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Is Mexicali Safe?

Waiting to cross into the U.S.

Waiting to cross into the U.S.

Jim and I had to run some errands in Calexico, California, and it was also an opportunity to show Matthew the town of Calexico.

We took off, at about noon, and while waiting in line to enter America a huge black  2009 Ford 250 Super Duty truck swerved and cut us off. Jim stepped on the brake to stop from crashing into it, as all three of us were jolted forwards.  Luckily our seatbelts were on.

The black truck had nearly clipped us, and, at the same time, and it nearly crashed into the car filled with kids in front of it.

I was furious!

“I am getting out to tell the driver off,” I told Jim and Matthew.

“MaryAnn, you’re not going to do that! You know that’s dangerous!” said Jim.

Matthew exclaimed, “Listen to Jim, MaryAnn; we don’t want to end up in a Mexican prison, like those two Americans who were shopping in Algodones! I’m not sure Mexicali is safe.”

“Is Mexicali safe?” I repeated. “Listen, that driver almost got us all into a crash! We are at the border crossing to America, what’s the worst that will happen to me for goodness sakes?”  I said.

Before anyone could stop me, I got out of our own truck, much to the protests of Jim and Matthew, and walked up to the fancy expensive black Ford truck.   I knocked on the driver’s window.  The window slid down, and sitting in the truck were two young Latino males, in their mid-twenties, with buzz cuts.

Que pasó?” said the young driver, meaning “what happened.”

“You almost banged into our truck when you cut into our lane, dangerous, no?” I said.

“What you want lady?  You crazy, man,” said the young driver, as he pressed on the button to close the window.

The people around us were starring at me. No one was honking – all you heard was the humming of car engines.

I knocked on the window again.  The driver refused to roll it down, and gave me no eye-contact at all.

I walked back to our truck.

Both Jim and Matthew were shell-shocked at what I did.

“Get into the truck, MaryAnn,” yelled Jim.

“What did the driver say? I hope he understood that you were concerned about his driving?” said Matthew.

“I know those types. They have buzz cuts to look anonymous, probably down here for no good reason. They might even have a carload of money to take back to the U.S. No way they are going to make any trouble, here,” I said.

Guess what!

In no time, the Mexican police showed up. First, there was a lone motorcycle cop, who went to the back of the line of cars waiting to cross the border. He was stopping to talk to each driver, after which some of them left the line. Jim, Matthew, and I were mystified as to what the cop was saying.

Next, two police squad cars with lights and sirens came racing up the road.

What was going on?

This was topped off when a Mexican military Hummer with a mounted machine gunner appeared.

Was there going to be a shoot out?

“Oh Lord, look what you have done MaryAnn,” said Jim. “Someone must have seen you getting out of the truck and talking to the driver!”

“What are they going to do to us?” said a very worried Matthew (taking off his white gloves).

The cop on the motorcycle finally reached us. Before he could say anything, Jim explained, “El camión delante de nosotros casi se estrelló en nosotros.” (The truck in front of us nearly crashed into us.)

Mi esposa del cuello herido, fue a hablar con ellos,” Jim continued. (My wife’s neck hurt, she went to talk to them.)

The motorcycle cop had no interest in what Jim had to say, and said, “Si espera en esta garita, le tomará dos horas para cruzar.” (If you wait this border crossing, it will take you two hours to cross.) “Puede conducir a la otra garita, no esperar.”  (You can drive to the other border crossing, no wait.)

Gracias,” said a very relieved Jim.

The cop rode up to the black truck in front of us, and spoke to the young men. Immediately, the young punks turned off presumably headed for the other border crossing.

The U.S. entry points from Mexicali (red arrows)

The U.S. entry points from Mexicali (red arrows)

Mexicali has two border crossings – one is in the old town center and the other about six miles east in the country.

We stayed in our line.

“Well, that reaction from the Mexican Police was interesting,” I said.

“MaryAnn, I bet you brought that on. The Mexican police must have cameras all over the place,” said Jim.

“I guess Mexico is running out of safe border entries, and wants to keep the Mexicali border to America as safe as possible, huh?” I said.

Matthew chimed in, “I’m not surprised, after the Algodones incident! Those poor men!”

Jim understood that we were OK, but warned, “MaryAnn, you have to keep your temper under control. You could have gotten us all thrown into a Mexican jail.”

“Not on a bet; the Mexicali police were probably sending people to the other border crossing to defuse any possible incident,” I answered. “There was no way those two thugs were going to make trouble. Did you see their California plates? How could those two thugs afford that car without being part of a gang?”

“What do you mean gang? Is it safe in Mexicali?” said Matthew, his voice quivering.

“Matthew, did you see them with their buzz cuts, mid-twenties, driving a real expensive truck?”  So stop worrying, the two of you, they’re not going to be carrying any weapons! Relax for goodness sakes!” I said.

“That’s the last time you do this, MaryAnn, Yup, last time!’ said Jim

We arrived in Calexico in about 20 minutes!

Is it safe in Mexicali?


2 comments to Is Mexicali Safe?

  • And you have to live in the right part of town – just like anywhere.
    God Bless,

  • Vic

    It’s not that crazy! You would never be thrown in jail for confronting someone about their driving. Are you kidding? I banged on this woman’s window and kicked her tires because she cut in front of me in line instead of waiting her turn at the back of the line. The cops caught it on camera and told her to get out of line. She didn’t, even after a cop got in front of her car to stop her. She just kept moving forward until the cop had to move out. In the States, she would have been arrested. Most cops in Mexicali avoid problems. They’re really tame. Mexicali’s relatively safe as long as you are in an area that is well-lit and has people around. Most crime is non-violent. They broke into my aunt’s house while she was there three times thinking no one was there and were inside while she was there. They saw her and ran. They could have assaulted her. Another time she was there and they ran because one of these portable alarms went off. She was lucky perhaps, but it’s not as bad as you might expect. Still you have to be careful.

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