This afternoon, I was getting lunch with some friends who were raised in many different parts of the country. Some were from the Midwest, others were from the South, and I'm the one from Southern California.
Whenever we spend time together, we talk a lot about our hometowns, and since we're all from different corners of the US, we all have drastically different experiences. Some of the things I assumed everyone in the country knew I soon realized were very 'border town'.
San Diego sits on the other side of the southern border from Tijuana, one of the largest cities in Mexico, and because of this, there's a very unique blending of cultures that goes on when you live there.
You haven't truly lived until you've eaten a San Diego burrito.
There's 24 hour taco shops all over San Diego, which might seem excessive to you, but to us, it means there's no wrong time to have a craving for Mexican food. Large horchata and some carne asada fries at 3 AM? They'll give it to you. No judgment.
See? Seth Cohen's got it.
Day trips into Mexico are totally a thing.
Want to get some REAL tacos and have some extra time to spare? Grab your passport, and make your way across the border. Tijuana is full of restaurants, souvenir shops, and other attractions. You can also take a picture with a real Tijuana zebra!*
*Note: Not a real zebra. Just a spray-painted donkey. I'm not sure why they do this either.
Again with the relevant Seth Cohen witticisms.
There's 3 regional languages: English, Spanish, and Gringo.
Introducing Gringo, the special dialect spoken by anyone in border states that took a year of Spanish in high school. Gringos can tell you what they 'gusto' and ask where the 'baño' is, but everything else is a little too ambitious.
Pictured above: Gringo for 'Like a boss'.
Even your Gringo-est friend knows some ranchera music.
Ranchera, banda, and reggaeton are ever-present background music, so after living in San Diego long enough, you start recognizing the songs and different styles. The guy on the left (Vicente Fernández) is constantly touring here.
Dia De Los Muertos is a pretty big deal.
Dia de los Muertos ('The Day of the Dead') falls on November 1st and is a Mexican holiday meant to celebrate and honor deceased ancestors. There are a number of Dia de los Muertos parties in San Diego, the biggest being in Old Town.
Muerte-style face paint is a Day of the Dead must.
Mexican candy will blow your mind (and burn your mouth off).
Most supermarkets and convenience stores in San Diego sell Mexican candy, which is vastly different from most candy enjoyed here in the States. Using chimoy, tamarindo, or chili powder, most candy is very salty, sour, or spicy.
You either love it or hate it. The flavors can be a bit.. polarizing.
The street signs read like mini Spanish exams.
Avenida De La Playa? Camino Del Oro? These might be difficult signs to read for visitors, but pretty much all San Diegans know how to read and pronounce these words. (La Jolla's not La JOL-la, but La HOY-a.)
So that's the 'border town' culture of San Diego. If you live in a border town (including my hometown of SD!), let's swap stories! I'm sure there's a whole lot more I forgot.