Life on the border, at the end of the wall

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Out at the foot of Nido de las Aguilas, near where the wall between Tijuana and San Diego ends, Francisco Manriquez has laid his claim.

Manriquez, 39, raises pigs and goats on a hill overlooking the vast expanse of Tijuana stretching to the west.

Like his neighbors, Manriquez’s shack is made of garage doors with roofing made of vinyl billboards, both recycled from the United States. One man has built a fence of old mattress springs.

From each shack stretches cable for hundreds of yards to a connection – installed on the hill only a year ago – that provides electricity to the now-burgeoning community.

The United States now has more than 600 miles of wall of one kind or another along its 1954-mile border with Mexico. Most of that goes through land that is easy to build on. What remains is often rugged, forbidding terrain, like these hills rising above Manriquez’s homestead.

The idea that the United States would extend that wall over the steep hills doesn’t seem to much concern residents up here. Faced as they are with a virtual frontier existence, they have other things on their minds.

“I think there are probably other areas downtown that need that kind of wall, but not so much up here,” said one settler. “That’s the way I see it … but you know, spend your money the way you want.”