Mexicali, Mexico – This is the capital of Baja California, Mexicali, and it has such a unique history to the fabric of Mexico, Gareth Leonard had to add this place as the last stop on his first Northern Baja road trip. Between the mid-1800s and the 1940s, Mexicali, became Mexico’s largest Chinatown.
By 1920, Mexicali’s Chinese population outnumbered the Mexican population 10,000 to 700, and yet, many people still didn’t even realize how many were here.
We meet up with our local guide Diego, to get the full story.
Now here’s the most interesting part for Gareth about La Chinesca.
Just beneath the surface of central old town, in the neighborhood of La Chinesca, there’s a labyrinth of basements and tunnels that once were home to an entire population of Chinese immigrants. During Prohibition in the United States, La Chinesca in Mexicali housed just about all of the city’s casinos and bars, and established a tunnel system to connect bordellos and opium dens to neighboring Calexico on the U.S. side.
Along with being a passageway for bootleggers into the United States, this underground world was also where Chinese people would live here in Mexicali.