"A Town Without Borders" Tecate by malecon

Tecate Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 57 photos

Like an expanding universe

I can't figure this place out; there's something new to discover around every corner and over every hill, literally. The more I experience the town of Tecate the more I realize how much there is to know about it and the surrounding area like an expanding universe. For example, I make Tecate my base and go on to explore El Hongo, La Rumorosa, Valle de Las Palmas and countless other ejidos and colonias.

The town of Tecate has a densly populated urban core and spreads out into the surrounding hills and valleys. As charming as downtown Tecate can appear it's often over run by cars and large trucks. You can count street lights on one hand. To enjoy the town you should start at Parque Hidalgo where the locals gather and there's many friendly venders.

On the weekend the park fills with people but the mood remains relaxed. Parking is tough but I've always found what seems like the last spot. I've taken the taxi here and I've walked the seven blocks from my hotel. Walking is preferred because you can poke your head into a number of shops that line Avenue Juarez.

My tactic in exploring a city is to park at my hotel then taxi or walk. Leave the car and get out into the crowd. The only way to really experience a Mexican town is to integrate into the community. There are many sneaky ways to do this but you can't do it from the car.

The types of folk making a living here covers the gamut and you can get to know them all. First is the merchants trying to make ends meat. Often the entire family helps out. A breakfast meal at an eatery had me served by the entire family. Father took my order while one daughter heated the water for my coffee. Mother rang me up and prepared the condiments. Another daughter swept the grounds while several others busied themselves with chores. Truly a family business which I will learn patronize in the future.

Around town the rancher is the standout. He's the backbone of the community. Friendly and gentle as a lamb but tough and durable to get the job done. You can see them with their cowboy hats, stocky yet trim bodies with that straight look in your eyes gaze - that's their signature. Come to the park on Sunday and you'll see a few gather. Travel Highway 2 and 3 and you'll see their rancheros.

Fame comes to Tecate

A great author and storyteller named Daniel Reveles lives here too. You may catch him at the Diana Bar sometimes on a Sunday morning. He writes about the town in slow descriptive tell-tale fiction. Through his eyes Tecate lives and breathes with characters finding themselves in all sorts of odd circumstances. Reveles who is half Mexican and an ex-screenwriter lives among the town folk. Not everyone in town knows his books but many do and are proud of the fame he brings to this little town. Unfortunately his books are published in english with no spanish translation thus local folk who are the subjects of the books don't have the benefit of reading about their town.

Twice I've stayed at the El Dorado and been woken by the bells from the local Catholic church. Considering the sound isn't amplified the noise carries amazingly well. It wakes me up from a dead sleep.

It only gets better when you leave town

The road from Tecate to Ensenada is called Highway 3 and travels through some of the most beautiful country in Mexico. First the road has to crest the hills overlooking the town. The views are spectacular and the reflections of the houses on the far hillsides reveal the immensity and growth of the city.

Every few miles is a mercado for which to grab a drink or snack. At Valle de Las Palmas I enter through dirt streets to find licores store that only the locals patronize. While I thirst for water others come here for the wine. Just a short distance from this colonias is the wine country of Guadalupe Valley.

Heading east towards Mexicali on Highway 2 is the humble highway towns of El Hongo and La Rumorosa. Take the "libre" free road to get to both these towns. Last time I passed by hysteria was in the air as snow had fallen and everyone and their family was piling it up on the hoods of their cars. I'll never forget looking up at a steep hillside while hundreds inched up a hillside to get a hold of handful of white powder.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:When you discover this town you won't be a stranger.
  • Last visit to Tecate: Apr 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 24, 2006
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  • Jul 21, 2007 at 9:32 AM

    Thanks for the great tip on the Rosita Resort Inn in Tecate. The room was large and clean, the staff friendly, and it only cost $55. Also surprisingly wheelchair accessible for a Mexican hotel.

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