This morning we scheduled dental checkups for the kids in Los Algodones, Mexico. Los Algodones is two miles South of the Q casino where we stayed last night. We drove down to the border, parked in a tribal parking lot on the US side for $12, and walked through the border crossing into Mexico. The signs said No Photography at the border, and I didn’t feel like finding out what the unspoken “or else” might be.
We were very excited to make the trip, as none of us had ever been to Mexico!
For American visitors, Los Algodones is a two-by-four block enclave of dental and vision clinics, with gift shops and barber shops mixed in for good measure. Trish and I were at least one generation shy of the average tourist age. The town feels perfectly safe, especially when you realize that you’re the most able-bodied target in town.
Our first stop was the dental clinic. We opted for Circle Dental, but there are literally dozens of clinics to choose from. All the other folks in the waiting room were there for dental implants and other serious work. Once the kids finished their cleanings ($30 each), we walked the town a bit:
All the pedestrians are within the passageways over the sidewalks, so it was actually much more crowded than it looks here:
There were hundreds of street vendors running around trying to sell everything from asparagus to wallets. This fellow was painting pots, plates, and saw blades using just spray paint. Bits of torn cardboard were used for masking shapes, and a wadded up plastic bag was used to apply paint with a texture for shrubs and trees. It was very impressive:
One block North of the shops is the border fence. The obelisk on the right is one of many markers erected in the 1890s to mark the modified US-Mexico border created by the Gadsden Purchase in 1856. Note that the fence was been built well within the US, as the obelisk is on the border:
Tricia’s glasses have been scratched up during this trip, so we stopped in one of the vision clinics:
For $70, Trish had an eye exam and ordered a pair of polycarbonate lenses in new frames. We were told to come back in three hours at 4:30PM to pick up her glasses.
We walked over to the exit line to return to the US. Folks who had been there before told us that it looked like a one hour wait:
I went back to what seems to be the only food store in town to get some food, but none of the foods are marked as certified Kosher. It’s like we’re in a foreign country:
After clearing customs we headed back to RV and had lunch. We called the vision clinic at 4:30PM and they told us to come back tomorrow at 10AM, so we left the parking lot at the border and headed North.
Throughout the day I had been e-mailing back and forth with Glenn Morrissette, the author of To Simplify, to see if we could meet in person. I’ve been reading Glenn’s blog for a couple years now, and have been following his gutting and refitting of his Vanagon for almost a year. Seeing that we was in Yuma, I sent an e-mail to him, and it turned out that he was overnighting at the Paradise Casino, so rather that return to the Q Casino we headed there instead. The RV lot at the Paradise was quite a bit less crowded:
Glenn and I got together around sunset, and he let the kids try out the van interior he crafted from scratch:
Glenn and I must have chatted for some time, as it was dark when I took this parting photograph:
To explain the blog title “meeting MNFG”, I once mentioned Glenn’s van work to the kids. They asked me if he was my friend, and I said that I had never met him. When they inquired about his doings later, they asked “what is your non-friend Glenn doing now”, so Glenn was thereafter referred to as “My Non-Friend Glenn” (MNFG). Our son pointed out that now that we’ve met, we should just call him Glenn. So be it.
See the trip map for our jaunt South of the border. After picking up Tricia’s glasses, we will head West and North to Palm Springs.