|A small square near the border|
Nogales, Mexico, beckons tourists from the United States hoping to score big bargains in the shopping arena or who want to score cheap dental care. It also beckons drug smugglers and illegal immigrants, both of which are arrested and/or deported on a daily basis.
The U.S. Border Patrol station in Nogales, Arizona, is responsible for 27 miles of boundary between the United States and Mexico. It is the second largest station in the United States.
This Sonoran city of about 150,000 people has a reputation tarnished by the drug activity and illegals trying to escape to the United States. Visitors are cautioned not to wander more than a few blocks away from the border crossing. Since most visitors only come for the day that is not a problem as dozens of dental offices and souvenir shops are right there.
Nogales is the second Mexican border town we’ve visited in the last two years. The other is Los Algodones, about eight miles west of Yuma.
|A pleasant shopping area|
In either city, you will need to bargain hard for the best prices, which we thought were cheaper in Los Algodones. Ever since we moved to the Southwest, I’ve been taken with the metal sculptures and have been pricing them.
Since U.S. shops only
accept stated prices, I thought they’d be cheaper in Mexico where they’re made.
Not true. The asking price in Nogales was
about double the price in the United States.
|My $20 metal cactus|
I finally found a small metal cactus that I liked and began the bargaining process – I honed my haggling skills living in China, where bargaining is a fact of daily life in street markets. The vendor wanted $95 – I asked if this was pesos, and it wasn’t. I offered $20, which he finally accepted after 15 minutes of arguing.
If you’re shopping in Mexico, don’t assume the $ sign in front of numbers means the price is in U.S. dollars. Always ask, since Mexicans use the dollar sign in front of pesos. We found a lot of money changing offices in Nogales, but shops and restaurants accept U.S. dollars.
The border at Nogales is a walk-across border open 24 hours a day. Be prepared to walk a few blocks from your car in Nogales, Arizona, to the border. On-street parking is metered, but there are several lots charging anywhere from $3 to $6 to park for the day.
|Cattle skulls are a popular item|
|Shoppers check out the goods|