Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mexico is for Livers®

If drug-running across the border worries you, this town full of middle-aged white folks will scare your pantalones off.

Los Algodones, Baja California (that's Mexico)


Pretty things!  But, don't let the shiny tchotchkes fool you;  this place is about the drugs. 


And the teeth.







Let me be clear.  We were there for the drugs, too.  Not the Cialis that the man next to me was trying to purchase discreetly, but we all have our own back-monkeys.

[monkey segue]

A merchant's employee has the task of carrying a ceramic monkey the size of a toddler up and down the line for departure. The monkey is smoking a cigarette and drinking a Coca Cola. The monkey is anatomically correct.  I know because I asked before I bought it.  I'm not having some inaccurate monkey rendition strapped to the ladder while we're blowing down the road;  we'd be a laughingstock.  They bought that monkey and that's not even what a monkey looks like under his pants!  

The thing is, YOU KNOW THAT MONKEY SELLS.  There are snowbirds out there (don't even look around like it's someone else) who OWN THAT MONKEY.

A little woman laden with sparkly jewelry bits said things to us in Spanish for so long that I considered eating my lunch there. The small lady is very persistent, and you will be tempted to buy something for one dollar to release her from her obligation to solicit you, but this is a tactical error.  She has colleagues.

There are many, many farmacĂ­as for you to choose from, and men on the street will tell you about them. We hit three of them for prices before we found one that had everything we wanted, so we dropped our drug money there.

People who wanted our money:
  • everyone
  1. little ladies with sparkles
  2. men with produce 
  3. every drug store
  4. every dentist
  5. every optician
  6. young woman with rock chickens  
  7. young woman with ceramic tortoises
  8. young man with monkey
  9. everyone with a shop
  10. man in white uniform
  11. woman selling Chiclets
People who got our money:
  • Purple pharmacy (not the first one, the second one)
  • guy with strawberries
  • guy with asparagus
People who almost got our money:
  • girl with cute chickens - she called us "beautiful movie stars"
We were going to buy some emergency Cipro, but didn't.  The woman who helped us told us that she could sell it to us, but we would have to hide it.  We laughed, and she explained that it's not an imprisonable offense, they would just send us back to get a refund.  But she couldn't refund money on Cipro.  Worse, we would have to stand in line all over again.

It was all pretty exciting.  We got to use our crispy new passports.  We got to purchase medication that we hope to never use.  It's not the hassle we thought it would be; the worst of it is the line back to the States.

Park your car for $5 at the Quechan parking lot and walk across.  We decided that bicycles would be more trouble than they're worth, even if you can ride to the front of the line.  We crossed twice, and our wait-time was about 1/2 hour each (there is no wait to cross into Mexico, only to leave). Don't worry about your Spanish;  almost everyone speaks English. Even if you're an Ugly American, you and your money are welcome here. Don't come with a lot of stuff, because you're taking a monkey home.

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stillhowlyn said...

I am so glad you made it to Algodones...love that town. Great dentists and farmacias...Go ahead and buy the Cipro, everyone else does!! And the asparagus and strawberries..Yum!

Judy and Emma said...

I don't like those border towns. Never have and never will. Not a very snappy comment, but it is what it is...

The Good Luck Duck said...

Stillhowlyn, I have the worst lie-face ever. I'd say something like "I'm only declaring this, not the Cipro!"

Judy, I guess they have their purpose. I sure didn't want any dental work, but I've read good things about a couple of the dentists here. Plus, cheap drugs! They have their detractors, but I haven't "liked" the FDA on Facebook, either.

Brenda A. said...

I love border crossings! Except for that weird "bow down to the border guards" vibe when you come back. Okay...I know that's an exaggeration but still...it's not a fun way to end the fun of a border town experience. It just blows my mind how you can walk a few steps and all of a sudden EVERYTHING has changed! I need that kind of rush every now and then.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Brenda, maybe you should do a "border crossing" at some unorthodox place, like along the 20-foot-high fence in the desert. That would be a rush, too. I get what you mean, though, having done it now. I was, all, I'm in a foreign country! What a bumpkin.

Texas Yellow Rose said...

"young woman with rock chickens"
"young woman with ceramic tortoises"

I am warped. I found these two phrases causing silly giggles to come forth.

Living in El Paso many years ago, I was in Juarez quite a bit. Not for the drugs, unless you call bottled vanilla an opiate. Wait. Tequila and mescal would be classified as such, right? Anyhoo, one could be solicited for all sorts of things by all sorts of folks, including rock chickens and ceramic tortoises. . . Glad you had an entertaining and safe adventure!

Cheryl (Desert Diva) said...

I ♥ Algodones. I was there over the Christmas/New Year's holiday.

I've had a 2nd pair of glasses made with my U.S prescription. I've had my teeth whitened at a dentist there. I've bought Renova (Retin-A creme) for my wrinkles.

I'm partial to the 1821 Tequila Creme which is super yummy, and have bought sipping tequila also. (Sans worms) I usually frequent an open air fish taco stand and buy a couple of Tecate's from a drugstore a couple of doors down.

It's a fun day and safe - what's not to like?

I don't know if they still have it at the "Q" down the road, but I think on Tuesdays they have a 2 for 1 buffet.

I'm usually at the VFW out on 95 on the way to
Quartzsite. You can boondock there for two weeks on BLM land for free if you can stand the hum of the night trains and/or the crop dusting. Funky but nice if you're with a group of people you know.

However, back to Algodones - NEVER, EVER have a margarita (or two). A couple of years ago I had two "small" ones. (Seriously!) It took about a hour for me to begin projectile vomiting. I stick to beer now.

OK, is that TMI? (Too Much Information) :-)

Donna K said...

Those teeth pictures are going to give me nightmares! When we were there, a little old man was in the same pharmacy we visited and was carrying his little chihuahua. The clerk told him to take the dog to the restaurant down the street and they would make him some wonderful tacos from it. The dog owner did NOT appreciate the joke!

Peter + Beatrix said...

Helloooo! Welcome to a different world. We've been there, done that! Best is gettin' into town early and gettin' back early, to avoid those looong wait lines at the border. You need a remommendation for dentist? We been happy with the guy for years! Lemme know! And you gotta love the customs officers!

Wanderin' said...

Ha Ha! That was so funny but yet so true. Been there, done that and understand completely what you're talking about.

Rubye Jack said...

The only border town I've ever been to is Tijuana and I hated it, except for the time we got a bit away from the border and found some nice galleries. This was before you had to have a passport and the custom guys were really something terrible since we didn't declare some cigarettes. We honestly did not know any better. That just doesn't sound true, does it?

The Good Luck Duck said...

Rubye Jack, we believe you. I don't hear people talking about Tijuana anymore, so I wonder if it has fallen completely out of favor?

Right, Wanderin'? This is a true story.

Peter + Beatrix, I don't want dental work done this time, but I'd love to keep a recommendation in my back pocket, if you care to share. The officers are pretty deadpan, in their stylish blue nitrile gloves.

Oh boy, Donna - I don't know how I would have felt, either! I mean, it's funny, but I don't have a chihuahua!

Cheryl, it's just enough information! I wouldn't have known to avoid the margaritas, and I do love a good margarita. Projectile vomiting is way further down on my list, like #39 or something. Was it the tequila? Were they too strong? I need to know!

But, hold the phone - you can get retin-A there? This is a thing of which I must know more.

Yellow Rose, I like the way you think. Juarez is pretty dicey these days, right?

Spotted Dog Ranch: said...

What the heck is Cipro? Maybe I need to go there and buy a TV so I can keep up on the latest drugs.

But I probably won't cause I don't want any more stuff. :)

Merikay said...

Another reason to get our passports renewed when we hit the road. I used to go to Tijuana to buy Prozac. didn't want it on my medical history for insurance reasons. Haven't taken it for years, but it helped me thru some bad times.

VtChris said...

Timely post....tomorrow I am crossing in Naco (sp).....yes, to get drugs. My friend here knows all the places to go so I will be safe. I hope to remember to take my camera....great pics! Although I believe at my cross point the town is much smaller.

Gaelyn said...

What, no photo of the Purple Pharmacia? Algadones is a kick. I love all the bright colors, and the drugs, all the shiny tchotchkes that I don't buy, and the alcohol. Plus a great place to eat and people watch.


Cheryl (Desert Diva) said...

I think the margaritas were made with either "rot gut" tequila or pure grain alcohol - and yes, extremely strong. :-(

Retin-A abounds - any border pharmacy hawker will gladly sell it to you - along with Viagra, etc... Galderma is a good maker - steer away from the "super generic" types.

Karen and Al said...

glad you got your drugs and monkey

The Good Luck Duck said...

Chinle, Cipro became all the rage after 9/11, when it was used for anthrax exposure. It's a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Don't buy a TV - it will follow you.

Merikay, it's good to have those options. I hadn't considered the off-the-record advantage of Mexican drugs - thanks for that heads-up.

Chris, write about Naco when you come back! I'm interested to know what it's like, and how it is to cross there.

Okay, Gaelyn, here's a Purple pharmacy, but not the good one:


Whoo, Cheryl, I'm staying "virgin" if we go over again. One hour would put me right at the border crossing desk.

Thanks, Karen! It's good to have the necessities.

Sherry said...

Velllllly intarestig!! And if you recognize that then you really are OLD.

I am learning a lot here under cover. But I need the list of drugs you bought in order to keep acurate records. Haven't been south of the border since Tijuana was the place to go. Pass along the dentist. And the eye glasses. I definitely need the latter. All the better to see your pictures my dear.

Contessa said...

Too funny. Just remember that the rest of Mexico is very different, although you can get still get your Cipro and other drugs. I can manage 3 large Margaritas before I fall asleep and they are delicious. YUM!!

Bob said...

I wanna see your monkey!
Oh dear. I just blushed.
I mean.
Well you know what I mean.
That monkey, dammit!

The Good Luck Duck said...

SHERRY! I seriously (very seriously) dreamed about Arte Johnson last night. Wow, that's freaky.

Accurate records are very important. We didn't do the dentist thing, although Annie is going to do the optical thing. The pictures are small, right? I did that for you, you know!

Contessa, your part of Mexico looks very different in a great way. And, I assume your margaritas don't come with projectile vomiting?

Oh Bob, who doesn't want to see my monkey?

Texas Yellow Rose said...

I don't know much about Juarez these days, Duckie. Left El Paso back in 1983 and never looked back. Well, except to note that EP looked really good in the rearview mirror! I would not advise crossing there, though, from what I read . . .

Wanderoke said...

Lord Help Me, but I can't keep the politics out of it.

Why should Good, Honest Americans have to go across any border to get medical assistance? If we took the money-grabbing For-Profit medical and insurance companies out of the equation, wouldn't we all be better off?


Claire Lopez said...

I'm glad you've got a border town to go to. I love border towns, but the ones across from Texas have gotten really dangerous. : (

sierrasue said...

Gotta love Mexico !! I just asked a friend of mine going down to pick up some R-tyflam for me. It is a cream for arthritis but you have to have a prescription in america for it and of course it is cheaper in Mexico as well..

LG61820 said...

I'm not sure I could have resisted being called a "beautiful movie star"! Cute chickens would probably have been purchased unless they were live chickens, or butchered chickens . . . I would have bought a ceramic chicken just to say thanks. ;->

The Good Luck Duck said...

Ish, I don't know why giving everyone some health care has ever become political in the first place. We're so afraid of socialism that we think about it on the city bus, at the public library, while we sign up for Medicare ... Then there's Pharma - don't let me start!

Claire, I'm enjoying reading your blog. It feels relevant to how I'm naturally inclined to look at life as opposed to the way I want to see it. And, yes, I have a new appreciation for border towns! Is Progresso also scary? I've heard of friends crossing there and doing alright.

Sue, that's great. There are a lot of times when we just know what's going on, and we don't need the added expense of a medical gatekeeper. When we need docs, we need 'em. That's not all the time.

LG, it was touch-and-go. She saw my resolve dissolving. Plus, cute chickens. Did I mention they pecked the ground?