Dental, optical, pharmaceutical . . . Mexican style

Tuesday, February 4 (continued)

I’m at the Ja-Bal Clinic in the Mexican border town of Los Algodones.  I need my teeth cleaned and a loose tooth extracted.   Ricardo, the manager at Ja-Bal, introduces me, “Susie,” to my dentist, Jesus, and to the dental assistant, Christina.

First names and no titles . . .  I like it!


Friendly neighbors enjoying mutual benefits.

No time is wasted.

After introductions, I’m shown the dental chair and the procedure begins.  No waiting, like in the U.S., while the dental assistant fusses at the counter behind you.

It’s also been my experience in the U.S. that the dentist leaves the room immediately after injecting the numbing agent.  This allows time for the patient to dream up all sorts of horrors involving teeth and machines that scream and grind.

At Ja-Bal the dentist stays with you after the shot(s).  He gets busy cleaning teeth.  Imagine that!

A dentist who cleans teeth!

I’m not going into the gory details of the extraction.  In short, it comes out all right.  Jesus and Christina are polite, efficient, and professional in every way.

“All done!  You can sit up now,”  Christina tells me with a smile.

That’s when things take a downward turn.

I sit up and my head feels wobbly.  “Ooh, I’m dizzy,” I mumble.

“Are you all right?” Jesus asks with great concern.  “Is it your heart?” he quickly asks.

“No, no, no.  My heart is fine.  I think I’m dizzy from lying with my head low.  I’ll be okay.”

They both stay with me for a couple of minutes until I’m ready to leave the treatment room.

Ricardo takes over at the front counter.

He makes out the bill.  “A cleaning and an extraction.  That will be sixty-five dollars.”  I pay in cash.


The streets clear as the day progresses.

Jesus, the dentist, writes a prescription for pain pills and antibiotic.  He makes sure I understand the prescription which is completely legible (!).

I still feel strange.

I want to choose eyeglass frames from the wall display.  However, instead, I sit in one of the chairs and rest my foggy brain.  Ricardo asks if I’m okay.  In a few minutes I stand up and tell him I’m ready.  He explains the different categories of frames, from cheapo to designer.

I try on several in the middle category and end up choosing the frames Ricardo handed to me first.  Then I pick up my second choice and take both frames to the counter.

“I’d like two pairs.  I want both to be bifocal, progressive, hard plastic with coating, and transition.”

Ricardo nods his head. 

“That will be $350 for two pair.”

I hesitate while my frugal nature takes over.  “Well, on second thought, I think I’ll get only one pair.”  I turn to put one of the frames back in the display.

“You can have both for $275,” Ricardo announces.


Embroidery, rick-rack, and lace.

Okay.  Time-out.

In hindsight I realize I probably could’ve haggled the price lower.  Everyone reading this post would have done that, of course, and saved a wad of money.  Well, I didn’t.

First off, I’m not a haggler.  Secondly, at this point my head is swimming.   I suspect the numbing agent was too strong for me.  I often have reactions like that.  One pain pill will dope me up for a day.

I look at it like this.

In the states I’ve paid more than $275 for a comparable pair of lenses with frames.  Here I’m getting two for less than I paid for one in the U.S.  I’m willing to pay it.

Immediately Fernando appears.

We’re introduced and he escorts me out the door.  Fernando is a wiry, energetic, cheerful young man who makes pleasant conversation as we work our way across two blocks to the Ja-Bal Vision Clinic.

The vision place is jammed.


People wait outside and inside for their new glasses.

Even so, I receive prompt and courteous service.  My eyes are examined and I’m told the lenses will be ready in about two hours.  I can pick them up at either clinic.  I choose  Ricardo’s clinic and pay the $275 with a check.

Off to the pharmacy!


Click to enlarge.

I do a bit of negotiating at the counter.  The result?

Ten pain pills (different from the ones on the poster at left) cost $16.

The antibiotic costs $23 for a box of a dozen capsules.  I need two boxes ($46). My total pharmacy bill is $62.

Maybe another person could’ve brought the price down further.

Maybe I could’ve done better in the states with my Medicare pharmacy benefit.  I don’t know.  I’m new to Medicare.

Anyway . . . Medicare is irrelevant to this situation.

I’m in Mexico and I need the pills NOW.

I backtrack to a courtyard between the two Ja-Bal clinics.  I’m looking for something to eat and water to drink with the pills.


The archway is the entrance to a courtyard.

The dental assistant said “no milk, no spicy foods.”  Darn!


The courtyard is a retreat from the hub-bub of the street.


I suspect that blueberry muffin has a caloric value in the five figures.


At the back of the courtyard I buy a water and blueberry muffin for $2.50.

Not because I want a blueberry muffin.  Because I can tear off little bites and eat them without swallowing the gauze in the side of my mouth.

I know, too much information.

I down the pills and soon my jaw stops aching but my head still feels like a massive cotton ball.

I enjoy some people-watching for a while.  Then I venture out to take a few photos.

By now it’s past noon and Los Algodones, so full of electricity and commotion a few hours ago,  is slowly slipping toward siesta.

To be continued . . .



1-DSC02410NOTE:   I realize these posts about my visit to Los Algodones are long and detailed.  If you’re not very interested or you’ve “been there and done that,” I apologize for the tedious account.

I’m trying to take the mystery out of Mexican dental and optical services for those people considering crossing the border for care for the first time.

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173 Responses to Dental, optical, pharmaceutical . . . Mexican style

  1. DeAnne in TN says:


  2. DeAnne in TN says:

    Home with pneumonia–lots of time to surf the web. Lovely post, Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Pneumonia? Good heavens. . . You’ve had your ups and downs lately. Rest up and get well soon.

      • DeAnne in TN says:

        You well know what it’s like to be around these sick kiddos-we just pass it back and forth. Hey, at least my flu shot has kept me from getting the flu! 😉

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You’ll probably experience better health after retirement. I have. No more bronchitis!

        • Nancy Klune says:

          My aunt almost died from the flu shot this year. Was in the hospital for over a week and home health care for a month. Doctor said it was the shot that caused it.
          Thankfully her granddaughter was visiting when she got sick and got her to the hospital PDQ. She lives in Anderson Ca and by the time her son got there from near San Jose she didn’t know him. She kept saying “It hurts, make it stop” over and over again.

          • rvsueandcrew says:

            How horrible! I never heard such a thing! What an ordeal. I hope she’s better now and the bills aren’t traumatic.

            • Rita from Phoenix says:

              Flu shots make me very sick too…so I stopped 10 years ago…been fine since.

            • Sue E. says:

              I have never had a flu shot. Reading about your aunt is exactly why I won’t have one. Thanks for your info.

              Sue E. from NY

  3. Bob Martel says:

    This is very helpful. Go on!

  4. Renee (from Datil) says:

    I’ve used the Supradol for pain after extractions & root canals. It should work well for you. Do hope you don’t feel “rushed” & wait until you’re un-fuzzy before driving. I was always glad for a driver, myself. It’s funny about Mexico meds — Dave’s prescriptions are much cheaper in Mexico; mine are more expensive. Glad that your experiences thus far in Algodones have been good ones.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Renee…

      I was fine by the time I made it back to the PTV. Nice of you to express concern.

      It was a good experience overall. I may include some harsh realities in the next post.

      • Renee (from Datil) says:

        Never hurts to tell the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the truth in relating your experiences However, if you’re going to mention the stray dogs…I’m going to cover my ears/eyes.

  5. Nancy Klune says:

    Details? We need da stinkin’ details!

    While there are a lot of “across the border” dental post right now everyone mentions something that the last one didn’t. So each one is helpful. Thank you.

    You said you were a teacher in your last life? What did you teach?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Nancy,

      Yeah, I’m at the tail end of a lot of Los Algodones posts. Even the photos are similar from blog to blog.

      I was certified to teach Math, Science, and Language Arts for grades 4-8. I started out teaching remedial reading and math in a pull-out situation with 4th and 5th graders. Then I got my own classroom of 5th graders. After those experiences at elementary schools, I moved to middle school.

      I taught Language Arts and Science to 6th graders. Most of my career was teaching Math to 6th and 7th graders. I enjoyed Advanced Level Math to 7th graders the most.

      Ask a simple question and get an essay in return. 🙂

  6. lois in Milton Fl says:

    I love the details! Can’t wait for more..I thought about you off and on today, wondering what your experiences would be.

  7. NadaThing in WA says:

    Keep the details coming Sue! I’m learning way too much to stop now!

  8. Brian says:

    Wow! Awesome post.

  9. So glad you are giving lots of details. Haven’t tried Mexico yet but may someday. Hope all feels better now:)

  10. CheryLyn ( Oregon) says:

    I thought of you as I knew you were going to the dentist. Something I stress over. I am hoping to stave off any future dental work until I am on the road and closer to Mexico so am especially interested in the details.
    Glad it went well with you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, CheryLyn,

      I can honestly say I had no pain… not with the needles or the extraction, the latter feeling like a tug of war between my face and the dentist. No discomfort at all. I think I contributed to my dizzy reaction by not breathing during the procedure. Don’t know why I always do that.

  11. Libby Nester says:

    As always, I enjoy your posts extremely well. I love all the details about Mexico and the dental/vision/pharmacy scene. The pictures are beautiful and descriptive of the time you are describing. I hate feeling like you felt after the dental work. Makes me nervous about being alone at times like that. Glad it went well. I bet the crew was happy to see you when you got home. I bet Bridget was watching the clock.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Libby,

      I appreciate the feedback on these recent posts.

      In the next post I’ll tell all about the crew’s reaction to my return, and also Les’s report on their behavior while he dog-sat. 🙁

      • Ladybug says:

        Uh-oh, a frowny face….that can’t be good.

        In regards to the Medicare pharmacy benefit….it depends on the plan you chose. If you went toward the cheaper end of the scale (and who wouldn’t if you don’t need maintenance meds for chronic conditions?) then you probably have a $315 deductible before the benefit kicks in. So unless you plan on having a bunch of drugs this year, you probably did the right thing getting them filled in Mexico.

        Oh, and who can go wrong with Jesus for a dentist? 😉

      • Nancy Klune says:

        LOL I think everyone knows your dogs are the boss of the family.
        And that suprises me. I would have thought a teacher would have very well trained dogs. Not that they are not lovable but I think Cesar the Dog Whisper would have a field day with them.

        I rode a motorcycle for 30 years and the first 15 had Yorkies, Lady was 3 lbs tops and Basil was 3.5-4 lbs, that rode in a tank bag on my bike. People use to think I was a little strict with my dogs but I told them “They only get one chance to mind at 70 mph”. I could set them in a lawn chair and put them on “Stay” and walk away. A hour later they would still be there. But if I said to them “Do you want to go bikin’?” they would get so excited. I guess they had around 50,000-75,000 miles on the bike with me.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          If Bridget and Spike were well trained and sat when told, shut up when told, did whatever they were told, what fun would that be to write about? 🙂

  12. LeeJ says:

    Great information as usual, thanks.

    Did you ever hear bill Cosby’s information about visiting the dentist? Your account is better!

  13. Lacy says:

    Ah Susie, you were so brave! I do hope you rewarded yourself with something better than a blueberry muffin and water! (I apologize but am tickled for some reason of hearing you called Susie – I’ll quit soon) 😉

    Anxious to hear the rest but loving the detail!!

    • Pen says:

      “…am tickled for some reason of hearing you called Susie”

      I know what you mean 😀 I think it must be because Sue strikes me as a no-nonsense, straight-forward, “capable” name (as does Sue herself), and Susie (in comparison) makes me giggle slightly. (Not that Sue doesn’t have her fun/light side, of course.)

      As others have said, thanks so much for these detailed posts about something many of us have not experienced (and many, myself included, are curious about).

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Lacy and Pen,

      Unfortunately, no… I couldn’t eat much of anything. My appetite disappeared.

      I know what you mean about the name Susie. Every time I’m called that it seems like a term of affection, which makes it weird coming from someone I just met.

  14. Glenda in OZ! says:

    Hope you are ok…………..from my point of view I found the whole experience you described very interesting!

  15. Edie says:

    Thank you very much Sue for the details!

    Very good information. I’m glad your visit went well.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Edie. I hope to wrap up my “report” in the next post. There’s so much I want to tell!

  16. I spent a couple hours yesterday in Algodones sitting in the dentist chair. Finished up with a root canal. then got a crown removed and got prepped for 2 new crowns. Have no complaints but Dr. Eva Urena said she doesn’t like to use temporary crowns because they interfere with the gums healing. So I have a gaping hole in my mouth for the next week until I go back. I don’t think people in the US would go for that, but what the heck. When in Mexico do what the Mexicans do!
    Hope all turned out well for you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh man, you went for the dental marathon. That work would take a couple months in the U.S. If you can handle that length of time in the chair, it’s great to get it over with.

    • Cinandjules says:

      Jim or Gayle

      A gaping whole is a perfect spot for food to get into and cause dry socket. When I had my wisdom teeth extracted …a piece of white rice somehow got lodged…that little granule of rice caused more pain than getting my impacted wisdoms extracted.

      Rinse with warm salt water. Don’t swish hard just enough to loosen any food particle that may be lodged.

      • Thanks. It just looks like a gaping hole when I smile! I didn’t have any teeth pulled. The old crowns were removed and no temps put on. Since I had root canals on both of those teeth they feel fine but I just have little stumps, not the most attractive look!

  17. Val R. Lakefield On. says:

    Hi Sue
    I’m enjoying these posts…like seeing the colourful pics of Mexico and hearing all of the details. Amazing prices and I would not have haggled either…the lower price for the two pairs would have suited me just fine. Looking forward to the next instalment. Feel sorry for the stray dogs though.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Val,

      That’s the same skinny white dog in a photo in the previous post. She wandered around a three-block area, looking for hand-outs. I was happy to see someone share lunch with her. She ate it and took off, probably to search for another kind person before lunchtime was over.

      • Nancy Klune says:

        Don’t you love how they don’t beg for food but will set a few feet away and just watch? If offered food they are grateful but never pushy. Or at least the ones I have run into do that.

  18. Diane, Blue Ridge Mts. VA says:

    I love it…detailed. I’m not good at bargaining…but sounds like you can there.
    Oh I hope you feel better…I need a ton of dental work, and am a big fat baby.
    Waiting for the next post. Thanks Sue ps I know the Crew Missed you terribly.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Diane. The good thing about Mexican dentists. . . They get it over with! No sitting around in the chair waiting and no long sequence of visits.

  19. Maura says:

    You make a dental appointment sound like fun! I love your blog!

  20. Elizabeth says:

    You are so brave!! Thanks for sharing the adventure with us…and would you go for dental work again?? Curious also, as to what quality you feel the glasses are. You know, I think you handled the transaction just perfectly…there is no reason to cheat anyone and sounds like that was a fair price. We found in Jerusalem if we decided NOT to get something, the price would be dropped, even tho we had no intention of trying to barter it down. In some cultures I guess if one does not barter a bit, maybe it is an insult? One wonders…

    And how did the doggies fare?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Elizabeth,

      Oh yes, I’d go again. I plan to have all future dental work done in Mexico. I’m pleased with the Ja-Bal Clinic. Of course, my procedure was simple so I’m not able to judge their competency for more complicated work.

      Bridget and Spike were not happy I left them. They made that very clear. . . all day long!

  21. TexasTom says:

    I’ve been in dentistry for 40 plus years and in Mexico is just like here, good and bad are always available. I would not hesitate to get treatment there if I had experiences of others that had used that office to draw from first and same goes for here.

    If the office knew your readership they would have had a limo pick you up.

    I like the last picture of the street dog. That is the shape of street dogs all over the world.

    P.S. If you haggle in the third world and are good at it you get respect. The right price for anything is the least you will take and the most I will give. Where those two cross is the price but it always takes haggling to get there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, TexasTom,

      Funny about the limo. . . 🙂

      Well, I suppose I brought the prices down enough to merit a bit of respect then.

      To me, extensive haggling is okay when both parties are close in economic status. I don’t like seeing a wealthy person haggling the price down to practically nothing with a seller who is desperately poor. That, IMHO, is taking cruel advantage of another human being’s lot in life.

      • TexasTom says:


        I think you will agree you live pretty close to the bone compared to most of us. The PTV and maybe the BLT will need replacement someday. The price to replace them will not be predicated on your income or need.

        The people you dealt with I promise will not use your yardstick to deal with the people they buy from. I’m not telling you that you paid to much but they do not deserve a windfall because of your feelings.

        I give but that’s based on my income and not overpaying for anything as a way to philanthropy.

        Just the way I do it but you sure get to do it your way with your money. Where we spend our money is the last bastion of capitalism with the least governmental control.

        I love you blog.


        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Tom, I’m not sure I totally understand your point. I do get the idea of not overpaying for something simply because the seller is impoverished.

          I do, however, believe in paying a fair price for a product. When haggling, a point can be reached where the price is brought down extremely low as to cut the seller’s profit margin to practically nothing. The seller may accept the low price simply because they need the money for food.

          When the seller is desperately poor (and a few dollars means eating or not) and the buyer is wealthy (and a few dollars means very little), bringing the price way down doesn’t set well with me.

          Why? Because it’s a game of power over another human being and unnecessarily cruel. I feel strongly about this because I witnessed this behavior while in Los Algodones and, frankly, it turned my stomach.

          I think we’re talking about totally different situations. I bet that if you saw what I saw, you’d have a similar reaction.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Gee, Tom… I’m sounding grumpy… not intended toward you . . . 🙂

    • Nancy Klune says:

      TTom, thanks for the positive remark about having work done in Mexico. I plan on having work done this spring.

  22. Diann in MT says:

    Thanks, Sue, for the informative post. I love the photo shot of the “skinny-puppy” at the end of the article. My heart always go out to those tough, yet vulnerable dogs. Thanks for giving that one a notice.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diann,

      You’re welcome.

      You can count on me to care more about the animals than the people! 🙂 There weren’t a lot of strays in that part of town . .. . Makes one wonder what happens to them.

  23. Jan from Oregon says:

    Such good details..Thanks, Sue~
    Now I want to get my dental work done there..I’m in the area but I didn’t bring my birth certificate with me. Plan on heading back to Oregon around April. Should I have someone mail my birth certificate and then go to the Post Office and apply for a passport card like you did? The only forms of ID I have with me are drivers license and a credit card. Oh, I also have a vehicle registration. I should go try it.
    Thanks for sharing your life with us, Sue. I go to your blog first thing everyday and now when I want to order on Amazon, I order through your blog as a thank you! Jan

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jan,

      You will need your birth certificate and it cannot be a copy. It must be certified. I lost my birth certificate so I contacted my birth hospital and for a few dollars I received a certified certificate which is certifiably true, most certainly…. blah, blah. 🙂

      You can pick up an application at post offices or apply online at PASSCARD. I don’t know if you read a previous post where I found out that I don’t have to wait for the card to arrive. The receipt for the fee works in the meantime.

  24. Tawanda says:

    Long posts (?), never! Glad to see narcotics were not prescribed what you were prescribed should have worked nicely. Would hazard a guess that being upside down for as long as it took to have 2 root canals and an extraction done played a big roll on your head feeling at odds when you finally were in the upright position. Glad you felt better before heading home and continue to do ok…
    Look forward to the rest of the story as always!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tawanda,

      Actually all I had was a cleaning and an extraction. I suppose stress and the blood rushing to my head was enough to throw me a-kilter. Plus the shots. I’m such a sensitive thing, you know. 🙂

  25. Cinandjules says:

    I must say your visit to the dentist was amusing! Glad it worked out for you!

    What a deal on the specks! Most people wouldn’t pay any mind to the dogs….except animal lovers! How sad to see them just roaming around.

    Can’t wait for the next post…..gauze mouth! Gauze is in your mouth so you won’t drool! Just kidding! Oh speaking of…..dry socket can be prevented by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water! Don’t swish hard if you have dissolvable stitches.

    Your heart? I had to chuckle…..a little late to be asking about your heart!! Actually they sound very personable compared to the staff I’ve dealt with at my dentist office.

    Enjoy your evening!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      I bet it’s every dentist’s worse fear… heart attack in the treatment room. I gave him a momentary scare.

      I’m one of those fortunate people who heals quickly. I’m doing great. . . no dry socket occurred.

  26. Deborah says:

    Consider the possibility that your post procedure reaction is due to the epinephrine in the novocaine. I am also quite sensitive to meds and have a variety of symptoms after epi, the heart symptoms being the worst. It is easily remedied by asking the dentist for carbocaine instead. Although carbo sometimes doesn’t last as long as novocaine, it has never been an issue for me and I don’t have any reactions to it.

    Hope you are healing well. Love your blog and never miss a post!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Very interesting, Deborah. That’s important information for me. I will know to discuss this in the future before any dental work is done. It’s been my experience with sensitivities and allergic reactions that they can worsen with each episode.

      Gosh, my blog is like a very smart, best friend! Thanks for writing. . .

      • Madeline says:

        I also have had a few pretty severe reactions like this to the epinephrine in the novocaine.The dentist told me the epi helps the medicine last longer but now they SKIP IT for me . They just reinject if necessary half way through the procedure although last root canal I was fine with the initial shots.. no pain. That epi reaction can be awful!!

      • Deborah says:

        Sue, not just dental stuff – I had a small skin cancer taken off my shoulder. The doctor used another local that also had epinephrine in it. It never occurred to me mention my epi reactions to him. I thought my heart rate was going to go off the charts! Then there was the pain all the way down my arm! It was awful lasting about a week. After dental procedures with novocaine I often couldn’t open my jaw fully for weeks afterwards because of the pain at the injection site. Using carbocaine, I’ve never had issues.

        Spent some time today researching dentists and eye docs in Mexico. I’m thinking of heading over there during my next visit to Arizona. I really appreciate all the details!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Gee, Deborah… I’m going to take this epi situation very seriously after reading about these experiences. No wonder the dentist immediately asked about my heart. Thanks for writing.

          Best of luck seeking out dental and vision care in Mexico!

          • I was going to say the same thing about novocaine. I always ask them to use about an eighth of what they’d use on a “normal” person. Some understand and some don’t so I’m so glad to hear about carbocaine! Thanks Deborah and Madeline too, never thought they might skip the epi.

            Thank you so much Sue for all this great information! I have Ja-bal and the passcard site bookmarked. You might actually pass out if you knew what I’ve paid for dental and vision. I think you did great and I totally agree about giving people a fair price and not haggling down to almost no profit for them.

            As always I’m sure your blog helps many, many people every day and this particular post and the last have alleviated my concerns about going.

            Yay Sue! 🙂

            • Deborah says:

              If my comments helped you, I’m glad. I had gone to a new dentist years ago and told him about how I couldn’t open my mouth after I got a tooth filled. He was the one who told me to switch to carbocaine. I’m so grateful since otherwise I would’ve continued with the excruciating pain I was getting. Carbo has been a perfectly fine substitute.

  27. Phyllis says:

    I’ve been checking the computer all day for Part 2, finally. I’m so excited to hear more, it’s like a soap opera, but real.

    Haven’t commented much but you read daily. Bought my tow vehicle, a 2014 Toyota Tundra.

    Glad you visited the dentist. Enjoyed reading the comment on yesterday’s post about the campground where you can walk across the border. That sounds a place to take advantage of even if your not needing dental work and just want to eat Mexican food for a while.

    Looking forward to more…….Phyllis in Oklahoma

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Phyllis,

      Congratulations on the topnotch tow vehicle! May it tote your home to wondrous camps . . . climb mountains with ease . . . and carry you in comfort.

      That campground is handy. Of course, RVS a little bit close together for me . . .

  28. AZ Jim says:

    Great entry today. I drank it all in with gusto. Actually Gusto wasn’t here (pause here for near hysterical and somewhat out of control laughter) but I did enjoy your retracing your steps for us. I haven’t worried about dentists in many years but when I did go I just took ’em out and had them worked on. No pain. I love dentures. Looking forward to see how the glasses work out for you. Weather is getting better again now. 😉

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Jim,

      I read your comment with interest. Actually Interest isn’t here . . .

      Re my new glasses — I’ve been wearing one of the pair for a few days. They fit well and the lenses are right. Maybe now I’ll be able to tell when a photo is out of focus!

  29. Michelle says:

    Your posts are great! Don’t change a thing. Thanks for all of the information.

  30. Cheryl Ann says:

    Sue, I pay $250 (and that’s AFTER my insurance pays the rest) for my progressive, coated, glasses that go dark in the sun (I forget what you call them), so you really DID get a good deal, especially $275 for TWO pair! I am appreciating the details of your visit to Mexico as hubby and I may have to do that in a few years, especially for glasses! And, teeth, as we BOTH have a mouth full of fillings and root canals! 🙁 Can’t wait to read your next installment.
    ~~Cheryl Ann~~And, yes, I hope you are healing well.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cheryl Ann,

      Your comment makes me feel good about the deal on the glasses. I anticipated hearing about all the better bargains others negotiated which would make me feel crummy.

      What’s important is I’m happy with the deal and the eyeglass people are happy . . .

      (Glasses that go dark are transition lenses.)

      • Cheryl Ann says:

        Thanks, Sue! I was coming down with the flu…went to urgent care today for a Z Pack ($9.91 at CVS) because my throat was so sore I could hardly talk! I slept 13 HOURS last night!
        Yes, transition lenses! I actually have a 3rd grade girl who has them too! I couldn’t remember as I was so out of it! Glad one of us is sane! 🙂 She always tells me when mine are dark after recess and I tell her hers are too!

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I hope that 13-hour sleep put you on the mend. I remember my students paying more attention to my transition lenses than to me whenever we came in from outside.

  31. MK Reed says:

    Thank you for your detailed account of healthcare in Mexico. I really appreciate it.!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, MK. My post tells my good experience with Ja-Bal. As said more than once here… your mileage may vary.

  32. Madeline says:

    I appreciate every word! We JUST retired and hope to get a casita soon and start traveling around. As we live in Arizona I expect we will be getting some of our health care in Algodones!

    Can you reprint a very earlier post about how easy it is to hook up a casita and tow it around,even for the ladies?? I don’t know how to search your it possible?

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us– it has kept me going during the countdown last year, to our retirement!
    WOO HOO!! Open road here we come..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Madeline . .

      Terri from Texas found that post for us (commented below). The post is:

      “Choosing the BLT, a pet peeve, and I have a camera again!”

      Best wishes purchasing your Casita and for the road beyond!

      • Phyllis says:

        Thanks for this, I am going to bookmark this!

        Phyllis in Oklahoma

      • mary (in Colorado) says:

        Very good advice, especially the part where you ask the fellows to let the woman do it. Just telling or showing someone how isn’t the same as actually letting them do it, then giving a few comments on the side that are not helpful..such as “Well, you just need to…”. Some day that guy will be laid up with a bum back and he’ll appreciate the lady’s know how and expertise.
        my 2 cents worth.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Thank you, Mary! I agree. Carrying it further, it probably wouldn’t hurt to play this little game…

          For one whole week, let the woman do the “man’s work,” and let the man do the “woman’s work.” No cheating, no manipulating for help… just do it!

          Then if the husband is left alone, he isn’t helpless, and if the wife is left alone, she isn’t helpless. It would go a long way toward understanding each other and maybe toward balancing the workload.

          But who am I to give advice? I never figured out marriage.

  33. Anne says:

    Thank you for all the detail. We appreciate all the info you can supply – including directions to the vision center if possible. We are going to Los Aldogones for glasses next week. And are first timers as well. Glasses similar to those you purchased would cost us at least $700 a pair in Canada.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Wow! $700 a pair? Good grief!

      Enjoy Los Algodones! It’s been my pleasure sharing my experiences there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Anne,

      $700 for one pair? Good grief!

      Re directions to a vision center… I suggest doing an online search for “optical in Los Algodones.” You will see some choices, including Ja-Bal.

      I contacted Ja-Bal by email (filled out a brief form) and soon after (an hour or so) Ricardo called me. I didn’t have to find anything because of the personal escorts provided.

      The directions to any of the vision centers are available at their websites or by contacting the center directly. Good luck!

  34. Terri from Texas says:

    October 15, 2012 is the post on how easy it is to hitch a casita. There is a search box for searching archives on the right side of the post. Hope this helps.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank you so much, Terri! I had no idea where that post was and my blog’s search box is pathetic. Good job!

  35. Gary says:

    Have not read all of the comments, but, it seems the majority seem to say yes to the details. Add me to that group. We are not full timers yet (waiting for house to sell!) and can use this info. Thanks.!
    Gary n Lynda Clark

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Gary and Lynda, and thanks for the feedback.

      I wish you a speedy sale and progress toward the vagabond life!

  36. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the report on the dental in Mexico. I need a lot of dental work done and have been researching the dental in Mexico. As far as the glasses my wife and I have been getting ours from Zenni optical online for several years. We just go to Costco for our prescription and then fill in the prescription on the Zenni site. As a comparison my wife just got a pair with progressive lenses, uv coating and anti-scratch coating for $79.90 which includes shipping to our door. At that price I get a new pair every year instead of trying to look through scratches for 5 or more years like I used to.

    • Jeff says:

      Forgot to mention the only drawback is you have to wait 2-3 weeks for delivery.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Hi, Jeff,

        That is an incredible deal! If I understand you correctly, you pay for an eye exam at Costco and then send off the prescription and pay only $79.90 more.

        What if the glasses don’t fit well? I guess you could take them to a local eye glass place.

        Thanks for sharing another option with us! Not everyone can or wants to cross the border into Mexico.

        • Jeff says:

          Hi Sue,
          You don’t send them the prescription you just fill in your prescription on their website. You can adjust the frames yourself with a little practice. You have to know your PD (pupillary distance) which you can have the optometrist measure (or do yourself). I also make sure I can read the prescription before I leave the office and have them decipher their writing for me if needed. All the frames have measurements on them and you can upload your pic to their website and see what the frames look like on you. Once I found the frame I liked I just reorder every year for 3 years and then I go and get another prescription. Hope this may help someone.

  37. Bruce Knutson says:

    Sue, are you able to get a decent tv signal where you are camped? I’m wondering if you can watch the Olympics or not.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Bruce,

      At Sidewinder/Ogilby Road, I only get one channel and it’s Spanish. In other places I’ve received up to 15 channels. It doesn’t bother me that I’ll miss the Olympics.

  38. Nan says:

    Thanks for the post! We will be there soon, I hope! I trust that by now, you are your old/young self once more.

    I bet your kids licked your cheek too. They know where it hurts.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Nan,

      You’re welcome. I’m doing great, although my tongue keeps looking for the missing tooth. 🙂

  39. Walt says:

    Not that I’m recommending you undergo the surgery :), but I would be curious to find out what something like shoulder surgery would cost. I just had outpatient surgery done (had a torn labrum and a partial rotator cuff tear, neither of which they deemed necessary to fix) to do some cleanup in my left shoulder and create some extra spacing in the joint. The facilities bill alone was more than $21,000! If I’d know I was putting a down payment on the building, I’d have opted for a room with a view. 🙂

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Walt,

      $21,000!!! That was for outpatient care? That’s insane.

      You remind me of my friend Felix, the man from El Salvador who bought my house. He needed hernia surgery so he flew back to El Salvador for the operation and saved $10,000-$15,000.

      It would be interesting to find out what your surgery costs beyond our borders. I hope you aren’t in any pain.

      • Walt says:

        The shoulder hurts, primarily in the joint, but I think I expected that. I’ve been trying to be a good boy and do my physical therapy exercises. (Learned my lesson after not doing PT when I broke an ankle years ago.) I’ve learned quickly, though, that the shoulder does not like the cold and snowy weather we are having here in Idaho (not as cold as some parts but cold enough). I am ready to head south, although my retirement nest egg (and my wife) is not quite ready. One of these days, though!

  40. R. says:

    Sue, great and colorful information. Thank you
    Can you suggest or maybe one of your readers how to safely secure cash while crossing the border to Los Algodones and then how does one walk around with a pile of cash. Also how do you know how much you’re going to need? I noticed the most dentists accept only cash and a few accept personal checks. I wouldn’t want to pay with a credit card 4-5% plus 3% what my credit card like to charge for international transaction. I don’t walk around with cash anywhere since I use credit card for every small and larger purchase. I like to get those miles. Only 1500 more miles needed to get me RT ticket to Alaska.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, R. . .

      I’m no expert on this topic, but I’ll share my thoughts. If I knew the dental work was going to be extensive and the bill large, I’d pay with a check.

      I went to my bank in Yuma and withdrew plenty of cash for what I estimated I’d need to pay. I carried that cash on my person in two different locations (pants pocket and zippered coat pocket. Some cash was also in my purse).

      I paid cash for the dental and pharmaceutical. The glasses cost more than I had with me in cash, so I wrote a check. I agree… why pay extra for using a credit card when there are other options.

      How do you know how much you’ll need? Go to the dentist’s website and get an estimate.

      I also use my credit card for practically everything I buy in the U.S. My recent shopping sprees (external hard drive, new curtains, etc.) were financed with my Amazon points from my Visa card.

      • DeAnne in TN says:

        Again that check thing confuses me…

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          Checks at a campground are given to a box on a post, so no one is there to refuse them. Other times, use a credit card or cash if a check is not accepted.

        • Ed says:

          DeAnne in TN,

          “I’m not sure what “Again that check thing confuses me…”
          I did not read where the “check thing” confused you the first time but I will offer what I can.
          You can pay for dental services or eye glasses or prescriptions in Mexico by writing a check. If you have never written a check before, or do not have a bank accounts, then I suggest you go to a bank where you live and talk to them about checking accounts. However, if you have a checking account and have written a check before then there is no reason to be confused just because it is being given to someone in Mexico.

          • DeAnne in TN says:

            Thanks Ed. I have added a couple of comments about using checks as a retiree with no “permanent ” address other than the mailing one. I have used checks for many years, and even in the military town I live in, most places will not accept an out-of-town check, and especially with an out-of-state drivers license. I have been to businesses that would not take your check if your phone number wasn’t imprinted on the check. Heck, if I try to go to a bank and cash a check written on that account, they charge me $5-$15. Whether of not you intend for it to be good, most businesses (here) will not take the risk. So it surprised me that another country would accept a check. Seriously–what could be done about a “bad” check? I understand how checks work, and have lived and visited many countries, but have never considered writing a check. I think Sue intends this blog to be a forum for learning, and I am simply asking questions that will help me in the future.

            • Margo (in Ohio) says:

              DeAnne; not everyone has had the experiences you have encountered with checks- I understand because I have been a bank teller so I have seen both sides- last fall, we were in Nebraska-I walked into a very large nationally known bank with cash in hand needing to purchase a large money order. Because I was not a customer they refused to sell it to me!!!!!! Never liked that bank anyhow but still!

  41. Tom in AZ says:

    Sounds like you did a great job getting teeth fixed and glasses, Susie. Way to go.

    I noticed in your last pic, Costco water and muffin. Another, way to go. Those muffins are good, but you have to buy too many at Costco.

    Safe travels.

  42. Deb from NJ says:

    Love hearing about your adventures! Of course reading about dentists….now my tooth is bothering me. Figures! LOL I so dislike going to the dentist and then it takes forever for them to schedule all your work. Sometimes months. I like the idea of going once or twice and having all the work done. I have had a bad experience with one and just do not like going.

    Love the pictures. Wish I lived closer and could visit there. Just have to wait for my time.

    So I am guessing at this point that the Crew was not happy with you leaving them for the day. Maybe a big bone would make them a little happier and they could forgive you!

    Make it a great day!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Deb,

      Having the dental procedures handled efficiently is a big plus. Throughout the day I was met with consideration concerning time. That’s the way it should be.

      You need a positive experience in the dental chair to make the memory of previous, not-so-good dental experiences fade.

  43. cathy S says:

    Thanks Sue for all the info! I liked the idea of pulling the tooth, then cleaning while still numb…and the glasses are outstanding prices too. Another spot for excellent info on dental in Mexico is the fellow from He goes into great detail too.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cathy,

      Yes, Bob Wells has a great blog. There are several bloggers who post about crossing the border for inexpensive care.

  44. Barb says:

    well, my other comment (made on my phone) must not have made it through the airwaves lol

    love hearing about your experience, it’s fun seeing other people’s perspective. We also went that day to a dentist. 1/2 price teeth cleaning can’t be beat 🙂 I love Algodones…love Mexico really. Fun atmosphere MOST of the time. The border coming back is an experience, huh? Hope your tooth is feeling better!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Barb,

      I’m sorry about your other comment. I get comments that go into my yahoo email account which I NEVER look at because I always have a password or ID problem logging on. Plus I don’t need to have comments coming at me from two different places.

      Right now there are 19 comments according to the little icon on my desktop and I won’t ever read them. Not being snippy about it… It’s too much hassle and usually frustrating.

      Message to everyone… If you want your comment to be seen, make your comment here at my blog, not via email. Thank you.

      And thank you, Barb, for giving me an opening to mention this again.

      • Barb in Washington state says:

        hmmm… not sure. I made the comment on my phone, that might have been the reason……operator error, so to speak lol

  45. Evelyn Wood says:

    Sue, An off subject question. My mom and I are now on the road, for 4 weeks now. And it didn’t take us long to get fed up with rv parks wifi, NOT. So when in the Phoenix area I went to at&t(lower case) and got one of their mifi/wifi things. Well that thing is so on/off that tomorrow I’m taking it back. What are you using? Besides the wilson ant. thing? If you could directly email me as I at least have my iphone for emails, but most of the time I can’t get on the net to read blogs and such.

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      Go to Verizon and get an air card, otherwise known as a Mifi (not Wifi) card. I use the air card with my laptop. I don’t know about using an iphone to read blogs. Have no experience with them.

      Verizon will tell you what you need.

      I’ll try to email you.

      • Evelyn says:

        Thank you for your help. I took the AT&T wifi back this morning in Yuma and now am trying my iPhone as a hot spot. We’ll see how that works.
        Btw we are boondocking off Ogilby rd. our first time. Yipee. It is so quiet and peaceful, had a beautiful sun set. Life is good. We’re not full timing it but soon very soon.

  46. Linda says:

    Re: the deal or not a deal on the glasses….. It all comes out even in the end in the cosmic economy. Don’t you think? I like to think so.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s it exactly, Linda! The eyeglass place made money and I got my glasses without any financial pain. Win, win. 🙂

  47. Darlene in MN. says:

    I think you’re writing a suspense novel now. I wonder how often we have all been checking for the next chapter. The dresses in the picture are gorgeous. Great job reporting,

    • Mary (MN) says:

      Every 5 minutes. :). Actually I went back and read the post about choosing the Casita and about backing up. Nice to read again as hubby and I will be headed out for extended trips as soon as the snow melts. I haven’t yet backed up this camper, but did the old one as well as the boat trailer. Have to say though I was feeling nervous so very nice to have the encouragement. Anxiously waiting the next instalmment but remembering Sue had a tooth pulled and may be dealing with that too. 🙂 Wishing you a speedy recovery,

      • Darlene in MN. says:

        Wondering where you are at in Mn. We live in Wyoming, and it sure seems we are not used to this kind of winter weather. I hope to be able to take our trailer south for awhile next winter.

        • Mary (MN) says:

          Darlene, I live in Duluth, right at the point of Lake Superior. What part of Wyoming? Ten Sleep is my second home, there is nothing like coming over the mountain and descending into that valley. I would love to head south for part of the winter, hubby and I just need to figure out what to do about a house, two cats and two dogs. We don’t think the six of us will fit in a 17 foot camper. We are working out options, now we hire a house sitter and leave the gang at home but that isn’t practical for the winter.

          • Darlene in MN. says:

            Wyoming in Minnesota straight down 35E

            • Mary (MN) says:

              That is funny. I’ve been in the MN Wyoming too looking at boat docks for the cabin we no longer have. You can tell my mind is on vacation, wish my body was too. Yup this weather is getting to me.

          • cathy S says:

            Mary….THANK YOU for mentioning Ten Sleep. We discovered that magical valley on our way from Cody east. I told my husband that we had found the perfect place! So beautiful! I had forgotten the name tho until you mentioned it. Thank you again, Cathy

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Hi, Mary,

        It isn’t my missing tooth that has kept me from posting. That’s fine. I’ve had a misadventure that led to full days . . . Thanks for being a loyal reader and for your kind wish.

        I apologize to you and all my readers who want to read the rest of the Los Algodones story.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Darlene! I’ll try to post today. I’ve been occupied lately with . . . life.

      • Darlene in MN. says:

        Not trying to rush you, anticipation is good. If you got problems wish we could help. If you been taking the pain and antibiotic meds I know that can be a problem. Just take care of you and the dogs, that’s the most important.

  48. Ron Sears says:

    You know I’ve never heard a story of someone going to the dentist sound like so much fun! Made me feel good after a bad day. I was in Vicksburg Ms. when I got a call that my motorhome I live in was on fire. Total loss, so Darcy and I will be TCing it for a while until I can get a replacement . Thanks for the post, it made me smile after a shit day!! Be safe…

    • rvsueandcrew says:


      A total loss? I am so sorry! What heartbreaking news . . . and now you’re tent camping. That’s resilience to the nth degree!

      I hope your losses are only those that can be replaced. You say you were in Vicksburg when you got the call. Where was your motorhome at the time? Do you know the cause of the fire?

      Never have I been this glad to provide someone a bit of distraction from their problems. I know you’ll work your way through this. Wish it hadn’t happened though.

      I’ll be thinking of you. You stay safe, too.

      • Ron Sears says:

        I lived in my motorhome in Russellville, Ar. when I am not able to travel. I have a Lance 855 truck camper that I normally travel in now that I am single and fuel prices being what they are. It only got about 8-9 miles to the gallon where my F250 gets 15-16 with the camper on it.. I was in Vicksburg and Natchez, Ms. the last couple of days when I got the call. In the last five years I have given anything that meant anything to my two children so there was nothing that can’t be replaced in it at the time. I did have all my VA papers along with some other things I sure hated to loose, but it all good. No one got hurt and my buddy’s cabinet shop that I was parked next to didn’t receive any damage. The fire dept. did a great job getting to it and keeping it contained..I have had a lot of bad things happen the last couple of years, but life is good as long as I have my dog and a roof over my head. Thank you , be safe..

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You have the right attitude, Ron. . . “life is good as long as I have my dog and a roof over my head.”

          I think it’s time for things to go your way. Keep your chin up.

      • Diann in MT says:

        So sorry to hear this, Ron. Hope the insurance can get you settled real soon. What a true bummer! Prayers are with you.
        D In MT

  49. Page says:

    I appreciate your level of detail. As a “getting ready to be” full timer, I find it very beneficial.

  50. Bill from NC says:

    Hey Sue congrats on the Mexico health trip and successful procedures! Wanted to leet you know that this is NOT too much info! We NEED TO KNOW!!! LOL I am going soon and this is a huge help! Thanks, Bill

  51. Kitt, NW WA says:

    Great post Sue! I’m enjoying your pictures and descriptions of your adventures in medicine – in this case dentistry. Mexico certainly seems to have a handle on affordable dental and medical care. I absolutely love the idea that you will be getting two pairs of top of the line glasses for $275! I don’t even want to think about what I paid for one pair 🙁

    I have finally traveled with you from the very beginning to today, and have loved every post and every comment. What an adventure it has been, and best of all, it is still evolving! Every single comment about your writing skills has been spot on – perhaps someday you will choose to develop some or all of your experiences into book form.

    Here’s hoping your “misadventure” is minor and resolving itself satisfactorily. I’ll be on pins and needles until your next post. Take care.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Kitt,

      Thank you for reading my blog from the beginning. That’s quite an undertaking. Reading all the comments is an education in itself. Thanks also for the compliment on my writing skills.

      My misadventure has been resolved. I’m behind on posts… We’re already at another camp! I hope to finish up the report on Los Algodones before this day is through . . .

  52. Virginia says:

    Happy to see you made your way down to Mexico for dental and vision. What a deal compared to the states. It sounds like eye glasses are not much of a deal unless you negotiate a bit. I buy mine at the Dollar Tree. They are just as good as my expensive prescription glasses IMHO and they have all the styles. Granted, they are not top quality frames but I have a tendency to lose and break them so this works for me.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Virginia,

      Whatever works for you! That’s great that you can get by so inexpensively. I tried living with only reading glasses. It got to be very difficult putting them on to look over students’ work at their desks, and then taking them off to look around the room and so forth.

      Once I had progressive bifocals with transition, I was hooked.

      I’m rough on glasses, too.

  53. Hannah says:

    An American or Canadian dentist would NOT extract a tooth unless it’s a wisdom tooth and causing problems or it’s being replaced with a bridge or an implant. With a gap left, teeth can move and cause bite problems. Hope this isn’t the case for you.

    Also dentists do not typically give a decent cleaning. Hygienists are specifically trained for that job. You get what you pay for! LOL

  54. Marie says:

    Sue..I also went to Jesus at ja bal. I had 18 crowns done in 3 days…total cost $2500.
    I am “dentist” scared…but knew that this is what I had to do to have “that” smile I have never had. I was majorly impressed. Clean, polite, efficient and FAST! My husband went to Jackie, also in the same clinic and also had a great experience.
    I did not try to haggle the price either.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      That’s quite an endorsement, Marie. Eighteen crowns done in 3 days.. . what a brave thing to face! I’m glad you’re happy with the treatment and result. I wonder what the same work would cost in the U.S. and how long it would take. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  55. Almeda says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I have truly loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing on your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

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