Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cool Shopping in Tijuana

"Dónde está..." I started slowly talking to the boutique hotel security guy, trying to get my brain into travel mode. "Pasaje Rodriguez?"

"Across the street," he responded. His English wasn't great, but it was a heckuva lot better than my Spanish.

Oh. Across the street. I could work with that.

"Y Pasaje Gomez?" What was I talking about? I'd read that these two spots had great clothing stores. He shook his head. The hotel security guard wasn't up on the latest in women's boutiques.

Well, I'd find it. There was a tourist information booth outside on Avenida Revolución. I shoved my near-worthless speed-throttled phone into my back Levi's pocket and walked down the stairs--the hotel was a flight up from ground level.

I didn't make it to Tourist Information, though. From street level, the staircase switched back and went on down the stairs to a passageway.

What's that, I thought. I made a U-turn and followed the stairs down to what turned out to be a covered shopping plaza. It was long, like an alley, and went the width of the block from Avenida Revolución back to Avenida Madero.

I wandered through, noting the passage once would have been full of trinket sellers catering to throngs of day tourists over from San Diego. Years of bad press about border violence had damaged the tourist trade in Tijuana, but I'd read that this had led to a thriving local arts scene.

The little covered alley under the hotel seemed to support this—there were children playing in the hallway outside of shuttered stores, and about half the storefronts were full of local people selling coffee, juice, music, posters and collectibles, and secondhand clothes. There was nothing there for me to buy—I have my own share of clothing I need to repair or discard—but there was indeed a thriving local culture of people able to rent once-seedy storefronts, turning them into creative shops in a energetic atmosphere.

I paced the length of the plaza to the far side, wondering what this particular passage was called. I had a suspicion and headed to the end to turn around and see if there was a sign.


Pasaje Gomez.

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