January 23, 2010: Granny and the Border Patrol
The words "Go shop and have a good time" are echoed by Brian Levin, Public Affairs Liaison for US Customs and Border Protection, that shopping in (Mexican) border towns is still being encouraged. "I can reassure people that we will not deny entry to a US citizen," he said. We will accept photo I.D. and a birth certificate if they don't have a passport."....2010 Winter Visitor Guide published by the White Sheet www.whitesheetonline.net
When my friend, Marge, called to ask if I'd like to accompany her to Mexico for her dental appointment, I jumped at the offer. In fact, I asked her to make an appointment for me too, as I had recently broken off a big chunk of molar while biting down on a piece of hard candy, and was beginning to suffer from occasional toothaches.
We left Bouse at 6:30 yesterday morning, arriving in Mexico in plenty of time for our 9:00 a.m. appointments. Before entering, I double checked to make sure there would be no problem re-entering the country with no passport, only my driver's license and birth certificate. The man in the information booth assured me that either (passport or license/birth certificate) was acceptable.
It was a bit disconcerting to see three soldiers, masked, dressed in camouflage and armed with big rifles, at the entrance to Mexico. I'd expect that in Tijuana or even Nogales, but never in this quiet little town of Los Algadonis!
Arriving at the dentist promptly at nine, the receptionist apologized for her error, and said the dentist wouldn't arrive until ten. We spent the next hour wandering the streets and alleys, as usual being assaulted from all sides by zealous merchants, who delighted in laughing at this old lady when I told them "Do not touch". I really dislike having strangers grabbing at my arms to try to sell me something. We bought a few things from the pharmacy, then made our way back to the dentist's office. I was the first one to be called in. I was impressed at the cleanliness of my surroundings, and with the young female dentist, who spoke excellent English, with no trace of accent. Actually, most of the medical/dental/optical practitioners are from the US, and travel across the border daily to do their business. This office was equipped with the latest in dental technology...the x-rays were immediately viewable on the computer screen right in front of me. After viewing the "damage", I was given the options of root canal, insertion of a metal post and capping the tooth......or pulling it. Since the tooth was way in the back, and it wouldn't interfere that much with chewing, I opted for pulling. Seventy dollars, including x-rays, vs $500.
Marge went in next, but came right back out. The dentist wouldn't pull her tooth, as she said it was a healthy one, but would do a root canal. Marge decided to wait on hers.
A friend of Marge's had accompanied us, and had gone shopping while we were at the dentist's. Not knowing Marge was going to be in for such a short time, she was in no hurry to return to us. Marge and I stood on the street corner watching for her for nearly an hour before she finally returned.
We headed for the border, where Marge and Venita went right through with their passports. As I approached, I said "I checked before I came in, and they said my birth certificate and license were good for re-entry, I hope they are." Well, they weren't. I was severely admonished, and told it didn't make any difference what "they" had said, a passport was necessary. When asked why I didn't have one, I informed him I hadn't planned on breaking a tooth, which was the only reason I had for crossing the border. He took all the information from my driver's license, refused to even glance at my birth certificate, saying it was useless, gave me a notice of non-compliance and let me through. Thank heavens, I wasn't held and interrogated!
By then we were starving! I hadn't eaten anything since dinner the night before, and had only one cup of coffee upon arising. We decided to check out the new Indian casino nearby, where we got $10 in free play for applying for their players' club card, and the most excellent lunch buffet for only $6.95 with said card. I had to stick to soft foods after my extraction. That was no problem at this buffet. They had all kinds of vegetables, mashed or baked potatoes, baked fish, the best meat loaf I've ever eaten, fruit salads, Jello salads and soft fruits, and a delightful dessert bar with a delicious Boston Cream Pie that was plenty soft for my sore jaw. Marge and Venita got to enjoy Beef Burgundy, Roast Pork with Plum Sauce, assorted hors d'oeuvres.....just a multitude of delicious dishes from which to choose! I definitely want to visit again, when I'm able to eat everything in sight!
After we left the casino (a few dollars lighter than when entering), we spent the remaining daylight hours following Venita around Yuma while she shopped two different shoe stores, Best Buy, Target and Joanne's Fabrics. When, around 6:00 p.m., she wanted to go shopping at Wal-Mart, we said "ENOUGH!". My jaw was throbbing, we were exhausted, and it was beginning to rain. We just wanted to get home!
So we made it back safely, spotted three wild burros on the way, I didn't get stuck in Mexico for life (but I can't do it again without the proper documents), and my tooth will ache no more.