San Diego is known as "America's Finest City." Tijuana is often thought of as one of the world's most dangerous destinations. What do you think happens when the walls come down?
I've spent a lot of time in Mexico since I moved to San Diego. I love to surf from Baja Malibu all the way down past Ensenada. I have spent time both recreationally and for work in Tijuana. How was it that I had never heard of the "Montana de Basura?"
Just 15 minutes from San Diego's border, the Montana de Basura, or "mountain of trash," is a smoldering heap of garbage that stretches for miles. It's home to hundreds – if not thousands – of men, women and children.
I will never forget my experiences there. One six-year-old child I met, Jorge, had lost both his parents and was now being taken care of by his grandma who was given four months to live due to cancer.
Surrounded by beautiful hills and the smell of burning trash, I sat down and wept. I wished I could be Jorge's new dad. I wished there weren't so many walls that separated us. And most of all I thanked God for all that I had...wondering the best way to share it.
We all have walls. Some are built of wood, some brick, and others are ideas. Walls are meant to keep us safe and separate from harm. But the more walls we build, the further we become from one another. Are we often so busy judging people and hiding from the world that we forget to feel? To care?
Thirty minutes away from my home in San Diego, there are hundreds of people doing whatever they can to get some clean water to bring home to their children. San Diego is beautiful and blessed. Now let's be good neighbors.
Editor's note: Opportunities exist to donate/volunteer with organizations working in this area of Tijuana. Here are just a couple: healingheartsacrossborders.com, responsiblityonline.org.
Check out Paul's site for Tijuana traveling tips: inthecitysandiego.com.