For most of my 20s, I lived on the East Coast and didn’t visit Mexico. Then when I moved back home to San Diego, I was still Señor Frogged out from a decade prior. But in due time I made my way south again, to a wedding in Zihuatanejo, then another in Guanajuato. I took a Canadian friend to Tijuana, went to Punta Mita for the first time, and Rancho la Puerta, and even went back to Cabo. Of course, it really only took one trip to fall back in love with Mexico.
San Diegans are so lucky to live just a few miles from a whole world of actual cobblestone streets, empty beaches, pre-Hispanic cave paintings, rich cuisine, warm and humorous people, and a Romance language we get to practicar. The game-changer in the last four years was the Cross Border Xpress, which opened up a pedestrian bridge to the Tijuana airport. Nearly 3 million people used it in 2019—a 28 percent increase over the previous year. Suddenly, all of Mexico feels way more accessible. It’s quicker to fly to Puerto Vallarta than Maui and, as Hawai‘i-born senior editor Marie Tutko points out, the latitude and climate are the same. Indeed, so many Mexican destinations are easier to get to, with new flights being added all the time—just in 2019 we got Loreto, Mérida, and Tapachula. TIJ has a nice new terminal where you can watch fútbol and eat machaca and board the plane with an open can of beer in your hand.
So, we felt it was high time we devoted some serious coverage to our southern neighbor. It was Marie’s idea to have an entirely Mexico-themed issue, and she compiled the guide. She took five trips to Mexico in eight months and assigned nine writers to take others, seeking out the best in food, markets, boutique hotels, and more from Oaxaca City to Mazatlán.
But we would be remiss if we didn’t address the elephant in the room. We sent New York Times–featured local photographer Ariana Drehsler to the Mexican side of Friendship Park, which straddles the border fence. She speaks Spanish, and the vignettes she captured were both sad and uplifting. Also in this issue, Sarah Pfledderer interviews the city of San Diego’s first ever immigrant affairs manager, food critic Troy Johnson reviews Fauna in Valle de Guadalupe, and beer writer Beth Demmon catches us up on the craft beer scene in Baja, which is alive with an exciting entrepreneurial spirit that once characterized San Diego’s own.
This month we also have interviews with Alice Walker and David Spade, a closeup of the San Diego Opera’s newest costume, ideas for Valentine’s Day, and more. We want the first February of the decade to be your best yet! (And it’s a leap year, so let’s make that extra day count.)