Escaping Tijuana's Cartel War & Running Right Into An American Race War

Hello loyal readers, I'm finally happy to say that I am officially no longer a residing in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. I was able to make it out of that shithole of a city and head north of the border back to my country of origin. Canada. Or as I like to call it. Canadaland, the place where people say sorry for no good reason at all. Suffice it to say that this trip was not nearly that simple or easy. It was traumatic, required 3 days of travel by land and air, and incredibly anxiety evoking. Let's dig into what it was like going from one form of hell right into another in only a matter of hours shall we...

Playas De Tijuana

May/29th/2020 7:00 a.m, May 30th, Tijuana, Baja California. My day starts with my Uber driver picking me up at my beach house in Playas de Tijuana. I have used the same driver for all my rides since Covid hit. Cuts down on filthy numbskulls hand jizz I may accidentally come in contact with during this global Pandemic. German (my driver), a heavy-set Pilsbury doughboy type character. Who speaks a little English and even worse, more broken Spanish. I'm not expert myself in Espanol but when I do speak it, I speak more enunciated than he. And he, my driver, is Spanish. Full blown, Tijuana born, low-grade, wide waisted local. I shit you not when I say that if the Pilsbury doughboy had black bristle hair that this would be my driver. If I wasn't so damn stressed with 3 pieces of luggage, my Chihuahua named California in one hand and my Frida Khalo bag overflowing with travel documents for customs patrol in the other (bought at the Diego Rivera Museum mind you) I would have taken a picture to back up my statement. For now, you'll just have to trust me.

Goodbye Playas Diamante Apartmentos..Great views/Terrible People.


7:30 a.m, San Ysidro Border Crossing, Pedestrian Line. The line at the San Ysidro Border is always far from ideal. Never once in my 3 year span of living in this wasteland have I ever not seen anyone in line at the border waiting to cross into the United States. Notorious for being the dubbed "The busiest border crossing in the world". The car line backs out into the inner city for miles. Today is one of those days where not only are the cars back up for miles but so are the people on the pedestrian lanes. Which is exactly where I am heading. "Fuck Me!" I yell upon arrival, "I hate Tijuanfuckinguana!". At this point I've lost all patience with the city, its people, and its utter stupidity. During a time when it's made law that only essential trips are to be made north of the border it has me bewildered. Why the human line of traffic almost 1 mile long? Especially in the era of Social Distancing. None of that is happening here. It's flip flops, back packs, crumpled up cargo shorts, baseball snap caps and women even wider than my Uber driver German in low-rise skinny jeans stuck bumper to bumper in this line.

I get out of the car, glaring at all the vile pieces of trash passing for human thinking to myself... "Am I ever getting out of this place?". I finally had saved up enough dough to get my very expensive plane ticket back home to Canada and now I'm stuck at the border. An American tourist in a backpack walks by. I ask "Hey man, how longs the line? I can't tell where it's coming or going it loops around so much". He replies, "Uhhhh... I don't know for sure but I know it starts all the way over there", pointing to the other side of the fence that I'm standing on. "If I had to guess I'd say you should expect to be here for at least 4/5 hours". 'Thanks" I replied as I continued to unload my luggage from the car. German, shakes my latex gloved hand and drives away. Only for me to realize that he has sped off with my Frida Kahlo bag. Yes, the Frida Kahlo bag overflowing with all my travel documents, including my wallet and passport. This is why you always have your phone on you in transit my friends. I swiftly called German to notify him that he sped off before I could check the back seat. No answer. I then start to furiously text him through Whatsapp. No reply. 5 long minutes go by and finally I get a repy. "I sorry! I bring it now, I see your bag, 5 minutes please!".

At this point I'm standing on the side of the road watching this line get longer and longer. I've found an old leather faced Mexican Cowboy, wearing a leather jacket with Goofy embossed on the back. He offered me a special shuttle service to skip the line and ride through the express lane for $40 US. All I need is for my driver to haul ass so I can now get the hell out of Tijufuckinguana. 10 minutes go by... My driver is now texting me updates about how lost he was. Standing on the corner of the street now with my temporary moustachio shuttle slinger and my 3 pieces of luggage.

My not so happy go lucky Shuttle representative

Funny thing is, before my driver dropped me off he was explaining how he only lived a few blocks away from the border line. To me, him getting lost only further proves my point that he is indeed a Pilsbury doughboy in the raw uncooked flesh. 40 minutes go by and finally my driver finally arrives with my bag. Out of breath as though he had just run a marathon. In all reality he just ran down one block from where he parked.

Behold! All my belongings currently know to man stuck on the side of a highway.


8:10 a.m, San Ysidro Bus Shuttle Station. Now I'm standing in a holding area with my dog California, surrounded by Mexican's wearing backpacks on their way to cross the border into San Diego for work. The shuttle station in actuality is just a parking lot with a tarp covering van seats, welded into the cement to resemble a waiting room. A 100lb chocolate-brown pit bull is sleeping across one of the seats with his/her face hanging half off the edge. There's dog shit everywhere and I refuse to sit to save myself from catching a parasite. So this is what it feels like to straddle the border every day to make a living.. I do not like it. If only I was getting paid on the other side of this border wall. Instead, I'm spending money as though I'm a rapper in strip club to get back up North to Canada.

9:50 a.m, San Ysidro Border Crossing Sentri Lane. After almost an hour in the shuttle waiting to clear customs to get into San Diego the shuttle stops abruptly. One of the gates opens up on the other side of our bus and a Customs Officer motions for everyone to get off the bus. We now have to gather all of our luggage and proceed through the Pedestrial check point with everyone else trying to get out of Tijuana this morning. However, for me it was not quite so easy. California (my dog) in one hand, my bag in the other and simultaneously pushing 3 pieces of luggage alone I had to back track to the front of the line to get pre-screened by the head Chief in charge that day. As I am Canadian my trip must be deemed as "essential" in to access to the USA and catch my flight. My stress at this point is at an all time high. Possibly never in my life have I ever been this anxious. Thousands of dollars spent on travel fees, giving up my beach home and all my belongings just to make it across this border line. There are no flights out of Tijuana to get back to Canada or anywhere else. This is my only option to return to my country of origin.

It took me a few minutes to get all my luggage through the door of the screening office. I then had to state my case why my trip is essential travel during a worldwide pandemic. Good times folks! All around! After a little sweet talking and making sure I stayed peachy keen and totally polite the officers believed me that the Tijuana airport had no flights going to Canada and that flying out of LAX was my only option as San Diego airport also had no international flight options either. After that screening my trip was deemed "essential" with proof of my airline ticket bought and paid for departing within 36 hours. Now, time to reverse all my luggage and finally get in line with the other half of the world in Latin America trying to cross the border for security clearance.

10:15 a.m, San Ysidro, California. I have now made it into the United States Of America. That express shuttle really just got me to the front of the line while still leaving me in the dust. Tijuana told me the shuttle is on the other side of border behind the McDonald's waiting for me. Let me just preface this. A McDonald's in front of or behind is never a suitable meeting space for anyone of a civilized nature. None of my outfits go with "McDonald's" it drags down my public real estate value as a refined woman with an edge. Not to mention the toxic sludge that they pass of as food is a violation to my body's cravings for real food. I digress, I go up several annoying ramps still hauling my 3 pieces of luggage with only 2 hands, my dog in her carry-case and my purse hanging from my forearm. To no suprise the shuttle bus to LA is nowhere to be found. In fact this lot is a ghost town. A friendly security guard comes up to offer to help me with my luggage at this point, he tells me that this area has been vacant since Covid-19 started. No buses meet here anymore because most are out of service. You see why I call it Tijufuckinguana? I got scammed. As usual, in a city full of crime and poverty. The security officer was more knowledgable than anyone I had come in contact with this entire morning as was able to let me know  where I could catch a ride to LA on a different shuttle service 10 blocks away.

10:35 a.m, San Ysidro, Fronteras Norte, Shuttle Station. I arrive here with my Uber. Haul ass up the stairs and a friendly Mexican man behind a plastic partition greets me. He tells me that the shuttle service I paid for in Tijuana does not allow pets. Which also didn't surprise me. One thing I have learned now about Mexicans after living in Mexico almost 3 years consecutively is that they don't pay attention to details. A huge detail being the fact that I boarded the shuttle bus in San Ysidro with my dog in hand. It's too hilarious to make me angry at this point. I'm 3 hours into my escape from Tijuana and I know that being now in America, I have more options than I did being stuck in Tijufuckinguana. I'm directed to a man who is in the parking lot across the street. He is a private driver. If I'm willing to pay him $65 he will drive me in his private SUV to LA. I ask if he can do it for $60 so I don't have to break any bills, he accepts, and off to the races we go. America = Options. Tijuana = End of the line.

My New/Improved Ride to LA



California Dreaming

11:30 a.m, Laguna Beach, California. We have another 2 hours ahead of us on the road to get to LA. Now that I have a private driver I'm able to ask for a pit stop to walk California. We choose Laguna Beach. I highly suggest this as a pit stop to anyone on route from the Mexican Border to LA. I once spent my 32nd Birthday in Laguna. I went to Laguna from Newport Beach in an Uber. I came home the following afternoon on a Motorcycle. Good times. I had to see this place through more sober eyes, minus the hangover before I left California completely. We pull over and take a 30 minute walk around the boardwalk. California had a fan club of other dogs and people all pointing and staring at her. I can't blame them. She is the coolest Chihuahua the earth has ever seen. It's a typically gloomy May afternoon. I notice all the stores here are all open, which is a strange sight in comparison to being on lockdown for the past 3 months. Apparently, it's Day 1 of California's re-opening during the pandemic. I want to stay but by law I have to go back home. I also know that there is nowhere better to be in a crisis than Canada. I get a text while on my stroll "Hey Tiff, There are riots in the US be careful as you cross the border today" from my former neighbor in Tijuana. By the looks of Laguna Beach I can't have too much to worry about. There's also no black people here aside from me & I'm not one fo for making a scene unless my life is in danger. I'm in the clear.. The riots are all the way in Minneapolis, I should be fine.. or so I thought at the time.

Laguna Beach, California




1:30 p.m, Marriott, North Hollywood, California. We have made it to our first stop on our trip. One night only in Los Angeles before we fly out of LAX tomorrow afternoon. I turn on the tv in the hotel room and see that in fact these riots have already extended to almost every major city in the U.S.A. Including one starting to form peacefully in Downtown LA where I just passed through to get to Noho. So far, it's peaceful in LA but it feels like something is afoot. There is tension here, you can feel it. Between everything being closed down for the past 3 months, people loosing their income at no fault of their own, and now this race war that is finally coming to a head. Not only is it black people marching for equality it's also white people. Which is the first time I've ever seen so many white people standing on the side of the "other". Mayor Garcetti gets on a live announcement which makes me cry in the hotel room. He bluntly lays out how black people & minorities are at a higher risk of poverty, violent crimes, homelessness, wage disparity etc.. etc.. All things I have lived through and continue to live through as a visible minority in this world. From when I modeled full-time, never getting the same opportunities for magazine covers, interviews, paid work in general as my white skinned counterparts going for the exact same gigs. When I became a power tool performance artist pulling of crazy stunts and risking my life in the sake of art I would constantly be passed over for white contortionist or side shows for gigs. Being told I was a nigger everyday in elementary school growing up Granum & Nanton, Southern Alberta, Canada mind you. In adulthood attending rock/punk/metal shows and always being the only minority in the crowd, sometimes that crowd would be a Stadium full of white. The race war is not only an American war, it's one that exists worldwide. I have felt this war being waged internally my entire life. It's a war I fight on my own not to become a statistic/stereotype simply because of the color of my skin. Clearly, this war is far from over.

I cry today because I see that my constant struggle in Tijuana wasn't only because I was in Tijuana where cartels rule and people are ruled by them. It's because I am seen as a black woman in Tijuana, my struggle in Canada as a kid in rural areas was not because of Canada, it was because I am seen as black in Canada. My struggle today is not because of my lifestyle choices, it's because I am still seen as black in a majority white owned world. In all reality I am of mixed race. I want to be seen as that instead of just lumped into one group/race. We are finally having the "black" converstation but what about all the other colors that exist in the human race? That's where I want to see this converstaion go next. Until then, I'll happily watch from the sidelines with California in this hotel room waiting for my flight back to the great white North.

Marriott, North Hollywood, California


About Me: My name is Tiffini Truth and I'm a Metal Artist living in Tijuana. I also adore writing. Specifically about life, style, culture and sustainability .

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