It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny

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February 19, 2011

Ciudad Acuna

I can't believe I've been in Del Rio, TX for almost a month. Next week we plan to leave and head west. I've grown to like it here! The people are great, the RV park is great and the weather finally (FINALLY) warmed up to a balmy 75-80 degrees - you know I will never complain about that! Lots of walks with Cooper - shorts - t-shirts - grilling - rum get the idea.

This past week has probably been our busiest week since we arrived - cram every little bit in before you leave, that sort of thing! We went on a few tours last week when the weather was still cold - The Border Patrol (i have new found respect for these hard working guys) and the Customs & Border Protection which was held at the Port of Entry. Both were very informative and I enjoyed them.

Many of the Winter Texans in our park take advantage of the good dentists/low rates in Mexico. If you need any sort of dental work done you quickly find out who you need to see.  Word of mouth is that Dr. Eduardo Mandujano Sanchez is the dentist to see in Ciudad Acuna. He even has a U.S Cellular number to call for an appointment. He and his son work together and both speak fluent English. Dad and I both made appointments to be seen - Dad on Monday and me on Wednesday. I was hoping to be seen earlier, so on Monday dad and I took off for our little trip to Acuna. When you arrive at the Port of Entry you are required to pay a toll to cross the International Bridge by car into Mexico ($3.00 to go into Mexico and $2.00 to leave Mexico) We paid our money, crossed the bridge and entered into the small border town of Ciudad Acuna.

It's unfortunate that media attention of the drug cartel and the requirement of passports has caused the lack of Americans in this (and most) border villages. Del Rioans used to cross the border at will to shop and receive dental work but now most stay in Del Rio rather than obtain a passport for the whole family. It's expensive. Then stories of the drug cartel has many American tourists afraid to step foot into Mexico. Acuna has taken pains to ensure that their village is a safe one and I found it to be extremely so. Although I must say it seems eerily deserted. Many, many shops and restaurants have closed down due to lack of business. There seem to be many thriving dentists however!

Dad and I debated on whether to drive over to Mexico (there are many that won't) or to walk across the bridge. We decided to drive and we found a small parking lot adjacent to the drug store which is adjacent to the dentist's office. As is usually the case in our family, we were early. No problem. They are very laid back here and dad was seen shortly after we walked in the door. The appointment didn't take long and he was through before his actual appointed time! Since dad's appointment was a two-stage process we needed to return later in the afternoon and therefore had 5 1/2 hours to kill! We decided to walk - first around town (that didn't take long) and then back over the bridge. There is a pedestrian walkway on both sides of the bridge. We found out that it cost $.25 to cross from Mexico and $.75 to cross from the U.S. We paid our quarter and walked approximately a mile over the bridge, went through customs....nothing to do there so decided to walk back over the bridge into Mexico. We noticed a Duty Free shop on the U.S. side of the border and made a mental note to stop there to pick up some liquor before heading back to the RV Park.

Walking across the bridge back into Mexico we noticed a lot of garbage that was all the same....big bags that said "Homeland Security" on them, empty paper lunch bags, remnants of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chips, orange peels, even some discarded clothing. We wondered what was up? We found out later. Del Rio is one of the few places that prosecutes illegal aliens instead of just sending them back over the border. After prosecuting them, they give them back their freshly laundered clothing (in the Homeland Security bags) and a sack lunch with beverage and send them back over the bridge into Mexico. That's what all the discarded garbage was. Every day or so someone comes along and sweeps it all up.

After walking back to Mexico we were understandably hungry and word of mouth said that Crosby's was the place to dine in Acuna. It was just down the street from the dentist. It's a very nice restaurant and the food was quite good. We met a woman from Oklahoma (the only other patron in the restaurant) who was dining alone and we asked her if she wanted to join us for lunch. She had also been to the dentist. Before we were served our lunch we were serenaded by Buki, a local resident who was missing quite a few teeth, but it didn't seem to inhibit his singing ability at all! Our waiter was a wonderful gentleman who didn't speak English but was quite excited when I ordered a Tecate beer!

After lunch we hit the local bakery. I love Mexican pastries, especially the empanadas, and since I don't know how to read Spanish, the filling in each empanada is a surprise to me. I pick up one of each, just to make sure! Of course, we each had eat a pastry right then - dad a lemon curd-filled cupcake and me, one of my empanadas! Apple - I think! It was a short walk back to the dentist for dad to finish up his appointment. After dad was finished the dentist was able to fit me in. Did I say they are very laid back here? My cleaning appointment, with an x-ray, cost me $40.00. By the time we were ready to head back to the states it was about 4:30pm.

We crossed customs without a problem and then headed to the Duty Free store to buy our liquor. After payment, they bagged it up and then said they would meet us at the bridge. Huh? We thought we were just going to get back in our car and head home. seems that the thing to do when you're buying Duty Free liquor is to get it BEFORE you enter Mexico, not after. So we had cross the bridge, and pay the toll, once again. Only there was a slight problem this time. We'd given all our money to the dentist and our pockets were completely empty. Nada. While we were pleading our case, hoping they were going to be lenient with us, (I've heard plenty about those Mexican jails!) a supervisor came out of the building next door and ended up giving us the $3.00 to cross. I promised I would pay him back!  We went through the toll and then promptly made a u-turn to cross back into the U.S. Had to go through customs again where we then declared the liquor we just bought. The officer proceeded to put a bright yellow tag on our windshield as a notification that we were to stop and pay the Texas tax on our liquor. Only there was that same problem of no money. I offered to run to the market down the street to obtain enough to pay the taxes ($6.00). They agreed but kept part of our stash as collateral. Off to the market, where I bought a pack of gum in order to get cash back, which the clerk didn't want to give me, (not authorized to give cash back or something to that effect) but after pleading my case I guess he felt sorry for me because I was finally able to leave with $10 in my pocket. We drove back to the booth where I paid up and got my booze in return. Live and lean, I say. That was quite the adventure!

1 comment:

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