We just returned from our first independent trip to Mexico, unencumbered by anyone who speaks the language or knows where they are going. As a friend pointed out, we were headed to the land of ganja, playas and beheadings. Having traveled to San Carlos & Guaymas twice, and also through Chihuahua down into Copper Canyon (to Batopilas) via Mata Ortiz - but always in groups - we decided we could handle Rocky Point by ourselves.
So we set out, hauling agua purificado, bread, apples, hot chocolate, half n half, coffee, and cheese (though I forgot this last item, which turned out require a lot of shopping in MX). We had planned to eat one large meal midday and supplement with what we'd brought, but it turned out bread and apples without butter, cheese, jam, or peanut butter is not very tasty. Iron Chef could have whipped up a delicacy with hot chocolate, coffee grounds and half n half . . .we chose to forage for more food, however.
We rented condo online that met our meager requirements, which included direct beach access and a cost of $100 per night or less. We set off Saturday morning, and stopped in Why, AZ to top off the tank.
When we got to the border - around noon - it was virtually empty and the crossing was a breeze. As soon as we got to the other side, I felt once again a stab of surprise at Mexican poverty...which seemed to be even more pronounced in the form of two beggars, the first of whom was female & standing alongside the road about 50 feet after we entered town. To her, I gave some change. Then another 100 feet down the road, another poor soul was standing in the middle of the road with his jar, this guy minus part of his arm, so I gave him the rest of my change. As we continued, the next group of people were raising money for the mentally ill, but by then I could see we would never reach Rocky Point if I kept reaching into my car's ashtray for nickels and pennies. Also Tim was nervous about stopping AT ALL for ANYTHING on the road to RP (to avoid beheadings), with which I had agreed beforehand. He reiterated this by asking, "are you sure you want to be drinking that diet coke?" several times, since there would be ABSOLUTELY NO PEE BREAKS. Geez.
Anyway, after driving through Sonoyta and getting acclimated to the dust and homeless dogs and lack of building codes, we had no problems since the road is well marked, has wide shoulders, and also had plenty of arenas de descances...in MX apparently the rest areas are a flat pullover and a trash can - definitely no vending machines. We reached RP in about an hour and followed the directions to get the key for the condo, which required driving all the way through town. It took me awhile to get used to the tiny "alto" signs which were often hard to see or just missing, so I got in the habit of coming to a stop at every intersection. We continued south into Las Conchas, an upscale, gated community of beach homes. No high-rises to be be seen, but plenty of winding dirt/sand roads through the neighborhood. We followed the directions "past the whale skeleton" and turned right to come to a line of 11 condos, each with a small garage door, and pulled in. Nice two-car garage and tiled entryway which led into the condo: two bedrooms, three baths, a decent sized front room that looked onto the patio which gave way about 100 feet beyond that to the sparkling blue water of the gulf.
We realized right away that the condo would have been perfect for two couples, since the bedrooms were well spaced apart, and it was a little big for just us two. In the whole 4 days, we saw one other small family staying 3 doors down and another (who arrived Christmas eve) staying 5 doors down. At the most crowded time on the beach - sunset - there might be half a dozen people as far as the eye could see. I have never been on a beach so empty, except for brief spells in Oregon in the fall, or once when hiking via dunes to a totally desolate beach. When the tide receded, there was another football-field length of sand between us and the water. The low tide uncovered a long line of rocks and tidal pools.
We spent the best part of that day in old town, taking photos and admiring the various monuments to the mighty shrimp (one park had as its centerpiece a statue with a giant pink shrimp at the top), and generally wandered about among the vendors but bought nothing.
The next day, we went to a time share presentation at Maya Palace which had began when we met Cesar the day before, in Old Town, who gave us a map of RP and explained where the grocery stores were (and the bookstore, which I never found), and then told us we could have a free delicious buffet if we listened to a "90 minute presentation," which proved to be slightly true. Nonetheless, driving the 20 minutes out to Maya Palace (even further south) on the normal Mexican roads, that is, shoulderless, was an adventure. We successfully fought off at least 14 sales managers but also got a lot of useful information from our American tour guide, Becky, about where to eat in town & where to shop . . .and emerged relatively unscathed 3 hours later. That day, our other mission was to find a nice meal and get something besides dry toast to eat at the condo, so we drove through town and ate at Mare Blu, and Italian restaurant in the Sandy Beach area. I had crab-stuffed ravioli and Tim had linguine with pesto & shrimp and they were both amazing. The place is right on the water and relatively pricey, but for $45 we had some of the best Italian food I've eaten anywhere, along with a great view.
We took a long walk on the beach that day, hung out at Wrecked on the Reef, where we were the only two adults not drinking liquor, and located the Super Ley where we exchanged dollars for cheese, what looked like butter, peanut butter and marmalade, instant decaf coffee, and a handful of pesos. Then had grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, having still not really planned well for our meals but it was a big step up from dry toast. (Oddly, I had to look very hard for peanut butter and found only one brand in a small jar - same for the jelly...I guess these are not foods Mexicans eat much).
Monday, Christmas eve, we had planned to eat our big meal in town but had to admit that we still didn't have the right food supplies. After taking a long walk on the beach shortly after sunrise, and spotting dolphins, we decided to spend the day procuring food and chillin' at the condo. We drove into town looking for a tortilleria, which we eventually found, and got both corn and flour tortillas, then headed back to Old Town for a meal. We went into the first tourist joint we saw, and had the most wonderful shrimp (mine in butter and garlic & Tim's wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese) as well as very good rice and salsa. We ate on a large deck overlooking the harbor, which was crowded with gulls and crows that occasionally landing on the railing. The couple next to us paid one of the roving musicians to play "Feliz Navidad" so we got a little of the Christmas spirit. We spent some of the afternoon negotiating Tourist Gauntlet, and I bought a much needed sweatshirt while Tim got a Bob Marley T-shirt a small, framed Don Quixote print. We still needed more cheese since the american cheese-food we had purchased the day before was sufficient neither in quantity or taste, so we drove all the way through town to Aurrera (I think that was its name) which was a Mexican version of CostCo, only much more disorganized, and bought a nice slab of the mild Mexican cheese. Finally, we had achieved food independence!
The weather was great and the food was terrific and most of all, the beach was truly beautiful. To sum up, we made it back safe and sound and did not buy a timeshare.