Professor Rodríguez wants me to see Tijuana's newest monument, which was placed across the street from Lázaro Cárdenas junior and senior high schools. Cárdenas was the president who, in 1935, expropriated Agua Caliente casino and on the land constructed the schools. A statue of Cárdenas glares down near their entrance.
"I saw Cárdenas once in Mexico City," Professor Rodríguez says, "and the statue looks just like him. He wasn't an incredibly handsome man."
The professor stops his car beside a small landscaped plaza across from the schools where a tall golden statue looms over us.
"It's an abstract representation of a teacher. It was unveiled in May of this year. A group of teachers felt the city needed a monument in honor of the teaching profession. A statewide contest was held, and this was the winning sculpture. Neither male nor female. In its hands it holds clouds of knowledge. Its head is shaped like a grain of wheat. Wheat, the staff of life, like knowledge, nourishes us. Teachers have done much for this country. This is the city's newest monument, and so far it isn't well known."
As Professor Rodríguez stands and contemplates the statue, a car passes, stops, honks. Inside, two men wave and clap and call out the professor's name.
The professor laughs. "Those are former students of mine. I taught them many years ago. They still recognize me."