Welcome to July. Things are heating up literally and figuratively. Peñasco is getting warmer, and the humidity starts to creep in this month, but our weather is still pretty awesome. This is always a busy time for us when we not only have a lot of visitors from the States, but also a lot of Nationals who take their vacation this time of the year. More Nationals are finding vacationing in Puerto Peñasco a more desirable option than the larger resort areas due to skyrocketing airline ticket prices, resort prices, as well as high increases in lodging, food, beverage and activities. One can drop a lot of pesos if that’s the route chosen, but you don’t have to as we still have very affordable condos, houses and hotels for rent as well as lots of places that still offer inexpensive food and beverages. And Calafia’s twice-weekly airline flights make us more accessible to the rest of Mexico. Plus add in all the free or very inexpensive activities, and I’d say Puerto Peñasco is a pretty great vacation destination, but you probably already know that since you’re reading this! Welcome visitors, we’re happy to have you!
I had another great trip down south to Santo Tomas and Viñedos La Bonita. My original trip was a short-day jaunt with Kent White (a Peñasco OG) as well as a few local realtors back in May. It was such a nice trip and I absolutely love Santo Tomas and the winery so Mario, Alicia and I along with some friends decided to rent a beach house for a few nights last month. We planned to go exploring, run the beach, look for shells and visit the winery. We got to Santo Tomas, dropped our gear at the house and headed straight out to see Ricardo and Miriam, owners of the winery, Viñedos La Bonita, which is located a short a 15 min. drive from Santo Tomas.
Puerto Peñasco has a lot more residents, digital nomads and people that are taking extended vacations so sometimes you may want to take an easy day trip and go exploring, especially if you come to Peñasco a lot. I love staying at Santo Tomas because the beach is absolutely gorgeous and there are miles upon miles upon miles of interesting areas…and uncrowded beach! Under the right tide conditions, I’m pretty sure you can run all the way from Desemboque to the end of Salinas Peninsula (the peninsula you see “behind” Bird Island. I used to camp out at Salinas Peninsula but haven’t run that beach for quite some time. And I don’t think I’ve been to Desemboque since they finished the highway. Needless to say, we did not make it far in either direction, but we did enjoy the quiet beach immensely. And thanks to local homeowner Glen for coming to rescue most of our vehicles (which were stuck) from the incoming tide. It was quite the clown show, but always an adventure! There was even a turtle laying eggs right out in front of Santo Tomas, but by the time we got everything unstuck, we forgot to look. Besides the lovely beach, delicious take-out from MamaChitas (that they delivered), and the awesome Dutch Oven dinner Kento Blanco cooked for us (pork, to-die-for-potatoes, chicken and cobbler), the night sky was just amazing. We saw tons of satellites and shooting stars as well as the constellations and some SpaceX stuff (I think) – or maybe they (or some company) were launching satellites into the atmosphere. Whatever it was – ‘twas super cool. And there are a ton of satellites, and those were just the ones we could see. And you could literally see the lights of Peñasco – that kind of blew me away. If you think you can see a lot of stars here – hah! Just wait until you get to Santo Tomas.
As I said above, our first stop was Viñedos La Bonita. What a treasure this boutique winery is, and it is SO close! Since I can get there in about an hour, I think I will probably become their best customer (besides Ruben Cordova who runs tours from Peñasco to the winery) especially once their Malbec comes to fruition. Ricardo and Miriam are so welcoming and so passionate about what they do, it is just such a pleasure to spend time with them. The vineyard, started by his grandfather, has been growing grapes for 50 years, but it is Ricardo and Miriam that ventured into viniculture producing their first harvest in 2016. We really got the grand tour this time and learned a lot of history since Mario is from Caborca and they know a lot of the same people. In fact, Mario’s uncle has a farm right near the vineyard (which is where we get all of our grapes from every year) and his cousins went to school with Ricardo. We had a great time, toured the entire facility, saw some equipment they started with, and snapped up a lot of the wine, olives, honey, all of the Crema de Bacanora and even some rum and tequila. Ricardo is even making his own craft beer. You can find them on social media and give them a call at +52 (637) 140-0970. They should be harvesting this month so may have to take another trip down south.
Before I get to the can of worms I must open, I would like to welcome a couple new writers we have this month – Chris Gill of Encantame Towers and Dr. Robert Schwebel (published author, P.h.D., all that jazz – pretty cool). Thanks, gentlemen, for your article and thanks again to all of our contributing writers…you rock!!
Seems we have dropped the ball on a few items and for this I apologize. One of our readers alerted us to an error in the Ask Cap’n Greg article last month regarding visas needed to travel to Puerto Peñasco. It is an issue that has been on our radar for a while but had been pushed to the back of the pile I’m ashamed to say. (We’re also looking into passports, insurance and importation so I’ll probably be apologizing to you again next month.) I want to preface this information by saying we have done the deep dive. We have verified the information. It is correct. It is required. It is the law. Now what you choose to do with it is entirely up to you.
Here…I’ll get it out of the way…EVERY TOURIST coming into Mexico via land needs to have an FMM whether they are staying 1 hour or 180 days. Again, if you are a tourist (meaning not a “resident”) you need to have an FMM on your person while you are in Mexico and will need to show it whenever you are asked. If you are asked and do not have one, you can be fined and/or jailed. If you outstay your visa, the same can also happen. (You may be aware of issues down in Quintana Roo over the last couple years where foreigners were jailed because they had outstayed the date on their FMM.)
I will tell you now that your friends, most people you talk to, the online forums and groups will tell you that obtaining your FMM is not necessary because no one ever asks for it. And they would be correct…that is…until someone does ask for it. Enter some wisdom…“nothing is a problem until it is” … “not knowing the laws of the country is not an excuse”. I have driven through many ports of entry and have never been asked for any identification. I was actually asked for my dog’s proof of rabies by CBP last month crossing at Lukeville – the first time EVER in 32+ years…so “it” can happen. Just sayin’.
The FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) otherwise known as the Tourist Visa/Card lets Mexico’s Immigration officials know who you are, where you are going (or are supposed to be) and how long you will be staying in their country – in a nutshell. Again, you are REQUIRED to have one when entering Mexico and it is free if you are staying in the country under 7 days. If your trip is 7 days or longer (up to 180 days) you will need to pay 687 pesos. You can obtain the form online, prior to your trip, or stop in Sonoyta just after you cross the border. The Immigration Office at the border in Sonoyta does NOT accept cash – they only accept credit and debit cards. The online link to obtain your FMM is https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html. You must have an email account because they email you the instructions as well as a link to print out your form. Everything is very easy to understand and (see screenshot) if you make sure the “EN” is lit and press the + at “Land” then everything is in English.
There – that’s what you NEED to know, and that information is current and has been verified by the Immigration Office at our border in Sonoyta. It used to be that if you were travelling in the “Free Zone” and staying less than 72-hours, that you didn’t need an FMM – FMT for you old-skoolers. The process for obtaining your FMM in Sonoyta, after you drive into Mexico, is detailed in our Travel Information Section on Pages 28 & 29 under ID Required and Travel Beyond the Free Zone. Needless to say, it will be a lot easier to get it online and from everything I read, it looks like that’s the way everything is headed. We’ll see what kind of clapback there is to this information and go from there, but them the facts as far as we know them.
Happy Independence Day to and we hope to see you at the beach!
- Loot from Viñedos La Bonita.
- My two favorite wines from Viñedos La Bonita. Miriam designs all of the artwork herself – from bottles to bags to business cards!
- Charcuterie of locally produced items comes with your wine tasting!
- Wonderful day with friends at the winery.
- Miriam and Ricardo showing us some grapes…and we got to taste then too!!
- Yep, that’s Bird Island.
- Me and PattCakes…Hooligan, Mario and Ron in the background…no tellin’ what Alicia and Louise were up to!
- Our Dutch Oven dinner beachside!