1. a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth.

Similar: gossip, hearsay, talk, tittle-tattle, the grapevine, the word on the street, scuttlebutt, piece of gossip, story, speculation…

Opposite: hard facts


  1. be circulated as an unverified account.

Did you hear about the alien spaceship that landed out on Bird Island??? Me neither. If past is prologue, that first sentence will become the new rumor du jour in Peñasco. Most folks have heard of, or been around, the ‘rumor mill’ a time or two. Heck, most folks are an integral part of the rumor mill!

Here in our beautiful city and beyond, we have a very active rumor mill. From the playas all the way to Arizona, and in the media across the U.S., the rumor mill regarding Mexico in general, and Rocky Point in particular, has been in overdrive for so long that it almost becomes the gospel.

In our expat community, rumors have become a ‘blood sport’ with lurid tales of ‘who did what’ or ‘did you hear about what happened there?’ flying fast and furious. In town, visitors who come to enjoy our beaches and other amenities, gleefully add to the rumor mill at the drop of a hat. Whether true or not, these exaggerations and rumors have a chilling effect on our town.

As anywhere, some stories have a grain of truth, but there are many more that are exaggerations, and some are outright fabrications. To what end, I do not know, but the result is a black eye for Mexico in general and Peñasco in particular. 

Having visited, traveled, and lived in Mexico since 1977, my experiences ought to account for something, even if you don’t agree. I have flown throughout Mexico and the Baja peninsula in a private aircraft, driven throughout the country for decades as well. During that time, I’ve had interactions with many folks from campesinos in the small villages to municipal, state, and federal officials (including the military) in many places through the country. In all of that time, there have been just a small handful of incidents that could be classified as ‘iffy,’ and none that rise to the level of some of the latest gossip rolling through the local community.

With that reservoir of personal experience, when I hear about the number and frequency of supposed egregious actions by the police and federales between Sonoita and Peñasco, I cringe. Why? Because, based upon my personal knowledge, and those of many friends and acquaintances who have lived, traveled, and worked in Mexico for a long time, I know that those stories are not all true and the ones that are true aren’t totally true either. Yes, Sonoita is a ‘traffic trap.’ So, what, so is Ajo! Be cautious and you will get through just fine.

Having said that, the effect on people who want to visit our beautiful city is chilling. I have good friends, who know that I’ve lived in Peñasco for years, and that I make many trips back and forth across the border. Still, they are petrified to come visit because of the ‘rumor mill’ stories. They hear those from the local and national news media, as well as ‘friends’ who have visited our city and tell lurid tales about things that they personally have never experienced. They simply repeat stories that other (friends of friends?) people have repeated.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fewer people in town, especially during the fall, winter, and spring months (tongue firmly in cheek) but, really…does re-telling and embellishing on hair raising stories about incidents that you have no personal knowledge of somehow enhance your status? It would seem so.

They say advice is worth what you pay for it, so here is some free advice; when you enter another country, be aware that their laws are to be obeyed just as the laws in the U.S. are to be obeyed. If stopped by the police or federales, guilty or not, be pleasant not aggressive or fearful, even if it is difficult to be. If you do not obey the laws of that country, you will be a) stopped by law enforcement, b) fined and/or c) jailed. If you come to another country and act like an ill-bred jerk, because, y’know, “American and I can do what I want,” expect to be corrected in any number of ways. Courtesy in any encounter goes a long way!

As far as rumors are concerned, not repeating things of which you have no, or incomplete, knowledge would be a good thing. Do I expect the rumor mill to go suddenly dormant? Not a chance! I’d like to think, dear reader, that you will, at least, think about what you are spreading when you choose to repeat a rumor.