Yesterday was a "doesn't" day!
First problem was that we didn't get the earliest start, and that was nobody's fault but our own. We set out just after 9:30am, and the plan was to ride our bikes on the dirt road that goes around the mountain and hooks up to the road going across the border.
The road wasn't the easiest to ride a bike on. It's sand and gravel, but in a lot of sections it was more sand than gravel, and bicycles don't do well in sand.
Ruth, heading downhill. If you click this photo to make it full size, you'll see a gate up ahead.
You'll see just to the right of center in the photo above is the Quechan Casino. It's on Indian reservation land, and at some point in the last couple of years I guess the Indians decided to put a fence up. Of course the fence blocks the road.
And that means that you have to detour quite a bit along the fence line to get to the other part of the road. That meant pushing the bikes through sand. Not fun.
Gate blocking the road.
Eventually we made it to the paved road that leads down to the border. From there, it was an easy five minutes on the pavement to get to the border itself.
We arrived at the Los Algodones border at about 10:30am.
So, it took us almost an hour to do the 4.5 miles (7 kms) which I suppose is not bad, just not as easily as we had thought it would be.
We simply rode our bikes across the border into Mexico. No passport check, no inspection, no questions, nothing.
The only reason we went was to find a dentist to do the crown for Ruth's root canal. We had a couple of recommendations, and we made it to our first choice, Dr. Eva Urena, but she was booked up solid until mid February. Apparently she's very popular.
But they let us leave our bikes there in their courtyard so that we could walk around town.
What a zoo!
There are over four hundred dentists in the tiny Mexican border town of Los Algodones. At least every second building houses a dentist, and very often they are side by side. Usually, if there's not a dentist occupying a space, it will be an optician.
A typical street corner in Los Algodones, Mexico.
However, even though this town is geographically located in Mexico, it's not really Mexico. Everything is in English, everybody speaks English, and all prices are in U.S. dollars.
They'll accept pesos, but only at the current exchange rate to the U.S. dollar, based on the U.S. dollar pricing.
I have a big problem with that. Our experience has always been that if you're paying for something in Mexico that's priced in dollars, then you're being overcharged. And it's no different in Los Algodones.
Especially for Canadians, because the U.S. dollar is now worth 28% more than the Canadian dollar. But Americans are also being taken advantage of because the American dollar has appreciated a lot vs the peso as well this year. If pricing were in pesos instead of dollars, you wouldn't need as many dollars to pay for your dental work.
However, despite all of that, it is still cheaper to go to the dentist in Algodones than it is to go to one of the crooks in Canada or the United States. Just not as cheap as it should be.
We went to our second choice dentist, Dr. Elena Rodriguez. We didn't have an appointment, so we didn't mind waiting, but he said it would be about 20 minutes. An hour later, I asked the reception guy how much longer. "Oh, maybe half an hour more" he says. We went for a walk and came back, and then she was brought into the chair.
But it wasn't Dr. Elena. It was some relative. Okay, he's a dentist too, so we didn't question it.
He ground down the tooth some more, and did the impression for the crown. Said to come back in an hour and have the temporary installed, and then to return on Friday to have the permanent one installed. Kinda figured that we would have to do this again.
Total price was going to be $210 USD ($268 CDN). I refused to pay in dollars, so they exchanged it into pesos. Don't know what exchange rate they used, but it may not have been current and that's what I was counting on. So it came to 2,970 pesos, which means that we saved about $10 by not paying in dollars. Every little bit helps!
We then went for lunch. There was a place right across from the dentist office that seemed busy with lots of locals coming and going and getting takeout. Lots of gringos too of course! We went and looked at the menu, then asked for one in Spanish. They didn't have one! And all prices were in dollars too. But the lady was really nice, and said that since it was our first time there she would give us our first drink for free.
Sold! I told her that we didn't have any dollars, only pesos, and she said that was fine.
We both had enchiladas. They were great, and we were stuffed!
I had two beer, Ruth had a margarita, and the food. Total bill was 250 pesos ($17 USD, $21.50 CDN). Not bad.
Then, it was time to ride back across the border. We rode our bikes into the car lane, and waited with the cars. A few people told us we weren't allowed to do that, so I rode ahead further and asked the border guard. Nope, he says, we have to wait in line with the people who walked across! Crap!
There were probably 300 people in line. So, we waited about an hour for our turn, but it went by fairly quickly because we were chatting with other people in line.
No problem getting back in to the U.S., and then we had to get back to Sherman. We tried riding our bikes up to the Interstate freeway hoping for an easier route back, but there was nothing. We thought about simply riding the one exit stretch on the side of the Interstate. There was a sign saying "No Pedestrians". but nothing about bicycles. We decided not to take the chance, however in doing later research it turns out that you can indeed ride your bike on a stretch of California freeway where there is no alternate route. Interesting, and the law varies depending on the state. They have wide paved shoulders here, so for a short distance it wouldn't be a problem.
But this time, we went the back route again, pushing the bikes as much as riding them. Oh well.
Back at the motorhome, we made a couple of drinks and relaxed. Got out some mixed nuts, and on the very first bite, Ruth's temporary crown came off. She swears she was not chewing on that side. It had been listed separately as a $50 item, so you can bet I'll be arguing against paying that part of the fee!
Here is the sewer hose that we use...totally happy with it, and wouldn't use anything else...