Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My First Visit to Mexico

Click for Larger Image of the Border CrossingI am now staying at the LOW-Hi Park, situated 30 miles north of the Mexican border. Each week a large group caravans from here to Mexico to have lunch at The Pink Store in Palomas, a small border town that is mere inches into Mexico. About 40 of us parked on the U.S. side, and walked across the border. While cars are required to drive though a gate, the only real indication for those of us on foot that we were leaving the U.S. was a sign telling us we would be arrested if we brought firearms into Mexico, and a plaque with a vertical line that designated the exact location of the border. There were no uniformed officials asking for our passports and visas, or inquiring about where we were going or how long we were staying. We just walked right in.

The streets in Palomas are shabby and poor, but a few comparatively upper scale businesses -- opticians, dentists, and pharmacies -- joined The Pink Store as obviously U.S.-oriented. Most took either pesos or dollars and all took credit cards. A street vendor asked us if we wanted -- oddly -- plastic hammocks, another tried to sell us wallets and trinkets, and a man in a wheelchair solicited donations for a charity. A woman dressed in traditional Mexican garb held doors open for us, a basket pointedly in her hand for tips.

Click for Larger Image of The Pink StoreWe walked through The Pink Store to get to the restaurant. The store was overflowing with colorful goods like blankets, purses, small carved statues, jewelry, and liquor, all at bargain prices. Inside the restaurant, hot pink walls predominated, but the decorations were a confusion of color -- small stained glass windows and abstract glass art hung from the ceiling, mirrors and paintings competed for space on the walls, and a huge fountain gurgled in the middle of the dining room. Walls that were not hot pink were painted lime green or vivid purple. Even the restroom sinks and soap dispensers were mosaics of traditional designs and colors.

Click for Larger Image of sinksThe restaurant had a long table ready for us with hot chips, perfectly seasoned hot sauce, and excellent salsa -- just the right blend of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. A one-man band played in the background, and occasionally diners would dance in the aisles. The first drink was free, so most of the group -- myself included -- ordered a Margarita. I usually expect "free" to mean "watered down" but not here! After lunch we shopped in The Pink Store, and then some in the group visited a pharmacy to pick up medications.

Once we were done eating and shopping, it was time to return to the U.S., where we did go through Customs. We showed our passports, declared our purchases, and were done with the formalities in less than five minutes. This was a fun first visit to Mexico for me -- made extra special by a great lunch and good company.

Click for Larger Image of John, ZoAnn, and Cookie - Image Taken By Another Diner

Dining At The Pink Store:

John, Me, and Cookie

1 comment:


If you stood with one foot on the U.S. side of the border & one foot on the Mexican side, which country would you be in?