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Our late September visit to Los Algodones

Normally, when we go to Los Algodones, we cross over into the USA into Calexico, and take Highway 8 going east toward Yuma. After about 50 miles just before hitting Yuma, we take the turnoff left, where the Quechan Casino is located. From there it is only a couple of miles south until we come to Los Algodones.

Like most border crossings, until recently there was no U.S. checkpoint when you leave the states. That is all being changed. We see big U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints both in Calexico and, now, going into Los Algodones. At the U.S. Border Patrol check going into Mexicali from Calexico, there have been people being pulled over for inspection on the U.S. side. We have even seen large groups of heavily armed U.S. Border Patrol guys when we pass back into Mexicali after doing some shopping in Calexico or El Centro.

The easy days for Americans entering Mexico are coming to an end.

The impressive (and expensive) new U.S. checkpoint going into Los Algodones was unmanned as we passed through its recently-built structure.

Los Algodones New Building

Los Algodones New Building

Once in Los Algodones, Jim said, “Hey, lookee there at that big building going up in Algodones.”

Yes, there was a large steel-framed building going up right on the Algodones part of the border.

Once in Los Algodones, however, the town looked completely empty. It was the very end of September, and the “snow birds,” those fleeing from the cold, up north, had not yet arrived.

Even our favorite restaurant (and the best we have found in Mexico), El Pueblo Viejo, was closed—a first for us. Mary’s Pharmacy, which was right under the new construction, was also closed—another new first. We went for simpler food to El Paraiso, a great bar and still with excellent food.

Inside (as usual) there was a table of gringos—Americans like us. They were friendly, and we had a short conversation with them. They were talking about the effects of Obamacare for Americans living abroad.

They had seen a website which said that American expats living abroad are ineligible for Obamacare, which is limited to domestic insurance plans and is available only to residents of the U.S. states. Consequently, American expats living abroad are exempt from the penalty tax.

“Yeah,” said Jim, “but only them there Americans expats what qualify for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion are free from Obamacare and that there IRS fine.

Our new found friends looked startled, as Jim had been very quiet, just gulping his beer from the bottle and didn’t seem to be listening.

“Hey, old buddy, what’cha mean by that; what is that income exclusion thing, if you know so much?” asked one of our new friends.

Jim took a long, slow gulp of beer, set down the bottle and answered, “It means,”  Jim gulped again and wiped his mouth with his sleeve, “It means you gotta have a resident visa is some foreign country or be out’a the states for 360 days in a year—otherwise Obama’s got ya.”

Jim then stood up, put his beer bottle and toothpick on the table and said, “Nice talkin’ to you all folks.”

We drove back home to Mexicali taking the beautiful route through the cotton fields and farmlands between Los Algodones and Mexicali.

10 comments to Our late September visit to Los Algodones

  • Todd:
    Thanks for keeping us posted! We wrote it up in English for the site. Click here to see.
    God Bless,

  • Rob:
    It is creepy. The Border Patrol has erected similar checkpoint structures and warning signs on the U.S. side going into Mexicali. Usually it is unmanned, however, several times there have been a group of heavily armed Border Patrol guards stopping certain vehicles for inspection. I guess the U.S. wants to be able to check on who is leaving the states, and with what. So far, for us, it has not been an inconvenience. But let see what the future holds in store.
    God Bless,

  • Rob in Arizona

    Hi Maryann,

    I was wondering what the checkpoint in the US before entering Mexico was about – I find it very creepy actually, those I suppose it could cut down on people wanted by the police from crossing. I ran across this in Algodones this past April on the day of the Boston incident, and there was a Border Patrol Goon hassling a Hispanic man in front of me – the BPG waved me aside and let me go on without asking me a thing. I don’t know what that was about.

    My last visit to Algodones I had all my bottom teeth crowned, one root canal, and two bridges done and this time there was no one on the US side of the border to hassle anyone crossing. I hope this is not going to be a permanent feature now and I hope we don’t get hassled for fleeing to Mexico for medical and dental and to just experience it.

    Thanks for your blog and cheers! Rob in Arizona

  • Ruth: Thank you so much for the compliment. We checked out your website, and we love it! What a great artist you are and what a beautiful site you have!
    God Bless,

  • Sorry, Todd, appreciate your article, but had to delete it as some of its graphic content was not appropriate for our visitors.
    Tried to find any IRS information describing the pro-rated foreign tax return for less than 330 days in a calendar year.
    God Bless,

  • I love your blog. It is very informative.

  • Todd

    Here’s another reason why going into & out Mexicali is taking longer. Read this article: ARTICLE DELETED by MaryAnn



  • Thanks, Todd, that is very informative. Since we go to Algodones only once a month, at most, we encountered the new U.S. checkpoint only on this last visit. Since we always drive to Algodones using I8 from Calexico (it’s a better road than driving through Mexico, direct from Mexicali), this was the first time we saw the change in crossing for cars. The new U.S. checkpoint routes cars though a near area just prior to crossing. Very interesting also your comment about the pro-rated deal on U.S. taxes. Jim will be checking that one out carefully. Not that we have a heck of a lot of income, but we wonder how that affects Obamacare.
    Thanks for the great comment.
    God Bless,

  • Todd

    First, a couple of corrections need to be made. The “new” border crossing at Algodones has been there for a while now. The only thing “new” is the white steel fence line, and turn style walk entry gate. As far as the inspection line going into Mexico, both in Algodones & Mexicali, generally happens on Fridays. I’ve seen both sides doing it, sometimes separately, or both at the same time.
    Second, on Jim’s quote about the 360 days out of country is incorrect. You have to be out of the country at least 330 days, and your first $94K or $95K is tax free. If you want to stay out the U.S. more than 330 days, that’s your decision. Also you can do a pro-rated tax return if you spend less than 330 days out of the U.S. It’s on the same IRS form that you would use when you are applying for the tax exempt status. But you’d better have all your visa stamps, travel itinerary’s, hotel receipts..etc ready for an audit, if you decide to go that route.
    Algodones is generally dead during the summer months, that is nothing new for those of us that live Yuma, we’re used to it. That’s probably why looked so “dead” to you all. Just an observation from a local.

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