The last time I stepped outside the United States was in March 2020. When I left for Africa all was calm. By the time I returned just a week later, everything had begun to change. I recently left the USA once again…but it was not a fancy vacation in a premium cabin. In fact, it did not even involve an airplane. Instead, I took a day trip to Tijuana in Baja California.
My First International Trip Wasn’t Sexy…
Prescription drug prices are outrageously high in the United States when compared to most of the world. Unless you have a very luxe health care plan, you’re going to be paying a lot for medicine deemed discretionary (and I’m not talking about the little blue pill…). But step outside U.S. borders and you can often find the same drugs for only a fraction of the cost. In fact, the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, though a legal gray area, is a blossoming industry.
Canada, however, is closed to U.S. travelers. But Mexico remains opens.
So my wife and I left my kids at my parent’s house and headed down to Mexico. Yes, our first international trip since COVID-19 was to buy drugs in Mexico…
Tijuana 2020 Trip
We parked our car in San Ysidro, CA and waked over the border. It had been 15 years since I crossed into Tijuana and I was surprised that it was a bit more formal this time around. Last time I just walked through the turnstile with no check on the Mexican side. This time we had to present our passports and were formally stamped in. The border agent was so kind, asking about how COVID-19 in Germany (I guess she was not used to German passports). But once past the checkpoint, it was business as usual, with aggressive taxi touts that we politely avoided.
We walked around for a bit, finding ourselves in a quiet business district before heading over to the touristic center of Tijuana on Avenida Revolución.
Street tacos in Tijuana? Of course. And they were not only cheap, but incredibly delicious.
We had no trouble finding the prescription drug we were looking and soon headed back to the border…where we found a huge pedestrian line to cross back into San Diego.
Some guy came up and claimed the line was three hours long and he could drive us over the border for $20 each in a special government lane. Since I had not seen the line move even once since we had arrived, I negotiated him down to $10 each and we took him up on his offer. That wasn’t very smart…as I’ll detail in a follow-up post specifically on the border formalities. Stupid me didn’t know that the SENTRI line is available for those with Global Entry.
One other note. Everyone was wearing a mask in Tijuana. Almost everyone. Restaurants like our taqueria were open for indoor dining, but our temperatures were checked as we entered and hand sanitizer was mandatory. This was at a hole-in-the-wall place.
We had a nice time in Tijuana and would return again. The food was amazing and yes, the sewer smells are annoying, but you sort of get used to it. It’s a fun cross-border trip and a vital lifeline for those who depend upon prescription drugs and cannot afford U.S. prices.