Went back to Carl's JR for breakfast then headed off down interstate 5 to San Diego. Some views of the coast along the way. Passed a nuclear power station. Also passed some curious houses perched on the tops of the hills. At one viewpoint we saw a couple of prairie dogs.
We didn't stay too long in San Diego, but we chased around for an ATM and found it difficult to find one, then went to the corner of Imperial & 10th where we parked the car and bought tickets for the trolley bus that would take us almost to the border (San Ysidro). It took about 1/2 hour and I was surprised to see a couple that had been in front of us in a queue in Disneyland. Sean fell asleep along the way.
We weren't quite sure what to do about our passports and we started to follow a crowd of people when a man started to yell at us "you need the bus to town, it's too far to walk". We were a little nervous, but we climbed aboard. Nobody even looked at our passports. We got off the "Mexicoach" at the Cultural Centre and went looking for the Culture. We didn't find much. We decided that the museum would probably not interest the kids, so went looking for shops. There was a shopping mall behind us, so over we went. It was interesting to see prices of things as 145,000! The exchange rate was about 3000 pesos per dollar.
We found a place for lunch but had trouble understanding most of the menu items, so ordered 5 chicken burgers. The waitresses could not speak English, and we felt a bit conspicuous as we appeared to be the only aliens around. This was a shopping centre for locals. We bought some delicious pastries from a bakery. They were huge but very inexpensive.
We then decided to make for the area of the street stalls - the downtown area. We walked in what what we thought was the right direction and came across a lot of poor-looking dirty people in a produce market area. Pete and I were a little nervous but kept walking. The kids were fooling around and totally oblivious to the possible danger.
After walking quite a way we eventually found our way Downtown. We passed lots of dirty streets, beaten up cars, off smells. When we hit the main area we were also hit by the hard sell. For a while we only wanted to look but everywhere people seemed desperate to sell. Walk into a shop and they're all over you. We felt quite uncomfortable.
I began buying a few things. I bought a briefcase ($40), bangle ($5), "Gucci" watch ($30). All over were Mexicans sitting alongside jewelry stands trying to get you to buy. Even small children selling chewing gum. It was rather pathetic. We found a Hard Rock Cafe where Nicole bought a t-shirt and Sean a keyring. Joel settled for a leather wallet, Pete bought nothing. We were getting pretty tired of walking as we had done a lot. Joel was complaining bitterly. We decided to go back across the border, but there was no sign of the "Mexicoach" for which we had return tickets, but there were plenty of blokes standing on corners offering taxi services. One bloke offered Pete a taxi 3 times.
We just kept walking and the closer to the border, the more stalls we saw. Some were begging outright. The sight I remember clearly was a woman sitting on a stairway breastfeeding a baby shaking a battered cup toward me with a stricken look on her face. This trip to Mexico was a sobering experience for us all.
We got closer to the border and the jewelry sellers literally were chasing me. One fellow offered me 3 chains for $10 and chased me until I bought 4 for $10. After I bought them, another onlooker said "look, mine are longer!" - 4 for $10 and then 4 for $5!
We got back across the border without incident and ate in the McDonalds at San Ysidro. Pete said it was the dirtiest toilet he'd ever been in. The journey back on the trolley bus was without incident but the kids were hyped up, joking etc. We picked up our car and drove back to LA.Read more