Here we were enjoying the desert, but we were so close to Mexico! Hector lived in Mexico City for a year or so back in the 90s and we spent weekends and vacations traveling the country in his SUV. We love the country, and found it impossible to resist the temptation to cross the border. So off we went with Angel for a day trip to Mexico.
It only took about an hour and forty minutes to get to the town of Puerto Peñasco on the shores of the Sea of Cortez from our campground. Rocky Point, as it also called, was actually the original name given by the British. The area is part of a list of “hassle free zones” in Mexico that don’t require vehicle permits nor tourist visas (normally required when driving in and staying over 72 hours). Liability insurance is required by law in Mexico but can be purchased on either side of the border.
As we crossed the border, the Mexican Border Agent asked us where we were headed, how long we were staying and whether we had more than one dog (Angel was clearly visible in the back seat). When we said only one, she asked for the (dog’s) papers and we handed her Angel’s rabies certificate. She reviewed it, gave it back, and motioned us to go, never checking our passports.
The first part of the trip was through the town of Sonoyta, with a population of 10,000+. We’d read that it’s very important to maintain the speed limit through this town, which is 40km/hour. The next (long) stretch is on a very good two lane road though the desert, some much the same as the desert we just left.
We reached Puerto Peñasco, which surprisingly has a population of 44,000+ a much bigger town than we expected and was a bit confusing to get around. So we headed for the malecon (sea wall) by the town waterfront, usually an area where there is lots of activity.
I’d checked Yelp before we left the U.S. to get an idea of restaurant selection for lunch. Several of the restaurants were closed, but one opened early for dinner. We had a late lunch with Angel on the balcony of the Casa del Capitan overlooking the waterfront plaza across the street.
It was a pretty windy day but a nice temperature. We both had shrimp which is abundant there. In fact, their shrimping season ends in December so we arrived just in time for fresh, giant shrimp. Delicious! Hector had a michelada, a beer drink he loves; it has lime, spicy tomato sauce and is served in a chilled mug with a salted rim.
Angel was a big hit as always, a couple of the vendors joked that she was a “giant chihuahua”.
We were looking for a Mexican hat for Angel, and tried a couple on for size. Hilarious!
Afterwards, we drove over to the new town area where all of the condos and big hotels are located. There is no access to the beach and the buildings all have private entrances, similar to Cancun, which it was modeled after. There were a lot of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) which seemed like one of the ways to access the beach.
We continued on the road to a community of low rises just beyond the high rises. Here the buildings were built next to each other in a way that blocks all access to the beach, with just a couple of exceptions.
We found one little place where we walked down and Hector dipped his foot in the water (it was cold!). Then, on our way out of town, we spotted a road that looked like it led to an undeveloped beach, but it was getting late and we needed to begin our drive back home.
There were a couple of more places we’d like to explore in the future: an estuary near town and Pinacate, a very interesting sounding volcanic region and biosphere reserve located between the border and Puerto Peñasco. So we will definitely do some more research prior to another trip, another time.
On our way home we stopped at one particularly impressive roadside chapel. Usually these are small little altars commemorating folks who died in car crashes but this was obviously a chapel for travelers to walk into, and there were several lit candles.
Crossing the border back to the U.S., the Border Patrol Agent asked for our passports but nothing about Angel. He asked where we’d been, how long, and then he asked Hector what he did for a living. Hector said he was retired and then the agent asked him what he used to do. I always find these different questions interesting.
Next he asked us if we were bringing food into the U.S. (we weren’t), and Hector took the opportunity to ask him if we were allowed to bring fish or seafood back. He told us that the allowance is 50 pounds of fish or seafood per vehicle! But pork, chicken and many types of produce are not allowed.
Well, we had a nice little adventure to Mexico, though next time we’ll bring back lots of seafood. And Angel has added one more foreign country to her list of travels. And she has the hat to prove it.