Apologies to actor Alfonso Bedoya. His line (as the bandito, Gold Hat) “Badges?! We don’ need no stinkin’ badges!” in the 1948 movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madre (and reused as a tag line in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles), prompted the title of this article.  As wonderful as living in Peñasco is, there are a few things that the local government needs to take responsibility for and actually do something about.

The wheels of government grind slowly here. They always have when it comes to things like infrastructure, However, our town has become a tourist mecca. We have been ‘discovered,’ and the tourist dollars should be cultivated, not taken for granted. Having lived in Peñasco for almost 30 years, give or take, unpaved roads are a fact of everyday life. Since we have been discovered, though, efforts have been made to pave some of the more heavily traveled thoroughfares, to ease the concerns of our visitors about their vehicles’ tires, suspensions, etc. The efforts have only been partially successful.

Traveling out of town, away from Sandy Beach has become an adventure. Especially on Highway 3 near the entrances of Playa Dorada, Playa Miramar and the Mayan Palace. For many years Blvd. Fremont, from the Pemex station at the corner of Josefa Dominguez all the way to the junction of Highway 3 was repaired regularly, usually during the winter months. Those repairs never lasted which, I guess, was a sort of ‘job security’ for the guys who did them. The city finally effected a complete overhaul of the road, making it a solid highway which eased the transition to Highway 3 for many years. Today, the area from that intersection to just past the Las Conchas entrance has been dubbed “Pothole City” by local residents, and is in such bad repair that it takes an act of will just to traverse it, at any speed, lest you blow a tire or crunch your suspension. The rest of Blvd Fremont, going north and east, has started to show signs of wear, too. Small potholes have developed and are bound to increase.

That all pales in comparison to Highway 3 from where it crosses the railroad tracks all the way to the military checkpoint past Bahia San Jorge…and beyond. That highway was in fine shape for many years…too many as it sits now. The amount of heavy traffic (buses, tractor trailers, cement trucks, etc.) these two stretches of highway support is intense, and the pavement is showing the strain. Approaching the Mayan Palace, the road is so bad that on one particular afternoon, I saw two vehicles stopped about a half mile apart, with blown tires and crushed rims. They were not ‘locals’ who knew to watch out for the huge, car eating, potholes and hit them going highway speed and they paid the heavy price. Hitting that particular pothole, at even 20 MPH, can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, and I am sure that there have been many trucks and buses that have lost axles and other parts to it.

To be sure, the city has sent out crews to patch these divots, but the patches never last more than a couple of weeks, at best. Then it’s back to ‘highway roulette’ when traveling southeast from our town. Considering that the resorts of Mayan Palace, Grand Mayan and Playa Azul are served by this road, it is surprising that the ‘powers that be’ have not been prevailed upon to make more permanent repairs. I cannot imagine a guest to one of those resorts who has not had to dodge a few of the more notorious potholes, at least, to get to the resorts. What must they think? What will they tell their friends?

If you are thinking that they are saying, “well, that’s just Mexico for you,” you would be wrong. Highway 5 on the eastern coast of Baja California Norte is a good example of the type of roadway that Peñasco deserves. Even Mexico 1, which runs from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas and carries all of that traffic, is in better shape than Highway 3 from Peñasco to Caborca. Considering Peñasco’s newfound celebrity as a tourist destination, one might think that the town fathers would recognize it and try to put on as a good a ‘face’ on for our visitors as possible. After all the amount of money tourism is flooding the city with might as well be put to that use.

Just something to think about. End of rant, as you were.\