We were somewhere around Tucson, on the edge of the desert, when the caffeine began to take hold.
It was just after four in the morning and Amber and I sped west down the very lonely and very dark Ajo Way towards Sonoita Highway, which would take us south towards Mexico. We were invited by my parents to spend a weekend with them and some family friends at Playa Encanto, a beach outside of Puerto Peñasco, for the weekend. With the journey only taking four hours, it is quite common for Tucsonans to come down for only a weekend.
It has been several years since I have visited Rocky Point (the gringo name for Puerto Peñasco, which in turn is the Spanish dubbing of the original O'odham name Ge'e Ṣuidagĭ). We approached the border around seven and I was amazed, as I always am, how militarized it has gotten since I first crossed in elementary school. We were questioned, asked to produce our papers, and had our car searched by both the American and Mexican authorities.
Despite the travel warnings for Sonora (and all of Mexico for that matter), Highway 8 down to Puerto Peñasco feels very safe and the roads are in better condition than the roads in my own neighborhood. The drive takes you through a variety of sights ranging from small, very poor communities living in RVs and hovels constructed of what looks like found materials to beautiful rocky mountain ranges.
We pulled into Casa del Sol, the name of the house we were staying at, around 8:30 and ate breakfast inside. After a few hours of lounging on the beach, we decided to head into town for lunch and shopping. As with the border, the city of Puerto Peñasco has vastly changed since I first experienced it in 1997. The American presence has brought a lot of money into the coastal community and the atmosphere there has become similar to that of a frat house. Beer bongs are suspended from the roofs of the many bars and the hoses dangle in the streets like fishing line for sorority girls.
This isn't to say that I don't enjoy coming here, but these days I much prefer to walk along the beach than go into the city. I spent most of my 30 hours here hanging out with Amber, drinking, and walking along the beach. You can't really beat a free weekend in Mexico.
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