Sunday, January 18, 2009

Los Algodones, Mexico

Los Algodones, Mexico is a small border town west of Yuma and south of Winterhaven, California. It’s been a dozen or more years since we’ve visited a border town, so we thought it was time to go again. To get to Los Algodones, off I-8, take exit #166, Algadones Road. Go south, onto the overpass, and in about a mile or so, you can park in a lot for $5, or park along the street for free. The street does have “No Parking” signs, but there were over 50 cars, trucks, and RVs parked along the street, and when we asked another couple if they’ve ever been ticketed or towed, they said not in the seven years they’ve been parking there, so we figured we’d be safe. It was about ½ mile walk into Mexico, and ya just walk right in.

Los Algodones is populated by dentists (many RV’ers go to Mexico for dental work as it’s less expensive than the US), pharmacies (you can bring a 3-month supply of non-controlled medications into the US without a prescription), eye doctors (however when we asked about contact lens prices, they were actually higher than Costco for Acuvue lenses), liquor stores, cigarette stores, and Mexican blankets, pottery and jewelry. One popular place was the shrimp taco stand – for the entire time we were in Algodones (about 1 ½ hours), there was a line of people. We weren’t hungry, but it definitely looked like the place to go!

So when it was time to leave (and we are terrible consumers – we didn’t buy anything! No dental/eye work needed, no Rx to fill, we have enough liquor with us to last quite a while, we don’t smoke, there’s no room in the rig for pottery, we don’t need more blankets since we plan to stay in sunny areas all winter……….) We got in the very, very long to get back into the United States - we stood for about an hour, which regulars to Los Algodones told us was actually a short line (benches and shade are provided since the wait can be 2 hours or more). After scanning our passports (you need your passport or a license & birth certificate), we walked back to the truck that had neither been towed or ticketed, and drove home.

All-in-all, compared to other border towns we’ve visited (when we lived in Texas), the merchants were very nice and not too pushy, the town was clean, and if you’re in the market for any of the above-mentioned items, you’d do quite well.

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