INTERVIEW WITH DERRIK CHIN: FOUNDER OF THE TURISTA LIBRE–AN ALTERNATIVE TOUR COMPANY THAT PROVIDES DISTINCTIVE, KNOWLEDGEABLE, AND ALWAYS MEMORABLE, TOURS AROUND TIJUANA
(The summaries follow the questions in English, the verbs and vocabulary for all of the sections are listed first.)
Verbs: empecé a hacer –began to do, tenian mucho miedo—they were afraid, la idea siempre fué—the idea always was, para darles la idea—to give them the idea, no vale la pena—it’s not worth it, como dijiste, yo—like you said, I, nací-was born, me mudé-I moved, estaba cruzanda la frontera todos los días—I was crossing the border every day, y luego en la noche regresarme a Tijuana—and after at night I would come back to Tijuana, cuándo llegué a vivir a San Diego—when I arrived to live in San Diego, me saqué de onda—I was out of my wave—this is an expression that means I was surprised, muy dificil de creer—very difficult to believe, que no sea tan aburrido—not so boring, desde niño tenía ganas de aprender—since childhood I really wanted to learn, tenía ganas—really wanted to, me encantan los idiomas—I love languages, tiene su manera de sobrevivir—they have their way to survive, aprovechar-to take advantage of, ha cambiado totalmente la vibra –it has totally changed the vibe, no pueden—they can’t, que les encantó—that they love it, nos perdemos—we get lost, nunca nos enseñaron—they never teach us, yo no cobraba—I wasn’t charging, para mejorar—to improve, nos vemos en Tijuana—we will see each other in Tijuana.
Vocabulary: soy el fundador—I am the founder, una empresa—a business, extranjero-a foreigner, en vez de llegar con todos los estereotipos—instead of arriving with all of the stereotypes, naco-a pejorative word used to describe a person who doesn’t have much education, despues de dos años—after two years, la linea(the line), la frontera—the border, cosas muy malas—very bad things, disponible—available, despues de cinco o seis años—after five or six years, secundaria—middle school, guía turístico—tour guide, sorprendentes—surprising, es un contraste tan grave—it is a very serious contrast, 16 mil pies cuadrados—16,000 square feet, gratis los domingos—free on Sundays, dueños—the owners, un reto—a challenge, un tipo de conflicto—a type of conflict, una caja—a box, una cárcel—a prison, por fin—finally, de hecho-actually(in fact), cada quien—each person, de repente—suddenly,
“Hello, everyone welcome to OUR WORLD INTERVIEWS, today I’m sitting in Rebeccca’s a well known cafe in South Park speaking with Derrik Chinn, the owner of Turista Libre- a very special tour company based in Tijuana. Before I speak with Mr. Chin though I just want to mention some of the comments about his tours that I’ve read recently “most perfect day,” “awesome experience”, “best money we spent all week,” “best day of their holiday”, “great knowledge of the town” “absolutely loved it”.
“Okay, so people are probably wondering now after listening to these comments what kind tours you are taking these people on. Let’s hear it.”
English Summary of answer: Derrik Chin discusses how he decided to create Turista Libre— an alternative form of tourism. He describes what motivates him in this business enterprise– changing the public perception about Tijuana that exists in some people’s minds–that it is dirty and ugly and not worth going to. He wants to show people that there are beautiful places to visit in Tijuana—like any other part of the world.
“Okay, so as people may or may not be able to discern Derrik Chin is not a native of Tijuana. He came to this place and this profession rather circuitously. Can you tell us a little bit about how a native of Cincinnati ended up teaching school, teaching children in school, as well as leading tours of Tijuana?”
English Summary of answer: He explains that he was born in Cincinnati and moved to San Diego in his twenties to work as a reporter in San Diego. He describes how he eventually came to live in Tijuana. He heard bad things about Tijuana, but he couldn’t believe that a city as big as Tijuana, in such an interesting and beautiful county, could be that dangerous. So he decided to cross the border by himself. He met a family; they had a room for rent and he decided to move there—and the rest is history as they say.
After five or six years he started teaching in a Middle School– a job which he really loves! Leslie and Derrik then discuss the similarities between teaching and conducting tours–in both types of endeavors the children, and adults are curious, enthusiastic and excited, and in both endeavors one has to know how to manage and entertain a group of people.
“And of course people might want to know how you learned to speak Spanish so well.”
English Summary of answer: Derrik explains that ever since he had been a child he had wanted to learn another language. When he was ten years old he asked his mother if she could let him move to Japan. He didn’t live in Japan then, although he wanted to ( tenía ganas). He was able to go to Japan later though when he was sixteen.
In school he took classes in Spanish and French. After high school he took five years of Japanese in college, and one year of German.
So, now about Tijuana, I’ve been twice in the last several months and what really impresses me is the energy of the place. It is so vibrant. Is that one of the things that you really like about it too?
English Summary of answer: Derrick says that the vibrancy was one of the most surprising things about Tijuana—a town he initially visited without expectations. He discusses the significance of a border being just a line—literally. It is the busiest border in the world he says. The city is chaotic but people use that for their benefit. He mentions that sometimes living there is stressful, but after several years it has become quite normal.
One of the aspects that really impressed me in Tijuana was the vibrancy and commitment of the young artists there. They were so passionate you know, and so involved in what they were doing and I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what the young artists are doing in Tijuana these days?
English Summary of answer: Derrick explains that in some ways being an artist is easier in Mexico because in Mexico if you want to do something you can just do it—the same sort of roadblocks that can make it difficult to accomplish public art don’t exist in the same way in Mexico as in the United States. In the United States there are so many more steps an artist has to follow to accomplish things, like the required permits etc. The same kind of regulations don’t exist in Tijuana. So starting a business is a bit easier there too.
So tell us some of the projects, some of them that I’ve heard about are all these new galleries, these new boutiques in the La Sexta area, the , the El Centro Cultural Tijuana, CECUT, the Pasaje Rodríguez, Pasaje Gómez, and and lots of other great art galleries, and of course dozens and dozens of art murals. Can you tell us, can you speak a little bit about that?
English Summary of answer: Derrik discusses art , the development of new businesses in Tijuana, as well as the museum CECUT—which was started in 1982. Now it is the second most important museum in the north of Mexico he explains. And it is free on Sundays too he mentions! Derrick describes the development of the new shops in the Pasajes: tourism died a few years ago, because of the violence and insecurity, but recently, people started renting and renovating the inexpensive spaces that used to house curio type souvenir shops. These places are very popular, especially on Fridays. These projects, located downtown, have changed the city.
“Okay, so you’ve been in a vibrant city for a while now. What forces create a vibrant city? What do you need in a city?”
English Summary of answer: He had an interesting answer. He believes that some of the vibrancy of the city of Tijuana is due to the conflict inherent in the situation that some of the people there face—in essence, living in a state of transition between two worlds. He also mentions some artists that he likes: Norteño, whose name is Alonso Delgadillo, and Panka- Paola Villaseñor, whose work appears in murals throughout the city.
“So, what are some of the festivals also, besides the art, what are some of the festivals that people like to go to?”
English Summary of answer: There is a festival every weekend. Sometimes it’s hard to know about all of the festivals, until the day they occur because there are so many. There is one very important festival called Entijuanarte (fill yourself with art in Tijuana) in October in CECUT. There is also one on the beach in August, as well as a Caesar’s Salad Festival.
“I’ve read so much about Tijuana being sort of a center for the craft beer movement, sort of like in San Diego also. Are there a lot of new places popping up all the time?”
English Summary of answer: Now, thanks to the fact that San Diego recognizes the significance of the Tijuana beer festivals, word has spread, and if you go to other parts of Mexico they recognize the beer from Tijuana. He mentions his upcoming tour of the beer manufacturers.
“And let’s see, what do the people say? I know you take a lot of people on tours and they’ve never been to Mexico before, what do they say when they are all done?”
English Summary of answer: People are a little nervous when they first come to Tijuana on the tours, but after maybe a sip or two of Tequila, they calm down and see that it is fun– and they become more relaxed. People are are not expecting what they find. They find out that it is easy to come to Tijuana. Also, during the tours it is very relaxed because people don’t have to worry about the language; they don’t have to do anything but take out their cameras and relax.
“Okay, so now for my last question I’m so impressed with everything you’ve accomplished and I wonder if you have any other words, or any words for other aspiring entrepreneurs?”
English Summary of answer: People can accomplish their dream if they have faith in themselves he believes. He explains that it can be beneficial to start with the idea of not necessarily thinking of their activity as a business– for example, he started the tours just for fun and little by little this activity grew until it was big enough to become a regular business. (If you have passion everything is possible he believes.) He notes a similarity between Detroit and Tijuana based on something he noticed in a National Geographic article; in both cities people are doing their best to make the cities better. His business is really his mission—to help make the city better, the same goal everyone wants to achieve with their own cities!
TURISTA LIBRE IS ALSO ON FACEBOOK AND TRIP ADVISOR
Information about some of the artists and festivals mentioned by Derrik Chin