"We'd better start savin'up for the things that money cant't buy"  - Bruce Springsteen



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by Eleonora Dussin

“In San Diego there were a group of American dogs and a Mexican dog that every night crossed the border to return in Tijuana. The American dogs asked him: "Here in the U.S.A you have all the things you need: a nice house, good food, wonderful gardens where you can run….why do you want to go to Tijuana?". And he answered: "…. I know, here I have a comfortable and safe life, but over there I can bark!” .

A joke very popular among Mexican people who live in San Diego


Eating hamburgers with chilli, hot dog with salsa avanera and tacos with ketchup, listening to rock music and Paulina Rubio, dancing hip-hop and cumbia… 
All these things are only few examples which show the variety of cultures and traditions in the U.S.A: they represent the daily life of a common teenager who lives in San Diego, a multicultural American metropolis. 
San Diego  is a coastal city in the southwestern corner of  California, close to the Mexican border. Its name is Spanish because the first settlers were explorers from Spain, such as Sebastiano Vizcaino, who entered the bay in 1602 on the day of San Diego de Alcalà and named the place accordingly. 
 Apart from the name all the city, its buildings, its inhabitants, its atmosphere show the strong links between American and Latin-American cultures. 

This city is an ethnically diverse community: whites are still the largest group (49.4%) but Hispanics are the second one (29.4%, and growing), due to the high level of immigration from Mexico. 

Consequently, Spanish is the second most spoken language in this city and a lot of its inhabitants are bilingual: they communicate with their friends and relatives in Spanish but at school or at work they speak English. 
This multicultural metropolis is very close to   Tijuana , Mexico; in fact, less than 20 miles south of downtown  San Diego  lies the world’s busiest port of entry: the international border crossing between  San Ysidro, CA  and Tijuana. The 1500 long frontier is one of the most strictly controlled border in the world, with high walls and the latest technology; however, a large number of immigrants manage cross it illegally. 

Where two worlds meet: the international border crossing between Tijuana and San Ysidro,  CA  
On the right "la linea", the long line of people patiently waiting to enter the U.S.A.   

These people are called pollos and normally they pay 1,500 $ to the coyote, the man who should theoretically help them to enter the U.S.A.  avoiding the border police;  in practice, they are often abandoned in the desert without food or water. 
Recently, owing to the fact that American people hate pollos and accuse the government to do nothing to fight illegal immigration, this furious hatred has led to the birth of Minutemen. 
This illegal association, which was born in Texas, is composed by volunteers that hunt and arrest without permission Mexican immigrants on the border. 

The long bridge on the river Tijuana, linking the border with downtown Tijuana  

Only few miles separate the richest  American State  and the most violent Mexican city, but these two cities could not be more different: one symbolizes the modern and technological society and the other is a shrunken Third World . 
If it rains in San Diego, the rain will only soak you; in   Tijuana  you could die: last year 200 people, who lived in unsafe huts in the suburbs of the Mexican city, drowned.  
On Saturday night in Avenida Revoluciòn, one of the main streets of Tijuana, you can buy everything: coca, tacos, souvenirs, stolen autos, sex, false visas, Cuban cigars. 
In fact this border  city is the capital of drug, criminality and violence: in the year 2000 there were 52 murders in San Diego , in Tijuana  drug traffickers killed a person every day.

 Ramon and Beniamin Arellano, the two main  bosses of drug traffic are the main responsible of the majority of drugs which enter the U.S.A and they are wanted by the F.B.I.  “Traffic” is called the film about drug traffic, which was nominated for five Oscars: it is set in Tijuana, but it was never shot in this city: too dangerous. 

Tijuana’s economy is strictly connected with San Diego, owing to the fact that the American city has a lot of advantages buying goods made in Tijuana at a very low price: for instance, a Mexican worker receives 10 $ per day, while the minimum guaranteed wage in the U.S.A is 4 or 5 $ per hour. 
All things considered, it is not difficult to understand the main reasons why a lot of poor or rich Mexicans move to the States, where they can find a remunerative job, no corruption and most of all, they have the right to a safe life.
Moving to America , they bring their culture, their traditions, their language with them; especially in San Diego , most of the teenagers have a peculiar Mexican-American daily routine. 
Every day they get up at 6 o’ clock in their bedroom full of  American pop singer posters.

Tijuana street singers 

They put on a pair of blue jeans which they have bought at Horton  Plaza  shopping mall the weekend before and they rush to the kitchen where they quickly eat a tortilla and they drink a glass of apple juice. 

Kite-surfers on one of San Diego's beaches

After that they go to school where they speak English during the lessons and Spanish with their friends. When they come back home, at lunch they eat tacos with chilli and they spend all the afternoon surfing the Internet and listening to Mariachi, the typical Mexican folk-music.
At weekends, after going to church, they love surfing in the Ocean, like every other Californian, going shopping and obviously giving barbecues on the beach where they dance Cumbia. 
They really like the American way of life but to the question: - Will you ever fall in love with a Yankee? – they are sure that it would never happen, because they traditions, values and characters are too different. 

Since they were born, they have always had the American dream but now, living in  California, they are proud to have Mexican roots and they are very jealous of their culture.





by Irene Mistro

Irene surrounded by some beautiful Ferocactus
which thrive in the desert. 
Behind her, there's an Ocotillo.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the Southwest, covering 600,000 acres from the edge of the coastal mountains east to the Salton Sea and south almost to the US/Mexico border, and equals the more famous national parks further north for varied, unspoilt desert scenery.
This state park remains one of the few places in the country where open camping is permitted.

If you want to spend some nights in the desert you just have to respect some guidelines, useful to preserve the desert environment. 
The park offers many other programs. You can join a Volunteer Naturalist’s presentation at the Visitor Center or take a hike with a ranger or take a nature walk, which offers you the chance to explore the natural features of the Park.
The high country offers plenty of trails. 

Away from the hills, most of the park is desert - covered by densely growing cacti in some areas but with bare rock and eroded badlands in others, through which run numerous narrow, slot-like canyons and other interesting rocky features.

Borrego Palm Canyon Trail is one of the most famous trails of the park: it leads to a cool shady palm oasis. This rocky trail is three miles (about 5 km) round-trip and takes a minimum of two hours.
Walking there you can see the desert’s flora and fauna. 
For example you can see plants such as Ocotillos, Chollas, Smoke Trees, Agaves, Creosote Bushes and Palo Verde Trees.
The ocotillo is a tall, spindly plant which can be found almost everywhere in the Park. 
When in bloom it may look like a candle with spikes of the red flowers flaming at its tips.
In the Park you can see many species of cholla (pronounced choy-ya). Soma cholla reproduce by dropping joints that look like spine balls. The smoke tree is a small tree with gray-green foliage and the agave, also known as century plant, is famous for the fact that it blooms only once in its lifetime. 

A blooming agave

The creosote bush has small white fuzzy seed balls, oily leaves and yellow flowers; and the Palo Verde tree has chlorophyll also in its trunk so it can keep growing strong even when it is too dry to support leaves.

A group of Bighorn Sheep

All these plants are well adapted to the desert environment.
What about desert’s fauna? Here you can see roadrunners (the famous Beep-beep), coyotes, black-tailed jackrabbits, pumas, rattlesnakes and so on… and also the peninsular Bighorn Sheep.
The park name is derived from a combination of the name of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word "Borrego," referring to bighorn sheep.

And now, some tips for a safe trip in the desert:
- carry water and drink it!
- prepare yourself: carry protective clothing, sunscreens, hat, a good map, extra food and water;
- and if you see a snake, leave it alone! 




by Anna Gambardella e Alice Simioni 

Anna and Alice in the company of elephants  

The zoo is huge, so you may need a map or even better a Californian friend as a guide, who can introduce you to all the secrets of the 5 continents and their wildlife.
Walking around you can see tigers living in reconstructions of their natural habitat, the Asian rainforest, orangutans eating calmly and rare red apes playing on a special wood structure.

Walking further, until the North Pole, you can have a look at big polar bears playing in the water or having a rest under the Californian sun; if you visit the zoo on the  “Snow Day”, you can admire a very special snowfall in San Diego , which allows the bears enjoy their own natural habitat for the day.

After a few minutes you meet birds, such as the bold eagle, the symbol of the USA which stares at you with its serious eyes and you may be lucky and see a terrific condor ready to fly with his huge wings!
Of course you can meet new, peculiar animals such as the okapi, which comes from the Ituri forest and was unknown to Western people until 1901. It is a shy animal, that lives hidden in the rain forest and is afraid of people.
The okapi looks like a zebra but is the only living relative of the giraffe.

Have you ever seen an okapi?

Sleeping Hippos

Not everybody can spy two hippos while they are sleeping underwater or taking a photo of a sweet panda having a rest on a tree.
And near the pandas, you can discover the mysterious takins. We know very little about them, because they live all their life hiding in the chinese fog.
And for the braves.... Reptiles!
The most curious and peculiar?! The californian kingsnake, a two-headed snake, difficult to find in the wild, because it needs special cures and because they have many enemies.

For those who likes peculiar things, here is the shingleback, a strange animal which has head and tail shaped in the same way to confuse predators!
Animals in captivity have to be physically and also emotionally well, so the zoo is trying to improve these aspects.
For instance it seemes strange for a uniformed visitor, to see a polar bear living in San Diego in a warm climate.
The usually picture that comes to your mind, when you think of polar bears, is an environment of snow and ice.

But in fact, the polar bear can be found also in the Tundra. The Tundra is a dynamic ecosystem, that experiences many changes during the summer months. In June, July and August there are periods of warmth, in which the plants grow. So the polar bear doesn’t feel completely out of place, and enjoys his life also in San Diego , even with their normal heavy winter coat and the thick of blubber.
To create the perfect environment, the water in their pool is constantly chilled to 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit (12-15 degrees centigrade), to allow them refreshing dips.

A polar bear enjoying ... 
Southern California's sun 

Also the orangutans need special attention. They are very intelligent and sensitive animals, and suffer if kept without mental challenges.

An orangoutan ready to climb a fake tree

To allow them to keep up their normal behaviour of tree climbing and nest building, the San Diego Zoo decided to put fake trees in their cage, to make them feel more at home. “Why fake trees?” is the question that many ask. The answer is very simple: The Orangutans are used to climbing every night up in the tree, building everytime a new nest and eating leaves, too. Live trees were simply unable to survive this treatment. The new fake trees are designed to be very durable, and so the Orangutans can enjoy their usual behaviour even in captivity.


Another “guest” in the zoo who needs special treatment is the Panda.
The San Diego Zoo is studying pandas, trying to indentify their nutritional needs, their way of communicating with each other, and how it is possible to hold them in captivity as healthily as possible.  There are very few pandas ever born in captivity, so the zoos are trying to find out how to change this.

The San Diego Zoo is particularly successful: a new baby panda was born last September, and visitor can watch him on a screen.  
Today on the Earth there are only 1600 giant pandas left, and so saving them from extinction and keeping them away from human interference are real challenges.
Pandas eat only bamboo leaves. But the trouble with bamboo is not only that the pandas are very choosy and don’t eat all the different varieties, but also that this plant grows very slowly. And once it is grown, all the bamboo in an area will be in bloom and later die at exactly the same time. 

Yummy Californian bamboo

This means, that the panda then has to move to another area, where he can still find edible bamboo. But, unfortunately, the growing population of China is occupying many of these areas, so finding food is becoming harder and harder for the few remaining wild pandas.
Another very big problem for those trying to save the panda is that their breeding season, the time when a male will go and search for a female to mate with, is very, very short. If then, the few panda females give birth, they will have a maximum of 2 cubs at a time. And that is not enough: These cubs are completely dependent on their mother for a long time, and so their chances to survive are not very high. 

"Any species is an irreplaceable marvel, equal to the works of art 
which we religiously preserve in museums" 
Claude Levi-Strauss




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Riproduzione e diritti riservati -  Aggiornato il - Updated on: 09-mar-2016