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March 10, 2006

To Mexico & back

DSC_0742_editedWe headed west and stopped for two nights in Gila (pronounced HEE–la) Bend.

There are some striking rock formations in southern Arizona.  They rear up from the flat plain and are really piles of rock rubble– mind you, BIG piles of rubble.  In general the roads go around them.

We finally made the decision go south into Mexico.  We have never been there before and really don’t know what to expect but in talking to other RVers everything sounds fine, especially in the area we are headed to. 

On the way south, we visited Organ Pipe National Monument which is just above the Mexico border.  The name comes from a type of cactus, which looks like church organ pipes, like the one shown.

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When going into Mexico you need Mexican vehicle liability insurance.  They don’t check anything at the border but if you are stopped or have an accident and can’t produce the certificate you will probably go to jail and your vehicle will be confiscated.  We obviously bought some.  You can buy the insurance at the border, at gas stations, convenience stores – just about anywhere.  It was $56.00 for 10 days coverage.

As we were not going further than the “free zone” we didn’t need a visa or visitor’s permit.  The “free zone” is a defined distance from the border and includes designated tourist areas and access routes.  The crossing was easy, they just waved us through and didn’t even look at our passports. 

DSC_0790_editedWe stayed on the south side of the town of Puerto Penasco which is about 100 km south of the US border, right on the Sea of Cortez (the water that separates mainland Mexico from the Baja Peninsula).  It is a very Americanised community where English is spoken most everywhere and the US dollar is accepted readily.  The exchange is usually 10 pesos to $1.00.  Our campground was right on the ocean although our site was back a bit.  This picture is from the top of a hill between our campground and Old Port looking down at the beach (the right edge of the picture). 

The land is very flat although there are hills of rock that rise from the plain like islands.  This is very similar to southern Arizona.  It’s dry here.  We thought that Arizona was dry but this is even more so. The only place you see vegetation of any size is along the washes where the water accumulates when it does rain.

One day we travelled about 60 km south of town but finally turned around at a police checkpoint as the next community was still a further 50 km and there was nothing but desert to see. 

DSC_0792_editedPuerto Penasco is exploding with construction – hotels, condos, high end houses – but it is still a fishing village with the shrimp boats going out every day.  There is a wonderful harbour and across it, outside of town, is Sandy Beach which is now lined with expensive condo timeshare resorts.  The town itself is a combination of the old and the new.  The older area – Old Port – has had a lot of upgrading done to streets and public areas.  The areas outside Old Port are a mixture of wonderful new homes right beside plywood shacks.  The construction on the buildings never seems to to be finished and we found out that is because taxes become payable on completion.

DSC_0805_editedWe enjoyed our stay, had lots of Mexican food, wandered the markets, walked along the beach, took a resort sales tour (they paid us $100 and a free lunch) and enjoyed the warm weather and sun.  The water in Puerto Penasco is fine to drink so no problem there.  It averaged about 75 F in the day and cooled off nicely in the evening.  

All gas stations are Pemex and state owned.  Mexico uses the metric system so the gas was priced by the litre – 51.3 cents.  WOW!   We plan to go back and travel further into Mexico the next time. 

Now we are heading back to the US and our next destination is Yuma in the very south west corner of Arizona.  We’ll backtrack through Gila Bend as we have been advised by locals that the Mexican highway along the border is not very good for RVs.  Better safe than sorry.

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Ross at March 10, 2006 04:06 PM


WE woke up to about 4 inches of snow this a.m. and it is still a mix of snow and rain now so believe me your pictures with sunshine and talk of temps in the 70's were really pleasant. Have never been to Mexico--always been apprehensive about going there but that area looked very nice. Send some warm weather this way.

Sincerely, Bette

Posted by: Bette Andrew at March 25, 2006 02:18 PM