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We just crossed into Mexico in our RV – and it was easy!

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 south to Rocky Point, Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico.

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.

Miles of sandy terrain to explore, directly across from the coastline and beautiful beaches of Puerto Peñasco.

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!

Exploring miles of the interior desert off-road, accessible from many points from the main road.

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.

Walk from your RV along the beach to seaside dining. One of two restaurants located next to The Reef RV Park for excellent cuisine, swimming, snorkeling or beach driving.

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!

This two-day race over a 151-mile, twisting desert course ended directly across the street from The Reef RV Park, where many participants stayed for the event.

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.

From top left – 1st and 6th is Kelsey and Angel Perez, (racer 931 from Team Perez) pictured with family right after Angel finished second overall in motocross category.

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!

##RVT1020

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Susan Pallerino
3 days ago

Just got back from 16 days in Puerto Vallarta….I would be lying if I said I wanted to come back home. Friends and family told us the same thing…cartels, murderers, banditos. NOTHING could be further from the truth. The Mexican people greeted us with warmth and hospitality. Nothing scared or upset us! The restaurants are top notch with delicious food. All kinds of fish, steak, Italian, Asian and Greek along with all the Mexican favorites. Take a sip of your water or coffee and they immediately fill it. The landscape is gorgeous, Mayan ruins are incredible, warm water oceans and probably one of the cleanest places we ever stayed. They have a Covid protocol that is effective and CONSISTANT everywhere. We actually felt safer there. No politics, no racial slurs, no overthrowing the government……just a beautiful place with beautiful people. I’ll go back as long as I’m able!

Martha Claudia Cuevas
14 days ago

I’m so glad to see such good comments about traveling to Mexico. Thank you for not misinforming people about Mexico and I’m so glad you enjoyed Rocky Point as much as I enjoy it with my family.

Bob P
18 days ago

After getting into Mexico the next thing is getting back out without being robbed, raped, or murdered.

Susan Pallerino
3 days ago
Reply to  Bob P

Read the comments and educate yourself. There is more crime here then there!

Dick Carlson
22 days ago

I see you saved $700 on your Mexican insurance. How much did you pay? Was that for the Class A and a car, or more vehicles?

Jim Prideaux
23 days ago

Easy to go to Mexico but what about reentering US? Reminds me of when we were tent camping with everything stuffed in a covered pick-up bed — including our two kids. We were in El Paso. I wanted to see Mexico, my wife didn’t but I was driving so we crossed the bridge. On the other side my wife kept saying (shouting) ‘I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here.’ Took three lefts and a right and was back going across the bridge. Stopped at the US check point. Guards saw a beat up pick up with kids and bedding and cooking equipment in back — now what were they thinking. Asked for ID I show my drivers license. Asked how long I’d been in Mexico I said about 10 minutes. More incredulous looks on their faces. Like, why is a guy in a pick-up going across the border to Mexico for a 10 minute stop? But they let us proceed anyway.

Beth
23 days ago

You do not need vaccination records. You need a passport only. Mexico insurance is a must and you can get easily online. I’m glad you had a had a good time. Mexico is wonderful, safe, and fun. Just don’t be stupid. And don’t speed. If you get pulled over be cool, pay the fine to what you think is fare, and move on. Look traveling in any new culture will be different but don’t be afraid. Life Is for the living. Also don’t mess up our Rocky Point. This is a safe place for us Zonies and we don’t need anybody ruining it.

Diane Mc
24 days ago

Went to San Felipe in 2000. RV park on the water with restaurant. People friendly. We live in San Jose & frequent businesses by Hispanics many from not just Mexico, but Central Am. However, trip in & out not good. At border, agent boarded RV, zero English, walked to back & sat on bed. We did the best we could to understand what the issue was. Finally let us go.🤷‍♀️ Out, worse. Military pulling vehicles over. It was all soft sand, we tried to explain. Pulled over & sank into the sand. Could not get out. They were embarrassed. Finally, a Humvee appears from over the dunes & pulled us out. They were apologetic. Both very intimidating. Friends have a timeshare near Acapulco. We’ve been, its beautiful. 3 yrs ago, Mega store (like a Walmart) they shop at had a shootout by drug gangs in the parking lot. Know it is safe in many places, people are friendly, but not all perfect.

SDPeg
24 days ago

In addition to your passport, you need to get an FMM, often erroneously called a tourist visa. It’s free for visits of less than 7 days, about $30 for longer stays. Issued by the Mexican govt, you can order it online but it needs to be signed when you enter Mexico. Without it, you are actually in Mexico illegally. Your costly insurance is not valid in case of an accident. If (on the rare occasion) you are aked to show it and don’t have one, they have the option of sending you back to the port of entry to get one.

Chris
24 days ago
Reply to  SDPeg

Most people from AZ don’t get an FMM to go to Rocky Point unless they plan on going further into the state of Sonora but you brought up a very good point about insurance which could very well happen if you were asked for your FMM or got into an accident. FMM’s are good for 180 days and you can go in and out and don’t need to turn them back in like you do a TIP (temporary import permit).

Chris
24 days ago

We have owned a home in Puerto Peñasco aka Rocky Point since 2005 and I have been going there since 1992. We go in and out of Mexico at the Lukeville/Sonoyta entry many times a year as this is now our full time home. Excellent article but vaccinations for humans has never been and is currently not required to enter Mexico or re-enter the US. Also passports do not have to extend 6 mos beyond the expiration date to re-enter the US. Everything else is spot on. I’m glad you enjoyed the beauty of Rocky Point. It’s truly unique and only 4 hours from Tucson or Phoenix. FYI…the new administration has just announced the plans to construct a 4 lane toll road from the border to Rocky Point, expansion of the border station and possible completion of the cruise port. We have been hearing the latter for years so we don’t count on that and honestly don’t want it but the border station and 4 lane highway would be a welcome addition as it sounds like you encountered some of the crazy drivers. Cheers.

Sharon Nelson
21 days ago
Reply to  Chris

I have friends RVing in Rocky Point right now and my first thought when reading the article was how did they get across the border without proof of vaccination as I know one of them isn’t vaccinated. I texted her before I read your comment… she said the same thing you did. Misinformation is so frustrating….

Susan Pallerino
3 days ago
Reply to  Chris

What you say about vaccines is true….however, the airlines required one. We gladly showed it.

littleleftie
24 days ago

I have read, with much interest, stories of RVing in Mexico. Yes, of course, there are always naysayers. And yes, of course, it is incumbent upon travelers to have done their homework and to know which areas are to be avoided. This applies everywhere, not just to Mexico.
The culture, scenery and food intrigue me. When Covid restrictions have eased, I hope to get there.

Tony
24 days ago

Great story. We just had a very similar experience going into Canada for a week. Do your homework and enjoy the journey.

I used to go to Baja a lot and well-meaning friends would try to scare me into thinking there was much crime and drug dealings, when in fact I always felt safer there than in big US cities.

Susan Pallerino
3 days ago
Reply to  Tony

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻