August 1 - 18, 2003

Mexican Flag

Puerto Peñasco Fishing Harbor
Puerto Peñasco Fishing Harbor

Although we were in Sonora on each of our two trips to Mexico in 2003, we didn't really spend time there in April, we merely drove through it to get to the U.. border at Agua Prieta/Douglas. In August, however, we spent the first three weeks of our stay in Sonora and got a real feel for the state and the Mexican half of its eponymous desert.

The pacific coast of Sonora is well known to Americans, particularly those that live in the border states of California and Arizona, because they are close enough for weekend trips and short getaways. We visited three different beach towns: Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Bahia de Kino, and San Carlos.

The main attraction of Sonora apart from its beaches was to visit more of the churches built by the Spanish missionary priest, Padre Francisco Eusebio Kino. We had visited Kino missions in southern Arizona and were interested to see more in Mexico. We also had some bumps in the road, both literal and figurative on our journey. In spite of our reader's reactions to the figurative ones, we must stress that our experience in Mexico has been much more positive than some pieces of our writing suggest.

On the edge of Caborca, back in country that is neither desert nor farmland, but somewhere in between, we came to a car junkyard we had seen earlier and were looking for. Our hope was to find a piece of window glass to replace the one broken by the thief in Puerto Peñasco. What chance did we have of finding exactly the right size? Probably very little, but it was worth asking. At the very least we would experience a different aspect of Mexico. We'd made a cardboard piece to be used to seal the car overnight and with that showed the two young men on duty what we wanted. They took it directly to a dead Ford nearby and it matched quite well. In broken Spanish we offered 50 pesos ($5) as a starter, being willing to go higher. One of the men took out his cellular phone and called his boss. (What a wonderful tool the cell phone is. We were very glad that we got ours so early in the USA and are now evaluating getting one in Mexico. If we were here six months it would really pay off.) The boss offerered the entire door cum window to us and this , offerfor 500 pesos, was relayed to us. We declined, hoping that the price would be lowered. But they had no interest in having a door without glass and we had some hopes, although small hopes, that in Hermosillo we would get it repaired at no cost to us.

Given the distances to be covered in this, the second largest state in the union we spent lots of time in the car driving through the desert and admiring the vast fields of organ-pipe cactus, which are so rare in the U.S. that there is a park dedicated to their conservation. We were also eager to look for signs of a change in the climate and vegetation that would announce the southern boundary of the Sonoran desert that we had been living and travelling in for nigh on two months already. Although Father Kino considered Altar the boundary, we didn't really feel that we had left desert behind until we hit the Tropic of Cancer en route from Durango to Mazatlan during the month of September.

Hermosillo, the capital city of the state of Sonora, filled up the balance of our stay. Here, we took one of our periodic comfort stays. We spent 8 days enjoying the hotel pool, hiding from daytime temperatures of 40°C and visiting museums, churches, and yes, fast-food restaurants.

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November 8, 2003