Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A day trip to Algodones, Mexico

Entering Mexico
Algodones, Mexico, is a border town about eight miles from Yuma, Arizona, though it shares the border with California. It is very popular with Americans who go there for low-cost dental work and eye glasses.

I, quite frankly, have never seen as many dental offices in a two-block area before; I’m told the health district covers a four-block area. Americans stream into Algodones by the thousands every day, or so it seems. If you go, go early in the morning where you can get a parking spot. We got there about 8:30 a.m., and were able to find a spot in the row nearest the border crossing. When we left several hours later, the parking lot was jammed.  The Quechan tribe has the parking nearest the crossing, but it charges $7 to park there. Free parking is available beyond this, but, given how large the tribal lot is, I shudder to think how far you’d have to walk. Someone could probably make a mint providing shuttle service.

Re-entering the United States
I was surprised at how easy it was to enter Mexico on foot. We just walked through a gate to a small, pleasant courtyard with sparkling clean restrooms. I was a little disappointed because I’d wanted a Mexican stamp in my passport. Contrast this with leaving Mexico to re-enter the United States. A customs/border patrol official and his fierce-looking German shepherd checking for drugs, greeted us about mid-way through the line – we had to stand in one for about half an hour. Then it’s on to customs and immigration where they scan your passport and question you about purchases. Finally, you get to walk through long this chain-line corridor. Welcome to the United States!
Unfortunately, because I'm having difficulty walking, we never got more than a couple of blocks away, so I don't know what else Algodones has to offer. We did have a snack on one restaurant, and I was surprised at how bland the salsa was.



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