), and La Mesa another twenty.  Link La Mesa.  Link Tecate.  Link Tijuana and Disneyland.

Not here, not anywhere near here, this was another corner far away from town, across the orchards and fields of sunflowers, yes it was a long walk.  Yes there were some new areas across the river (Libertad), and then, a little ways along the "Bulevar" came the country club and Agua Caliente complex.  But beyond Agua Caliente, this was (and is) the greater valley of La Mesa, farther upriver, was something else altogether.

You can see the valley of La Mesa in this big space photo below (which should load and display...) labled and spreading between Agua Caliente and the big hill of Cerro Colorado.  Yes, right there... on the upper right quarter of the megalopolis, see? 

5 & 10 (Cinco y diez)

Once upon a time there was an agricultural zone of fields and pastures and trees surrounding a little collection of stores at "5 & 10" (including, yes, a "Five & Dime store" or, in Spanish, "Cinco y Diez").

In the 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s Tijuana grew and grew, and the crossroads at 5 & 10 became the center of La Mesa, which grew and Grew and in the 1980s and 1990s central Tijuana and La Mesa mixed all together altogether and they were all one anyway stretched out along the boulevard and it/they twins and compadres Grew and GREW and nowadays the old collection of stores serving the farmlands of La Mesa have become a secondary urban node focussed around the important intersection of boulevards still known as "5 & 10" ("Cinco y Diez") from the Five & Dime store that used to be there long, long ago.  They say in my imagination that tia Juana was their most regular shopper, even cut the ribbon long, long ago.  If you explore La Mesa, if you closely explore the spaces between lots and complexes, you can find a couple bedraggled orchards hidden away past the first great hospitals -- even right off the Boulevard (don't blink).  Otherwise, warehouses, factories, condos, apartments, houses, shops, streets and all the sprawl rules here now.

5 & 10 is the urban core of La Mesa.  Massive quantities of minibusses and taxi routes come and go from here.  There are several large shopping centers here, dozens upon dozens of medium-sized malls and hundreds of minimals and thousands of good restaurants and shops and stores and workshops and tens of thousands of houses and apartments and condolooking flats.  Hundreds of thousands of middle class and working families call La Mesa home.  This is not a touristic area per se, but it is a very important center of the megalopolis.

La Mesa is also the location of the infamous state prison that a sociologist friend of ours once told us how she visited there in 1999.  Her description of "el pueblecito" -- the little village inside the walls -- blew us away and Michael wrote it down there.  Since then, however, well, it was in August of 2002, the government moved in and shut down the place. You can read about that action in the online San Diego Union-Tribune if they haven't dumped the archives yet.

Back to top

Camionera Central -- Main ("Central") Bus Station.

On the fringes of La Mesa, across the river from "5 y 10" is the main bus terminal.  The big dedicating plaque on the wall says its name is "Central de Autobuses" but everyone knows it is the "Camionera Central" because, you see, in Mexico a "camión" is a bus, not just a truck.  To get to the big bus station take any city bus or route taxi that says "Camionera Central" or "CAM CENTRAL" in its windshield and ride until you get to a great big bus terminal. It's pretty obvious.  Busses leave from here for destinations in mainland Mexico as well as Baja California.  However, travelers coming from California should also be advised that busses for some points in Baja (ESPECIALLY Ensenada) also leave right from the border, and to other parts of Mexico, too, though not as many (places and busses) as at the big bus station.

Local-type minibusses to Tecate depart from the old bus station back in downtown Centro at 1st and Madero one block down the hill from the big arch.  Check out the mosaic mural of Northwest Mexico on the wall inside.  Recently (2003) a few busses for Guadalajara and Mexico City have again begun to depart from the old downtown bus station.

TO: Part Four of TJ Maptext -- Dowtown / Centro

gringo tijuanense


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Tijuana Mapatext
a geographical & historical meander
un meandro historico y geografico

Send Daniel or Michael e-mail at tijuanagringo@yahoo.com

Copyright 2001 Daniel Charles Thomas. Revised: 2002, 2003, 2004.