This is part of a series of blog posts about a ten-day trip I recently took south of the border through the Mexican state of Sonora and then back up north (after a ferry trip across the Gulf of California) through the Baja Peninsula.
Day Two of the trip: December 26, 2009. Starting point is Puerto Penasco, a few hours south of Arizona.
Always an early riser, I left our hotel at 8:30 a.m. to walk around the Puerto Penasco oceanfront. We had picked a hotel in the downtown area, but on the other side of the bay I could see the high-rise condos that have become second homes for some Arizona residents.
I wanted to find out what to do in Puerto Penasco this time of year. One merchant, just opening his storefront, sighed and said: “It’s too cold to go to the beach.” Back at the hotel, the staff scrunched their foreheads and came up with a few ideas: A small aquarium (read some TripAdvisor reviews here) and a regional museum. But no one seemed to have a recent or decent map to show me where they were.
Meanwhile, the car’s alarm was going off for no reason and we couldn’t start the engine because of some electrical glitch inspired by the alarm. We got a hold of a mechanic who showed up in a car with a fake license plate. At the top of the plate (in small letters) were the words FORGET 911 (and in larger letters) IDIAL .357. An insignia of a gun made the point even clearer.
Despite the less-than-assuring credentials, the mechanic did his job just fine.
We had originally planned on staying in Puerto Penasco for a day, but decided to continue south in search of warmer climes. On our way out of town we passed a giant statue of what I think was a shrimp, representing the town’s fishing roots.
We ended up driving about five hours to Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora. At first the landscape was flat and somewhat stark, masking the rich potential underneath the soil. Clouds of smoke emerged from the earth in four points – looking like distant tornadoes – where farmers were burning land for agricultural purposes.
From the small city of Caborca (an hour and a half from Puerto Penasco) the land starts to ease into the mountains and hills of the higher desert. It becomes increasingly jagged as you get closer to Hermosillo and the tips of mountains look as as if they have been nibbled on by dinosaurs.
Along the way, we got gasoline at a town called Benjamin Hill. I asked the gas attendant: “Who is Benjamin Hill?” I pronounced it in English, since it looked like an English word, but the attendant didn’t seem to understand what I was saying until I used a Spanish accent (Ben-ha-meen Heeeel). Then he told me Benjamin Hill was a general during “the war” (He is mentioned in this Sonora tourism site in as being involved in the Mexican Revolution).
At Hermosillo, we checked into the Hotel Colonial near the Cerro de la Cementera (photo above) where we paid about $80 for a nice but small room. Sonora is known for its beef, and we missed an opportunity to eat a traditional steak dinner here. We also missed out on trying the famous Sonoran hot dogs (hot dog stands are lined up en masse in front of the local university). Instead, we ended up eating some beef tacos after seeing a movie in town.
Total road trip travel time from Puerto Penasco to Hermosillo: About 5 hours
Total amount of money spent on two toll booths: $11
Cost to get car alarm fixed in Puerto Penasco: $65
Beef tacos in Hermosillo for four people: $15