Before heading on my road trip to Sonora, Mexico with my family, I talked to many friends and googled many pages about ways to prepare for the different culture. I made sure to arm myself with many different Spanish phrases, I exchanged all my cash for pesos, and I even made sure to bring little weapons (pepper spray and small pocket knives) to protect myself from the rumored street robbers. However, all the rumors and advice people gave me didn’t actually end up ringing true when visiting Mexico. So, I want to share my experiences with you all to tell you how to really prepare when visiting the Mexican state Sonora.
First of all, although it is good and thoughtful to prepare Spanish phrases to speak to the people, almost everyone in Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) speaks English. My family and I did our best to talk to the locals in their language, but almost every time they just replied to us in English.
When it came to the currency in Mexico, my family made sure to exchange all our cash for pesos so we could buy what we wanted in Mexico without troubling the natives. However, when paying in pesos, most vendors gave us our change back in American dollars. Everyone seemed to utilize the U.S. dollar much more than my family had expected!
What freaked me out the most before embarking to Mexico were all the stories friends and other family members told me about the drug cartels and robbers all over the streets in Mexico. Yet, in the tourist/resort areas of Puerto Peñasco there wasn’t any crime to be found. Those that weren’t tourists or resort workers were just honest street vendors trying to make a living. Even in the late evening, everyone was as friendly and helpful as could be. Not once was I worried or even sketched out by the people around me.
I was also worried about the local water situation when crossing the border. I read all over the Internet that tourists shouldn’t drink the local water
and should bring bottled water. These websites advised to brush your teeth with bottled water, wash fruit and veggies with bottled water, and ask the resort employees how many times the water is filtered. My family and I didn’t have to do any of that! Granted, our resort did have filtered water, and we did bring tons of bottled water with us. Yet, all the water that was offered at restaurants and vendors was already bottled. So when getting water out on the streets, we didn’t have to worry even for a second.
What made me a little sad though was the lack of local food near the resorts. I had imagined street vendors and authentic Mexican restaurants, around every corner. However, the one Mexican cantina that was near the resort was completely Americanized! The most authentic food I ate in Puerto Peñasco was mango con chili y limon… which basically was a spiced mango on a stick. To get the real Mexican food, you have to go into the crazy towns and find your way around. It is quite an adventure, but not always convenient.
My advice to those traveling/vacationing to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) would be to hold on to your American money, be friendly to the locals but stay alert, bring some water but not too much, and learn just a few helpful Mexican phrases to get by. Just know that Puerto Penasco really is a fun, touristy destination to vacation in!