Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Field Trip to Mexico

Two days in a row getting up early is enough. Tomorrow we're sleeping in. Today, though, we had a mission. Jim needed a filling, and at some point in all our visits with JoAnn and Doug, it came out that Doug was also in need of dental work. We've heard about the inexpensive, but good, dentists in Mexico. The guys were willing to try it. Doug made the call to set up appointments for today. We all went in our car. Since we'd never been to Nogales and weren't sure how long it would take, we left in plenty of time.

JoAnn knew that there was a Burger King restaurant near the border where we would walk across. We parked the car there and found that we could leave it parked all day for $4.00. Since we were in the restaurant and still had plenty of time to find the dentist's office, we had warm beverages.

Walking across the border was a non-event. We just walked through the turnstile and we were in Mexico. The cultural change was instant and striking. It was obvious we were in another country. The sidewalks are very uneven with chips and broken stones, making it necessary to step carefully. The streets are extremely narrow and I don't think I saw any evidence of traffic control anywhere. People basically just go. Of course, there are vendors of all kinds constantly urging you into their stores. And that includes the large number of pharmacies and dentists.

About 3 blocks from the border crossing, we turned down this alley-way. Halfway down the block on the left (hard to see in the picture) there is a little white sign above the door. That's the dental office where Doug and Jim had their appointment.

Dr. Fabian Rios has an office on the second floor. We walked in and had a seat in the empty reception area. There is a receptionist window, but it's boarded over. We could hear activity, so we knew people were working. We sat and made ourselves comfortable in the warmth. It was a blustery morning and quite chilly in Nogales.

After a several-minute wait, a young lady came out and determined that Doug and Jim were the patients. She gave them each some paperwork to complete. In a bit, she came back with a digital camera and took a picture of each of them. We took the opportunity to take this picture for the blog.

Eventually, an American woman emerged from the dentist's work room. As she was leaving, we asked her how it went. She was more than happy to express how much she likes Dr. Rios and how glad she is she found him. She was so enthusiastic, we wondered if she's a paid advertisement for him. She explained that she would be back, she's having some work done that would be completed today.

Doug was finally called in for his appointment, probably 45 minutes late. Some things don't change over the border. JoAnn and I decided to go out and look around at the shops. Getting back to the street was quite a challenge, dodging vendors all the way down the alley. Back out on the street,the going was not much easier. I finally popped into a store to look for some gifts for relatives. JoAnn mentioned that she's heard you can get items for about half of the asking price. I dealt with the shop owner and did get my items at said half price.

We were cold and didn't feel all that comfortable wandering the streets, so we headed back towards the dentist's office. We got within a couple of doors when Jim appeared. He said the dentist told him he might as well go shopping too, as Doug's appointment would take about an hour. We did go in a couple of other shops in the alley and Jim found one item for another relative.

Back in the dentist's office, the American woman (her name is Lou), was back. We chatted about our fulltime lifestyle and her life in Green Valley, Arizona. She had a lot of questions about living on the road and seemed impressed that there are people who actually love this lifestyle. I'm impressed that people like to travel any other way, especially the part about getting on an airplane and staying in a strange bed in a motel. People actually do that!

Doug emerged from his appointment, with the news that his work was going to require a second visit next week. Jim was called in for his appointment, which didn't take long at all. He was very impressed with the whole process. He felt no pain, either in his mouth or his wallet. One x-ray, one filling, $75.00. We were out of there and off to lunch in a local restaurant. The meal was tasty, but also fairly spicy. We agreed that since Burger King had an ice cream section with Baskin Robbins, we'd put out the fire with a little ice cream.

We walked back to the border crossing and stood in line for maybe 10 minutes. While we were in line, we watched one of the border guards walking a dog up and down the lines. Evidently there were no drugs being smuggled by the people in line with us and we proceeded easily through the gate. We were reminded that starting tomorrow, more stringent identification procedures will be in place to pass through to the US. Passports won't actually be required until later this year at the walk-through checkpoint.

I don't know what mountain this is, but it's east of I-19 and I thought it was quite beautiful, so I wanted to post a picture of it.

We confirmed that we won't be taking any RV's through the border at downtown Nogales. The truck route is the way to go. Since we didn't take a side trip to look at that today, we can still do that next week, when Doug gets the rest of his dental work done and Jim has his teeth cleaned. Hmmm....I'm due for a cleaning, maybe I should make an appointment for myself....I really don't like going to the dentist!

Oh well, I'll think about that tomorrow! When I finally wake up.

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