Like most Americans, we’ve been bombarded into thinking COVID controls all, and crossing the border into Canada or Mexico is unsafe. The news asserts folks from those regions will gladly pass their germs on to us. After residing in the desert mountains for several weeks, we needed a change of scenery. After researching, we chose Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, against advice from relatives, friends and the media. To our chagrin, my sister-in-law warned us about cartel gun violence. This revelation from an individual who resides in a suburb of Chicago, apparently where gun violence is non-existent. Friends reminded us the border was closed, and if we were lucky enough to cross, we would be detained and interrogated.
In our former business, we worked and traveled throughout Central America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and many other countries. We’ve been in far worse places than northern Mexico, quickly deducing the gaggling of this wisdom comes from those who never visited any of these beautiful countries. We departed the mountainous region of Arizona, stopping in Apache Junction to leave non-essential items, and drove south to Sonora, Mexico, through triple-digit heat and unobservant drivers.
Driving to Sonora, Mexico
West of Phoenix we took highway 85 south, rehashing the advice given. Had we removed anything Mexico considers illegal? Yup! Did we have less than $10,000 in cash for everyday incidentals? Of course – doesn’t everyone carry ample cash? Did we have our prescriptions refilled? Yup! Did we have proof of vaccination … you know, for diphtheria, polio, hoof-and-mouth, and, I almost forgot, COVID-19? Yup! Without this proof would we be able to re-enter our own country, or relegated to cross with the millions of unvaccinated? Hmmm!
Nearing the border, three cars and a pickup hurriedly passed our Class A – racing to the border station ahead of our behemoth. It appeared they didn’t want to be stalled behind us, detained for hours while agents tore apart the vehicle, top to bottom, as they did when we crossed into Canada a few years ago.
Anticipating the worst
As we rolled over the first Jersey barrier, we noticed one Mexican military person standing guard in his desert camouflage BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform), his weapon on a sling. All four vehicles who hurriedly passed us had been pulled over to the side. The occupants were being questioned while standing by as their luggage and contents were inspected. My spouse opened the driver’s window as a Mexican border agent approached our coach saying, “English or Spanish?” My spouse replied, “English.” The border agent smiled and asked, “Rocky Point? Puerto Peñasco?” (Rocky Point is gringo speak for Puerto Peñasco). My spouse replied, “Yes,” anticipating being directed to pull over to a side slot. But the border agent smiled again and said, “Have a great time. Wish I was going there as well!” in perfect English.
As we drove by, the driver from the pickup who had raced around us was standing by his luggage and articles on the ground. As he watched us pull away, he raised his arms and mouthed, “What the @%&$!” Apparently, us old-timers don’t appear all that interesting. And all that counsel from the ill-informed was, well, you can guess. So, if you’re contemplating this venture, do what we did: Talk to the border station for the real scoop!
Tips for crossing into Mexico
Things to consider if you plan to visit Mexico with your RV for the first time:
- Check with the border station you will cross through. They will provide you with accurate, up-to-date information. Yes, it can change. But even if the border becomes closed after entering, U.S. passport holders are not restricted from re-entering, as the ill-informed believe.
- Your U.S. passport expiration date must extend at least six months beyond your visitation days.
- You must have proof of vaccination status. And don’t forget the same for Fido or Fifi’s up-to-date rabies.
- Make sure you have up-to-date vehicle(s) registration(s).
- While you already possess U.S. insurance, you will need Mexican vehicle insurance. Do your homework. Don’t take the first quote from associated third-party companies. We queried five and saved just shy of $700 U.S. between both vehicles.
- Last, if this is your first time driving in Mexico, be vigilant and reasonably drive the speed limits.
A cultural gem
Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, is rich in culture and cuisine – with plenty to do. For folks who like driving off-road vehicles (ORVs), there are miles of sandy dunes to drive along the coastline. The water is warm this time of year with ample swimming and snorkeling area. The cost of food is less than in the U.S., as is the typical fare at local restaurants. And the margaritas are tasty!
An ORVer’s destination
Today, we’re driving out to the finish line of the two-day, Point-to-Point 151-mile desert race which ends across from The Reef RV Park along the coastline. Sponsored by SADR Racing, it must be popular among enthusiasts since more than one-third of the park’s residents are toy haulers with trailered ATVs, buggies, motocross bikes and ORVs from Arizona, California and Texas.
Meeting wonderful people
The topography of Rocky Point is an ORVer’s dream, with plenty of wide-open trail areas to explore. You won’t be disappointed in this destination, the surroundings, cuisine, or culture. What ended a fun day of desert exploring was meeting a lovely couple from near Tucson, Arizona, one of whom placed second in the motocross category. Celebrating with his family in a local restaurant, Angel and Kelsey Perez chatted with us for several minutes, confiding that last year he blew an engine and was unable to finish.
There are a few places where you can park on the beach within 100 feet of the water, enjoy the culture, meet wonderful people and enjoy the weather. Viva la Mexico!