New to Peñasco? Frequent visitor? Part-time resident? Live here full time? Whatever your designation, I think we can all agree that Puerto Peñasco is a special place. It always has been. It’s not the physical things like buildings, condo towers, etc. that make it special, either. It could be the location…after all sun sand and sea are alluring for most folks. It could be the climate…who doesn’t like warm and dry (most of the year, anyway). It could be a lot of things, or all of them, but in my humble opinion the people of Peñasco are the glue that binds it all together. The special blend of traditional Mexican culture with a large dose of norteño sensibilities, and our proximity to the U.S. border, make our town a very special place. Even with the advent of thousands of condo room and hotels along Sandy Beach over the past twenty-five years or so, our town has not become what so many other Mexican tourist towns have.

To be sure, the town has changed and grown, and not always in good a good way, but it still retains the soul of the Peñasco of forty years ago. I ascribe that to the people. You would be hard pressed to find kinder, happier and a more generous people anywhere than the folks who populate our town, and that brings me to the point of this article.

Caveat: If you have thin skin, or are easily offended, stop reading now.

I have been asked, by more than a few people, to put into words a particular pet peeve of many who live in Puerto Peñasco; the etiquette of visiting a foreign country. Many, certainly not all, who visit our town from the north come here with what can best be described as the “ugly American” attitude, and it is not becoming…at all.

The idea that local laws and customs need to bend to the way things are done “back home” seems to be the jist of it. For many visitors (I could bracket that by narrowing down the age group, but you know of whom I speak), it seems that common courtesy and politeness are left at Lukeville, and that local laws and customs are nothing more than footnotes to be bent to the whims and desires of the visitors.

Incidents of rude and downright hostile behavior by visitors toward locals are ubiquitous and anyone who has been here for any length of time has seen it. While no one begrudges visitors from ‘letting their hair down’ when vacationing in our beautiful town, there is no excuse for the types of rude and crude behavior I and many others have observed.

This behavior extends also to obeying local laws as regards quads on roadways and on beaches. Simply put, just because you want to ride your vehicle on a beach does not mean you can. Incidents of people flouting the laws in this way are many and the consequences are more far reaching than many realize.

A case in point; many local residents have reached a detente with a large resort east of town. Although quads on the beach are a no-no, private road access is acceptable for locals to drive their machines through the resort roads to fish one of the estuaries. As long as they are respectful when driving through resort and golf course grounds, the resort owners turn a blind eye toward this infraction.

Enter ‘renters’ and other beach folk who think that the rules do not apply to them. Quads and rails are being driven on the beaches where they are specifically prohibited. While this is annoying to the other residents and is clearly against the laws, these ‘me, me, me’ folks don’t care. The resort, however, has a different view. New security guards now prevent anyone (local fishermen as well as residents who utilize the restaurants) from driving any off-road vehicles on their property.

So, what was a wink and a nod agreement that benefited locals and the resort, has now become a stalemate between them. All because some folks just want to do what they want to do and everyone else be damned. It is this type of thinking that mars our wonderful community. We want tourists! After all a tourist haven is what we have morphed into. However, we do not want, or need, rude, crude and disrespectful visitors who flout the local laws and treat people, and our community, like their own personal fiefdom.

A word to the wise; please come to Puerto Peñasco! Visit our fine restaurants, shop, recreate, but do so respectfully. You are in a foreign country so act according to their rules and leave your attitude behind. Treat the people, the town and our amenities with the respect they deserve, and we will all benefit.

p.s.- This column is written to address an extant issue and not for debate or comment. If you are offended by what has been written, ask yourself why.