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The Gearboat Chronicles

Viva Fajita Night

We might need to have fajita night more than once per river trip, otherwise I may never get through these 3,780 milliliters of hot sauce I just bought in Mexico.

I went down to the border town of Algodones, Mexico, which is the dentist capital of northern Baja. Hundreds of Canadians and Americans were down there with me, on a Wednesday afternoon, getting their bridge work done, roots canaled, teeth crowned and prescriptions filled.

There are four blocks to the business district, dominated by over forty dental clinics. I decided to pass on the businesses right next to the border crossing, where employees wearing hospital scrubs were outside competing to hustle customers inside.

“My friend, my friend, come inside, what do you need? A filling? Cleaning? Right this way…” “No, my friend, don’t listen to him, his fluoride paste is rusty, you must come in here, we have only the finest in tooth care…” “Don’t listen to them, they are bandits, my friend, this way, please…”

I found a quiet place, with no bouncers, and had my chipped tooth looked at. Free exam. Five dollar x-ray. I got several quotes and decided to come back in a day or two.

Crossing back into the states, I was the only person in line without a large plastic bag filled with cheap ibuprofen, bottles of pure vanilla, discount tequila or a souvenir sombrero.

“What are you bringing back,” the border guard asked after scanning my passport.


“Nothing? You went to Mexico for nothing?…step around the counter and empty your pockets…” He looked again at my passport and signaled for backup from another guard who was standing against the wall.

I was pretty sure I should have had that chipped tooth fixed, because the prison dentist would almost certainly be more painful.

I emptied my pockets, placing my phone, my car keys and my quote from the dentist on the counter.

“What’s this?” I was asked, as the border guard examined the dental estimate.

“I have a chipped tooth…a molar.”

“Oh, why didn’t you say so? You’re free to go. Have a nice day.”

So the next time I crossed over into Algodones, I thought I’d better buy something. And that’s when I found the mother of all hot sauce bottles. I haven’t tried this Castillo Amor brand, but I’m guessing it’s not all that bueno, since it’s sold by the barrel.

“Castillo Amor” translates as, “Castle Love,” unless I’m mistaken. Which would be a great title for a medieval romance novel.

It cost me four dollars, or 52 pesos, for 3,780 milliliters of salsa picante, which should keep Winding Waters supplied for…I don’t know how many fajita nights. It’s in metric, so I’m not sure how to convert that to river trips.

We’ll still have the Tapatio and Dave’s Ultimate Insanity next time the Riveritas come out for your next Hells Canyon or Salmon River expedition…but if you feel like trying some of the imported Castle Love, well, by all means help yourself. I’ve got plenty.

And it worked like a charm, by the way. The border guard took a look, said, “that is one big bottle of hot sauce,” then waved me right through.