This is the true story of my harrowing near-death experience crossing the border at Los Algodones, Mexico.
I mean, it’s Mexico, right? SUPER dangerous! Drugs! Cartel! Guns! Human trafficking!
And you know what? I got caught by the bad guys.
Somehow, they figured out I was an American. I really don’t know how they knew. Once they did, I was a target. Despite my rigorous spy training, they captured me.
I was bound and gagged then locked in a cell. Silly them, I dug my way out through the dirt floor. Thank god I used to do Pilates. Got me right out of there.
But then, they found me again, trudging through the desert.
I was pretty tired and dehydrated, but I still managed enough energy to slap them across the face a few times, then bonk them in the head with that pipe in my hand in the photo to the right. (There were only two of them) I clean knocked them out.
Then, I jumped the wall (There IS a wall) into the USA without any issues.
Am I kidding?
Of Course, I Am Kidding!
So I just pissed off any naysayers and/or negative nellies who still think Mexico is dangerous and you will die if you go. Too bad, people! 🤣
This is the type of story many people hold about Mexico. “You’re going to Mexico for DENTAL WORK?? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND??!! YOU’LL GET BODY SNATCHED. DRUGGED. RAPED. THEY’LL TAKE AN ORGAN WHILE YOU’RE OUT. SERIOUSLY.”
People, I’m here to tell you that Los Algodones Mexico is totally safe. It’s completely Americanized. Stay in the ‘American’ area and you are guaranteed to keep all of your organs.
Click photo to get one. You’re welcome.
Seriously, I can’t attest to any other areas, but I do have full-time RV’ing friends who are down there now, and all are alive and well. (Well, they are in Baja, Mexico) Guess what? The USA has some cities with high murder rates. All places have bad areas. Los Algodones is clearly not one of them.
During my stay at American Girl Mine Rd, I crossed into Los Algodones Mexico more than once. Sometimes with friends. Sometimes with just Marshall. Had a girlfriend, Becky, who went alone more than once. She made it back alive and with cleaner teeth!
I have other friends, Lauri and Jase, who live in Yuma for a few months out of the year. They cross over all the time to feed friends their favorite taco crawl tacos or go just eat by themselves.
Went on a crawl with Lauri and Jase (left), John and Becky (right) and new to me buddies, Kym and Kevin.
Marshall’s folks go to Los Algodones for dental work from Phoenix, along with thousands of other Americans who don’t rely on ‘conventional’ wisdom of “Stay Away From Mexico! It’s Not Safe! Instead, Spend Way Too Much Money On Your Drugs And Teeth And Eyes In The States, You Dumbasses!!”
(If you live more than 150 miles from there, of course, you might not go. Still, for the cost savings of big dental work, a flight and hotel could easily save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.)
There are a few general things to know before crossing over to the ‘dark side’.
12 Tips For Going To Los Algodones, Mexico
Bring Your Passport
Hopefully, you just said “duh”, but I figured I had better mention it for those who didn’t. You’ll need it to get back into the USA.
You Don’t Need To ‘Check in’ To Get In
You simply walk through a roundabout. No-one checks on you, you don’t need to show anything. Anyone can enter the country. Arrive EARLY. Weekends are good as the dental places, mostly, aren’t open, so it’s less crowded/less of a line getting back.
Arrive Early, Leave Early
If you want to avoid a long line coming back in, that is. Whether you are walking or driving, there’s going to be a line if you come back after 11 or so. We had like zero wait time when we got back across at around 9:30 or 10. Hell, around 8:30 am there was already a pretty decently long line of cars.
The day we came back around 11:30 or noon? We had to wait about 45 minutes in line.
I believe they don’t sell alcohol until after 11. Be advised.
I can only attest to walking over, which I recommend over driving. They have spotty places to park, and sure it’s pretty safe there, but I am guessing the chances of your vehicle getting broken into are much higher across the border. Not to mention the insurance issues. You’re supposed to have Mexican auto insurance before crossing.
There is a BIG secure parking lot on the US side where you can park. It’s right at the border crossing, but there is a fee. $5 per car, RV’s and camper vans $7, 27+ foot motorhome is $12. Parking and the border are only open until 10pm.
On the only road to the border of Los Algodones, there is free parking on the side of that road up to a certain point. What point? The point where you start seeing ‘no parking’ signs on side of the road. There are always cars parked there once the border is open, and the walk is about 3/4 of a mile.
Quechan Casino Free RV Parking
The Quechan Casino, right off I-8, offers free parking for RV’ers. The walk would be longer from there, but not too bad for a free night’s stay.
You may purchase liquor in Mexico for a lot less than it costs in the USA. Mine was about half the price. Only ONE bottle per person may be brought back over the border. (Bring friends to carry back!)
I got some Captain Morgan. It did not taste quite the same and had a pretty icky taste to it, actually. I cannot attest to other brands. Also, I didn’t die.
Everywhere I went they took US dollars. Yay. No, nobody tried snatching it or anything from me on the street.
Finding A Good Dentist In Los Algodones
So yes, they have completely modern facilities. We went to Dental Betel. I took photos so naysayers would have to believe it was modern if they didn’t buy my word. They even have a website. My total for a cleaning was a mere 20 bucks.
Dentists in Los Algodones have a MUCH lower cost of operation and can charge much less. They don’t have to deal with insurance companies. Therefore, they stay super busy. I did see a place that said they take insurance. Not sure what that’s all about.
Was my cleaning thorough? I have to admit, not as thorough as in the USA. However, I keep my teeth pretty spotless, and there’s not much to do. In the US, they may be overdoing it. The only plaque I ever have is on the inside of my bottom front teeth. No cavities.
What do I use? I use this:
They could have done x-rays (I inquired) but they asked if I had any pain and, no, so they weren’t necessary.
I’m definitely going back next year. I do not have dental insurance. I definitely feel like I don’t ever need it again. Not at these prices.
Mexico does not have any accreditation process or licensing requirements, so get a recommendation from someone who has been. Or check Yelp and Tripadvisor for good ratings. Do a little homework before going!
Getting Eyeglasses In Los Algodones Mexico
For this, I went to one of the first places you see across the border- Algodones Optical. (OMG, they have a website TOO???) Yes, they are *that* modern. There are plenty of other reputable companies as well.
I got an eye test, including checking for glaucoma. I picked out my rims and lens type and came back to pick them up the next day. (Could have waited just an hour, but didn’t want to risk the line) Total: $120.
I put them on and was disappointed that I couldn’t see (near) any better. I figured they had messed up my eye exam or something. I had a bad feeling about the whole thing for some reason. Maybe it was the woman we talked to that morning while walking across the border- she said glasses from Mexico just didn’t cut it for her.
She planted that seed and I had watched it sprout and come alive. I was very disappointed. Thought I had just thrown away $120.
Miffed, I decided to go back and ask them about it. They immediately re-checked them and noticed that they had been made for FAR sightedness. I needed near. They fixed them in about an hour. We went on our taco crawl, came back and BOOM! I could see up close perfectly with them on. YAY! Another win for Los Algodones. And no-one died.
Los Algodones Street Sales
You will be a bit bombarded by Mexicans on the street selling this or that dental or optical place. Just ignore them. It’s what they do. Unless you need services!
Also, the street vendors are pretty gregarious. They will do anything to persuade you to come in and buy something. You can ignore them. Or go in!
You can ALWAYS get the price down. Just start walking away. Never pay the first price offer, everything is negotiable. They will even give you free shots of tequila (Some places) to encourage you to buy! Watch out for that one. : )
Buying Drugs In Los Algodones
Yes, you can buy drugs. They have a few drugstores just like in the USA, but with less stuff. You can buy shampoo, food, liquor, band-aids, aspirin, weird Mexican candy and treats, etc.
Be aware, it’s illegal to bring some drugs back into the USA. Cipro, the antibiotic, for one is considered illegal to bring into the USA. You can buy it there. Just don’t bring it over the border!
You can, um, also get Viagra. Surely for much less than in the USA.
Anyway, there’s other stuff you can get for pennies on the dollar such as amoxicillin and penicillin. I won’t go into all the ins and outs here, but here’s a general list of rules and things to know.
You can get prescriptions filled from a US doctor also for pennies on the dollar. (As long as it’s legal to bring back across the border)
Ladies, you can also get SUPER inexpensive Retin-a in Mexico. You can get name brand or generic. It’s the same stuff. I bought one tube for $3, another for $5. Incredible! That stuff is like $150 in the USA. 🙄
We didn’t die doing that either.
Moral of the story is, if you seek cheap dental work or eyeglasses, or you just want to explore Los Algodones, you likely won’t die, get raped, murdered or body-snatched. You might even get a great deal!