Should you cross the border to Algodones, Mexico? Many do each day. Included in these border crossers in search of good food, margaritas and inexpensive medical and dental care were a local Arizona couple. Their report, provided in February 2010, indicates Algodones hasn't changed much from our original information.
They reported that people are still shopping in Algodones although the numbers may be down. Prescription drugs, eyeglasses, and dental work seem to be the sought-after goods and services. The quality of the retail goods in the various stalls is still not so great, but that does not seem to deter shoppers. Parking on the US side of the border is the best idea, and there seems to be ample parking in secured lots.
People who are going for dental work should probably plan at least an overnight stay. In the last couple of years, many more full-service lodging establishments have been built right off of I-8 as you go through Yuma. Also, there is a brand new Quechan Indian Casino resort hotel right at the Algodones exit, but still in California. It would be a very convenient place to stay if you wanted to stay overnight and be very close to your dentist or endodontist.
The three times we have been to Algodones we have eaten at the Pueblo Viejo Restaurant near the border. We have never gotten sick but never drank water either. We had Diet Pepsi and beer. I noticed that many people enjoyed Margaritas. We have been impressed that the management and waitstaff are the same faces in 2010 as when we first went in 2006. They are all very warm, friendly and willingly speak English. The establishment enjoys a great deal of repeat business as evidenced by the many hugs exchanged between the manager and patrons. We have generally had combination plates and enchiladas. Though not the best of their type that I ever tasted they were adequate, and some better than others. I did notice that a nearby diner had a lovely shrimp salad and seemed to relish it. A great thing about the place is that it has clean restrooms and the proximity to the border allows you to check on the length of the line of people waiting to cross so you know if you have time for just one more Margarita or not.
I encountered a 1.5-hour wait in the line to cross back to the US border. The good thing is that a longer portion of the where the line snakes back over the canal is covered so you are not standing out in the sun. There are also restrooms positioned in the line area and there is quite a bit of seating in the line area so one does not have to stand the entire time. While you are on foot waiting in line these days you can enjoy watching cars inch along on the street beside you waiting for armed Mexican federal police to carefully scrutinize vehicles with rather sophisticated looking equipment. The fact that the police were heavily armed should not alarm the visitor from the US. Algodones remains a very safe place for a visit.
Once at customs, if you have purchased prescription drugs, it is a really good idea to have the written prescriptions and show them when you declare what you are bringing back. Everyone is questioned regarding what they were doing in Mexico, and everyone had to show their purchases. Don't forget that you now need a passport or passport card to enter back into the U.S.
Information Credit: CVW, Surprise, AZ