Family Day In Tijuana – Remember Those Painted Donkeys? (Painted Zebras)

My mom, dad, sister and I used to go to Tijuana pretty often. We drove over and the traffic just wasn’t that bad then. We went right away to the shops! That’s us in the picture with the painted donkey, ‘zebra’ or zonkey, back in 1967.

We loved to look at the colorful clothes and dolls – yes, we bought the Mexican peasant blouses and the flamenco dolls, the hard leather purses and the plaster of Paris coin banks! I and my best friend Yvonne got the cat banks – hers was white and mine was black. My sister got the bull. My teenie-tiny petite sister chose the bull!

Of course, we’d eat! Being kids, we ordered tostadas or quesadillas! I think my parents ordered the enchiladas. We drank our sodas out of the bottle… they were thicker and heavier than our soda bottles here… I remember that 🙂 For dessert, we had that cinnamon tortilla!

The music … ah, so festive, exciting, upbeat! It was hard to be there without a constant smile on our faces 🙂 It never occurred to us to be nervous. The only thing I remember feeling as a child was sad for those children who would approach us: “chicle?” “chicle?” they would chant. They were very persistent. I felt terrible leaving them behind. Of course, they were fine. They were at home, and they were doing what they knew – and what their parents asked of them, pleasing them in return. (Afterward, I imagine they played some stickball in the street or played “army” or “dollies” with their friends, same as my sister and best friend and I did when we got home.

I really miss those days … when we’d take our visiting friends or relatives to Mexico maybe even before we took them to the zoo. Nowadays many of our friends stay out of Mexico. Too much in the news about the random shootings at the border. (We’ve had a few of those in our own downtown recently – more on the comparisons in a future blog).

The donkeys are probably happier now … they aren’t donning paint stripes anymore to make them resemble zebras, but those goofy sombreros on the gringos?? C’mon, that was fun!! Sure they may have laughed at the silly Americans for putting themselves in that situation in front of the camera and then buying the photo, but ¿Quién cuida? ¡Era diversión!

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