By Diana Day
The long fence to the sea at Border Fields State Park in San Diego County — the most Southwestern point in the U.S.
A man slips through the fence to try out the water State side
An obelisk marker on the U.S.-Mexico border, a light house on the Tijuana side.
“What an odd game,” said Shawna, my reporting colleague.
We were looking at a man slipping through an opening in the boards of the fence that divides the United States from Mexico. The two of us were standing up high on a bluff overlooking the beach at Border Fields State Park in San Diego County — the most Southwestern point in the U.S.
Once across, the man dipped his foot into the water.
We looked back at our guide, Damon Foreman, the Public Information Officer from the local Customs and Border Protection sector office, to see his reaction to the intrusion down below on the beach.
Agent Foreman was unimpressed. He explained that a border breach has to be intentional, substantial for him to make a move. A man sampling the U.S. ocean waters with his toe is therefore not actionable.
We looked back at the beach. Mission accomplished, the man disappeared back between the boards into Mexico.
To our left, on top of the bluff, there were people milling around the fence on the Mexico side, Tijuana’s empty bull ring behind them.
There, on the other side of the obelisk marking the border, a young couple strolled along the fence, holding hands and looking wistful. I imagined that one of them was planning to cross over that night and that their sad walk was a farewell.
With my intruder’s camera dangling from my neck, I climbed back into the comfortable air-conditioned Border Patrol vehicle.
Suddenly, I remembered a weekend getaway a few years ago in Rosarito Beach, not far from the very border where I was now standing: for breakfast one of those mornings, my husband and I ate scrambled eggs with chorizo and fresh flour tortillas, possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. Because of that weekend, I’ll never, ever be able to listen to mariachi music without tearing up.
The memory made me realize that this was my first trip to the border as a non-tourist.
I glanced back toward the opening in the beach border fence where the chubby man had ventured through to try out the forbidden waters. I couldn’t help feeling bad, knowing that I’d easily head home to my husband and children as soon as my day’s work was over.