Exploring the Southwest!

Early 2016: San Diego & Mexico!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm putting my exploring pants back on. It's been an unseasonably beautiful December here in New York City. But, alas, that freezing weather is upon us, and high rents don't seem fair, when southwest travel and rent together cost less than one month here! Off I go.

Friends, books and Spanish.

My creative goals on this journey are to blog regularly, complete some personal writing, practice Spanish, and collaborate with friends in the area on some cool projects.

Admittedly, I leave behind many of those things in New York, but sometimes I find that I focus better in the isolated and focused state of traveling. Oddly, the familiar can be a distraction. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's so true for me! 

.... SCREEEEEEEEECH.......... gruoifjsdkfjdfkd (that's the tape Fast Forward sound)...

You just time warped to about 6 months after I began this post. I write this today from sunny Florida, and here's the story:


1. Bikes

My plan last winter was to escape the cold and cycle a lot in California. Hilariously, my bike had to stay in Brooklyn during my SoCal/TJ journey. I did test out bike rentals from Revolution Bikes a cool local shop with great rates and nice bikes.

2. Living Arrangements

Another plan was to find a permanent place to live in San Diego.

I certainly explored the beautiful downtown and found a pile of super cool shops, eateries, markets and etc-type things! I stayed with friends at Space4Art south of the park, which has become a creative home away from home.

I also ventured up to the retro beach village, Ocean Beach (OB). There, I stayed at the HI San Diego, Point Loma hostel. While obviously temporary, this was a fantastic experience.

Sudden onset travel review symptoms strike again: The rooms were super clean, the staff were generous and informative, I was able to store my luggage on the final day after checkout. They have a fire pit, and cool back yard, and they're away from any noise or chaos in a nice neighborhood not far from the library. The kitchen was pristine, and the included breakfast beat any fancy hotel I've ever stayed at. I met intelligent and kind travelers from Canada, the Midwest, Japan and other parts of California.

Despite such wonderful temporary accommodations, I had very little luck finding a tiny one-person space in San Diego. It seemed I would need to dig deeper... and to do that, I would need to live in Tijuana for a while.

3. International travel, in Tijuana

Okay. So I didn't exactly need to stay in Tijuana, but I was deeply excited to be accepted as an artist living in a secluded villa near the border crossing called Mariposa. The place "has" a website, but applications seem to be based more on a personal referral system. It was a kind and welcoming haven for me as a traveling artist. There, I worked on my new manuscript, some art and an exhaustive job and apartment hunt in San Diego.

Below is the view of Casa del Tunel across the street from where I stayed, and exactly on the wall. That's right. There's already a freaking wall. Calm down, littlehands.

Casa Del Tunel Art Center - #tijuana #mexico

A photo posted by Serena Andrews (@serenaandrews) on

The cross to Tijuana from the US is easy. The reverse trek is a bottleneck of epic proportions. I made the cross once a week to do interviews and eventually to do in-office work as a marketing manager at Dwell Well Realty.

Ah, whoops - spoiler alert! I found a great gig there working for a boutique real estate group, which turned out to be wonderful. They were in the process of building their new offices in the North Park area of San Diego, which is basically a hipster hub.

But back to Tijuana. This experience was amazing. I found TJ to have a rich art culture, lots of independent businesses and a sense of serious hustle. I met poets, photographers, painters, design and mural artists. There were countless open-air markets from food to clothing to art. I found there was a huge craft beer and local farm-to-table gastro scene. I visited the beach at Las Playas, and explored coffee shops and restaurants along the cliffs, where artists had carved sculptures down below. Uber and taxis were very affordable, as was the food. Wine was surprisingly expensive there, but not over the top. Over all, Tijuana was a surprise and I loved it.

Las Playas #tijuana

A photo posted by Serena Andrews (@serenaandrews) on

West to east.

Alas, after 3 months, my 90-day visa was coming to a close, as was the website for Dwell Well. It turns out I was needed by family in Florida. It was a tough decision, but I made the call to pause my full-migration to SoCal and open my heart to a new set of adventures on the gulf coast of Florida near Tampa Bay!

Below is a tall ship at the Maritime Museum in San Diego. I took this photo on my last day in town.

SD, I'll miss you much.

From the #sandiego #maritimemuseum ...really cool last day adventure before heading eastward.

A photo posted by Serena Andrews (@serenaandrews) on


More adventures to come...