$20 In Your Wallet and $100 in Your Underwear…My Guide to Tijuana Mexico

This was the advise passed down to me the first time I went to Tijuana (TJ). Put $20 in your wallet and don’t spend it. Put the rest in your underwear and pull the money out whenever you need a drink. The reason I was told (by my Sergeant) (you got it…a Marine Corps Story) and later found to be true, is that the “Fine” you would get from the Mexicali (Mexican Police) was…whatever you had in your wallet. They would arrest you for whatever minor infraction you had just committed…me…who of thought that helping a  beautiful SDSU (San Diego State University) student with her sweater in the stock room of the dance club would be a crime in Mexico….you guessed it…it was…or was it because we broke into the stock room, I’m not sure.

When they took me outside and said I was going to jail (from the stories I’ve heard, you don’t want to end up in a Tijuana Jail) or I could  pay a fine and go home. It didn’t take me long to choose the latter. I replied “how much is the fine” they replied “how much you got”. Now let me tell you how intelligent I thought myself to be for heeding the bit of wisdom that was handed down earlier in the night. I replied ” I don’t know how much I have left, I  spent a lot (again my intellect would be proven for not saying…drank a lot). All I have is in my wallet”. To my surprise…and later to be proven right again, $20 will cover just about any crime you could commit in Mexico (Tijuana anyway). Anything…unless it was much more serious, like sleeping with the niece of the Police Captain….Not me! but a friend. They found the rest of his money, if you know what I mean.

You see as  young Marine (19-20 years of age) stationed in Southern California, the drinking age was 21. I had just came from Ohio and back then the drinking age was 19. So if I didn’t want to wait a year or so to go out and drink , I had to go to Mexico…only 50 miles south of San Diego. That just also happened to be the same distance from the SDSU campus. It didn’t take me long to figure out “where the girls were going Friday night”. It just happen to be a bonus that in TJ if you can stand at a bar, you can drink at a bar…As the night wore on though, I would have to prove the first so I could do the latter.

This would be my first adventure in California…or Tijuana of many. I have one word of advise for the bartenders in Tijuana….Rubber Gloves!


By Tim

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