Several blog readers have asked questions about our trip across the border to purchase medicines in Mexico, so I thought I would answer their questions here.
Q. The other day you talked about going to Mexico to buy medications. When you do that, do you drive across the border, and if so what kind of insurance is required? If you don’t drive, do you take a taxi or hire a driver, or what?
A. We have never driven our car or RV into Mexico. We always park on the American side and walk across the border. In every place we have done it, from Palomas to Los Algodones, to Nogales, there are free parking lots or lots that charge a small fee for parking. There are plenty of pharmacies, restaurants, dentists, optometrists, and anything else you could possibly want within a block or two of the port of entry in every town.
Q. You said the medicines you get in Mexico are the same thing you get in the United States, but I have heard of counterfeit stuff being sold there. How do you know you are not being sold something bogus?
A. I don’t believe that would happen at any of the pharmacies that U.S. citizens normally patronize. They know that word of mouth can make or break their reputations. We have shown meds we purchased south of the border to our doctors here and they all agree it is not a problem.
Q. Nick, I know you have a concealed carry permit. Do you carry a handgun when you go to Mexico?
A. Absolutely not! Taking a firearm into Mexico, or even a single round of ammunition, can get you into very serious legal trouble. I don’t even have one in my car when I get that close to the border. I leave it with a friend or in our hotel room on the U.S. side.
Q. As a follow-up to my first question, do you worry about your safety when you go across the border?
A. Those border towns know how much the gringo dollars contribute to their economy, and overall, I don’t feel any more threatened in them than I do in any big city north of the border. While crime is rampant in some parts of Mexico, we don’t wander down back streets away from the general tourist areas, just like we would not in New Orleans or Chicago. And we stay alert wherever we are. Situational awareness can keep you out of trouble and even save your life.
Q. What about the language barrier? Do you speak Spanish?
A. I know a few phrases in Spanish but it is not needed. Everyone we have ever dealt with at the businesses in the border towns speaks English.
Q. What kind of identification do you need to go to Mexico to get medicine, and is it a hassle getting into Mexico or back into the United States?
A. If you are walking across like we did, no documentation is required by Mexican authorities, they don’t even ask you any questions. Coming back, we presented our passports at the U.S. port of entry, they asked what we were bringing back with us, and told us to have a good day. We did have a Border Patrolman ask us to stop while he walked his K-9 around us, which has never happened before. I have been told that an enhanced drivers license can also be used for re-entry, but I would advise checking with the port of entry where you will be going, just to be safe. If you are driving, you will need more documentation, and may have your vehicle searched. Again, inquire locally before you go.
Q. My cousin said he heard about a guy who went to Mexico to get dental work done and they drugged him and stole his kidneys to resell on the back market. Do you think that really happened? Do you worry about anything like that?
A. My cousin told me he heard about a guy who married Bigfoot’s sister. I put as much stock in that as the stolen kidney story. I won’t worry about either one until a big hairy kid with a fresh incision on his back shows up at my door asking if he can mow my grass.
Q. Is a prescription needed to purchase medicine in Mexico or to bring it back across the border?
A. We have never been asked for a prescription to purchase anything or to bring it back with us. You do need to know the generic name and the dosage you require for accuracy.
Q. As an American, don’t you think it is kind of chintzy of you to buy medicines in a Third World country instead of here at home, where the money you spend goes to keep your fellow Americans employed?
A. Do you mean my fellow Americans like the rich CEOs of big pharmaceutical companies who hike up the prices of medicines people need to survive, just to feed their greed and keep their investors happy? Nope, it does not bother me one bit.
Q. How much of any one medicine can you bring back from Mexico and do you have to pay an import fee or anything?
A. I was told you can bring back a 90-day supply of any non-prohibited medicines. Which means that I could have a 90-day supply, and so could Miss Terry. But as I stated above, inquire locally if you are concerned.
Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an RV camping journal donated by Barbara House. Barbara makes several variations of these, and they all have pages where you can list the date, weather, where you traveled to and from that day, beginning and ending mileage, campground information including amenities at RV sites, a place for a campground rating, room to record activities, people met along the way, reminders of places to see and things to do the next time you’re in the area, and a page for notes for each day. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.