One must lean their full weight into the new turnstiles.
  • One must lean their full weight into the new turnstiles.
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The new way to walk into Mexico via the San Ysidro route turns out to be pretty simple if one just follows instructions.

No less than six bilingual women wearing red, short-sleeved polo shirts are happy to direct you along the way, once you step off the Blue Line trolley at its last stop in San Ysidro. Signage abounds as well, but the ladies are the key to the new operation, as they direct the bewildered pedestrian along the not-so-straight but narrow path.

Part historical tour and part Stalag 17, the route wends southerly, behind the 1930s U.S. Customs House, through a canyon of 20-foot high, three-inch-thick steel bars topped with coils of razor wire. Then one passes through a pair of stainless steel turnstiles graced by a portal bearing the name “MEXICO,” all in gray steel and concrete.

Below the bas relief lettering, two new stainless steel turnstiles; one must lean their full weight into them to overcome their inertia. Once through the turnstiles, an interwoven stairway and ramp — abutted to the Mexican side of the rusty metal border fence — plummets downward some eight feet in a vertiginous emulation of an Escher drawing. Then you are in Mexico proper, in a small, tight but well-lighted room that was once part of the “last chance” Caliente betting parlor, a few feet away from the U.S. border.

Within that approximately 20´ by 20´ space, Mexican customs officials are stationed, running their routine checks while Mexican army men linger, clad in camouflage, automatic rifles slung over their shoulders. A stainless steel table stands alone for parcel/backpack inspections under fluorescent lights.

Once outside the narrow nozzle of Mexican inspection, a further plunge downward takes a traveler to street level, where one is directed to follow a recently constructed pathway to a bridge crossing over San Ysidro–bound auto traffic.

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David Dodd Oct. 2, 2012 @ 4:15 p.m.

" the narrow nozzle of Mexican inspection" - great line. As opposed to the broad spray of American interrogation. I like this path better, by the way, seems quicker and a lot more interesting. Although the staircase down after you get into Mexico is sort of a hassle.


lilmarie Oct. 6, 2012 @ 6:40 p.m.

I very much appreciate your article. I have an appointment with my dentist next week and I have been trying to figure out if I can still walk to meet him at the old corner in front of the Pharmacy across the street from where the old turnstiles and taxis were, near the McDonalds on Avenue de la Amistad on the Mexican side. According to your article, there is a pedestrian bridge to get back across the traffic to the west side of the exit road from Mexico. It used to take 15 minutes or less to walk across, but now I am worried how long it may take, but at least I know there is a bridge. I read somewhere else there was not.


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