I once read somewhere that no self-respecting RVer could call themselves a “full timer” without a trip across the border for dental work. That never really made sense for me in the past, because along with the golden handcuffs of my corporate job came really good dental insurance. Why drive to a border town to pay $35 for a cleaning, when Delta Dental would pick up the tab?
Well, it just so happens that my four month anniversary from retirement coincided with my arrival in Yuma. Perfect timing for the newly uninsured. So Debbie, Kim and I booked back to back appointments on the same day with Dr. Eva Urena, who has earned the seal of approval from seasoned bloggers everywhere. This would also serve as an excuse for us to, as Debbie would say, “tear up Algodones.”
After having read many blog posts about the enigma that is Algodones, I knew what to expect. Hawkers lining the streets, offering to sign you up for appointments right on the street corner. Streets lined with pharmacies. A gringo ghetto of teeshirts, trinkets, and trash for sale. But what I had not envisioned is the steady stream of gray haired people flowing through the turnstile. As Kim and Debbie made a pit stop at the border baño, I stood in amazement as the crowd of white tennis shoes shuffled by. It was not even 9:00am, and already the farmacias were overflowing.
The other thing that surprised me is the menu boards outside the pharmacies that read like a commercial break during an episode of The Bachelor. There is Viagra and Cialas to get you up, Vallium and Xanax to get you back down again, and any number of antibiotics to cure what ails during the in-between. Even the pharmacy is named for the Little Purple Pill. It’s quite an enterprise.
The cleaning process was painless enough. It’s never the pain in the mouth that gets to me, but rather the pain in the ears. I’ve tried headphones before, but that just doesn’t work out. “Rinse, please.” “WHAT?? No, it’s not the BeeGees, it’s the Beatles.” So for the most part, it is not unlike any other dentist in the USA. I find most of the equipment to be just as modern as my dentist in Atlanta, save for the “spit sink.” My former dentist got rid of his long ago in favor of the suction tube. But nothing feels better after a gritty grinding than a good old rinse and spit!
Smiles now sufficiently buffed, we did our best to “tear up Algodones.” The tacos were tasty, the margaritas made us mellow. The line to cross back was only half an hour, and the parade of vendors selling giant ceramic frogs and dunking peacocks was entertaining.
Nothing like standing in a line with a few hundred weary seniors to get a dose of the “Ugly North American Tourist,” though. “Why doesn’t someone run all these vendors out of here! They are making it too crowded! I can’t get up and down the sidewalk for all their crap!” “Well, ma’am,” (as I look at the woman holding her nursing infant under a blanket on one arm, selling jewelry on the other)….“I suspect they are just trying to feed their families.” I would say we forget we are a guest in their country…but sadly, some people never stop to realize it in the first place…