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Full Circle

Day 227: Tijuana to San Diego, California

San Diego, California, USA 
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Souvenir stalls at the Mexican/American border.
Michael Palin - Full CircleThe city of San Diego, only twenty-five miles from the chaos of the Mexican border, could hardly offer a more emphatic statement of US prosperity, power and confidence. Huge hotels rise like pinnacles along a bay through which glide the largest ships of the greatest navy in the world. Everything seems tidy, sober and corporate. On the San Diego waterfront, bad behaviour has, it seems, been themed out of the system.

Unpack, relax, eat smoked marlin and leaves, and look out over San Diego Bay into which Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed in 1542, christening this new land California. Sir Francis Drake brought his ships here five years later, but five years too late. Although it was Spaniards like him who shaped and moulded the early European settlement of the West Coast, it slowly sinks in, as I listen to the chatter of fellow diners, that, for the first time in ten weeks, English is the first language again.

By early evening I find myself back at the border, this time seeing it from the American side in the company of Ron Henley, Public Information Officer of the INS - the Immigration and Naturalization service. Ron is a tolerant, good-humoured man in his late forties who never wanted to be a Public Information Officer and can't wait to get out in the field again. He's a military man who served in the Vietnam War. 'We mined Haiphong Harbour,' he says proudly.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 227
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: San Diego - California
  • Book page no: 295

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