Puerto Penasco, Sonora, Mexico

I’ve been reading about RVing in Mexico since I started researching the RV lifestyle and thinking it was something I wanted to do.  I thought about going  last year, but the timing wasn’t right.  This year the timing worked and I headed out with the Escapees Solos to the beautiful fishing village of Puerto Penasco in the State of Sonora.  This is part of the Sonoran Desert and it looks exactly like southern Arizona.

I arranged for Mexican insurance on the rig before I left. It was a 200 mile drive from Quartzsite to Why, Arizona where I gassed up and dropped off my car and other items that are not allowed in Mexico. The Why-Not gas station has storage facilities that cost $60 per month.  We camped at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for the night and headed out at 9:30 in the morning.  It was only ten miles to the Lukeville border crossing.  It’s a very small border crossing and was an easy entry point. It must have been break time because no one even looked in our direction as eight RVs passed through the sentry point.  Then we caravanned to our destination. 

It was only 60 miles from the border to Puerto Penasco and the Concha Del Mar RV park. Concha Del Mar is a dirt/sand parking lot with dry camping for $56 per week or $300 for the month. It is beach front camping on the Sea of Cortez for those in the first row.  Unfortunately, the first row was filled, so I was in the second row and made friends with the front row people!  We arrived on Saturday, Jan 26th.  Those in the front row arrived the Wednesday before and got front row parking.  Note to self…come early next year! There are other RV Parks here and some with full hookups. I have 520 watts of solar and fairly large holding tanks, so I really don’t need hookups. 

Rigs on Beach
Camped on the Sea of Cortez
Rocky Point
Night view of Puerto Penasco from the campground

For those of you who are afraid of Mexico because of the BS you hear from 45 and Fox “News”, the reality is much different.  I’ve traveled to Mexico many times and have never felt the slightest bit uneasy.  I take a few simple precautions by not driving at night and not buying drugs!  That’s it!  I’m more afraid of going to work, church, movies, school, concerts and clubs in the US and getting shot than I am of getting harmed  in Mexico.  Guns are illegal in Mexico and except for the drug cartels, people don’t have guns. And don’t forget it is America’s insatiable appetite for drugs that fuel the cartels and violence in Mexico and Latin America. I suppose I should be grateful that some people are afraid to come to Mexico because this place is crawling with Americans seeking an inexpensive spot on the Sea and tons of fresh seafood. My only regret is that I cannot speak Spanish…except for what has remained of my ninth grade Spanish class at Wilson Junior High School in Detroit.  Thanks you Mr. Gonzales!

Let me tell you about how horrible Mexican people are…

I was looking for a tire value extender and went to several places with no luck.  Each place suggested another place to try.  I finally went to a truck tire store and struck out again.  The young man that worked there said, “follow me”. He was cute, so I did! 🙂  He walked me next-door to another store and translated for me, but still no luck.  He then took out his phone and called the only other place he thought might have one and still no luck.  Can you imagine an American store owner doing something like this? No, me neither.

Another horrible incident happened when I couldn’t remove the spikes that were holding my outdoor mat secure.  I got two out with my baby hammer, but the other two wouldn’t budge.  The local woman washing the rig next to me  saw I was struggling and came over to help.  She couldn’t do any better than I with that baby hammer.  “Uno momento”, she said.  She left and came back with a giant crowbar.  That sure did the job.  Muchos gracias, again!

We went to a small taco place for dinner and of course we wanted beer.  They didn’t have a license for beer or wine.  Instead of disappointing us, the owner hopped on a bicycle and went to the store and returned with beer for all!  Horrible Mexican!

Beer Delivery
Got the beer!

Are you getting the picture yet?  I sure hope so.   And as for the crisis on the border.  HA!  We do have an immigration problem and our immigration laws must be changed. To blame poor, desperate people for coming to the American border to seek asylum, because that is what our LAWs say to do, is stupid and inhumane.  Change the law so they can apply for asylum from their home countries and, then be accepted or rejected.  I could go on and on…but I’m sure you get the picture.

I grew up with Mexican people and I guess if you have personal experience with people you are less likely to prejudge them because of their ethnicity or religion. I’ve been to Mexico several times and  I find Mexican people to be kind, helpful, humble, polite, family-oriented people. It was no different on this trip.  In spite of the truly horrible things 45 says about Mexicans, they are still hospitable and welcome us to the “fun side of the wall”. 

 While in Mexico I had some work done on the rig. I had my decals removed and painted.  This way they will never fad or crack again.  I hated those cracked decals!  I also had the jack-knife sofa reupholstered in a neutral fabric replacing the God awful material they use in RVs.  My rig was in good shape except for those two things.  The price was about one-third of the US. The body work men did a professional, excellent job!  It cost $950 for my 33 foot rig. The sofa was $450, half the price of a new sofa. It looks fantastic and I know it will help when, or if, I sell the rig in the future. It’s a win-win in my book.  I get work done at a reasonable price and I help support the local economy.  I already have my list going for next year!

Peeling decals
Peeling decals
No decals
One day, three workers…all gone!
Paper and primer
Papered up and primed
Painted decals
Mucho better!  Looks like new.
Beautiful reupholstered sofa

Two RV groups, the Solos and the WINS were there so there were plenty of people to hang with and go places.  Many bring cars, but I decided that for my first time I’d leave the car behind.  Next time, and yes, there will certainly be a next time, I’ll tow the car behind.  

Sunset happy hour
Happy hour on the Sea of Cortez

Once we got to Puerto Penasco, there seemed to be a pattern that developed.  See if you recognize it…

After arriving and getting set up it was time for lunch.  My friend, Owen, and I walked down the beach to a small restaurant and had fish tacos and of course, a cerveza! Unexpectedly, the first person we met was Persian!  Go figure.  His aunt owned the small restaurant and he worked as the bartender. 

The next day my next-door neighbor, Stewart, took Owen and I into town to the Malecon (the street along the sea). The main area is lined on both sides with vendors selling the same things…t-shirts, blankets, hats, etc.  There were several seafood markets too.  We went to the Three Boys and I purchased a pound of shrimp and 1.5 pounds of red snapper for $7.00!  We also stopped for a Margarita before heading back to camp.

The following night we went to Lucca’s, a chicken restaurant and I ordered a half chicken with rice and the best refried beans I have ever tasted.  Chicken and a bottle of water was $6.75! I was beginning to see a pattern…great food, inexpensive prices.  My kind of place!

We also visited the Tequila Factory and did a little day drinking. I learned about tequila and sampled several types.  I liked the darker tequila and purchased a bottle.  We continued the day drinking after returning to the rigs.  It was an early to bed for me!

February 2nd was the Seafood Bowl at Shrimp Plaza in the middle of town.  Shrimp is a big deal in Puerto Penasco!  The state of Sonora closed 2018 with the production of 70,000 tons of shrimp, the largest harvest in all of Mexico.  The Seafood Bowl is always the day before the Super Bowl.  It seemed to be held for the gringos in this small seaport town.  We were treated to wonderful food, local arts and crafts, American music, local dancers and drinks of all kind.  It was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Shrimp plaza
Shrimp Plaza

Super Bowl is also a big deal here and the local businesses cater to the Americans again.  Most of the Solos headed to the New Mexican Restaurant to watch the game, eat and drink. This is where I was introduced to Mr. Don Julio.  I’ll say no more…

There was a VFW  and they provided surf and turf dinner for Valentine’s Day.  It was delicious and cost $10!!

At the campground many vendors provide tortillas, asparagus, empanadas, shrimp, tamales, etc. most every day.  Some of it is even still warm when they arrive.  I definitely didn’t go hungry. Shrimp and asparagus are two of my favorite foods, so I was a happy camper! 

See the pattern yet? We ate out quite a bit.  The food was so delicious and very reasonably priced.

The experience of Rving in Northern Baha was wonderful.  If I had more time I would have ventured further south with new friends I met in Puerto Penasco.  I’ll have to save that for next year.  The only downside was the weather.  It wasn’t as warm as I expected.  But it was still warmer than most other places in the US, except maybe for southern Florida.

Booger picker
Not the Tequila I purchased!

I followed a fellow Solo back to the border crossing in Lukeville.  It took me a grand total of about five minutes to get through border control.  I do have a Global Entry card issued by the government.  This deems me a “trusted traveler”.  The border officer entered my card in the computer, handed it back to me and said, “Have a nice day.”  The dog just looked at me as I drove through.  Needless to say, there was no crisis or “invasion” at this border crossing.  I heard the same report from other Solos that entered at different border control points. 

Mexico, I’ll see you next winter.  And I’m bringing lots of friends!  I picked up my car in Why and spent one night at the casino campground there and then headed to Tucson to meet up with a couple of friends. 

Until next time…   

Sunset and boat
Sunset on the Sea of Cortez


Ajijic, Morelia, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico April 22 – May 6

How did I end up in Mexico?  That’s a good question!

First of all, I did not drive my motorhome to Mexico (yet).  I flew from Phoenix to Guadalajara.

The idea for the trip was hatched the night of the election.   I was at the Placer County Democratic election gathering and the night started out well.  But as you well know, it didn’t turn out well for us Hillary supporters. After the election,  one of my bookies (book club friend),  Jean decided to go to Mexico.  When she mentioned it to me I said, “I’m in!”  Turns out the trip was to San Miguel de Allende.

I have been toying with the idea of moving to Mexico for a couple of years (even before the election).  I have been researching different places, reading blogs and Facebook groups and trying to learn as much as I could about the realities of living in Mexico as an ex pat.  I was particularly interested in Ajijic, on Lake Chapala and  San Miguel de Allende.  Another bookie, Lynn and her friend Jean joined in and before we knew it,  seven of us were going for a week in San Miguel.  Lynn, Jean, Jean (yes two Jeans!)  and I decided to take another week and visit Lake Chapala and Morelia.  A work associate and friend, Michael has lived in Morelia for 13 years .  I have enjoyed reading his Facebook posts and his wonderful photography and he made Morelia look like a place I wanted to visit.

The plan came together.  Ajijic for three days, Morelia for four days, and San Miguel for one week.


Mexico trip map
Our trip route

Ajijic (ah-he-heek)


The two towns on Lake Chapala with large ex pat populations are Ajijic and Chapala. There are 20,000 English-speaking ex pats living in the area. Learn more about Ajijic here. We chose Ajijic to visit and I found a small, boutique hotel on the lake.  La Nueva Posada, owned by a Canadian was a lovely hotel with an excellent restaurant.  A large breakfast was included and the price was $65 USD per night. We were very happy with our home base while visiting Ajijic.  The hotel also has long-term rentals that include housekeeping every day and breakfast.  You can also order food from the restaurant for delivery. We met a woman at the ATM who is one of those long-term renters.  She invited us over to see her one bedroom apartment ($800 USD/month) and another woman let us see her two-bedroom apartment ($950 USD/month). They were quite nice.

Lake Chapala is the largest fresh water lake in Mexico and the elevation is around 6,000 feet, making the weather nice all year long.  The “rainy” season generally runs from May-Oct and the mountains surrounding Lake Chapala become green. 


Beautiful Lake Chapala


The view from our hotel room in Ajijic

We could walk everywhere and we did our bit to simulate the economy in this lovely small town.  I like the city centers because they give you the feel of being in Mexico.  There are numerous modern housing developments surrounding the city center.  These gated communities could be anywhere in the US (where is weather is nice all year round).  These developments are full of Canadians and Americans.  Not where I would want to live. Two reasons people move to places like Ajijic; the great weather and it’s inexpensive!  About one-half the price of goods and services in the US.  You can live very well on just a decent social security income.  Many do!

Here are some of the sites around Ajijic.


Masks to honor Ajijic citizens
Everything is colorful in Mexico!

Even though we only spent three days in Ajijic, we got a good feel for the area.  We met several women in our age group that were visiting, or lived in Ajijic. We felt making friends would be easy, if indeed, we did live in Ajijic.

While in Ajijic, we went horseback riding along the lake and on the streets in town. Let’s just say it wasn’t the fantasy of riding a beautiful horse along the shoreline with our long blond hair dancing in the breeze.  But, it was pretty cool.   And I was reminded of why I gave up my horses 20 years ago.  My butt hurt, my knees hurt, and I was grateful to get off!


We took the opportunity to investigate real estate in the area.  Prices are very reasonable compared to California.  However, it is probably a better idea to rent for a year or two before investing in real estate in Mexico.



Before we knew it, it was time to leave for Morelia. We hired a car and driver to take us to Morelia, a beautiful colonial city in Southern Mexico in the state of Michoacán.  A friend moved here 13 years ago and was our tour guide and translator for the four days.  Morelia reminded me so much of Madrid.  Dah!  The Spanish colonized (a nice word for stole, pillaged and enslaved the natives) the area.  The upside of the colonialization is the beautiful buildings and churches left behind.  My friend, Michael Dunham is retired now and is a very talented photographer and is connected to the music scene in Morelia.  You can view his photos on his website.  Michael recommended a friend’s B&B, Casa Xola and we were able to get three rooms.  Arliegh, our host, was a delightful Canadian woman and we loved her beautiful house.  Arleigh and Michael took two of us to neighboring villages to see their artesian wares.  Jeannie and I were under the weather and couldn’t go.  They had a fantastic time and did their best to stimulate the Michoacán economy.

We visited the local merchado.  So colorful!

Michael took us to many  great restaurants and again, unbelievably low prices.

There are ten universities in Morelia and thus, the city is teaming with young people.  Morelia is home to the largest music school in Mexico.   As we walked along the cobblestone streets of Morelia, music was pouring out into the streets from the many bars and restaurants. Of course we did some shopping and stocked up on Retin A, which you can buy over the counter in Mexico. I was able to get three more tiaras for crowning future road queens too! I bought a local designed and made purse for $40. 


Many old buildings-just beautiful!
The four amigos!
The Pope did visit Morelia.
Dianne Bretz- Even Mary Kay is sold here!

We needed much more time to take in all the sites and museums in Morelia.  I predict this won’t be my last time in Morelia.  Hear that Michael?  🙂


Dinner and Jazz in Morelia

San Miguel de Allende

We decided to take the first class bus from Morelia to San Miguel de Allende.  The bus system in Mexico is excellent!  We even got half price senior rates.  A 4-hour bus ride in an air-conditioned bus with WIFI and movies was $139 pesos.  That’s $7.30 USD!  We keep picking our jaws up off the ground when we realize how inexpensive things are here.

San Miguel de Allende also has a large ex pat community of around 12,000. San Miguel is a small, mountain town at about 7,000 feet.  Learn more about San Miguel here.

We rented a three bedroom house up in the hills above the city center. Here is a link to the VRBO listing with photos of the house.  It was a fairly easy (considering the cobblestones) walk down to the center, however, the walk back up the hill to get home was another story, mostly due to the heat in the afternoon.  We liked getting the exercise, but I the highest heat of the day, it was not good. 



Iconic Parroquia San Miguel de Allende

View from our rooftop terrace
More beautiful site in San Miguel


One of the many street celebrations.  Mexicans have a celebration every other day!

When we first arrived, we hired a driver to take us to a grocery store for supplies for the week.  It’s quite a guessing game reading the labels and figuring out what we were buying. Of course, some things are obvious.  Others, like laundry detergent, etc. was not so easy.  Thank goodness for Google Translate!  I used that several times to communicate with non-English speaking people. We did accomplish our goal and had plenty to eat and drink at the house.  We ate one meal a day at a restaurant; from the street vendors to very nice restuarants.  We found San Miguel more expensive than Ajijic and Morelia.  It was also more crowded and less friendly than Ajijic.  Of course, we did our best to stimulate the local economy, yet again!

We visited the Toy Museum and marveled at all the hand made toys! Yes!  All handmade. 


Handmade popup book



While dining at Hank’s Cajun Restaurant we ran into Pauline and Michael who had stayed at Casa Xola in Morelia. Pauline moved to Miami from Great Brittan in the early 70s.  Michael lives in Marbella, Spain.  We enjoyed their company in Morelia and even more so in San Miguel.  They invited us to join them on their hotel roof-top terrace, (very common in Mexico) for wine and cheese after dinner.  We had a great time getting to know them better and I know I’ll see Pauline again on my next visit to Florida. 


Pauline and Michael


Carol, Jean and me!

It was a wonderful trip and I’m so glad I was able to check out the places I’ve been reading about for so long.  Will I be moving to Mexico anytime in the near future?  Probably not.  Will I visit again, maybe every for an extended stay?  I will probably go back to Ajijic again.


Me after two weeks in Mexico


Here are a few things I learned on this trip

  • The charm of cobblestone streets and sidewalks wears off quickly when you walk everywhere.
  • Mexico could sure use an EPA. The air is polluted, dusty and smoky in some areas.
  • I like regulations that provide for safe walking and driving.
  • In spite of having an offensive, incompetent,  con man for a President that has insulted an entire country because of a few “bad hombres”, the people in Mexico were welcoming, extremely nice, and helpful. 

I returned to the Sedona area of another couple of weeks before heading north.  I just cannot seem to get enough of Sedona.

Until next time…