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Travel: Tijuana coconut treat

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(Read caption) Gourmet food editor Ian Knauer demonstrates how to open a coconut.
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“You are going where?” This was the response I got when I told various friends and family that my boyfriend and I were going to take a one-day adventure from San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. I admit that with the Mexican drug war at full bloom I had some trepidation about crossing the border – even if it was just a short drive from downtown San Diego.

But we were going on a Monday morning in May. While I don’t have a lot of experience with Mexico, Thomas, on the other hand, speaks Spanish and has traveled extensively in Central and South America. Despite the fact that he lives so close to the Mexican border he had never been to Tijuana, probably much in the same way that I’ve never actually walked the full extent of the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston. It’s just too close to qualify as an actual adventure – until you have out of town guests.

So off we went. After a 20 minute drive, we parked the car, got out, and walked across the border.

Seeing that it was a Monday morning, Tijuana’s streets were deserted of tourist throngs. While it was nice not to push through crowds, other than the locals going about their daily business, we attracted a lot of attention on nearly every street corner by shopkeepers. “Hey, senorita! Come in and see what I have!” (Not today, thanks.)

Being the only tourists for blocks on end got tiring. So after I posed for a photo in front of the restaurant where Cesar salad was invented, we were ready for a snack. A food cart appeared like an oasis of calm and order on the busy street. Its bright canopy and trim green-and-white gingham tablecloth held rows of inviting, fresh fruit in plastic cups. In the back, were elegant “straws” of fresh, raw coconut. Thomas focused in on those right away and bought us a cup to share.

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