The Road to Normal

Well, it’s been one month and seven days that we have been FTA’s (Full-Time Airstreamers),  and living in 200 square feet is starting to feel quite normal. Sort of. Some of the things that are becoming normal are as follows:

-Passing each other in the trailer hallway turned sideways and bumping noses.

-Opening the cupboard that holds the dishes after driving to a new location to find nothing where it was yesterday.

-Remembering that many clothes are in the walk-in closet which in this trailer is under the bed. So, getting them means lifting up the mattress on its platform, finding whatever you need in one of the under-the-bed compartments, closing the bed back up without getting your fingers caught in the heavy springs and hoping you haven’t forgotten anything because this is a real pain. No problem.

-Giving yourself ten minutes to clean the whole trailer, but around twenty minutes to make the bed because you only have one foot of space on either side in which to work, one closet in which to put the extra blankets and several trips back and forth to the kitchen to retrieve the toss pillows and the decorative throw.

-Spending most of the day outside (yahoo!). Breakfast and lunch are both eaten on lawn chairs or picnic tables looking at magnificent views or reading books in the sun. It’s great. No wonder we can live in 200 feet of space.

And so it goes. It hasn’t been hard to get used to and doesn’t seem to have an ending date yet. We are on the road to normal and apparently it’s true that you can get used to anything. But sometimes there’s things that do not fit into the  plan and that may never become customary.  Our recent trip to the dentist is one of them.

That’s right, the dentist. Also, the drugstore, the hairdresser and the optometrist. All of that occurred last week when we went to a little town just on the other side of the Mexican border called Los Algodones. This town seems to be like no other and it’s all good.

Los Algodones consists of approximately six thousand enterprising souls who have seen a market and devoted themselves to filling a need. Consequently, around nine hundred dentist offices, many American-oriented pharmacies, restaurants, hairdressers and optical shops have opened their doors to tourists. They offer quality services and products but at a fraction of Canadian and American costs. If you care to make the trip, it’s a win situation for both parties. But normal? Not.

The experience is one that can only be described as ….amazing.

First of all, crossing the border is simple. It’s just a walk from a parking lot on the American side. Loud Mexican music plays, offerings of jewelry and wallets line the sidewalk, and in a few minutes, you’re there.

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And then it starts. The very friendly people of Algodones are upon you in a moment and are with you thoughout your visit. Calls of “Hey, you want a dentist? Follow me to a real one.”  or, “Lady, need a pharmacy? Medicine? Pills? Sunglasses?” happen constantly. After awhile, you develop a glazed look and a patented answer of “No, thanks” or “Got one already, thanks”.  I made a few new friends as I walked around with my camera and amid a lot of hooting and hollering I got this picture:

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And then there’s the other attractions in town. There’s lots of stores with their wares on the sidewalk, all set up so that you must pass under their canopies or else take your life in your hands walking down the road amid crazy Mexican drivers. The bargaining goes wild in these areas if you are fool enough to even glance at what might be for sale.

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And then there’s the pharmacies. Food, medicine, prescriptions, cooking supplies, beauty items and alcohol fill the shelves of huge buildings and have equally huge crowds of tourists in them at any given time. The supplies are plentiful, the prices are right (Viagra, $1.00), and the Mexican people are both friendly and efficient. A great situation.

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But my favorite thing of all (the dentist is excellent, but what can I say, I hate it!), is going to the hairdresser in Los Algodones. Over on Avenue A, I get to follow my new best friend Marcus into his shop where he exclaims in a loud voice, “Haircut, lady, pedicure, manicure?” I follow him like a sheep to the slaughter and silently wonder what on earth I’m doing.

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Thank heavens inside the shop there’s a nice lady named Maya who really knows what she’s doing. With a lot of gestures, non-sensical babbling on my part and a very rapid translation courtesy of the charming Marcus, Maya and I manage to come to an agreement about what I want for my haircut and then she goes to work. I sit and worry and pray a lot but every time it comes out alright. That’ll be a hundred and sixty pesos, please. What, ten dollars??

And so our walk to the edge these days is very interesting.  Tomorrow we are going to attempt a hike up a huge mountain at our favorite campsite and we’ll see just how far and how high we can go. Stay tuned for that upcoming adventure and check out my new hairdo while you’re at it. Until then, adios, amigos.









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