Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nogales, Sonora, Mexico - 1/12/15

After being in Tucson for 7 weeks, we finally made the trip to Nogales, Mexico. It is about 60 miles from Tucson due south on I-19.  We did what most day tourists do and parked in Nogales, AZ, and walked across the border into Mexico.

We parked at a place that I found when doing a little research online, Ed's Parking & Storage at 149 N. Terrace Ave., Nogales, AZ.  The cost was $3 and the lot was open until 7 pm today. There is an attendant in the building there and I felt confident that our car would be safe there (and it was).

We walked about three blocks to the border crossing. Walking into Mexico required no identification; it's only coming back into the US that you need your passport.

Pharmacies line the streets where we entered Nogales. Most anything is available over the counter, but you cannot bring medications back into the US unless you have a prescription from a physician. Ignoring this requirement will promptly get you arrested when you attempt to re-enter the US.

One of the first places that caught my attention was this lovely church a few blocks from the border crossing.

We explored the area looking for an alley that I had heard was a good place to shop, when we ran into an enterprising guy who had a donkey and some props for a fun photo.

The donkey was a sweetheart and gave John a lick. Here's the photo the guy took of the two of us. Too funny!

Here's the alley where we did some shopping.

One of the shops we visited.

You can get a good deal on leather goods (I bought a belt), pottery, glassware, decorative items, and silver jewelry. Be sure to negotiate for purchases (but not food!) We paid about 30-40% of the original asking price.

There are also many dental practices here in Nogales. Apparently, lots of retirees purchase dental care here as it is about 1/3 the price of US dentists and of very good quality. We have not done this yet, but may in the future.

I had read multiple recommendations for the La Roca Restaurant. We did not know exactly where it was an asked a local (who was very helpful) and gave us directions to it. We used the massive overhead walk to get there as the primary access road to the border crossing as well as railroad tracks were between us and the restaurant.

View from the bridge to Nogales, Arizona. There is a large fence that runs along the border (you can see a portion of it [brown] in the center of this photo).

This is the view Nogales, Mexico from the bridge.

The restaurant was only a couple of blocks from the other side of the pedestrian bridge.

It's built into the side of the mountain (see the stone walls in the background?)

The ambiance was just lovely.

We were there for a late lunch and started with cocktails (Dos Equis for John and margaritas for me). The fresh salsa and chips were great. Here's their menu.

Our lunches (Sea Base Burritos for me and the Combination Mexicana for John) were delicious. And the service was fantastic. I explored a little bit more of the restaurant and found it as beautiful as the main dining room where we ate.

This was the highlight of our visit! Great food, price, and service. We highly recommend La Roca.

Here is the border crossing for vehicles.

We walked back to the border from the restaurant (only a few blocks). We showed our passports and the border patrol asked what we were bringing back into the US.  I told them (about $45 worth of goods). He then asked if we had purchased any cigarettes or liquor (no, we hadn't). They did not search our bag and we were on our way with no hassle.

We returned to our car and hopped on I-19 north to Tucson. There is a border patrol checkpoint on the highway, but again, the officer only asked if we were US citizens. You need to be prepared to show identification though if requested.

I am glad we made the trip here, but will likely not return. The people here desperately need our tourist dollars, though, and that is a good reason to visit. Everyone we encountered was friendly, courteous, and helpful. We have had several folks tell us about RV travels in Mexico which they report as fantastic. Many visit in groups and have found the country very beautiful and accommodating to tourists. Overall, it was a very positive experience for us.

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