Friends Helping Friends

Jun 29, 2017 by Mike Bibb

In a previous article I commented upon the fact that the continuing Rocky Point Home Port saga seems to have penned another chapter (“Still Looking’ For The Cruise Ship”, RPT, May, 2017). It’s been nearly four years since construction began on just the pier portion of the project – dumping rocks into the water to build a dock the cruise ship could anchor to – and the thing isn’t even half completed.

Reasons for construction delays are as numerous as grains of sand, including a lack of funds. So far, the Mexican government has only provided about half the amount of money needed to get the first phase of the pier finished. Consequently, contractors and equipment sit idle while an unsightly wharf protrudes several hundred meters into the sea.

What to do? Head north to the Mother Lode of financial wheeling-and-dealing by sending the governor of Sonora to attend the annual meeting of the Arizona-Mexico Commission Summit to plead her case? While there, maybe she can convince a few folks how great the Rocky Point (Puerto Peñasco) cruise ship enterprise would be to the state of Arizona. Which is exactly what she did.

“It’s going to be Arizona’s port” Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich told the confab in Paradise Valley on June 2. “Puerto Peñasco is three hours away from Phoenix, and six or seven hours from Hermosillo…so it’s closer to Phoenix”.

It may be closer to Phoenix than Hermosillo, but it’s not exactly ocean-front. Plus there’s an international border to cross which is often clogged with traffic, particularly during holiday weekends. A two lane road from Gila Bend, AZ on I-8 hooks-up with a narrow Mexican road for about 65 miles into Rocky Point. California, on the other hand, isn’t much further and there’s an interstate highway all the way to the Pacific.

Pavlovich’s claim that it only takes three hours to travel from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco seems a little exaggerated, unless the motorist is driving a Lamborghini. But, sometimes facts get a little fuzzy during a sales presentation.

Then, the real pitch began. A 3,000 passenger cruise ship needs lots of stuff to keep it functioning. And since Phoenix and Tucson are just a few hours up the road, goods and services needed aboard ship can more quickly be trucked – or flown – than comparable merchandise in Mexico, the governor insisted.

Continuing with her promotion, Pavlovich reminded the audience “There’s a great deal of certainty for cruise lines that supplies can come from Arizona. We’re talking about flowers, tablecloths, everything that is generated in a large boat with over 3,000 passengers” she said.

“Flowers, tablecloths”? I’m not sure Mexican suppliers would appreciate her “Buy American” approach, but hey, NAFTA is already in place so may as well take advantage of it. Especially it is helps bring in Gringo dollars and other monetary support.

Endorsing Pavlovich’s solicitation, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey jumped on board. According to information provided by Capitol Media Services, Ducey believes the project will also become economically viable for the state.

“We talk about the quality of life here”, he told CMS. “We think our geographic location to a port like Puerto Peñasco just provides another tourism opportunity for people in our state. As beautiful as it is here in the desert, we need an easy, convenient way to get to the beach” he declared.

I thought that “easy, convenient way” already existed. I’ve been traveling to Rocky Point for over 30 years and haven’t had much difficulty. It is the same road then as it is now, only, of course, there were no condominium towers sprouting like wild flowers along the beach or talk of giant cruise ships unloading hordes of tourists to scurry into town to load-up on trinkets, tacos and souvenirs.

It was a simpler era. Now – if it wasn’t for the Sea of Cortez – it will become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the craziness of the Phoenix area and the growing congestion that will eventually encroach upon Rocky Point.

The politicians and business developers call it “progress”. I can think of other terms not quite as endearing.

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