Turista Libre gives Tourists the Chance to Experience Tijuana like a Local
Tijuana based Turista Libre found a special way to attract tourists to its city: by offering the chance to live the experience of being local.
Every day, a group of tourists. mostly Americans, arrives at the crosswalk of San Ysidro (California) to enter Mexico, where an old school bus that is part of the public transport of Tijuana is waiting for them.
Most are eager to taste the wide range of artisan beer, but along the way they will find some of the worst-kept secrets of this Mexican city, such as its colorful streets, artistic scene or simply the famous fish tacos.
"It's been a gratifying experience," said to EFE San Diego resident Joelle Tonkovich who took the tour this weekend. "(It's exciting) to have the opportunity to see what our neighbors are doing," she adds.
The journey does not always include the usual tourist sites or the more luxurious restaurants. Instead, tourists can enjoy places that are fashionable between local or street food stalls.
"It's a different flavor, it's a different energy," adds Beth Slevcove, a native of Southern California referring to what she finds more exciting to tour Mexico from another perspective.
This concept was invented by an American journalist, Derrick Chin, who years ago saw a cultural and gastronomic movement coming from this city.
Ten years ago Chinn, a native of Ohio, moved to San Diego, California, where he worked as an entertainment journalist. It was not long before he discovered the gateway to Latin America, a few miles south of his old office.
Marveling at the city, he took his things and moved to Tijuana, despite that this meant having to cross the border every day to go to work.
The transition was easy and getting a SENTRI Pass - a trusted travel program from the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) - was a great help.
On the march he became one of the thousands of residents of the border area that daily pass between the two countries and know what it is to see beyond dividing lines.
His desire for more people to have the experience of living the best of both worlds, led him to organize tours first for his friends, without imagining that this would be the beginning of his company, which nowadays is located in the first Place of its type on the Trip Advisor site.
Every weekend Turista Libre offers a different adventure. From a wrestling feature, a baseball game, a Xoloitzcuintles team football game or a visit into other corners of Baja California, such as the Valle de Guadalupe vineyards in Ensenada or to try the traditional Chinese food in Mexicali.
The intention is that American visitors leave aside prejudices and stigma and dare to know all that the neighboring city has to offer.
"They go with the idea that Tijuana is not the Tijuana that they see in the news or that they see in the TV, that is a place that is very interesting, that vibrates a lot, that has a very unique dynamic that can not be compared to any other placein the world," Derbie Chinn, creator of Turista Libre, told Efe.