» California’s most desolate and unknown beach is desolate and unknown for a reason. It has no name, no facilities, no parking lot. There are no signs for it inside BorderfieldState Park. There are no signs for the park either. To get there, you depart the 5 freeway 10 miles south of San Diego, follow the roads to where the gas stations give way to horse stables, get lost in the overgrowth and streams of the TijuanaRiver delta, and from there walk the dirt road two miles through coastal dunes to emerge at the Pacific.
This is a filthy beach, where the TijuanaRiver deposits human waste, heavy metals, toxic poisons and other industrial effluvia from Mexico into the ocean. “CONTAMINATED WATER; DEEP HOLES; RIPTIDES; NO LIFEGUARD; NO SWIMMING!” the signs announce.
This is also a geopolitically divided beach, purposefully hidden, a DMZ in miniature where the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol would prefer no distractions as they monitor the fence of metal pylons that draws a 20-foot-tall line in the sand all the way into the sea.
It is the perfect beach, in other words, for the world’s first game of international border volleyball. (…).
Through the pylons we can see hundreds of people — families, kids, ice-cream vendors and fishermen — all hanging out on Mexico’s side. The fence itself has kind of a beach vibe here: It’s broken in parts, and Mexican nationals wander back and forth, left alone by the border-patrol units perched up on the hill unless they happen to wander a bit too far.
“Why not use this no man’s land as a real beach,” Hoff adds, now spinning the volleyball in preparation, “and see if we could strike up a friendly pickup game? There’s no law against that.”
Or is there? Hoff suddenly wonders if hitting the ball back and forth constitutes a violation of U.S. Customs law, since goods are technically being transported across an international border. “Does a nice volley amount to three strikes? Can we all get thrown in the slammer?” One friend of Brent’s refused to come down because he thought we’d all get shot.
We decide to take our chances. Here we are, under the perfect sun of San Diego, where beach volleyball reigns, so why should that be any different just a few miles south? (…)
All this activity finally brings down the hammer of the border patrol, and a jeep shows up to separate us. The officer is friendly but firm. He’s just come on shift and has no idea we’ve been playing volleyball over the fence for the past hour.
He tells us that a daredevil launched himself across the border in a cannon a while back, but that ours was, in fact, the first-ever game of international border volleyball.
“And it worked over that tall fence?”
“Yup,” we say. “We’re up for one more round if you want to play.”
“No, man,” the officer says. “I’m on duty.” »
Crédit photos : ibidem