After being off grid camping for about a week we were ready to move onto our next spot. We decided to head to Yuma with plans to camp there while we crossed the border to Mexico on foot to all get our dental cleanings done. We heard from many on the road that there is a hub in Los Algedones, Mexico where there are dozens of dentist offices to choose from who do great work for not a lot of money.
Our plan was to dump at a campground on our way and camp on BLM land near the border of Mexico where we could just zip over for a day. When that was still our plan we paid $15 (which is kind of steep) to dump our gray and black tanks and fill our water tanks.
We saw that the campground had lots of citrus trees that were ready to be picked! How exciting!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen citrus trees close up. It got us thinking there might be things to check out in the town of Yuma and maybe even some u-pick citrus groves.
We ended up staying at a campground within 20 minutes of the border. We were kicking ourselves for not figuring out our plan before paying to dump at a different campground as the one we were staying in had full hookups so we could have dumped for free. You live you learn. The place we stayed at was actually 55+ but the woman running it was so very sweet and let us stay for the two nights we had requested. She ended up putting us into a beautiful field right on the water all by ourselves! I’m sure it was in hopes of us not causing a racket with our kids and bothering the fellow campers. She actually told us on the way out that many of the guests told her that they enjoyed seeing our kids playing– how sweet!
The field was spotted with old rusty machinery pieces and old tables and chairs under a tiki-like hut near the water. It was so dreamy for the girls! They had so much fun using their imaginations with the props.
We spent our first afternoon at a beautiful massive castle and tree house playground structure just a short drive away. We later realized there was a bike path that went straight from our campground to the playground! We missed out! Next time.
The next day we drove the 20 minutes to the border of Mexico. We paid $6 to park in the border parking lot and walk over into Los Algodones. The weather was warmer than the previous day yet still a little blustery. We realized on our way in that we hadn’t stopped at an ATM like we had wanted to do to get some cash. Luckily, there was an ATM in the parking lot just before crossing over into Mexico. Handy! Conveniently located at this ATM was a sales guy for one of the many dentist offices in Mexico. He boasted that his office used clean instruments for every patient (I wasn’t aware until now that was something I had to worry about) and cleanings were $35. So, like suckers, we let him show us the way to the dentist office. He said he made $5 every time he brought someone over for dental work. He was very nice and friendly so we said that was fine with us.
We entered via a very quick moving line of people through a turnstile. No passport check or asking of any questions. I didn’t even see anyone official looking anywhere in sight. I hope everyone remembered their passport to come back over to the US! You wouldn’t know it until it was too late.
Once over the border the town was swarming with pharmacies and dentist offices. The guy leading us into the dentist who lived in this town told us that the entirety of the town was a 4 block radius most of that being dentist offices. We were kindly welcomed and ushered into the Oasis dental clinic which also contained a pharmacy and beauty salon which ladies were enticed to take advantage of while they were waiting for their turn in line.
We were seated in front of a two dental chair room which was separated from the waiting room hallway by glass doors. This was fancy shmancy with new shiny chairs and hygienic blue tape on all commonly touchable surfaces. We learned that this was the x-ray room. We declined the free x-rays due to a suggestion our sweet dental hygienist friend gave us but it looked like they used small battery operated hand held x-ray machines. Honestly, it looked more advanced than our dentist back home.
Once it was our turn we were led into a back room where there were about 4-6 dental chairs in a common space separated by the dental equipment and small plexiglass partial partition. The dental chairs back here were definitely less fancy but the workers were just as sweet. In Mexico the dentists rather than the dental hygienists do the cleanings. The hygienists were there to assist the dentist in the cleaning. The dentist joked with a straight face that he was going to pull all my teeth as I had requested. I think I nearly yelled, “What?!” before I realized he was joking. Good heavens!
In the office they didn’t however use Mr. Sucky (as the girls pediatric dentist calls it) to suck out the spit in your mouth regularly. I was frequently swallowing making it tricky for me to keep my mouth open wide for them. Just a minor thing that I noticed and made me appreciate Mr Sucky in the states. :P.
Another difference was that they didn’t use a metal pick instrument to poke around at my gums or scrape the plaque off my teeth around the gum line. Instead they used a very small metal tipped water pick. When I saw it going into my mouth I had the dentist pause and tell me what it was. It looked like a drill to me at first glance. Later, Justin told me our dentist uses this on him during his periodontal cleanings every 3 months.
Something that I noticed that Justin didn’t so it may be just in my head but…I noticed that the instruments they used were in a blue seemingly sealed package (similar to something a store would sell gauze in) but when they took the instruments out there was actually no seal on it as if they had just reused a package to make it look like they came in there. Now, like I said, I could be just making this into something that it isn’t. They could have unsealed it before I was seated in the chair. However, I noticed the little mirror instrument had water marks on it upon first use which made me wonder again. I started getting suspicious so I look a more careful look around the room and here’s what I concluded: The instruments were not visibly soiled (otherwise I wouldn’t have let them put them in my mouth). I think what they do is clean the instruments in a cleaning solution (which I believe I spotted on their counter) and then slip them into a package that makes them look like they are brand new. I wouldn’t have minded if they were cleaned in solution or brand new. Honestly, it’s wasteful to have new instruments for every patient. I just didn’t like the fact that they possibly were pretending the instruments were new. It made me suspicious about other things.
While Justin was in for his cleaning the power went out in the building! All of a sudden the main lights turned off and thankfully the emergency flood lights lit up the place in a semi-dim light. Everyone was going about their business like not much happened. Someone in the waiting room asked when they expected the power to come back on and the hygienist told them, “yesterday when the power went out it took about 15 minutes.” Ha, I guess this wasn’t out of the ordinary! To be fair, it was pretty windy out so that could have done it. Lucky for us they had just finished Justin’s cleaning as the power went out. Close one!
All in all it was a good experience and it cost us a total of $70 for both Justin and I to get our teeth cleaned. At our dentist in Portland they charged me close to $300 for just my cleaning (plus exam)!!! It was more thorough for sure but really? That’s just way too much money! Thats $1200 per year if Justin and I both get our 6 month cleanings.
After our cleanings we grabbed lunch. The food was good and cheap– the Margarita that Justin got was unfortunately not good (tasted like cheap margarita mix). I guess not all Margaritas in Mexico are good!
The dentist office that we went to in Mexico didn’t take kiddos and our searching for a pediatric dentist came up short. It worked out timing wise anyway. Our little one was so very tired and in desperate need of a nap to catch her up on sleep. One look at the endless line to get back over the border and we were sure we needed to get our little one to sleep before going back over. She was never going to make it through the line otherwise. So, we walked around for a while having our 3 year old bounce between my arms and the stroller and finally falling asleep in my arms.
Man, I’ll tell you.. sidewalks in Los Algodones with anything with wheels, good luck. The dental lined streets did pretty well with steep ramps but the side streets’ sidewalks or any space to walk without being in the road was dependent on the home or business the land belonged to.
On our walk to get our little one sleepy we stumbled upon a tortilla shop!! Hurray! We got her last bag of flour tortillas to bring back with us.
Now that our little one was asleep we braved the line. Oh, the line! It was a two hour wait to get back over to the US. Our oldest was a bit crazy but overall did a great job being patient in the line. It helped that there were lots of grandparents in line (getting dental work done while snow birding). They all wanted to play with little ones so it was a nice distraction.
Once we got to the US our passports were checked and they had us walk by a drug dog with the stroller. I was surprised they didn’t look in our bags or anything.
On a side note, the morning of our Mexico trip we had all showered in hopes that by the time we got back everything would be dry for our travel day. We pack so much into our shower that it’s a drag when it’s wet on a travel day. The shower and our towels were indeed dry when we returned. However, that evening Justin accidentally bumped the shower handle when we was putting things into the shower and ended up watering everything in it including our bag of laundry, his guitar and our towels. Ha! Oops! Well, so much for dry things on travel day.
We heard of a camel farm in Yuma so of course we had to check it out! We checked out of the campground and hauled Dimes and Wobbles to go see some wildlife. Upon arrival we decided to park and make lunch before we entered. While Justin was making lunch, the girls and I spotted two fluffy skunks, we were guessing a Mama and her baby, waddling across the field we were parked next to. It was pretty neat! The field was lined with citrus trees bearing fruit, had hundreds of sheep grazing in the distance and now two skunks coming our way. We kept loosing sight of them here and there when they would go behind a knoll or bush. I didn’t realize how close they had come until I closed the camper door and had apparently startled the Mama. She instinctively turned and raised her tail! Eek!! Everybody back inside! We both kept our distance from one another after that scare.
The camel farm housed mostly animals that were uncared for or donated by their preview owners. There was a large variety of animals living there such as a fox, ox, emus, an ostrich, a zebra, donkeys, goats, deer, tortoises and of course many camels (I’m probably missing some others as well). They were neat to see and get so close to. I was surprised with how good natured the zebra was! Usually they are feisty little things but this one was very docile.
The camels were amazing! One in particular was quite a sight. It was clearly an old camel who’s lips had lost most of their elasticity. This camel was absolutely massive and extremely intimidating!! This dude made me uneasy to say the least.
When we got closer he of course approached with his neck reaching well beyond his enclosure. He was foaming at the mouth uncontrollably which was being carried off by the wind in white frothy spindly blobs. We later learned that when camels grind their teeth it triggers them to foam at the mouth. This camel would also growl at us! I think it was more of a “come here with that food” growl but boy, when a giant foreign animal like that starts in on a low thunderous growl it definitely makes you take a couple steps back! He had taught himself a trick to open his mouth wide for people to throw food into. I think probably out of necessity he did this. I can’t imagine letting him feed off my hand with that frothy mouth. He must have realized he wouldn’t get any treats unless he came up with a solution. Clever!
After we had given our hands a good washing, we headed down the road to a u-pick grapefruit farm. I had researched like crazy and couldn’t find any u-pick citrus farms around other than this one. It is a shame too because all the citrus was in season and we could see it in groves as we traveled. We came to this farm only because of the fact that we could pick our own fruit. Justin is actually the only one in our family who likes grapefruit! The girls will eat in every now and again if it’s sweeter than most but usually they are too bitter for us ladies.
The grapefruit was beautiful and huge on the trees! We picked only 4 since Justin had just the day before bought an entire sack full at a farm stand. The woman who owned the farm also had tangelos and mandarins for sale as well. She gave us 3 good sized paper bags full of mandarins for $5! We also bought some tangelos. What did we do?! They were delicious! The reality that we just bought about a garbage bag full of citrus didn’t hit us until the next day. Haha!
We ended up spending the night in the Cocopah casino parking lot near by for $6 and no obligation to gamble (some do, isn’t that crazy?). We weren’t quite sure where we wanted to go next so we were playing it safe until we could regroup after the kids went to bed. This is when our planning takes place…after hours. Otherwise, I can’t think straight and I make bad decisions. One neat thing about staying at the casino was that we saw a beautiful long beaked curlew bird. It was beautiful and so exotic looking!
After talking things over we decided we wanted to venture into CA to try our luck at Joshua Tree National Park despite the government shut down. California, the state that has an agriculture check! AH! Let’s just say I spent a lot of time pealing and juicing that evening and next day.