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Disneyland at Los Algodones

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Tourists lining up to return to the U.S.

Tourists lining up to return to the U.S.

We decided it was time to show Matthew the town of Los Algodones.  After the arrests of the two Americans, who were charged and arrested for allegedly soliciting sex from a Mexican girl in January 2009, we were eager to see how the border town of Los Algodones was doing.

We had read in the papers that Americans were picketing Los Algodones from the other side of the border. Things sounded bad.

We piled into our truck on Feb. 13, 2009. It was Friday, 13th, of all days, and who knows what we would find in Los Algodones with the protesters and all. Still, we looked forward to lunch, beer, margaritas, and the great atmosphere of the place.

We were in for a big surprise. When we entered Los Algodones, we expected to find the town empty of American tourists, and nearly out of business, due to protesters and problems.

Instead, we had never seen more Americans in Los Algodones. The streets were filled with a floodgate of Americans, buying medications, having beers, sitting in restaurants, and having a good old time.

The place looked like Disneyland for American seniors!

There was no sign of protesters at the border. There were only crowds of Americans flooding in through the Mexican checkpoint.

Los Algodones was literally “on fire.” Everyone was happy. Folks were buying up food, drinks, medication, going in for dental work, getting their eyes checked, buying new glasses, the works!  Whatever was on sale in Los Algodones, the people were buying – not just Americans but Canadians, as well!

We had to drive around the town several times to find a space to park. The streets were filled with cars, and the traffic was slow, as people were looking for places to park.

We finally found a space. Out on the street we were even more shocked to see so many Americans waiting in line at the Mexican border to cross back to the U.S!  There were even people in wheelchairs, waiting for the American border guards to check them through. A lot of people who come to Los Algodones park their cars on the other side of the border and walk into Mexico. Some even come in trailers.

Meyer Optical

Meyer Optical

Aside from a good time, we were in Los Algodones to see our eye doctor at Meyer Optical. The place is located right on the main street, Calle 2, #124. I ordered a new pair of glasses, titanium frames with polycarbonate lenses, and Jim had new lenses put in his old plastic frames, which he “ain’t never gonna change.”

The total cost came to only $100 – several times cheaper than at our American optometrist at Wal-Mart. If you want an optometrist, Meyer Optical is the place – the folks there all speak perfect English and the eye exam is free!

I think all the bad publicity about those two American guys getting arrested in Los Algodones had the reverse effect and put the place on the map. It got the message out that there was such a place as Los Algodones.  It’s like the old saying, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right”

Another big advantage for Los Algodones is a huge new casino, the Quechan Casino and Resort on the American side, less than two miles away. It had just opened on the day of our visit.

The casino is sure to bring in plenty of business, as it is visible from highway I-8 which runs from Arizona to San Diego.  The casino is on the Fort Yuma-Quechan Reservation, home of the Quechan (pronounced Kwuh-tsan) Indians.

The Quechan Casino and Resort is a huge place, and has everything, a casino, a convention center, five restaurants and a huge hotel, and entertainment. On Mar. 25th 8pm (AZ Time) the Beach Boys are going to be at the casino – and we will be there with them.

Trailers on the US side of the border

Trailers on the US side of the border

We drove over to see the casino, but the parking lot was full, with American police directing traffic – so we headed back.

Back in Los Algodones, the Mexican police were very busy cruising the streets.  The famous Green Door bar, where all kinds of “fun” is offered, was hopping with business.  Many Americans were sitting at outside tables at the various cafés drinking and smoking – everyone was having a good time.

Jim, Matthew, and I settled into our usual restaurant, the Paraiso. We ordered dinner from our favorite waiter, Antonio, with a starter dish of tacos and guacamole sprinkled with the Mexican cheese, called “Cotija”.  We all had steaks for  the main course, with steaming hot tortillas, fresh salsa, and refried beans, “Frijoles Refritos,”  Mexican rice, chicken enchiladas, and stuffed chilly peppers. I had Margaritas, Jim and Matthew had the Mexican brand of cerveza  (aka: beer), with the Casta label….Salud!

The colorful Paraiso Restaurant

The colorful Paraiso Restaurant

Sitting at the table next to us was a group of Americans, the grandparents from California, their daughter and son-in-law from Phoenix, and their daughter, a beautiful blonde, who looked like a 22 year old Christie Brinkley, but was going on 15.  They were in Los Algodones for affordable health care, which no longer exists back in the good old USA.

Quechan Casino Resort

Quechan Casino Resort

On the way back home, Matthew came up with a brilliant idea. He announced he was going to offer his services as an entertainer to the Quechan Casino.

Jim jumped at the idea. “Heck, Matthew, you’re a genius –  you’ll be their Liberace – your gonna put that darn casino on the map – yup, for sure.”

As nightfall came, we headed home for Mexicali.


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4 comments to Disneyland at Los Algodones

  • Cindy:
    After you cross the border into Los Algodonas take the first left (gowing east). Paraiso is down the street on the block to your left. Our favorite waiter is Lalo. It’s a great place!
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Cindy

    Where exactly can we find the Paraiso restaurant?

  • Thanks Vicki: We always go to Meyer Optical, right on the main street near the infamous Green Door. The optical quality of the lenses is great – we get poly-carbonite lenses. Jim is +5 for reading, and I am -4.5. Jim has a new pair waiting for him there. The exam is free, and a lot better than we got back in the States. Meyer found that Jim has a cataract coming on – something they never uncovered in the States. Good luck! Let us know how they do for you. Oh, yes – they speak perfect English. God Bless, MaryAnn

  • Vicki Thomspon

    Hi Maryanne,

    I enjoy your post. I will be visiting Los Algodones this Thursday and plan to get new eyeglasses. I am concerned about the optical quality of the lenses. Can you vouch for them. I have a high prescription and require progressive lenses.

    Thanks

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