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Bailing out

We have decided to pull out of Puerto Peñasco a day early. Frankly, we’re disappointed in it. We knew going in that it was a tourist town mostly for the benefit of Arizona residents, but we hadn’t anticipated how much they would have overrun it, and thus altered it.

The Spring Break mobs are becoming too much to bear. Their antics are taking the “family” aspect out of this town just as they have at southeast US beach towns. I think other people knew what was coming, because our campground got quite a bit emptier yesterday. Coincidentally, Ken & Petey left to spend a night at Organ Pipe instead, which in retrospect would have been a good move for us too.

During the day things are not bad, but as the weekend approaches the streets are getting more crowded and noisy with students roaring around in barely-muffled ATVs. It gets more lively in the evening, when the loud explosions from cherry bombs and firecrackers start. (This is such a problem that several campgrounds and beaches are posted against fireworks, but I have seen no enforcement.)

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Our neighbors have erected a large vinyl banner that says, “Show Your Boobs ““ Win A Free Beer,” and set out a couple of large ice chests in anticipation. We’re not so prudish as to be bothered by the suggestion (I was mostly amused), but we were wondering if this was going to mean more noise right next to us. As it turns out, the males in question got no takers from the general public.

The music last night from the nearby bars rose to an unbelievable level, and gaggles of students were walking past our trailer all night, talking loudly. They also came and went using the extra-noisy rental ATVs. Sleep is harder to get each night. During one of our many nighttime awakenings, Eleanor was treated to the sight of a student barfing in the space next to our trailer at 4:30 a.m. This morning the seagulls arrived to clean it up.

I bought three pounds of jumbo shrimp ($20) from the fellow who drives by every day, and he told me this weekend would be worse. Two thousand students are expected to arrive. “This is not a weekend for you to be here, amigo,” he told me kindly.

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But the students are only part of the reason we’re going to head out. Puerto Peñasco is a pleasant enough town but it is being turned into something more like Cancun, with elaborate resorts along the water and plenty of programmed distractions (cruises, parasailing, fishing trips). I can see why people come to Puerto Peñasco, and it’s not a bad place, but it isn’t why we came to Mexico.

We want to explore Mexico to see the historic towns, ancient ruins, deep canyons, volcanoes, open-air markets, meet interesting people with different lifestyles, and to try local foods. The little authenticity this town has is being wiped out as quickly as possible, and the locals are mostly working on construction of new condominiums.

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Hummingbirds in the campground

Still, the trip is not a failure. We’ve learned about this small corner of Mexico, and practiced a little Spanish. I got a break from work, and it has been relaxing (to the point of boring lately). Most importantly, we have gotten some experience with Mexican travel. I don’t think Puerto Peñasco prepares one for the “real” Mexico anymore than a ride on the flume in the Mexico pavilion at EPCOT does, but still the trip has served to give us a good trial run.

It is most ironic that people warned us about traveling in Mexico because of the perceived problems with Mexicans, and yet our disappointments have been entirely because of Americans. It’s also ironic that people said crossing the border would put us in a lawless zone, and in fact there seems to be more danger ““ at least in Arizona ““ on the US side of the border where the drug runners are hiking through the desert to make their drops.

We’ll be much better prepared for a long trip down Sonora either later this spring or next fall. Next time I will bring a few gadgets: a good quality surge protector that protects the entire trailer electrical system; a funnel that makes it easy to pour a 5-gallon water jug into the trailer’s water fill; a plug-in voltage meter that I can leave on all the time. Other than that, our normal complement of equipment is more than sufficient.

The funnel is because bottled water doesn’t pour into the nearly-vertical water fill opening on the trailer ““ it mostly spills. I miss the water fillers Airstream used in the 1970s that could easily be filled from a bucket. Eleanor and I improvised a funnel by cutting open a plastic milk jug, but I think we can come up with something better.

Buying purified water for our fresh water tank is a reasonable strategy, since it is apparently readily available, but it does make for expensive showers. It also gives us a chance to interact more with locals. For example, the water truck didn’t show up yesterday, and when I inquired at the office I found out that it only comes once a week, not daily as I thought. It was less than a mile down one of the town’s dusty roads to the water/ice plant, where I bought a 5-gallon jug using my pigeon Spanish (agua, grande, ¿cuánta cuesta?, gracias). In the final analysis, it was more interesting to buy at the agua purificada factory than it would have been to have the water delivered. Such moments open the door to meeting people, and in our travels we’ve found the chance meetings are often the best.

2 Responses to “Bailing out”

  1. Jill Says:

    Rich, Eleanor, And Emma – Sorry your time in Mexico corresponded with Spring Break. I think you would have enjoyed it so much more without all the American Teens around. Glad you bought the book (People’s Guide), hope it helped. and by the way, I’m sure that you could have borrowed a beer bong from one of your neighbors – it would have been just the thing to fill your water tank!

  2. Adam y Susan Says:

    Were any booby prizes given? Sorry we couldn’t join you on this trip. LOVE these sections of the blog – great reading!

    Best to all and we’ll call soon.

    Adam y Susan

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