Year by year, grocery stocks in local markets increase and today you can find all the staple ingredients and most of the trimmings. Several shops carry low-calorie and low-fat items. Meats are excellent although you may not recognize the cuts. Pork and sausage remain difficult to find but there is a nice variety of lunch-meats and cheese, bacon is lean and economical. Produce is abundant and extremely well-priced, seafood fresh and varied.
Remember, U.S.-made merchandise must be shipped in and duties paid. Anything you absolutely can’t live without must be brought with you. Clothing available in San Felipe is mostly of the “tourist attraction” type, seams may not be strong and ironing will likely be needed. There are several small boutiques around town, though prices are slightly more expensive than the States. For your real needs, swimsuits, shirts, shorts, jeans, a sweater plus a jacket, thick socks and a pair of good walking shoes will easily see you through the year. Dresses and suits are optional. You can also get laundry done while in San Felipe, The Wash Tub Laundromat is highly recommended.
Pharmacies, fuel stations and parts stores stand ready to serve. You will find many cost-effective drugs in local pharmacies but you must be aware that many drugs require a prescription from a Mexican doctor (see the commentary on our consulate page about the problems of buying drugs in larger cities like Tijuana). Pemex gas stations are all controlled by the government with prices the same all across the peninsula, usually higher than U.S. prices. It will be wise to fill your tanks just before entering Mexico. Diesel fuel is available at the harbor and propane cylinders are refilled at the one plant operating in town across from the electricity plant. Diesel is now also available at most Pemex stations. Bottled water and ice are available almost anywhere. In Mexicali you can now shop at Walmart, Costco and Home Depot. All take Visa credit cards.
A stroll down the Malecon always allows visitors to peruse curios, stop for a pina colada or meal by the sea, and people-watch. At the North end of the Malecon is the old shipyard. Unfortunately, the building of ships in San Felipe is now stopped. Many of the boats rusted through before they were finished because of the very slow pace of work. The last big boat launched in San Felipe was the Andrea Lynn in 1998. It took bulldozers and several tugs to get the boat out from the yard during the highest August tide. A bridge has since been erected across the mouth of the boatyard so that pedestrians can cross from the Malecon to the old Boom Boom Room discotheque and the Shrine of Guadalupe beyond. The entrance of the yard is therefore effectively blocked.
A lovely patterned brick, called tabique, is manufactured in local ovens along the highway from Algadones to Mexicali, another fun thing to watch. Cement block is reasonable but lumber prices remain high just as they are in California. Some good bargains are available in the glass shops.
If you intend to stay in San Felipe for some time, you may wish to arrange to have your mail sent to Calexico and picked up and delivered to you here by local establishments. There are several mail service centers currently offering good service with monthly fees ranging from $10 to $15. Each morning the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper is available at “Liquors and More” Bottle Shop on Chetumal, from Carlos at the Rodrigues Pemex station, at the drive-through liquor store on the Airport Road or at El Marino Liquors at the center of town for $1.25, Sunday edition $2.50.