Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Our last weekend in Algodones was bittersweet. Since we were pretty much out of food, it was cheaper (and waaaay more fun) biking over the border everyday instead of going to the grocery stores in Yuma. Since we were leaving on Monday, I really didn't want to pack up and move just to come back and then have to leave again.

The first week we were in Algodones, I spied an item with which I would become slightly obsessed. It was a leather messenger bag with skulls,

Leather skull bag.. a harmless obsession

hanging high up in the stall outside the south end of the Purple Pharmacy. I made the mistake of

 hesitating and looking up at it. The vendor was all over it asking me which bag I wanted. So, I pointed and he took it down. It looked in good shape and well made. He said "$165". Yeah, not in my budget. I told him I had $10. He balked and said "you want to pay me 10% of what it's worth?". I said, "I don't want to, it's really just all I have". I think he may have come down to about $90, but still too rich for my blood. So, after getting the tooth extraction, pneumonia and a root canal, I pretty much forgot about it of the next month. However, I noticed the bag again my last week there. I watched it everyday, walking through the stall looking above me, as the location changed on a daily basis. The last day we went over, we were sitting at the tables on the main street with a direct view of the stall. It was the end of the day and I had already scoped out the bag's location earlier. It was still there, it was still there! Hmmm... how ballsy was I feeling? One of the vendors in the stall was packing up the bags. He had a bunch of them hanging on a pole over his shoulders so he could transport them. After consulting with Sam, I decided to give the bag another whirl. I had a $10 bill in one hand and a $20 in the other. I went over and followed the bag down the stall. The older vendor who I had talked to the first time, followed me and asked what I was looking for. I pointed to the bag on the pole and said "that one". He took it off the pole and again started with $165. I told him I only had $10 (seriously, I had no business buying a bag. We've been trying to save every penny to pay for dental). He scoffed, but didn't tell me to go jump in the lake or anything. He went down to $80, I said, again "I can really only afford $10". He got down to $30, I held fast. Then it was $25, again I held my ground. After I was convinced he wasn't going to take $10, I offered up the $20. After trying again to get $25, he sold it to me for $20! I was so thrilled. When we looked at the bag before, I thought it had been around for a while. It had a lot of dust on it and the cell phone holder in the front was tiny. There was newspaper inside dated Nov. 2011. I also found a suede tag inside that said "made in Mexico". I still couldn't believe I was going home with it... thank you mr. vendor man.

After buying the bag, I went back to the tables and recounted my experience to Sam. He was proud of me for sticking to my guns. I didn't feel badly about getting it so cheaply, after all, it had been around for a while. It was not exactly the type of thing that is popular with the middle America/Canada over 70 crowd. Afterall, it was going to a good home, right? Sam decided that called for a celebration and headed to the small grocery store up the block for a can of Tecate. When he got back, he told me found $20 on the floor of the grocery. He looked around for the possible owner (he's so honest, all the time), but no one was about. That really made me feel like that bag was destined for me, waiting for me all this time. Up until that point, all I had bought was a couple of cheap leather bracelets and a small rubber chicken with a suction cup attached for the rig. 

That last weekend we met up with Richie, who introduced us to some people. 2 of them were named Ben. We all went for Quesadillas together. One of the Bens was a young 27 year old American who lives in the Filipines and has his own software company. He was smart and funny and invited us to come visit him in the Filipines. That is the second invite for the Filipines on this trip. hmmmm... maybe? The other Ben was older, with a Filipina wife named Tita.

Sam, with Ben and Tita, more new friends!! 

They were in Algodones getting braces at Dr. Reyes for their youngest daughter. They were all super nice and fun people. The older Ben bought everyone's lunch and a good time was had by all. Yay! More new friends. 

We also ended up going back to the Hawaiin strip Club with Ray that weekend. It was pretty busy that night, which made for interesting people watching. At one point, I noticed an older, rather conservative looking couple sitting on the couch across the dance floor. I was trying to figure out their story. The next time I glanced over there, the husband was getting a lap dance and the wife was slapping the dancers bottom in a playful way. Shock city! I did not expect that. Just goes to show you, don't judge a book by it's cover. 

So, after saying goodbye to Richie, the Bens, Tita, Ray, John, the Chicken Man, and several of the men in orange vests who we had gotten to know, we bid farewell to Algodones. For me, it was bittersweet because we really enjoyed getting to know the culture, meeting some of the people, along with other new friends and making life long connections. At the same time, the weather was getting so hot, in the mid to upper 90's, that I was looking forward to headed back up North to cooler weather. So, for now, adios Algodones.... 

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