Where our homeland begins

At the Tijuana beaches the brass band plays loudly and the drunk couples wait, eagerly in love, for the sunset. They don’t care if the water is cold, they splash over the waves wearing their cheap rip-off swimming suits brought from “the other side”.

It is a Sunday in autumn. Not 50 meters away from the beach, other families, other friends other lovers talk and reach for each other’s fingers through an enormous, rusty iron fence which separates Mexico from its “neighbor”.

Adriana turns 34 today and she celebrates at Parque Binacional. For a long time, the birthday girl talks to her sister and her brother in-law through the fence. Her nephews born in Zacatecas, from twenty different uncles and aunts, argue in Spanglish to talk to their “Pachuco” brother in-law on “the other side”. “What did you do to your hair?” he asks to one of his relatives, who dyed her hair blonde, while his 8 year old nephew shows off about how tall he is.

Parque Binacional de la Amistad is a small window at the border. A space where families, separated by immigration laws, can reunite for a couple of hours every week. As the fence on the American is opened the one on the other side, remains fixed to the ground and goes all the way to the sea, like a giant mosquito net.

A man in his 40´s passes a straw through one of the many holes of the enormous iron wall, in order to share his beer with lemon and chili with someone on the other side. That way the straw exports warm Mexican beer.

Even though Tijuana is only a few meters away from San Diego, life styles are very different: The minimum wage in Baja California is $67 pesos (around $5 USD) daily, in California it is $9 USD per hour.

At noon, the sun at the border overexposes the landscape with light. The sun´s blaze and the air from the desert take over your body, which cannot handle the brightness. Fainting and darkness follow, a complete state of twilight from which you will either, recover in a few minutes…or never at all. It is called heatstroke, the same one that kills immigrants in the desert, in there death seems to crawl into them through their eyes.

Adriana´s mother, an 84 year old woman, hides from the heat in the shade. The mariachis, brought due to the occasion, bravely, almost heroically, face the heat. They dance wearing boots and leather jackets to cheer up the multinational party.

The music doesn’t disturb the border patrol agent, who observes the guests having fun. Seagulls and pigeons fight over a potato chip, which escalates to an international bird conflict, that doesn’t seem to bother the agent either.

From the Mexican side, the wall is there for the taking, so you can read things such as “My children, I will see you soon, your loving father” or “Fucking gringos”.

Raids against illegal immigrants in the U.S. are becoming more frequent and they are taking place in the working fields, supermarkets and on the street. That is the reason a variety of activists converge in here:

Dreamer´s Moms, wearing their pink shirts; disposed of war veterans, environmentalists who water the U.S.´s cacti garden from Mexico´s side.

Standing next to the fence, Reinaldo Orozco complains about “Not being able to hug one´s brother or family. Something that, somehow, gives you the strength to do your best”.

Adriana´s party ends when the guards from U.S. close the fence. The double wall forces Mexicans to say goodbye and wait for the next weekend to come back to Tijuana -according to their motto – “Where our homeland begins”.