¡Feliz Navidad!

When the Buckmasters told friends and co-workers that they were going to Mexico for their Christmas vacation, they didn’t exactly get positive reactions.

“Why would you go there?”

“They’re killing Americans down there, you know?”

“Be safe!”

But Dennis rebounded with, “Well you gotta die sometime, might as well be together in Mexico.”

Yes.  And with that philosophy we happily crammed into the car and drove down from Phoenix, through the border, and to the oh-so-very-Americanized Puerto Penasco (Rocky Pont).  We’re glad they weren’t easily deterred, because it was a great trip.

Just before reaching the border, we stopped in a tiny speck-of-a-town for some ice cream.  All they had were frostbitten dilly bars.  That's when we knew what kind of vacation this was going to be.

Once we were actually in Mexico, one of our first stops was the local mercado.  Honestly, I haven’t been to one of these in a long, long time.  It made the experience of Mexico a little more foreign.  The Buckmasters were eager to get out if “Rocky Point” and see the real Puerto Penasco, and it really inspired me to have a more Mexican experience when we go down from now on.

I mean, when you bring all your groceries from the US you miss out on things like this:

We also found a little panadería that sold tortillas and bread.  The shop was attached to a house full of kids.  The madre came out to us, really shy and sweet.  She spoke zero English, so it was fun to use some of my retired Spanish skills.

We visited that panadería twice more, I think.  Best tortillas ever!

December is a great time for a trip to the fish market.  In the summer you’re shoulder to shoulder, being carried through the town in a river of tourists and vendors, everyone sweaty trying to keep in the shade.  But in the winter, and first thing in the morning, it was just us.  Of course, this means you get special attention: vendors calling out to you from their shops, kids following you with their boxes of bracelets.  But it was nice!

Yes, the weather was as perfect as it looks.

Art gallery.

We got a few souvenirs.


We found a church!  Yay, Elliot’s dream come true!
Everyone indulged me, let me scamper around inside and snap a few pictures.

Usually {in churches and cathedrals I’ve been to, at least} the bell towers are locked up.  Imagine my giddiness when the wood door swung open!  {Yes, ask Sarah from my London days, I try every door to everything.}

Kirsten threatened to ring the bell on me, so I finally got out of there.

When it was time for lunch, we opted to try one of the restaurants.  Dennis made a "friend" out of one of the many waiters that pummel you with "special deals for you."  It was called...

Yeah, Beto's Place wasn't a good idea.  But we didn't know that yet.  Look how happy and unsuspecting we are!

Maybe I should have been clued in by the fact that our little plastic table was on top of the roof... if you could call it that.  We were really just on a couple of wood planks.

Let's just say that very little sleep was had that night in our condos.
Maybe it's not fair to blame poor Beto, though.  Jamie, Leah, and Kelsey never got sick.  So maybe it was a 24 hour flu?

Whatever it was, I felt bad that the Buckmasters had to deal with it on their vacation.  We will choose our restaurants more carefully next time.

Another cool cultural experience was at the railroad tracks.  Because it’s public property, people can stake out a little square and set up house for free, right there on the side of the tracks!  Cool deal!  That is, if you don’t mind cardboard walls and barbed wire everywhere.

The people are happy, though.  Really friendly, too.  My uncle Rod has helps organize different kinds of charity work throughout Puerto Penasco, including occasional feasts at the railroad tracks.  This time it was a barbeque, with hambergers, hot dogs, chips, and plenty of dulces for the niños.

When we drove up and started unloading the grills, those ninos came out in droves. 

 Kelsey was pretty much adorable with them.

Laura was grilling up a storm!

Jamie and Leah worked really hard getting the condiments right.  Through head nods and shakes, they were able to figure out whether each person liked mustard.

And they had to dodge the dogs, who were picking up the scraps.  *Shudder*  I was dancing around those things all day.

I did see one kinda cute dog, though.   But not as cute as the little boys holding him!

A group from Utah had brought down all kinds of lightly used clothes and toys to share with their Mexican brothers and sisters.  Some people got some great finds.  Like this little turtle dude:

Or this guy!

It was a success!  And an awesome experience.  I was sorry some of us were still too sick to make it out.

Marco!  Polo!  Who even plays that game anymore?
Jamie and Leah do. 

As their silly game wore on, more and more random strangers joined in until the whole pool was playing.  Old ladies, little kids, even people outside of the pool, stretched out on lawn chairs, were crying out “Polo!”

Roy and I sat on the side with our legs dipped in, “Polo!” echoing around the pool area.  It was one of those moments in life that make you smile, and you realize human beings are generally good, fun-loving.  If you are a child under the age of 18, disregard.  Don’t talk to strangers.

Anyway, there was one person—ONE person—within a fifty foot radius who wasn’t playing.  His white hair was slicked back, his sunglasses were on, and he was just relaxing on a step in the pool.  Either he was sleeping or he had no emotional capacity—because how can you not smile at a pool of strangers in a game of Marco, Polo?

Jamie was “it.”  Out of all the tons of people playing, Jamie found this guy’s flabby chest.  It looked like he got his fingers all tangled up in the man’s curly white hair before he opened his eyes.

“I don’t think you want me.”

“Oh.  Sorry.”

Meanwhile, everyone just peed in the public pool because everyone is laughing that hard.

On the last full day Uncle Rod let us borrow his quads and took us out on the sandrail!

Jamie got stuck once, but luckily my cousin Shane and I were following them around in his car, ready to jump start anyone who needed it.

Who knew there was wet mud out in the desert?

And then, of course, there was shopping on Shack's 5th Avenue.

The end of the trip came too quickly.  We didn't even have time to finish our Christmas puzzle!

 You know what I had to say about returning to the states/work?

But Friday came anyway.  As our last act, we took an ugly Christmas sweater pic {a Buckmaster tradition} Mexican style.

The drive back was way more eventful than I thought possible.  First of all, we locked the keys in the car at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.  Literally, it would have taken a locksmith all day to get to us.  But apparently this sort of thing happens a lot at this little place.  The manager got out his whole break-into-a-locked-car-kit and Roy had the situation figured out in no time flat.

About thirty minutes on the road after this little event, Kelsey had to go to the bathroom.  Bad.  We’ve all been there before, right?  Willing to squat behind a bush to avoid wet, warm pants.  Unfortunately for Kelsey, there weren’t a whole lot of bushes around.  And there’s not much you can do to hide from the border patrol helicopters either...

"Um... I see something but..."
"Roger that."

To make matters worse, Kelsey had a run in with Nature.  Apparently Roy told Kelsey to be careful as she ventured out for a good spot to go, but we should have been more specific.  The girl has never been out in open desert before!  So of course she tripped over a knee-high cactus and had stickers all over her leg.  Lovely Arizona souvenir.

We piled back in the car after we thought we got all the thorns out of Kelsey’s leg.  It only took about thirty seconds for the little pricks of poison to set into Kelsey’s leg.  And only about forty seconds before we passed a gas station.

Yes, I had to take a picture of it.  I couldn't hold still, though, I was laughing too hard.

And that's our Christmas vacation, told really fast with lots of things I've forgotten, I'm sure.  It was definitely one of the best weeks of the year!

¡Hasta luego, México!


  1. Thanks for sharing. We will have to get in on that christmas tradition of going down to help people out. Sounds like a lot of fun.

  2. Sounds like a great vacation! I'm glad you weren't discouraged from going :)