Written by beach_lvr on 23 Oct, 2004
Just 3 miles away from the southwest Texas town of Del Rio, you'll find Acuña - a Mexican border town populated by 120,000 people. Cuidad de Acuña offers a truer look at Mexican culture, a chance to purchase prescription medications at deep discounts, cheap over…Read More
Just 3 miles away from the southwest Texas town of Del Rio, you'll find Acuña - a Mexican border town populated by 120,000 people. Cuidad de Acuña offers a truer look at Mexican culture, a chance to purchase prescription medications at deep discounts, cheap over the counter antibiotics (usually in large bottles and priced at between $9 and $20 per bottle), at least two excellent and authentic Mexican restaurants (dirt cheap prices), bargains on gemstones, solid Mexican silver, vanilla, Mexican blankets, liquor and cigarettes. From Houston, I-10 West turns into Highway 90 and will bring you directly into Del Rio. Coming from the San Antonio airport, Acuña is a mere 3-hour drive. You could fly directly into Del Rio, Texas via a puddle jumper, but those flights tend to be for private planes only, and therefore, a bit pricey. The closest Mexican airport to Acuña is Piedras Negras International Airport, located 130km away from Acuña. The Monterrey, Mexico airport is 300km away.
As you approach the Mexican Federales in order to get into the country, they'll probably ask you, Where are you going? What are you here for? How long will you be in Acuna? Once past the Federales, you will realize that you are in another country. There's a pretty stark contrast to what you'll see here, and what you'll see on the U.S. side of the border. The first things I noticed were the old, crumbling cement buildings; stop signs that look like ours, but say Alto instead of "Stop;" locals who don't bother to stop at stop signs; the occasional overwhelming whiff of Pemex gasoline,; parched earth; lots of dust swirling into the air from cars passing by; storefront signs all in Spanish; an odor in the air reminiscent of Bourbon Street in New Orleans; and an extremely economically depressed population roaming the streets in very old clothing or circa 1970s polyester pants (this was not a fashion statement for them).
For a city with a population of 120,000 citizens, you'll have a hard time believing that so many people live here. The portion of Acuña that the touristas see (shops, restaurants, and pharmacies) is less populated and encompasses perhaps an 8 to 10 square block radius. Most of the housing (mostly small shanties and colonias) are far enough beyond the shopping district that you'll never see them. The landscape here is much like the desert, dry and dusty.
You can park on the U.S. side of the border or on the Mexico side of the border. Having lived in Texas all these years (and going to Mexico quite a lot), we found the best and easiest parking method was to park our car in a supervised lot on the Mexican side. As you follow the main road leading from the border into Acuña, you'll see locals trying to wave you into their parking lots, which are typically watched by one man alone. It costs just a few dollars to park all day. Nothing has ever happened to our cars over there and we've been there too many times to count! The best place we've found to park that is convenient to the best restaurants and shopping is the lot closest to Ma Crosby's. On occasion, we have also parked in front of one of the pharmacias. Once you have parked somewhere off the main drag in Acuña (just blocks past the border entry), all of the pharmacies, liquor stores, apparel shops, and restaurants are within walking distance. Most of the shops are going to be within a 4 to 8 block radius of wherever you decide to park.
What are the top reasons why people like to go to Acuna? There are many reasons, but I can say for sure that the primary reason that many come here is to get prescriptions at deep discounts. Second, the shopping can be very good here, especially if you're buying leather, liquor, cigarettes, woven goods, pottery, wrought iron, equestrian supplies, and jewelry. There is also a taste of true Mexican culture here, and you will see that pretty immediately. There are two wonderful, authentic Mexican restaurants here where you'll get a real taste of Mexican food: Ma Crosby's and Landos.
You'll find vendors on street corners selling everything from sno-cones (not recommended - don't drink the water), tamales, fruit, handmade wooden puppets, apparel, to jewelry and more.
Few people here speak English. The ones who speak very limited, broken English tend to work in the pharmacies. What can you get in the pharmacies? You can get dirt-cheap Retin-A; deep discounts on many of your prescriptions; and dirt-cheap, over-the-counter antibiotics (sitting on store shelves, no prescription needed), such as penicillin and ampenicillin. There are people who come to Acuna looking for diet pills, but I don't recommend that. They have outlawed the diet pills and will sell you sugar pills if you ask for diet pills. You can still get the Redotex diet pills here (banned in America), but it is illegal to cross the border with them. There are also bodybuilders who come here to get steroidal injections (also illegal to cross the border with). They do quite a bit of checking at the border. Our vehicle and purses have been searched on numerous occasions. If buying prescriptions here, shop around at the many pharmacias here to check prices, as they can be quite variable.
There are many Americans without dental coverage who flock to Mexico for cheap dental work and middle class, middle-aged women rushing here to get face and eye lifts. You can also get prescription eyeglasses here in Acuña for next to nothing.
We have always felt pretty safe in coming here, even without our husbands with us. The scariest incident we ever encountered here was when a group of young, local lotharios followed us around as we shopped (at a safe distance), whistling at us and yelling out a few catcalls in Spanish. This happened probably on two occasions. However, they never actually approached us, just followed us around (at a safe distance) admiringly. Overall, I'd say Acuña is much safer to travel to than Nuevo Laredo (another border town covered in pharmacies).
Tips: The best thing you can do for yourself if you come here to save money and land some bargains on tangible items is to check the currency exchange rate just before you leave for your trip and bring a calculator!
The best Mexican restaurant here by far (and cleanest) is Crosbys - a.k.a. Ma Crosbys. The second best is Landos. We've checked around, and we never eat anywhere else. However, I have seen signs for the Cadillac Bar and Grill and have heard good things about them.
If you've been to other Mexican towns, you know that, in some cases, beggars swamp American tourists. That's not so much the case here in Acuna. The people here are dirt poor, but proud. We have probably only been approached twice in all the years that we have been coming here. Each time, it was by extremely poor elderly women. The police here discourage begging, so if you're approached at all, it's likely to be by a singular person who will likely approach you very discreetly.
You may notice a slight odor in the air in Acuna. This is primarily because the sewage system here is somewhat primitive and poor. It's not very noticeable unless you come here after a heavy rain. They keep the main streets where the touristas come in and shop fairly clean, but certainly not spic-and-span. This is Mexico after all.
While Crosby's claims to purify their water, we have always preferred not to take chances. We have always gotten bottled drinks wherever possible when visiting here and none of us has ever gotten sick. Though we have made an exception on a few occasions and indulged in the huge, fish bowl-sized margaritas at Crosby's. There are bottled sodas available inside most all of the many pharmacies throughout Acuna. We always bring our own bottled water.
Each person in your car is allowed to cross the border with one bottle of liquor. We saw many buying Cuervo here. You certainly won't be limited to Cuervo, as there is a wide selection of both domestic and imported liquors in Acuna at discount prices. The limit on beer (crossing the border) is one case. Coronas anyone? Some of the merchants will let you haggle with them on prices, especially if you're fluent in Spanish.
Bring your driver’s license and passport or birth certificate, as they may be checked on your way out of the country at the border. You can't exit the country without these documents.
Written by beach_lvr on 09 Nov, 2004
Acuña Facts and Quirky Information
Continental Airlines has recently signed a deal with the city of Del Rio, Texas (3 miles away from Acuña, Mexico), and will begin flights from IAH (Houston) to DRT (Del Rio, TX) this coming March. The contract is for one year.…Read More
Acuña Facts and Quirky Information
Continental Airlines has recently signed a deal with the city of Del Rio, Texas (3 miles away from Acuña, Mexico), and will begin flights from IAH (Houston) to DRT (Del Rio, TX) this coming March. The contract is for one year. Prior to that time, the only airplanes allowed into Del Rio are private planes.
There are more than 55 maquiladeros (industrial plants) in Acuña. The average worker in one of these plants makes about $70 per week and lives with his family in a one-room, dirt-floored hovel, cardboard box, or lean-to. The majority also have only an outhouse (if they're lucky) as a bathroom for their hovel. Among the plants owned by US companies here are Kimberly-Clarke, Alcoa, Sunbeam, and many more. The most infamous seems to be Alcoa, cited by many workers as offering up horrific working conditions, a prison-like atmosphere, and managers limiting toilet paper to three squares per employee, per bathroom visit. There are no unions here -- instead, there are strong lobbyists with a lot of money preventing that from ever happening.
Are you a risk-taker looking for a cheaper way to get bar iatric surgery? Scarily, there is a doctor who does this in Acuña - Jose Rodriguez, MD, Bar iatrics, Acuña, Mexico (Lap Band).
You must be in a particular lane (lane 1) at the border crossing from Acuña to Del Rio if you have any purchases or medicines from Mexico to claim. As you cross over the Rio Grande and into Acuña, you'll notice many locals from the Acuña side taking a dip in the water below the bridge-crossing.
Events and Celebrations
Each October, Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio, Texas (its sister city across the border), celebrate the traditional "Fiesta de la Amistad" (The Celebration of Friendship). The main events of this celebration are parades and speeches by the mayors of both cities, but this celebration offers up much more (listed below). It's a celebration of friendship and trade between Del Rio, TX, and its neighbor, Acuña, Mexico. Another of the biggest celebrations here is the "Day of the Dead" celebration (during Halloween). The locals dress in costume, make Day of the Dead cakes (complete with faux skeletons) and celebrate their lost.
Also in October, an international chess match was held in Acuña this past year, gastronomical delights are offered up by local restauranteurs each year, and cycling races are held each year, whereby the riders cross the international bridge on bikes and return. The significance of the race appears to be relative to freedom and immigration. Arts and Cultural Week falls around the third week of each October.
Marijuana seizures have increased at the Acuna/Del Rio border crossing.
Hotels/Motels in Acuña
HOTEL BEST WESTERN VILLA REAL 4* 55 habitaciones Bravo No. 643
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. 52 877 772 7100
HOTEL ALASKA 3* 42 habitaciones Guerrero y M. Múzquiz
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-5296
HOTEL LAS VEGAS, MOTEL 3* 40 habitaciones Guerrero y Villaldama No. 900
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-5423
HOTEL LOS ALPES, MOTEL 3* 43 habitaciones Blvd. Guerrero Sur No. 2775
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-6231
HOTEL SAN ANTONIO 3* 57 habitaciones Hidalgo y Lerdo No. 110
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-5108
HOTEL TARASCO, MOTEL 3* 42 habitaciones Blvd. Guerrero y A. Obreg n No. 150
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-4428
HOTEL DAISY INN 3* 43 habitaciones Lib. José de las Fuentes Rodríguez No. 850
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-8271
HOTEL SAN JORGE 2* 24 habitaciones Hidalgo No. 165 Ote. Altos
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-5070
HOTEL LOMA ALTA 2* 28 habitaciones Blvd. Guerrero Sur No. 900
Cd. Acuña, Coahuila. Tel. (877) 772-4410
For RVs, there's the Lonesome Dove RV Ranch in Del Rio: http://www.lonesomedovervranch.com
The only hotel I can recommend with certainty in Acuña is the Best Western Villa Real. The others are mostly rated as two-star motels and appear from the outside to be quite dilapidated and, in some cases, unclean.
Written by Marta Trevino Castilleja on 27 Jul, 2010
If you are looking for a quiet town across the USA border, visit Acuna. It's a mix of the past with the future. I visit Acuna from time to time whenever I get an opportunity and have seen amazing changes in its growth. The…Read More
If you are looking for a quiet town across the USA border, visit Acuna. It's a mix of the past with the future. I visit Acuna from time to time whenever I get an opportunity and have seen amazing changes in its growth. The growth is perhaps attributed to the many US companies and corporations that have made this small town their home and also to people from other parts of the country that come to try new horizones. The main street that takes you to Acuna from Del Rio, has been the main entrance into this picturesque Mexican town for so many years. You don't need to cross oceans to visit our neighbors. Walk its street, or take a ride. I like to walk and mingle with the many friendly people and shop for decorative art that is sold in the curio shops lining the main streets. When I have had my fill of the warmth of this place, I like to go into the Crosby, one of the oldest restaurants in the town and have one of their Chiles Rellenos. Those Poblano peppers cooked to perfection and filled with its special meat and cheese stuffing that is such a Mexican tradition. Now that's a meal. I do like to rest, and for comfort and security, I stay at Tarasco Motel. I find it to be a very pleasant and quiet place to rest. Its large, gated, parking lot gives me a sense of security for myself and my auto. Whenever I have a longing for good, relaxing time, I get on my car and head down south to Acuna. Close