Nine hours later, another bus pulls up and offers to take passengers to Tijuana if they are willing to stand the rest of the way. Nayeli, Tacho, Yolo, and Vampi board the new bus, and Nayeli is nauseated by the smell of her own and others' body odor. Tacho's eyes are swollen from crying, and Yolo's eyes are dark with disbelief. Vampi manages to swoon into an old cowboy's lap. Finally, the driver points out the American border. Tacho notes that the other side looks just like Mexico, and Nayeli tries to meditate.
Tacho's observation about the border suggests early on that things won't be much different in the US than they are in Mexico. Tacho’s comment is also implies that borders aren’t all that meaningful—in this case, the border imposes geographic boundaries, but the land still looks the same on both sides.
Nayeli watches the landscape as the bus drives down into Tijuana. Shacks give way to small houses, and the bus enters the center of the city. Tacho points at the tall fence with white trucks on the other side. Nayeli thinks that the US doesn't look as nice as it does in movies. The bus stops at the far side of the city and lets them off, and Nayeli decides to call Chava so they can take showers at his house. They discover that their bags were never transferred from the last bus, and Yolo begins to cry.
Nayeli is already beginning to understand that the US is probably not as nice, kind, or clean as Tía Irma (or the movies) told her it would be. The Border Patrol agents on the other side also mean that the girls are in for a shock: policing the border suggests outright that the Americans don't want Nayeli there, despite Nayeli’s previous belief that the Americans will surely welcome her.
When Nayeli asks a man where she can find a phone booth, he briskly tells her to use her cell phone and rushes away. Tacho suggests they go downtown to find food, and Vampi whispers to Nayeli that she started her period, and her supplies are in her missing bag. Nayeli finds a tampon in her purse, and Vampi's eyes widen: her grandmother doesn't let her use tampons, so Vampi doesn't know how to use one. Nayeli and Yolo accompany Vampi to the restroom to help her, and Tacho wonders if he's the only one aware that they're in trouble.
The man’s unwillingness to help Nayeli shows the contrast between rural, community-minded Tres Camarones and urban, (seemingly) unfriendly Tijuana. In addition, Vampi’s grandmother likely didn’t have access to tampons while she was growing up, so she perceives tampons as being strange, scary, and different. Echoing Tres Camarones’ dislike of change, Vampi’s grandmother forbids Vampi from using tampons and shelters her from new ideas and ways of doing things.
Tacho, Nayeli, Yolo, and Vampi pile into a taxi with two other people to go downtown. Loud music pulses out of bars and shops, and Tacho begins to think he might like Tijuana. A man in blue eye shadow calls Tacho handsome, and Vampi comments on the eye shadow. Tacho notices the soldiers with machine guns but says nothing, and finally, the group is swept into the upstairs of a restaurant. They all order beer and watch the tourists.
The man in eye shadow suggests that there might be openly gay men (who are presumably far more comfortable presenting a less traditionally masculine front) in Tijuana, which is again an indicator that Tijuana is a part of the modern world. The machine guns, however, suggest that the modern world has its dangers as well.
Tacho orders carne asada and scoffs at the idea of flour tortillas when the server asks if he wants corn or flour. The server says that he can tell Tacho is from the south and tells him to be careful. He directs Nayeli to a payphone but tells her not to call her "coyotes" from the restaurant. Tacho asks how the server knows they want to cross the border, and the server insists he's seen it a million times. When Tacho asks for advice, the server says to get a passport.
The term "coyote" refers to people who smuggle individuals over the border. The server's advice to get a passport indicates that the coyotes are not an effective or safe way to cross the border. Like the ticket taker at the bus stop, the server automatically recognizes that Tacho and the girls are trying to cross the border illegally, which shows that they are not as discreet as they think they are.
Nayeli gets coins for the payphone and admires the American women in the hallway by the phone and the bathrooms. She drops in coins and tries to dial the number Tía Irma gave her. The phone spits the coins back out, and Nayeli dials the operator. The operator insists that phone numbers haven't begun with LIB since 1964, and there are no listings for a Chavarín in Tijuana or any nearby cities. Nayeli nervously returns to the table, where Yolo and Vampi are drunk on two beers each and laughing. She shakes her head at Tacho, and Tacho turns away.
Tacho and the girls now have proof that Irma's conception of the US and of their journey is based on extremely outdated information. This means that Tacho and the girls must press on and figure out independently how the modern world works. In addition, the tone of this passage implies that being drunk on two beers is indicative of youth and immaturity, suggesting that Vampi and Yolo are young, innocent, and unprepared for this journey.