After we left Quartzsite we headed to Yuma, AZ. We had heard stories and read articles about the RV community that heads to Yuma just to cross the border to a Mexican town called Los Algodones, where you can find dozens of dentists, optometrists, and pharmacies within about 3 square blocks! Why do RVers do this? The prices! We had our teeth cleaned for $20.00 per person! That includes an exam and x-rays! But beware, you have to do your homework before you go. Most of the doctors are trained in the US and are totally legit, but you still want to look at their diplomas and certificates. We asked numerous RVers for their personal experiences and recommendations. Then we called the one that looked good and made an appointment for the very next day. Often times you can just walk in and get services, but we only had one day in which to do this and we didn’t want to risk not being seen.
Here was how our experience went.
Our plan was to park on the US side and walk into Mexico, that is how most people do it. When I made the appointment, I was told to call the office in the morning before we crossed the border and someone would meet us on the Mexico side and walk us to the office. Cool! But we got there about an hour early and the office wasn’t open yet. So we decided to cross the border and just walk around for a bit and we’d find the office by ourselves, after all we had an address! Walking in was easy, no border patrol, no passports needed, just walk on in! Welcome to Mexico!
Immediately as we walked in we were approached by local men asking, “Do you need a dentist?”, “Do you need a Pharmacy?”, “Do you need an Optometrist?”. We must have looked totally lost as we scanned the signs for the name of the doctor our appointments were with, because we would get stopped by someone asking us what we were looking for! (Did I mention that there were NO street signs anywhere?!) We would stop and I would show them the name and address and no one seemed to know where the office was, but they always knew of a good dentist that could see us right now. One guy (Jimmy) was even nice enough to try to call our dentist, but the office wasn’t open yet. So he said, “Hey, I got a guy that will be open in 15 minutes and he can see you and clean your teeth for 15 bucks!”. We politely told Jimmy that we had already made an appointment with the other dentist and we owed it to him to show up, but if we didn’t feel comfortable for some reason, we would come back and check out his dentist. He begrudgingly let us go. So, off we wandered. Up and down the three small city blocks looking for our dentist. We began to understand why they wanted to meet us at the border! 🙂 We passed Jimmy 3 times before we finally found the office and Jimmy would laugh harder each time we passed! We finally found the office and guess what, it was about 25 yards from Jimmy’s office! I’ll bet he knew right where it was the whole time, LOL!
After the dentist we headed to an Optometrists office to check out frames. We heard you could get a great deal there too. But after working for Dr. Bradley, I had no desire to shop for glasses in Mexico. I have become a glasses snob.
As we walked along, the streets were filled with vendors. I knew I wanted a blanket and sundresses for my girls. So the shopping began. Bartering is a must here. You are expected to barter! If you don’t barter, you are seen as weak and powerless. (just kidding) So I found a blanket that I liked and the guy said it was $45 but he would give it to me for $38. I’m thinking, you’re kidding right? I can do better at Macy’s! I tell him that this is the first blanket I have looked at today and want to keep looking (little did I know that every shop has the same exact blankets, jewelry and trinkets as the next.) As I’m walking away, he’s is yelling lower prices with each step I take. The last one I heard was $20… We head down the street, turn the corner and stop at a cart that is full of the same exact blankets. We find one that we like and the bartering begins.
Vendor: $40, but you can have it for $35.
Maury comes back with, “How about $15?”
Vendor: No, $32.
Vendor: No, I have to pay for these, I won’t make any money.
We point out that the guy down the street offered us $20.
Vendor: Oh, okay fine. $20.
We had been hearing about the shrimp taco cart while we were in Quartzsite. Everyone kept saying, you have to eat the shrimp tacos! We located the taco cart and politely stood if front of it while the cook ignored us. Joe (Maury) and I look at each other, “Wait, are we doing something wrong?” Well yes, as it turns out, we were. You just have to step up and announce what you want, you aren’t supposed to wait around being polite, you just jump right in there! It’s like one big family! You have to make known what you want!
“Hi! Can we get some tacos?”,
“Sure! What kind?”
Our tacos were cooked right there in front of us. I ordered 1 fish and 1 shrimp, Maury ordered 1 steak and 1 shrimp. He later admitted that he wished he had gotten 2 shrimp tacos. The tacos did not fail us. They were YUMMY! That is why the main picture on this blog entry is my shrimp taco! Ode to Shrimp Tacos.
(Note: As we are standing there waiting for our tacos, the guy from the first blanket stand walks by and sees my bag with a poncho in it. He stops and says, “How much did you pay for that?” I tell him I paid $20 for it. He replies by rolling his eyes and tells me I paid too much for it and that I should have bought one from him!)
We finished our tacos and it was time to head back to the US. On the way, we found fresh asparagus and prawns for sale and I couldn’t resist. They would make a wonderful dinner.
We got to the line to enter back into the US and had to wait about 40 minutes or so. It was no big deal to get back in, just show your passports and tell them what you bought and all is fine.
All in all, it was an interesting experience, and I would do it again.
By the way, I made Hot Garlicky Shrimp with Asparagus & Lemon. Here is the recipe I used and boy was it good! You should try it! Really, you should!