Drugs and Dentists – Mexico!
We arrived in Yuma thinking we could get away from a lingering cold snap in the area. Yet, when we arrived here a freeze warning remained in effect for several days. Yuma is in the far southwest corner of Arizona, sharing its border with Mexico and California. And get this: according to Guinness World Records, Yuma is the sunniest city on earth – receiving sunshine an average of 91% of all possible daylight hours. But wow, it can still get chilly here! All that sun is the reason Yuma’s main industry is Agriculture .
Fall and winter months are when Yuma’s population doubles with the arrival of sun-seeking snowbirds. Almost all of the private RV parks are brimming with RVers, and driving around town we noticed an assortment of license plates from the northeast and northwest states, and Canada. There are plenty of things to do here, but the current wind and cold are limiting our usual outdoor activities a bit.
However, we did socialize! We drove out into the boonies where Paul and Nina of Wheeling It are enjoying the vast desert with a few other hardy souls. You see, we have been following their blog since well before we began fulltiming. From their stories we gained lots of useful RV tips and boondocking site locations that we had never heard of. While talking with them over a glass of wine we traded tales of the road and got some recommendations about places to see as we head east. They are enjoying the RV lifestyle to the max, and hanging out with them was a pleasure. And oh, the best part is they have visited my hometown, Moalboal, in the Philippines for scuba diving. Isn’t that something? It’s a small world after all.
But wait – we also came here to take a trip to the dentist – woohoo! Say what ? We had heard that tens of thousands of Arizona and California visitors cross south of the U.S. border for great bargains. Bargains on eyeglasses, dental procedures and prescription drugs! So off we went one early, very cold morning and headed down to Los Algodones, Baja California, only about 15 miles west and south of Yuma.
We parked our car on the USA side and nonchalantly walked across the border, along with hordes of other tourists, into Mexico. Don’t forget your passport if you want to come back home!
Immediately upon arrival in Los Algodones, dozens of street peddlers descend upon the tourists and prod them with offers to see a dentist or to get eyeglass or cheap drugs. This town is said to have the heaviest concentration of physicians, pharmacies, dentists and opticians of any four block area on planet earth – and we believe it! And they were absolutely right, they’re everywhere. In heavy competition, the peddlers are here to get folks into whichever office is paying them, of course. Sample bargains: $135 for a porcelain crown; $699 for a dental implant; 20% off any other dental treatment. Steve was wishing he had more dental problems! Alas, we only needed our teeth cleaned and paid a little on the high side at $35 each. But, no wait and no appointment needed!
We initially went to the dentist recommended by the RV park but there was a wait there, so we walked a few feet to the next office and picked them because they had nice decorations on their window. The $35 we paid for cleaning was 70% off the normal price of our regular dental hygienist. After that visit we went from one pharmacy to another to get the rock-bottom best deal on Steve’s prescription. We learned that prices do vary from one corner to the next. This is competitive business at its finest.
Coming back into the US of A was fairly quick and easy, despite a long line and having to stand outside in the cold wind for a bit. All purchased items must be declared and shown to the customs officers, but we owed no duty on any of our items. Beware that all liquor is taxed, although we don’t know the rate since we didn’t buy any.
Drugs and Dentists can be had for a bargain south of the border!