Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Exploring Calexico and Mexicali

After exploring Yuma, Arizona and visiting Los Algodones, Mexico our adventuresome spirit took us to another Mexican border area. An area that no one seems to know much about, or if they do, they say "don't go there." Chuck and I decided to see what that was about.

Calexico, California is about 45 minutes from Yuma, Arizona so we made reservations at Rio Bend RV in Calexico. Upon arriving in Calexico we could see that the area was growing and that there was a mixture of middle to upper income residents. The RV Park was away from the noise of the freeway and we were pleasantly surprised at the Resort atmosphere. The park had amenities that you normally do not see at a cheaper park, such as 2 lakes, pool with spa, golf course, exercise room, cafe, beautiful park model homes, and room for large pull-ins such as ours.

Our spot was situated under some palm trees right in front of one of the lakes. You could hear the ducks quacking and having a good time. Right after settling in we went to the spa and enjoyed the relaxing heat and pressure bubbles and jumped into the pool for a cool swim.

After relaxing in the spa we walked around the park and explored it in more detail. We found it to be very well maintained and beautifully landscaped. We received the cheaper rate of 50% off the seasonal rate through our Passport America membership, and it was well worth it.

The next day we drove through Calexico and were amazed at all the agriculture that was being produced in the area. Upon arriving to the border area we decided to stop at an Indoor Flea Market and walked around in the air conditioned marketplace. I was looking for a cart that folds up with wheels to be used for transporting our laundry from Point A to Point B, until we are able to hook the venting for our Washer/Dryer in the motorhome. I found one and was very happy because it was only $15.00, compared to $25.00 in Yuma. We then drove closer to the border and parked our van in an all-day parking lot for $3.00.

Our first clue to what our day would be like, beginning at 12:00p.m., was that we saw no American Tourists like we did in Los Algodones. Walking through the border gates we saw a long line that was blocks long and most of the line was standing in the hot sun, plus there were no Americans. Our first thought was that when we return we'll be standing in that same line, so we definitely don't want to be in that line in the heat of the day; plus it was too late to turn back because we had already gone through the border.

It was lunch time so we decided to look for some delicious Mexican food. However, while walking down the road of vendors, the food gallies didn't look well-maintained or safe for us to even try the food. We walked further down the rows of vendors selling clothes, shoes, or socks, none of whom spoke English, and the little bit of Spanish I knew wasn't enough to get complete directions. However, I had printed out a little map of Mexicali before we left the RV and pulled that out of my purse. To our surprise the streets matched up along the path we were walking. My map showed a Mall that was about 6 blocks away so we decided to head in that direction. It was our plan to go somewhere that was air-conditioned with food.

During our walk I was struck with the poverty and shantiness of the area and felt blessed that I had a decent roof over my head. The sidewalks were rocky and hard to walk on. This is a hard life these poor people live, day-in and day-out.

After 30 minutes of walking we reached the Mall, walked into it, and was immediately relieved by the air-conditioning. We also were grateful that we had the foresight to bring out bottled water on our journey. We walked through the mall and noticed almost every store had clothing, shoes, or socks, and we laughed at the irony of it. Chuck said, "Have you noticed how none of the men wear shorts, all of them wear jeans in this hot weather." He made me laugh again, because he was the only man in shorts. I told him, "must be a macho thing," and we laughed again. We finally found the largest food court I've ever seen and everything looked clean and inviting. I was able to converse a little in Spanish and sign language, and Chuck stood there in shock listening to me getting our food. It was funny how the Spanish was able to flow when you're desperate. We had an awesome lunch.......I had 3 Cheese Quesadillas (with real tortillas) and Chuck had 2 Beef Burritos, both had fresh salad with sweet delicious tomatoes and the best avocados, and refried beans to die for, and diet and regular coke; all for $8.30. Wished I had taken a picture of it, but I was so hungry I gobbled it down.

After lunch we left the mall and walked back to the border, which was about 3:30 p.m., we stood in line for 1/2 hour. We were happy the line had shortened to where we were protected from the sun. While in the line I was able to convert the Mexican change I received at lunch back to US money.

Walking back to our car Chuck asked, "What do you think of Mexicali?" I said, "I loved the exercise, loved learning about the area and people, glad you like to explore, enjoyed my lunch, but we won't be coming back again." We laughed together, drove back to our luxurious RV Park, changed into our bathing suits, and jumped into the pool.