By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
The guy was accommodating, insisting I come to him every time I need something.
"Ask for José," he said.
In the past, you walked no more than three feet into Mexico before your eyes gravitated to a dozen discount pharmacias. Mexican men and women dressed in polyester white pants and lab coats beckoned you from their doors.
"Check out my prices, my friend! Thirty percent off everything!"
"Sir, we have everything you need!"
Normally, I smiled and waved, simply said no, thank you. That particular drug store didn't carry what I wanted. Now, I worry that no drug store will ever let go of the good stuff again. I'd like to believe the clerks who said that this was just part of the game. After all, I've only been doing this for three years, and they've probably been here for decades. Still, my access to Mexican narcotics may be severely compromised. I long for the days when money and the right small talk would allow me back into the USA with a crotch-load of stash.
Whether I continue smuggling is not entirely up to me. If the cops remain and pharmacists won't sell the dangerous drugs anymore, I'm certainly not copping off José again, waiting upstairs in a crummy cantina until he returns with overpriced pills. But Americans buying drugs in freewheeling Tijuana pharmacias add a great deal of money to the economy. How much? Lots. Tons. I can't imagine those places surviving if all they can sell is Claritin, Cipro or Retin-A. My bet is that unbridled selling returns soon—hopefully, the day I do. I sometimes wonder: When will I return—and what kind of drugs will I be able to get?
I think about that all the time.