I considered myself a “Little Saigonian” cause I practically grew up in the Westminster/Garden Grove area of Orange County. However, I have lived and worked all over Southern California.
I went to elementary in Orange County, attended Junior High in Moreno Valley, went to High School in Huntington Beach, Junior College in Costa Mesa and got my four year in San Diego. I started my career in San Diego then took a job offer out of college in Los Angeles. With every city, it’s hard for any Southern Californian to say they have never been to Las Vegas or Mexico. It’s hard to deny the fact that many people go to Tijuana to party cause the legal drinking age is 18 then they slowly graduate to Vegas when they hit 21.
I remember crossing the Tijuana border when I was just a child with my parents and siblings. It was my first “international” trip per se. I was a little fat kid with a bowl cut inspired by the Beatles and fashionably dressed by my mother. My young eyes laid upon the other side of the U.S. border with curiosity and amazement of all the street vendors along the road. The street vendors walked up and down the road with an array of toys, food, fruits and anything they thought they could sell. I remember asking my father, “Why don’t they sell it in a store?” My father replied, “Not everyone in this world is fortunate enough to own a business. Sometimes people have to swallow their pride, so they have to find a way to provide for their family.”
Those words stuck with me. It was the first thing I thought of when I crossed the border again in May 2005. I was on my end-of-the-school-year-business-club trip to Puerto Nuevo and Rosarito, Mexico; it was an annual trip organized by the business club going from our college campus to Baja, California. It was a party bus going to Puerto Nuevo for dinner at Rosa Mar then Rosarito’s famous Papaz N Beers. There I was… an alcohol-thirsty-party-hungry college kid about to embark on a good time and taking full advantage of Mexico’s lax drinking laws.
It wasn’t a dilemma at the moment cause I was there to party and make memories I would probably not remember. I achieved what I came to do. We started drinking on the bus and everyone was completely obliterated when we got to Puerto Nuevo. I can’t even recall anything from that night except a few things during dinner at Rosa Mar. However, after that, everything was a blur and the night’s scenes could barely be made out. I was a college kid misbehaving, looking to get laid and looking for happiness in the moment, which is what happened.
It has been more than 11 years and close to 12 years of growing up under my belt. I look back on that day with a different perspective now. In hindsight, I wish I would have gotten to know a few locals instead of coming to town to take advantage of the cheap booze. I wish it was a day trip revolving around culture instead of a night of boozing it up. I wish I took a few moments to talk to some locals to understand how they put up with all tourists’ shenanigans just to make a living. I am very aware of my own obnoxious behavior and I look back on some of the things I did with embarrassment.
I could use the excuse that I was young and dumb. However, the excuse could only go so far then it becomes tired since the list is long. However, I lived and I learned about that one night after some self-reflection. It really opens my eyes to a whole new perspective about life and an introspective about what kind of human being I would like to become. I know I made some progress throughout the years by shifting my travel agendas to focus on the culture within a city or country. In addition, the late night partying is no longer in the agenda. It has been replace with early morning cultural sight seeing and acting in a dignified way to understand the people in the city.
Happiness Is Common, But Human Dignity Is Not.