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Four Decades Of Change In Puerto Peñasco

The sun sets in the seaside town of Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Anna Cicero
The sun sets in the seaside town of Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico.

I spent New Year's in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, aka Rocky Point. My family and I have been vacationing in Rocky Point for nearly four decades now. We started out camping in tents and small trailers on the beach.

Over the years we graduated to a camping area with utilities and showers, then to hotel rooms, and for the last several years we’ve been fortunate to stay at a family member’s home on the beach.

Throughout the years there have been colorful sunsets and a beautiful ocean views with one of the greatest tide differentials in North America.

The beauty and slow pace of Rocky Point was discovered by developers 10 or 15 years ago and the boom was on. Hotels, resorts and beachfront condos exploded out of the sand. Investors were drawn with promises of never-ending tourists and dollars. You couldn’t lose.

Oh yes, you could. And many did.

As one observer said, “When the Phoenix real estate market gets a cold, Rocky Point gets pneumonia.”

The “For Sale” signs, empty condos and steel skeletons of unfinished high-rises show that Puerto Peñasco is still recovering from what was the double pneumonia of a crashing economy and fears about travel in Mexico during the drug wars.

The beautiful sunsets are still there and it’s quieter now, with almost no sounds of construction.

A lot of those unfinished projects will probably have to be torn down. Years of exposure to salty sea air is not good for steel beams. Eventually developers will be back, hopefully they’ll remember the lessons from the last time it was a "sure thing."

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