This weekend was my wife’s birthday, and to celebrate we took a road trip south of the border to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.
Puerto Peñasco, also referred to as Rocky Point by most people in Arizona, is located about an hour south of the U.S. and Mexico border, about four hours south of Phoenix.
For us, Rocky Point is the closest beach and is a couple of hours closer by car than San Diego.
My wife’s birthday trip has become an annual tradition. We enjoy the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just slow down for a few days.
With limited Internet service and international cell phone rates, it is nice to leave the laptop at home, turn off the phone, and just relax.
Rocky Point may seem like a sleepy fishing village most of the time, but during Spring Break in March and April the town comes alive with thousands of college students looking to unwind for a week.
Mexico has received quite a bit of negative press in the past few years, with news of drug trafficking, kidnappings, and worse.
We have friends who question our sanity at the mere mention of Mexico, but we have found that Rocky Point is one of the safest places we’ve ever visited.
Sure, we travel during the daytime, but that has more to do with the fact that the road is scarcely traveled after dark and, should one break down, it can be quite a long hike back to civilization.
The road between the border and Rocky Point crosses many miles of desolate desert, and during the day you are more likely to see traffic than you will after dark.
Rocky Point survives on tourism dollars, but over recent years has seen a sharp decline in the number of tourists. The downturn in the U.S. economy has negatively affected the economy of Rocky Point.
As of last year, development had all but stopped.
This year, however, we noticed that there have been many infrastructure improvements since our trip last year.
The town is building a large convention center near the fishing port, many roads are being paved with either asphalt or concrete, and many of the local restaurants and shops in the Old Port have undergone renovations.
Part of the Old Port consists of shops and restaurants, but most of it is a public open space referred to as “the malecon”.
The malecon features a boardwalk along the edge of the ocean, where visitors can sit on one of the many benches and watch the shrimp boats head out to sea or view the pelicans and gulls fish for dinner in the ocean.
There is also a large, flat, open area surrounded by sculptures. Across the street is an amphitheater where outdoor concerts are held year-round.
The malecon has been a work in progress ever since we started visiting Rocky Point. This year, we noticed that a plethora of Mexican Fan Palms had been planted in the planters throughout the malecon and the Old Port.
I have to admit I have been pleasantly surprised by the design and implementation of the landscape architecture in the malecon, because most of the town, except for the resorts, is lacking any formal landscaping whatsoever.
We had a great visit this year and spent three wonderful days soaking up the sun on the beach and wandering the shops of the Old Port.
We look forward to our next opportunity to return and visit and see what progress has been made.
Have you ever found evidence of landscape architecture in unexpected places while traveling? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.
Have a great weekend!
Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on Twitter at @CDGLA or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.