Los Algodones: Mexico for Gringos

Today we drove a half hour to a parking lot at the Yuma border crossing, then walked into Mexico for dental appointments. The whole shebang was absurdly easy. We walked right in without anyone even looking at our faces, much less asking for ID.

We’d heard that it would be easy and weren’t worried, but, still, dental tourism is new to me. And that’s what the town of Los Algodones is: a town built for non-Mexicans to get healthcare and accoutrements easily and cheaply. Plus buy trinkets and terrible margaritas.

I tried not to take photos right at the border entrance since that’s where folks hawking their wares crowd around you the most, but the scene was very strange: nothing but storefronts with huge signs advertising dentists, optometrists, pharmacies, and the occasional liquor store. Really, that was it.

We found ours easily and checked in, but then were led by a receptionist a few blocks through the trinket stalls to the actual medical office. I’m thinking storefront rentals are high right on the border, so they check you in to their small office there, then walk you to their cheaper, larger medical office.

That felt sketchy for about three minutes. And then some dude selling stuff said as an aside to me as I walked that I was being led by the best young woman in Mexico, and she blushed.

So, the dental care was excellent. As usual, Tracy had his checkup and cleaning and was done in a half hour, whereas I was just getting the news from my X-rays that I needed two old fillings replaced and one new cavity filled. Funny thing was: the young woman who looked at my teeth asked if I wanted to get all the work done right then. No waiting for a million other people to approve things or schedule new appointments. She and her assistant just did the work right there, and then it was my turn for a cleaning.

I walked out with three new fillings, clean teeth, and a bill for only $200. Yes, there was a fly buzzing around my young dentist as she worked, and when her assistant had to leave to use the bathroom, she rested her tools on my chest. But dude, my teeth are in good shape.

We then walked around looking for lunch and trying to avoid buying cheap things, and we found this bakery like from Tracy’s childhood in Monterrey, Mexico.

And because I’d just endured two hours with my mouth wide open, I treated myself to a margarita that was made from industrial-strength Mountain Dew. Ew. Tracy said he’s never seen me make that face after ingesting a beverage.

And then we stood in the long line to cross the border back into the U.S., which of course is a bit of a bigger deal. But, aside from a Canadian dropping her bottle of honey and then apologizing to everyone and cleaning it up, all went smoothly.

Apparently, when I walk across international borders, I make a silly face. On the left is when Tracy got us into Panama from Costa Rica with sketchy papers, and I was absurdly relieved to get in. We had some snorkeling to do, after all. On the right is me getting back into the U.S. today, which also called for a silly expression. Next up: Canada! (Although not right away.)

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