I am a big supporter of local food and farmers’ markets. Corporate big box grocery stores to me are an abomination- I like to get as close to the farmer as I can. Markets have a special atmosphere. There is a humanity, a sense of trust and endless visual stimulation. It’s an experience, even if you don’t buy much. While there are many excellent farmers’ markets in San Diego which I regularly shopped at, it was a special treat to cross the border into Mexico and visit the Mercado Hidalgo in Tijuana.
Getting There From San Diego
Southern California is notorious for its lack of public transportation and dependency on private cars. However, one of the only times to leave your car home and jump on the public transit is when you go to Tijuana. San Diego has a nice trolley system, albeit with very few lines and stops, but it does conveniently take you to San Ysidro. From San Ysidro you cross the border to Mexico on foot, and then take a taxi to Mercado Hidalgo for a fixed fare which definitely won’t break the bank. There are many taxis waiting right where you get out of the border crossing. Super easy!
A Bustling Farmers’ Market
Mercado Hidalgo offers endless stimuli for all the senses. I could spend days there just exploring all the exotic fruits and veggies, herbs and spices. Bringing fresh fruits and veggies back into the US is not something I even looked into due to the strict and complex import regulations, but we did sample plenty throughout the day. And there is plenty on sale besides just fresh fruits and veggies!
I also thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being outside the US for a day. I crave variety and changing locations, and love the sound of different languages being spoken around me. Variety is a spice of life! Another reason to love Mercado Hidalgo: it was not made for tourists, but is a real deal farmers’ market for locals. My kind of place!
Tijuana: The Fear Mongering
The sad fact is that in today’s xenophobic, racist and fear-mongering America, many view Tijuana as a dangerous and seedy place. Case in point: the clerk who sold us our trolley tickets at an Albertson’s. She told us to be very careful, shaking her head. We asked why. She proceeded to tell us how she used to go to Tijuana all the time with her friends and family, how the food was excellent and they always had a great time. But they all stopped going. Did something bad happen to them or someone they knew, did they hear or see something? No, she said. They just stopped going because it’s “dangerous”.
What utter nonsense. Safety concerns were the furthest thing from my mind while exploring this gorgeous market and its environs. Don’t believe the hype. Don’t buy into the stereotypes. Trust your own judgment, perceptions and common sense. Enjoy life and explore!
All images © 2014-2017 Pauliina Parris. // All rights reserved.