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Stories by Matthew Suárez

79 days of Tijuana quarantine

“I don’t think we’ll be opening the bar until September or until there is a vaccine,” says Dany aka ‘Drago,’ founder of Dragon Rojo Rockbar and a hospital worker by trade. “I keep the bar ...

June 19, 2020
118 deaths in Baja due to the virus

“You know my brother and I got it, right?” My friend Mariana texted me a few weeks ago after I posted the story about the coronavirus piñatas. Mariana’s brother, Juan, is my private doctor in ...

April 27, 2020
What to do when they stop making Heineken and Modelo

As soon as the news hit, we received ten orders,” says Carlos Macklis owner of Norte Brewing Co. “We stopped producing but we are still selling our beer. I’m acting as the delivery boy driving ...

Tijuana tangos with corona

“It’s a huge mess of disinformation,” says the co-owner of one of the new trendy restaurants in downtown Tijuana (we talked online, she prefers to remain anonymous). “My dad is over at city hall right ...

March 27, 2020
Hunger made me imitate Michael Jackson

A Michael Jackson impersonator dances on the streets of Tijuana to the rhythm of idling motors and honking cars in heavy traffic areas around the city. People crossing the street shuffle around his act and ...

March 25, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2016

Tijuana destroys Spanish and English “Tengo que ir hacer laundry, then I have to study en la biblioteca,” I’m paraphrasing what the Latina students in my college sounded like. My first real encounter with Spanglish ...

March 22, 2020
Panic shopping spreads to Tijuana

“You look like a meme,” I told my friend Beto when I spotted him at the checkout line of my local Calimax with a cart full of toilet paper and paper towels on Friday the ...

March 18, 2020
Reader writers attempt to tone up

High on fitness Patrick Henderson Pyles Peak Corner of Golfcrest and Navajo Drives Mission Trails Cowles Mountain is a very popular, very crowded hike — especially if you’re taking it from the Golfcrest/Navajo staging area. ...

March 11, 2020
Fight Club: Las Pulgas

Las Pulgas is “el mejor lugar para bailar (the best place to dance),” according to their slogan. It is known as one of the bars that sell the most beer in all of Latin America; ...

February 20, 2019
Tijuana is a meth

“¡Dame un peso!” frantically demands a homeless woman by aggressively knocking on car windows that stop in one of Tijuana’s busiest corners on Calle Segunda. Most drivers ignore her, shake their heads nervously, or move ...

February 7, 2019
Two years of Mayor “The Feet”

“Human rights are for humans who do right” became the catchphrase of Tijuana’s mayor, Juan Manuel “El Patas” (The Feet) Gastélum Buenrostro, referring to the caravan of migrants. The news anchor for Univision, Jorge Ramos, ...

January 2, 2019
Caravan reporters invade Tijuana

Chingue su madre todos esos Hondureños.” those were the first words I heard spoken over a loud speaking as I approached the area where the caravan of migrants arrived, Sunday, November 18th. The source of ...

December 26, 2018
Tijuana desensitized to violence

“That was the scariest part, I walked by and didn’t even feel a thing,” commented my friend Luisa, after posting that there was a shooting in Calle Sexta in front of a popular bar on ...

December 4, 2018
My Tijuana makes me happy

“Tijuana is much more than the cliches repeated by those that, carrying their prejudice, come and try to decipher it.” Those words of the late Rafa Saavedra (2013), one of Tijuana’s favorite writers, struck a ...

November 8, 2018
Love for H-Town

Ahh, Houston! As soon as I landed, my shirt got stuck to my body as I breathed in that humid thick air. Siri told me that my week visiting Texas for my cousin’s wedding was ...

Tijuana filmed in Tijuana

How embarrassing! I just looked out my balcony, all hungover and disheveled, to find un chingo de gente afuera,” (an f--- of a lot of people outside), comments Lalo, my neighbor from the building in ...

September 5, 2018
The old rusty metal gate is gone

I remember the first time I crossed the border as a pedestrian from San Ysidro to Tijuana. It was early 2010, the pedestrian entry lay on the west side of the 5. It was a ...

Tijuana’s most violent month in all its history

“The violence and crime in Tijuana has exceeded its own records and has imbued terror in a society, in which authorities have been surpassed and lack any leadership.” That’s how an extensive report of the ...

August 8, 2018
Afternoon at the Nelson Bar

I met a 62-year-old man at Nelson Bar in Tijuana today. He said, “I like talking to white people, you white?” Sort of, I responded. “You look white! I know everything. Ask me anything. No. ...

July 24, 2018
Mexico exits the World Cup

“Estoy muy triste,” said my friend Joey in his poor Spanish after Mexico got eliminated from the World Cup. Joey (with his date) drove at dawn from Little Italy to downtown Tijuana to live the ...

July 9, 2018
Two hours from downtown TJ to bullring

“It started to rain!” commented Andrés “el Andy” Rodríguez, beertender and brewer at Madueño Brewing Co. I was perplexed. It didn’t rain in Tijuana or Playas the night before. “Not real rain, it started to ...

#tijuana tacolife

Yes, I’m one of those people — when presented with an amazing plate, I’ll take out my cell phone. Hell, I’ll even take out my DSLR and take dozens of photos before having a bite. ...

May 16, 2018
Landslide buries Tijuana neighborhood

There are neighborhoods in the hills of Tijuana that always seem to be on the verge of collapse. Narrow streets that lead up steep hills give you a sense of vertigo as you’re riding a ...

April 18, 2018
Tijuana does Hollywood… again

Tijuana’s National Chamber of Commerce has unveiled its plan to build a Tijuana sign on the hill of Cerro Colorado similar to the famed Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. The proposed sign will be similar ...

April 6, 2018
Tijuana's ambivalence toward marijuana

“I’ve been crossing weed [into Tijuana] since before it went [fully] legal,” says Jorge Fierro, a 23-year-old Mexican-American who resides in Tijuana. “Marijuana in Mexico is sh*tty and you don’t know what quality or how ...

Maguana has gone to Heaven

Homeless Tijuana icon, Maria Luisa Castro, also known as “La Maguana,” passed away on March 21 at the age of 61. Ladened with mental diseases and infections like HIV and schizophrenia, Maria Luisa died in ...

March 23, 2018
Tijuana morgue can't keep up

‘The smell doesn’t reach all the way to my house,” comments Diego Silverio, a writer and high school teacher who lives a couple blocks uphill from Tijuana’s morgue. “But [the smell] is unbearable when I ...

March 14, 2018
Irish reporters seek out border-wall prototypes

“In Europe, all we hear is about Trump’s wall,” commented Eimear Lowe, an Irish reporter for RTÉ. “We came to Mexico to find out what people here have to say.” Lowe and Ken (her cameraman) ...

February 19, 2018
Tijuana's Chiki Jai goes bye-bye

I never had a meal at the famed Tijuana restaurant Chiki Jai, and now I never will. The restaurant burned down on January 19th. Founded in 1947, Chiki Jai (“little party” in Basque) was a ...

January 29, 2018
I deported myself to TJ

My friend Jaime crossed the border illegally in late 2015. He didn’t climb the fence, sneak through a tunnel, or swim around the wall. He walked up to the Otay gate and told a Customs ...

January 24, 2018
Tijuana rain + garbage + rats = chaos

Many Tijuana residents woke up on Wednesday (January 10th) to find garbage in the streets and no running water in their homes. The state’s water utility, known by its initials CESPT, had planned to suspend ...

January 11, 2018
Tijuana pedestrians in the war zone

When the clock struck midnight on December 31st, Calle Sexta in Tijuana still resembled a war zone, with half-dug trenches and seemingly abandoned equipment. Partygoers didn’t seem to mind as they stumbled from bar to ...

January 4, 2018
Foreign gas stations opening up to Mexico

“There’s an Arco by my house. It’s the same thing, just with more people in line because the gasoline is supposedly gabacha,” says Linda Goodman, a Tijuana local. “The gasoline liberation allowed foreign business to ...

December 18, 2017
Tijuana Uber report

There is a vast difference between what Uber was when they started in Tijuana in 2015 and what the company is now. Cars were new and clean. Drivers used to offer water, mints, candy, or ...

December 10, 2017
Spanglish Christmas

During the holiday season, thousands of Californians head south of the border to join their families for a Mexican Navidad mixed with customary American Christmas traditions. In the Spanglish world, as with the languages, the ...

December 6, 2017
Tijuana's 21st-century taco cart has arrived

The trend to design exteriors of exposed brick and finished natural wood has made it to Tijuana. Many of the new and remodeled buildings have that modern look, clashing with the old sheet-metal carts of ...

Transplanted Minnesotan's daily TJ hair show

“People touch my hair all the time without asking,” says Szavio Raaum, a 28-year-old Minnesotan who lives in Zona Norte, Tijuana’s red-light district. “You missed a perfect picture the other day. A group of schoolgirls, ...

November 12, 2017
Organ grinders show up in Tijuana

Downtown Tijuana is a constant cacophony. Taxis, calafias (tricked-out short buses), and other vehicles never stop honking. Sirens from police cars, fire trucks, car alarms, and ambulances seem to always distract one’s attention. And with ...

November 1, 2017
To the tomb of Juan Soldado

“Tell her that her grandmother, on her mother’s side, was a powerful witch,” said Amy Venezia, pointing toward Erika the veteran bartender at Nelson. “Let her know that she wasn’t a bad witch, she was ...

October 24, 2017
Don't drink the 7up in Mexico

Over 107,023 sodas of the 7up brand in all its varieties have been recalled in the state of Baja and distribution has stopped. José María Soto Gastelum, 35, died after drinking the soda bought in ...

Hamburger notes from Tijuana

A hungry San Diegan can chose from hundreds, maybe thousands of places to eat Mexico’s fast food of choice, the taco. It only seems fitting that tijuaneneses should be able to eat the American fast-food ...

Big baby looks over Tecate border wall

An art installation by a French artist that goes by the name of “JR” was unveiled at the Tecate border with the U.S. on Thursday (September 7). Taller than the border wall at 30 feet, ...

Border candyman can...with one leg, no problem

Puente El Chaparral is the bridge that goes over the smelly Tijuana River that thousands of pedestrian border-crossers and tourists use daily from downtown to the PedWest border. The access goes through a caged dark ...

September 7, 2017
More Tijuana robberies, more murder

On Sunday, August 27th, a young man wearing a black cap, black shirt, and black jeans walked into a small coffee shop located in Colonia Buena Vista and pointed a gun at a customer who ...

August 29, 2017
New Tijuana pedestrian entry: a mix of Six Flags and prison

“It looks like I’m entering a ride in Six Flags,” regular border crosser Yesenia Huerta comments after using the new southbound entry to Tijuana via PedWest. “It feels like you are getting out of prison,” ...

Border traffic Hell

Aviso importante para la comunidad de border crossers and visitors: prepare to suffer longer wait times heading into Tijuana starting late September. This is due to the third and final phase of the $741 million ...

2017 is turning into bloodiest year in history

Twenty-six people were murdered the first week of July in Tijuana for a total of 793 in the city and a total of 1,023 in the state of Baja for the course of the year. ...

July 13, 2017
Tourists taking Uber assaulted by Yellow taxi

A few steps after entering Tijuana through the San Ysidro border, you get hounded by the first barrage of men in yellow shirts and black ties offering taxi services. “Taxi my friend? Rosarito, Ensenada, Hong ...

July 4, 2017
San Diego Reader 2017 Fun issue

Climb the California Tower in Balboa Park Balboa Park’s California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man was closed to the public in 1935, but after extensive construction and safety renovations it reopened for ...

June 21, 2017
San Diego Reader 2017 guide to tacos

Taco means tiny taste of temptation. Satisfaction by a thousand different cuts of meat and veggies. Is it just me, this wacko taco love affair? I don’t think so. Every San Diegan has a secret ...

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