I was a Teenage Terrorist or: How I Survived Tijuana Jail – Part I of III.

This is a True Story.

I was greatly saddened the other day when I found out that the infamous Tijuana Jail, “La Ocho”, was being closed down. How could they do that? There were hit songs written about it, including Adele’s latest release, “Chasing Pavements”, I think. It’s mere existence supported an entire industry of T-shirts, bumper stickers, beer bongs, vomit bags and other typical tourist crap. Couldn’t the Mexican Government designate it as a historical landmark or at least a coffee shop? But alas no, according to my crack research team (me), it’s gone. Regardless, I’m confident that it forever holds a special place in the clouded memories of its former guests, the mass of intoxicated civil dissidents who celebrated its sanctuary…and me, the terrorist.

But I get ahead of myself.

It all began when two law abiding, young men decided to travel to California, cruise up and down the coast and surf. We had recently graduated from high school and felt infused with maturity, adventure and freedom.  So we packed our surfboards, board shorts, a t-shirt, an ice chest, jam box and a tent and headed West.  And if my parents end up reading this I just want to emphasize that the cooler was filled with milk and lemonade and we definitely didn’t have any illegal substances because that would be, well, illegal. So this buddy of mine, we’ll call him “Coolio-G”, and I drove 26 straight (“consecutive” might be a better choice of words) hours from Houston to San Diego. We didn’t want to waste a minute on the road that we could otherwise spend on the beach. As we passed the “You are now entering the city of San Diego” sign, our pulses quickened, we cranked “the Doors” and our engine caught on fire.

Our car is on the left

OK, I never actually saw any flames but there was lots of smoke. So we raced to the nearest gas station and a few hours later were unloading the car and looking to hitch a ride to the ocean. We found a dude from La Jolla who offered to drop us off in that area. PERFECT! La Jolla was radical awesome. We were surf bums who wanted nothing but to taste the salt and sand and live among the waves. So fuck the car, it was just holding us back!

We arrived in La Jolla, thanked the driver dude, collected our stuff and headed to the water. On the way, we passed by a motel with its “vacancy” sign on. After traveling across the country non-stop we needed a shower and a good night’s rest. We checked the place out, but the rates were ridiculous. California was fucking expensive and we only brought Texas money. So we kept on walking and passed through a nice beachside park with soft, green grass, swaying palm trees and a fountain. A virtual oasis within an oasis. Coolio-G enthusiastically exclaimed “Let’s sleep here…under those palm trees!” “Brilliant” I thought. “Let’s get drunk on the beach first!”

We got a buzz and hung out at the beach. It started getting dark so we headed back to the oasis to crash for the night. We were just about to clean up and zonk out on the grass, when a police officer walked up and sternly said, “You know you’re not allowed in the park after dark. It’s against the law. Same goes for the beach.” We must have looked like vagrants (OK, we were vagrants) but at the time I was just thinking, “Officer, can I at least take a bath in the fountain before the sun sets?” I was about to get more stupid, when he kicked us to the curb. CRAP, CRAP, CRAP…now what?

The fun was just beginning.
To be continued…(Part II)