We’re in this together Reports Peg Bowden from a Mexican Vacation Spot: Puerto Penasco

By on November 19, 2011

Mexican Tourism Report from Border Report  11-19-2011

By Peg Bowden



I took a little trip this past week to Puerto Penasco, Sonora, a quaint fishing village about a 4-hour drive from our ranch in Southern Arizona. This Mexican vacation spot, Puerto Penasco,  is known for its shrimp, which grow in abundance on the Sea of Cortez. The town is set on pilings and rocks, with views of the shrimp boats sailing in and out of the small harbor.  Puerto Penasco, or “Rocky Point”, as it is known to the gringos, is a getaway village from the heat and desert aridity of Phoenix and Tucson.  So I went to this little town for the shrimp, the sea, and a slice of Mexican village life.




The scenery was as breath-taking as ever and the shrimp were sweet and succulent, but the villagers are hanging on by their fingertips.  In the past,  the main street of Old Port was filled with shops, restaurants, pharmacies,  and galleries featuring local crafts and quality folk art from many villages of Mexico.  Now most of the shops are closed, as American tourism has dried up.  Puerto Penasco is looking frayed. The merchants that are left try very hard to make a go of things.  These are tenuous times in Mexico, and our connections economically with our neighbors to the South are very apparent.



So here’s the deal: Mexican nationals spend 11 million dollars per day shopping in Arizona.  Per day.(!)   These figures are ascertained when Mexican citizens return to Mexico and declare what they have purchased.  My guess is that the true figures are much higher.  If Mexicans do not have money to spend, the United States suffers.  And of course if Americans do not travel to Mexico and engage in active commerce, Mexico suffers.  Our ties are integral to the health and prosperity of both countries.  We are siblings that need to get along or the whole family suffers.



And then there is the issue of “safety” while traveling in Mexico.  The trip to Puerto Penasco was swift, uneventful, and there were absolutely no hassles either coming or going.  Call me naïve, but I feel safer walking the streets of Puerto Penasco at dusk than I do walking anywhere in Tucson.  Women and children promenade along the sea walkway and there is music everywhere.  Musicians strum their guitars and blow their horns on the streets, and people dance.   The mood is festive and upbeat.  And Mexican beer is just the best.




So here is my take on it all.  There is a feeling of better times in the air.  Streets are being re-paved.  Building projects are slowly gaining momentum. Maybe happy days are here again.  I can’t guess the future, but I admire the spirit and work ethic of these Latino merchants trying their best to cook good food, play native music, and always go the extra mile to take care of this silver-haired Americana from the north. I’ll be back.



And the camarones ajitos dinner(garlic shrimp) was to die for.  Viva Mexico!


Camarones Ajitos  (Garlic Shrimp)

Makes about 4 servings

1/2 cup Olive Oil

4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 pounds shrimp, shells and heads left on

2 Limes, juiced

sea salt to taste

pinch oregano

1/4 cup finelychopped parsley

dash hot sauce


In a large frying pan, heat the oil until it is fragrant, then cook the garlic, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes.

Raise the heat to medium, add the shrimp, and cook, stirring, until they turn pink, 5 minutes.

Add the lime juice, salt, oregano, and parsley, and stir well.


Correct seasonings and add hot sauce. Transfer to a heated serving platter and serve immediately,

accompanied by hot tortillas or crunchy bread to soak up the garlic-flavored oil.

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