Rick Steves Talks Up Tijuana

In a recent syndicated column, European travel guru Rick Steves explains why Tijuana is a worthy travel destination. He admits that, at first, he was down on the border city because of its reputation, but had never visited until recently.

So what did the author and travel show host with the unlikely voice (“he sounds like my Grandmother” a friend once told me) think of life on the other side of the wire? Well, it is definitely not Tuscany: “Bars that feel like saloons come with cheap prostitutes wearing down their stiletto heels at the doors.”

But Steves notes that things were not as raw as he expected: “With this thriving economy comes a thriving culture: music, arts, and an impressive cultural center. The city, while architecturally dilapidated, is extremely clean. The streets were free of litter.” It seems that, despite the recent cartel shootouts, the local government seems to be delivering on its promise to spiff up Tijuana. Sure, the city has gained economically from rubbing against the US, but it is still on the outside looking over the fence. As Steves point out though, there is far more than cheap prescriptions and free flowing agave-based alcohol to this border town.

Checked Bags: Open Season for Pilfering

According to an article in my local paper today, listed as a news story from the Seattle Times, two baggage handlers were recently arrested in Seattle for pilfering laptops, credit cards and cigarette lighters from checked bags. I looked for the account of this on-line and saw that this happened back in February. I guess this is recent, just not last week which goes to show that the morning paper is not so current at times. Also, even though the article I read says that credit cards have been stolen, it might have only been one credit card since the handler was caught when he tried to use a credit card that didn’t belong to him. The woman who the credit card belonged to said that last time she remembered having it was at the airport. Maybe she didn’t check it in her bag at all.

I’m amazed anyone would check a laptop. I hope people with customers’ information stored in their computer take heed. And what is a credit card doing in a checked bag, if that is what happened? A credit card is so small-so thin-so light. Cigarette lighters I get; those aren’t allowed in the cabin. I’m stumped by the other two.

The article about checked bag thievery does give suggestions about how to prevent it. Not much. But, there is one tip. Use a TSA approved lock. The security can take these locks off to check the bag if need be and lock them again. Locking them again may or may not happen, but in general, according to the article, the locks will stop pilfering since the pilferer is looking for a fast steal. Your locked bag isn’t it.

The last trip I took, the only things taken out of my suitcase were my bottle of face lotion that was only ¼ full and a tube of Spiderman toothpaste I forgot I had. I slipped them into the side pocket of my suitcase after the airport security had it with them, but before the suitcase went through the X-ray machine. The security said it was okay to put the items there, but perhaps they changed their mind, and thought I looked like a whacko who gets a kick out of putting explosives in bubblegum flavored toothpaste and an almost empty bottle of Clinique.