After getting a tooth repaired in Parker ( a simple patch on a crown, five minutes in the chair, no Novocain required, and cost me $200), and being told I had a bottom tooth that was in dire need of a crown I made an appointment only to be told the cost would be $1500! Not wanting to go into debt for one tooth the decision is made to head to Los Algadones, Baja California, Mexico and get the work done there. I know many people make this part of their winter routine when coming to the desert southwest, but I have been hesitant. Money talks and mine is shouting at me …
Next morning we drive to Bouse and the boys get in some dog park time. We spend the night at a near by boondock site, and are up early on February 16th to head south. First breakfast, then another dog park adventure (that was the last post), then we head toward Q via the scenic cut-off route between Bouse and Quartzsite. It’s a beautiful 20+ mile drive which I always enjoy taking.
When we reach Hwy 95 we turn left and head south. It’s about 80 miles to Yuma, and once there we spend the night in the back parking lot of the Paradise Casino. We will cross the border tomorrow early.
The weather is perfect for the boys to be comfortable inside the van while mom searches for a dentist in Mexico. This is something I must consider when deciding to cross the border, and choosing a cooler day is paramount.
The border crossing is only a few miles from Yuma off I-8. Take exit 166 and cross over the freeway. The border is next to the Quechan Indian Reservation, and the Quechan’s make it easy for travelers to cross into Mexico by providing parking on US soil, and you can walk across. You can also stay in the dirt lot, for free, at the Quechan Casino the night before if you like.
When you’re ready to cross the border pull out onto the highway (the highway number escapes me at this moment) turn right, and drive a couple miles to the parking lot. It’s fenced and safe and only costs $6 for the day. I felt very comfortable leaving The Chiweenie Brothers in the van for my time across the border.
Everything is very well marked, but you might want to take note of what row your vehicle is in. There are hundreds of parking spaces and it fills up most days. Walk toward the buildings and look up. You will see the Mexican flag and that’s right where you want to go. Don’t worry, you can’t get lost, but if you need a little help there will be LOTS of people going to the same place so just follow the crowd. You will go through a turn stile and voila! You are in Mexico.
They have a sign posted as you cross over the border that no photos are allowed. Be respectful and don’t take any photos. Remember you are in a foreign country and you could get yourself into a pickle if you step out of line. Not sure just how much trouble you would get into if you did take photos, but I wasn’t going to find out!
Be prepared to be approached by people with the job of trying to get you to go to a particular dentist or vision office. It’s legit, but if you already have someone in mind or have a recommendation, just walk on by. There are several dentists and eye doctors on every block and at every turn all vying for your business. Sometimes there is dental and vision sharing the same office. That’s the route I went.
If the paid “guides” become a little too persistent, there was someone there to remind them to back off. I never felt threatened, but did feel a bit overwhelmed at it all. I ended up asking “Victor” to help me find a dentist and he took me to his friend (hey, you can’t blame them!) but I chose not to have my work done there. I explained that I felt nervous. To Victor I said I wanted someone gentler. It was all I could think of to say. The last thing I wanted to do was offend anyone. The dentist was a large man with huge hands, and I just didn’t think he would be able to work in my mouth. Every dentist I have ever gone to has said the same thing: Don’t let anyone tell you that you have a big mouth!!
I could tell he was very disappointed, and I felt so bad. They are trying hard to provide for their families, and Los Algadones has many, many dentists all vying for the American dollar.
I apologized to Victor telling him I hoped he didn’t think I was being rude, but that I would feel better with someone a little gentler. He took me to who is now my dentist, Dennis Cochran. Dennis is a she, and her name is pronounced Denise. She’s maybe 4’8″ tall, and the sweetest thing you would ever want to meet. She made me feel comfortable right away. Her husband, Ritchy, is the “receptionist” for her and the young eye doctor she shares an office space with.
One has to be prepared for the simple, small spaces. There are probably some places a bit “fancier” and more like what we are used to in the states, but Dr. Cochran’s workspace is no bigger than a small narrow bathroom. She does all the work herself; there is no dental assistant. The dentists take your X-rays, put on your bib, and also do the cleanings. Need to spit? Dr. Cochran will hold the old fashioned “funnel on a hose” for you.
She asks if I am on any medications. I tell her no. Not even aspirin? No. Baby aspirin is okay she tells me, as it won’t make you bleed like regular. I just smile and shake my head. High blood pressure? Nope. I don’t think she believes me until she gets underway and no blood bath occurs.
Oh, and the only forms you have to fill out when you enter the office is a small paper on a small clipboard asking your name, phone number, and email address. That’s it. No lengthy questionnaires on your health. Probably a real good idea to be honest about the questions the dentist asks.
My bottom back teeth are notoriously hard to get numb. Dr. Cochran did it with one shot, and noted that the tooth next to the one I was having crowned would also need a crown soon. Would I like to have her do that one at the same time? Yes, please. She prepped both molars and placed the temporaries. I made an appointment to have the permanent crowns set on Tuesday. Ready in three days!
I ended up getting TWO porcelain crowns for the grand total of $280. I also made an eye appointment with her office partner for the same day I was to come back for the crown placements, and got a pair of progressive Veralux lenses including the exam and the frames for $195.
Victor was hanging around the general area–but anyone would be happy to tell you–when I was ready to leave, and he showed me exactly which way to go to get back across the border. A note on this: Be prepared with a passport or a driver’s license and birth certificate to get back across the border. Mexico has open borders, the United States does not and it’s our country requiring these documents.
It used to be easy to get back in the US with just a DL and birth certificate, but soon you will have to have a passport or enhanced driver’s license to come back in. Times are changing. Honestly I don’t think they would NOT let you back in, but could and probably will hassle you and keep you waiting. Why deal with that aggravation? I got back in this time with my DL and birth certificate, but I will be getting my passport before next year’s trip across the border.
Lines to get back into the US can be long. They were fine on Friday for my first appointment, but I left before the afternoon rush. When I went back on Tuesday there were very strong winds and the electricity went out and wasn’t back on for well over an hour. By the time I got my crowns seated and my glasses (in two hours!) I was thrown into the madhouse that can be the line to get back into the US in the late afternoon. It was a VERY long line, and it took me an hour and half to get through it. I wish I had been prepared with tip money as the street musicians were out entertaining the waiting crowd. This is how they make their living so please tip them generously.
Next year I will plan a little better, having some extra cash on hand. I want to be able to tip and do a little shopping while in Mexico. Si?
Thanks for stopping by 2DogsTravel! Hugs, Shawna