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Is Mexicali Safe? II

Best Optical (to the right)

Best Optical (to the right)

Today, we went to Best Optical located near Plaza San Pedro, and Carvao to get some eyeglasses for me, and for some new reading lenses for Jim.

He didn’t want any new frames, as he just loves the old ones he’s been wearing for years and years.

I got an eye examination, picked out a nice pair of frames, and ordered those new polycarbonate lenses – Jim just got the polycarbonate lenses. The whole thing came to $96, and we paid in dollars.

You couldn’t get a deal like that at Wal-Mart, anywhere.

On the way back home, Jim and I discussed the arrest, yesterday, presumably one of the most dangerous narcos,  Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental aka “El Teo.”

El Teo has been blamed for much of the violence in Tijuana.

He was arrested in the calm and beautiful town of La Paz, here in Baja California.

I guess La Paz was a good hiding place, or at least seemed so.

Fortunately, Mexicali has nothing like the violence that is raging in over the control of the “drug turf” in Tijuana.

Everything is peaceful in Mexicali.

Back home, I was fixing dinner, while Matthew was watching television, and Jim was reading an old copy of the Los Angeles Times, that had been laying around.

“Hey,” said Jim, “Here’s an article about Mexicali.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Yeah,”  answered Jim, “listen to this. It says, Here in Mexicali, people fear the desert sun more than drug hit men. The city of 700,000 has a homicide rate comparable to that of Wichita, Kan., and one of the biggest police deployments is Operation Beat the Heat, in which officers haul blocks of ice to shantytown residents.”

“They never brought us any ice,” said Matthew.

“Hey, Matthew – we’re not shantytown residents – at least not yet, ” laughed Jim.

Jim continued, “There hasn’t been a bank robbery in Mexicali in 18 months, or a reported kidnapping in a year. Indeed, the city of wide, treeless boulevards offers little evidence of narco-extravagance or violence. Mexicali’s conservative population of civil servants and agricultural laborers has tended to frown on ostentatious displays of wealth. Outsized mansions are few.”

Jim paused, and said, “This article is bunkum, the streets here have plenty of trees.”

“Yeah,” I said, “whoever the reporter was probably never set foot in Mexicali.”

The Calexico Water Tank

The Calexico Water Tank

“You’re right, MaryAnn,” replied Jim, who continued reading, “But some Mexican authorities say the U.S. is partly to blame for not improving its border defenses in adjacent Calexico, the third-busiest U.S. – Mexico port of entry, which handles about 40,000 pedestrian and car crossings daily. One recent undercover investigation suggests that U.S. inspectors may be stopping as few as one in 40 shipments through the 10-lane crossing.”

Jim put down the paper, and said, “Yeah, it takes us at least an hour and a half to wait in line in our truck at the border – the line sometimes stretches for a mile. The only scenery is the Calexico water tank.

Seems to me that the U.S. Border Patrol guys are doing a great job – they take their time with each vehicle, and are real straight fellows.”

Jim picked up the newspaper, and continued, “Beyond the border crossing, smugglers face relatively few obstacles. Unlike in San Diego, where they must run a gantlet of local law enforcement, only a handful of Calexico cops and Imperial County sheriff’s deputies patrol downtown streets, including Imperial Avenue, the north-south thoroughfare leading to Interstate 8.”

Matthew interrupted, “When is two and a half men coming on?”

“You missed it,” said Jim, continuing to read the paper, “Calexico Police Chief James Lee Neujahr, standing at the palm-lined gateway to the city, pointed to the ‘Welcome to Calexico’ sign at Friendship Park, where cartel lookouts report on the progress of drug shipments coming through the crossing at 1st and Paulin streets.”

Jim stopped reading again. “MaryAnn, did you ever see any drug cartel lookouts in Calexico?”

“Not that I know of,” I replied.

Matthew chimed in, “I think I did.”

“What makes you think that?” asked Jim.

“This guy had on those real big sunglasses,” answered Matthew.

“Well,” said Jim, “then you better stop wearing your real big sunglasses.”

Before Matthew could answer, Jim read on, “Neujahr believes smuggling groups long ago figured out that Imperial County lacks resources, a neglected status reaffirmed this year, he said, when the Justice Department issued $8.7 million in Southwest border crime grants. Communities as far away as San Mateo County in the Bay Area got funding, but not Imperial County.”

Jim got up and put the newspaper into the trash, and said, “Geez, almost seems like some folks in the U.S. want those drugs to get through.”

“Why?” asked Matthew.

Jim looked at Matthew, and said, “Not all folks are as good as you, Matthew.”

I just shook my head, smiled, and continued mashing potatoes.

31 comments to Is Mexicali Safe? II

  • Patrick Mulquin

    Bought a candy bar while walking back to US Border. Policia stopped me and asked if I was drinking here. I said no – just 5 beers in Calexico (USA) about three hours prior. I was in Mexicali less than 2 hours. Cops made me pay $70 cash before letting me walk. TOTAL BS. They said more than 2 beers equals arrest. I was walking, by the way. Probably my 15th time in Mexico (mostly Tijuana) but first time I’ve ever been hassled. Think twice before you come party south of the border…..

  • Go to La Farmacia la mas Barata. For the Google map, check at the bottom of my page Healthcare we couldn’t afford in America.
    God Bless,

  • Ray

    I will be in Mexicali this week. First time there and I’m wanting to get some medicines.Can you tell me the better pharmacies to go to?


  • The best way is to use the west entrance going south on Route 111 from Highway 8. You will pass through the main street of Calexico where you will see a lot of companies selling auto insurance for Mexico. I suggest you get it as it is not expensive and can save you a lot of trouble, if trouble happens. Have an accident, and everyone goes to jail – the innocent, and the guilty. Auto insurance will bail you out. Google Mexican auto insurance and you will be able to purchase it on line so a not to disrupt your trip. Check the map to check on the destination. Google will even give you better advice than I on which crossing to take.
    God Bless,

  • Don

    I am transporting some business clients to a food plant in Mexicalli. I understand there are two crossings now. Which do you recommend. Should I buy the insurance for my car?

    Thank you, kindly


  • Alicia:
    You should not have much fear of moving to Mexicali. We recently met a single American nurse from Arizona who rented a house not far from us, and she loves it. We came here for medical reasons, and will probably remain as the prescription are available and cheap. Your best bet is to work as a nurse in El Centro – they are CRYING for nurses and medical people of all kinds there. To work in El Centro, you have to cross the border, and you should get a Sentri pass. Instead of waiting 1 1/2+ hours in line, you can make it in ten minutes. A Sentri pass costs $195 for two people and a car, and lasts for five long years. When you cross the border into Calexico with a Sentri pass, any other person in the car with you must also have a Sentri pass. I can’t comment on leaving family and friends or the great weather in Los Angeles, but you will have no problems with Mexicali and a job in El Centro.
    God Bless,

  • Alicia

    Hello MaryAnn- I am a born and raised southern Californian. I have been dating and living with my boyfriend for the last 4 months. He is originally from Mexicali and wants to go back. He wants me to go with him. I have some concerns and have a little fear of just leaving to move to Mexicali. It is not so much the fear of moving somewhere new but the fear of moving to Mexicali. He promises me I will love it. He just finished construction on his house and will be ready within the next month. Yikes I am starting to get all worked up just writing about it. It is many factors that are involved also. Like for work, I am sure I can find a job at a hospital in El Centro ( I am a Registered Nurse) but I will have to quit my good job here in Los Angeles. Then my family and friends I will have to leave them also. I am really confused. He says we dont have to leave just yet but he eventually is going to go back. I do care for this man and we want to get married in the future. Do you have any advice for me?

  • Aside from some crazy drivers, I find Mexicali to be completely safe. We have been here three years now, and no problems, NADA, we haven’t even seen any problems. Up the street from us lives an American lady from Arizona, she too feels completely safe. Maybe places like Tijuana or Ciudad Jauraz have problems, but Mexicali, the capital of Baja California is fine. When you drive here, don’t cross the border at Tijuana – the mountain drive over the road called La Rumorosa is not good – just take Highway 8 to Calexico, and cross the border from there into Mexicali.
    God Bless,

  • Erin

    Hi MaryAnn — Thanks for all of the wonderful information on Mexicali. I live in San Diego and it’s been a number of years since I was last in Mexicali (10+ maybe?). It looks like I may need to head down to Mexicali in the next couple of weeks to provide training to a client there. Because of all of the violence that you hear about on the news taking place in the Mexican border towns my husband is worried sick about me going. I’m a mother of two young children and normally I wouldn’t think twice about it, but I myself am now wondering if I should be concerned too. Your thoughts? Thanks so much.

  • Since I have no idea what kind of operation you need, I suggest you see Dr. Arturo Rosas. His English is only rudimentary, but our Spanish was the same when we first went to Dr. Arturo Rosas three years ago — and he is on the east side of Mexicali. He is easy to deal with, but very smart. His children are all studying to be doctors or dentists. His office is south of Brazil, on the east side of Periferico Oriente, at the intersection of Ave. De Octubre.

  • Graham

    MARY ANN Thankypu for an informative page – I need a small surgury done on my forearm – the removal of a small cyst – I have heard of general surgury clinics in Mexicali – can you reccomend one ? thankyou

  • Joanna

    Thank you sooo much. Have a great day! looking for the new posts.

  • Dr. Montañez is located at 1173 Av. Madero, between Calle C and Calle d, her telephone number is +52 686-582-8099. Call to check her hours. When you cross the border, bear left and you are on Av. Madero. If you continue up Av. Madero, its name will change to Av. Argentina. Keep on going until you see a large park on you left, which takes up an entire city block. At the end of the park go left, and the take the next left. Ferbis is right across the street.
    God Bless,

  • Joanna

    Thank you so much for our blog. It is very interesting and informative. My husband&I came for some dental work in Mexicali and now thinking of coming back.
    I read about Dr.Marina Montanez, could you please tell how to contact her. Another question: how to get from Border to Ferbis – you mentioned the store and meat in it. I tried the link, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Thank you so much for your blog. I couldn’t find any other way to contact u. Thank you

  • Lorie: We have never used a parking lot in Calexico, but I understand there are some near to the border so you can walk across. Walking back from Mexicali to Calexico can take some waiting time due to US customs.
    God Bless,

  • Lorie Lane

    While my 13 year old daughter and I are visiting San Diego, we are planning a one day trip to Mexicali to visit our male cousin. With all of the news of the violence in Mexico, our extended family is quite concerned. I am also concerned since my daughter will be with me. We want to park our car in Calexico. Can you tell us where are their parking lots close to the border and will our car be safe? Our plan is to have our cousin meet us in Calexico and walk us across the border. Is this safe? Are there parking lots in Mexicali close to the border? I have seen videos on utube of people driving up to the border to go back to the US and there are lots of individuals in the streets while the cars are waiting in line. Would we have to walk through a crowd of people to get to the parking lots in Mexicali? Thank you for your assistance.

  • Jim and I made the trip only once. We enjoyed ourselves in San Felipe so much that we did not head back to Mexicali until dark. On the way back we saw one car which rolled off the road, so be careful! Also, we have been told not to stop for any hitch hikers, etc. All in all, I think it is a pretty safe drive. Since we went, I understand the highway has been much improved.
    God Bless,

  • mike

    Hi Mary Ann-my father travels from calexico(mexacali) down to his place south of san felipe. With all the stories you read about- i was wondering how safe his trip is? He never has had any problems. The town of san felipe is a real neat little town.

  • Travis

    Mary Ann!!Great information going this Easter weekend…….

  • Thanks, Robert – Your best bet would be to park near the border and just walk across – you will be i the middle of an area of souvenirs and pharmacies. If you are looking into a bus, you might contact Greyhound. They go from the U.S. into Mexicali.
    God Bless,

  • robert rodgers

    Hi ~ I enjoyed reading your comments and the responses. Is there a shuttle from Calexico to Mexicali for tourists? I’m a 64 year old guy who walks with a cane. How far from the border are the souvenirs and pharmacies?
    Thanks !

  • Mayra: Our next door neighbor’s son goes to elementary school in Calexico. They drive him to the border crossing and he walks over the border intto Calexico, and to school. So far as I know, there is no school bus system. It is for the same reason that you could not drive your child across the border and to school in Calexico – it would take too much time. Border crossing by car can take up to 1 1/2 hours. Walking across the border takes minutes, and a lot of our Mexicali children do it.
    God bless,

  • mayra


  • Tonya: You bet! Mexicali is safe and is a super town.
    God Bless,

  • tonya

    i was born in mexicali, i been living in san jose california for 30 years, i visit mexicali, almost every year…because it looks safe hopefully continues to be safe..i am going to visit my country in april…i am sure everything is going to be safe like always…mexicali will always be #1

  • Carol: Yes, I believe it is safe to walk over from Mexicali to the US – I have heard that even school children do that – plus it does save a lot of time.
    God Bless,

  • Carol

    Is it safe to walk across the Border Northbound at Mexicali? I have a Sentri pass, but my girlfriend doesn’t and she’ nervous about crossing on foot by herself. Thanks so much for any information you can give me to avoid a 90 minute wait time.

  • Hi:
    You might try Jacumba, and the sites on the way there on Highway 8. Jacumba is only 45 miles from El Centro, and has a terrific hotel with hot springs pools and a restaurant.
    God Bless,

  • Ace68

    Hi MaryAnn-

    My boyfriend and I are photographers and we like photographing in the Imperial Valley. We haven’t been to Mexicali but we’re thinking about coming down Valentine’s Day Weekend. Any suggestions as to where we should stay and get the best photographs? We’re interested in people shots, street photography, etc.

    Any suggestions regarding both questions are appreciated. Keep blogging!

  • Ray: Thanks for the good words regarding my posts. I think that, for a small apparel cut and sew factory, you couldn’t choose a better place than Mexicali. Of all the border towns, Mexicali is the quietest, and least chaotic, with none of the stuff going on in Tijuana, and the other border towns. We went to every border town from Agua Prieta to Tijuana looking for the best place. Mexicali is much more of an organized city as we understand it than the other places.

    As you certainly know, there are a lot of factories here, and a lot of goods flowing through Mexicali to the US. There are also less complications living and working in Mexicali than in most other parts of Mexico. Many of the cars have California or US plates, with no problem; many people speak English and send their kids to school in Calexico with no problem. Calexico is right on the border with Mexicali, and is convenient. We get all our mail in Calexico at two addresses – a P.O. box, and a copy center for large items for a dollar an item. The lady who runs the coffee shop, Sinapsis, where we go speaks English (as do her help) and buys a lot of her supplies (stuff she can’t get in Mexicali) in Calexico.

    When we first came here, there were virtually no homes for rent, or for sale – only two in our area, which is called Hipico, and which is right on the border (the best part of Mexicali). Now, they are a dime a dozen. This is due to the recession in the US. There are also a lot more willing workers due the the US recession. The husband of our cleaning lady was a dish washer in the US; the guy who pushed my wheelchair at the hospital was trimming trees in Las Vegas. A lot of Mexicans are coming back to Mexico. If you have any specific questions, you can always email me at mexicalimaryann at – plenty of folks do.

    God Bless,

  • Ray

    I enjoyed reading your posts about Mexicalli. I am thinking of opening up a small apparel cut and sew facility in mexico and was wondering if you have any thoughts on the feasability of one in Mexicalli.

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