There is a certain stigma attached to border cities where members of major drug trafficking groups regularly intimidate police, kill each other, and occasionally leave trails of dumped body parts.
In light of travel advisories like this one, cities like Tijuana have tried unsuccessfully over the past year to convince tourists that they aren’t likely to be the target of a narco shooting. In Mazatlan, meanwhile, some taxi drivers are finding a niche in taking tourists to (the outside of) places believed to be owned by drug traffickers and to the crime scenes of famous drug battles, according to this story by Marc Lacey of The New York Times.
While official tourism officials here might wince at the idea, other countries are employing narco tourism: In Colombia, you can visit a ranch used by now-deceased drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. It has been converted into a theme park.
Capitalizing on the narco phenomenom can be controversial, but a fair number of tourists would probably enjoy visiting the sites of one of Tijuana’s infamous drug tunnels (or others in Tecate and Mexicali). The art museum known as Casa del Tunel – the origin of one the city’s famous cross-border tunnels – provides only passing recognition of its past incarnation.
Tijuana Tunnel Tours could be a mobile event, or it could become an actual museum. There is a warehouse east of the Tijuana airport that was the origin of a massive and incomplete tunnel said to have been built for Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman in the 1990s. This tunnel museum could include photos of other tunnels, explanations of how tunnels are found, and shovels and religious icons found at tunnel sites. Guzman, who remains at large, might be appeased with a VIP pass.
Photo of warehouse that was the entrance of a massive tunnel discovered in 1993, said to have been built by suspected trafficker Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. The last time I visited the building, it was being used by Mexican federal authorities to hold confiscated cars.
Posted in Crime & public security, Musings
Tagged Baja California, border, chapo, cross-border tunnels, drug trafficking, drug tunnels, drug violence, drugs, joaquin guzman, marc lacey, mexico, narco tourism, Tijuana, tourism, tours, tunnels
YouTube video explains where tequila comes from, courtesy of zerodreamer. His website is Rocky Point Tequila, about the Sonora-based Tequila Factory.
Tijuana’s got a couple of interesting things going on this weekend along the popular tourist strip of Avenida Revolucion. Within walking distance of the border, this is in a part of the city that’s historically managed to avoid drug-related violence.
Mexican mummies: This may seem like a cruel joke considering the number of dumped bodies being found around Tijuana lately, but it’s for real. These are on loan from a mummy museum in the state of Guanajuato that I visited about ten years ago. You can learn more about the history of the adult and baby mummies here.
In Tijuana, the exhibit is being held at the old Jai Alai building on Avenica Revolucion and it’s from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to GuiadeTijuana.com. Entrance fee is under $5 per person. It lasts through Nov. 12.
A tequila a day…: With bad news on both sides of the border (plunging stock markets aren’t fun, either), a shot of tequila might be in order. The Tijuana Tequila Festival will take place between 7th and 8th streets on Avenda Revolucion with more than 100 different tequilas to taste. It lasts from around 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tickets cost $6. The eight-day festival started Oct. 12 and ends this Sunday night.
Five Star Tours provides transportation to the event from San Diego. Learn more here.
Note: The U.S. Embassy has emitted one of their periodic travel alerts for tourists to be careful when traveling along the Mexican border region due to stepped-up violence from feuding drug groups. My own personal advice is avoid cavorting with drug traffickers and stay out of the way of speeding car caravans.
* Travelers are recommended to double-check event listings because venues can change or be cancelled.