Benito Juarez Road

He walks the length of the beach in Playas de Tijuana through the cold and dirty water with seaweed wrapping around his ankles to the place where the US border fence juts out into the ocean and the graffiti on it looms large: “Mark 10:9: what God has joined together, let no man separate”. There is no way across the border here; the waves are too big and the fence is too high. He walks along the perimeter of the fence and catches a bus into town.

The bus trundles through the canyon. Two young women in the seat in front of him have hair so long it reaches the floor. The barrios of Tijuana melt into the valleys and the skyscrapers of San Diego glisten in the distance while a Mexican Elvis strums his guitar for tips at the back of the bus and sings of Las Dos Californias. Two men gossip about the bloody bags and two severed heads recently found along the highway.

The bus rolls through all the red traffic lights all the way down Benito Juarez Road until it finally reaches the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and he steps outside. The girls with the long hair cross themselves and enter the cathedral. The Mexican Elvis slinks over to Zona Norte where he is pulled in and pulled down and thrown into the back of a police car, his guitar splintering on the bloody street while a mariachi band plays narcocorridos underneath the Tijuana Arch.

He turns and ambles across Benito Juarez Road as a lone biker approaches and pulls an almost-perpendicular wheelie. The biker speeds through the useless red light, cursing him to get out of the way.

Rowan Johnson holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee as well as an MA from the University of Nottingham, England. He has published various forms of writing, including two novels, poetry and flash fiction. His work has been published in GFT Press, Wordriver Literary Review, Laptop Lit Mag, and the Writers’ Abroad Foreign Encounters Anthology. He has also written numerous travel articles for publications such as Redbook, The Complete Woman, and SEOUL Magazine.