Sunday, March 30, 2014

Los Algodones Mexico

Odometer 38285
Trip Meter (car) 12 miles 

Saturday March 29, 2014
Yuma, AZ

From our present location in Sans End RV Resort, in Winterhaven, California, just across the Colorado River from Yuma, Arizona, we are 7.1 miles form the border crossing into Mexico at Los Algodones.

This map shows our proximity to Mexico.  The green marker labeled "A" is our RV park and the green marker labeled "B" is the border crossing.  The map also shows the relative size of Yuma on the lower right side and Los Algodones which is nearly dwarfed by the green marker labeled B.  Our friend and guide for the day, Mark, says to think of Los Algodones as a huge storefront.  LA as I'll abbreviate it, exists to serve the aging and transient populace of 'winter arizonians" arriving in November and departing in March.  The stock in trade is pharmaceuticals, and health care, with a bit of jewelry, and soft goods to boot.

We were glad to have Mark along for this first trip across the border here.  Mark explained that the Quechan Native Americans (I hate saying Indians- they are certainly NOT from India) own the property on the US side of the border and have for our convenience today, built a very large paved parking lot in  which we may park and leave our car, for the sum of $6 US.

Mark showed us the sometimes circuitous route by which a pedestrian may enter Mexico.  The turnstile in the far distance in the above photo is the border crossing- no armed guards, no drama, just push through and enter Mexico.
Once you are on the Mexican side of the border it's like coming out of a rabbit hole onto a busy city street.  Everything is laid out for your shopping convenience, doctors, dentists, opticians, pharmacies, drugstores, liquor, and jewelry stores.  A shopping Mecca.

Mark and Joan pause on their way through a "tunnel" of soft goods as we make our way down the main thoroughfare.

The vendors are a tiny bit aggressive, but very friendly and retreat quickly if you tell them you are not interested.  The locals love it when If you smile and laugh, most speak english very well.  Vendors deal with you in US dollars- so leave your phrasebook and calculators at home, but be ready to haggle over the price.
We saw just a few Federales, just enough to make you feel secure, never anything threatening.  All-in-all it was a very pleasant experience, one we will be likely to repeat.  Joan and I bought some street jewelry, a hand painted serving plate, and some scotch before heading back to the car.  We did some searching on-line last night and checked what we were paying for our meds, to see if we could get a good deal on prescription drugs here in Mexico.  We both felt that Costco's prices were nearly as good, and sometimes a bit better.  The big thing here, however is you do not need a prescription to buy- so if you wanted to stockpile ahead- you could do that.

The State Department warns on it's website that it is strictly illegal to bring pharmaceuticals purchased in other countries into the US, while admitting that it is often overlooked by Customs officials if you have only enough for personal consumption and no narcotics.

One highly interesting thing that we noticed this year, that is different from our visits in the past, is that there is water in the Colorado river- lots of it!

One of the Border patrol agents we talked to told us this is the most water he has seen in the river in all the years he has lived here.  

In 2012 the US and Mexico signed an addendum to the river agreement that has existed between our two nations that would allow for a "pulse flow" of 130 million cubic meters of water to flow down the Colorado starting on the 23rd of March 2014.  This pulse of water would be less than 1% of the pre-dam flows, but would be enough to ensure that for the first time in decades, water would actually reach the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.   At present, It dries up in the river bed before reaching the Sea.
The reason for the pulse is to allow a binational ecological study of the river.  Whatever the reason- it is exciting to witness the mighty river flowing again!

Your Traveling Friends

Jeff and Joan

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