We had decided to meet Betty and Richard at their RV Park at about 10:00 for the short drive to California on I-8 and then south a few miles to cross the Colorado River into Mexico. We had hoped to get there before the rush however when we pulled into the massive parking lot there was already a lineup. Most of the tourists do not drive over the border, preferring instead to pay the $6.00 fee and leave the car on the US side and walk over.
Walking over the border to Mexico is no big deal. No customs officers or checkpoints, just a few Mexican soldiers wearing fatigues with rifles slung over their shoulders and pistols on their hips. For the most part they are too busy chatting with each other to present much of an intimidation factor.
As we walked down the narrow streets we were sure glad to have Betty and Richard as our guides. The place is a maze of narrow streets and sidewalks lined with street vendors all trying to get your attention. Each little shop is loaded with inventory from floor to ceiling. In fact some inventory is spread out on the floor so that you have to watch where you walk and duck your head to keep from banging into merchandise hanging from the rafters.
Once you get used to every street vendor trying to get your attention, whether by eye contact or a cute comment it actually became fun checking things out and trying to come up with a unique phrase to turn them down. Although I suspect they have heard it all and aren't phased by much. They quickly picked up on the Jets T-Shirt I was wearing so I got constant references to the Jets or Bombers. I also had my camera so my name became Hey Paparazzi.
At no time did we feel threatened or unsafe and I would have no qualms of making another trip. Lori on the other hand doesn't want to tempt fate.
By the way, bring quarters. It costs 50 cents to get into the bathrooms.
Lori bought a metal quail and had Betty do her negotiating for her. They thought they had a deal at $20. and then the fella added "plus $1 for a tip?" She paid $21.
In one shop the guy was showing Lori and Betty a purse and he said "Let me show you this very special wallet. It has a Mexican TV in it". He opens it up and there is a little vanity mirror. They have a line for everything.
The place isn't licensed so Richard ran over to the liquor store across the street, bought a 1 Litre bottle of beer (the big green bottle on the table) and brought it back in a brown paper bag. $3 for the beer. The restaurant owner opened it for us and we had a nice cold beer with our meal.
The shrimp taco was delicious. Fresh shrimp and we watched the tacos being made and grilled right in front of us.
On the left is the US Customs building.
The Mexicans make this as easy and pleasant as possible cause if the Tourists get scared away Los Algodones would dry up and blow away. The tourist section is about 4 square blocks and is filled with Snowbirds, vendors and a few panhandlers. The police and some soldiers also have a visible presence just to let you know that they you are safe. I don't know what is beyond these 4 blocks and I probably wouldn't venture any further into the town but for a day trip to experience something very different I would certainly do it again.