Earth : North America : Mexico : Northern Mexico : Sonora (Mexico) : Hermosillo
Hermosillo is one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of around 850,000 people. It's a modern city with all the services you would normally get back at home. Shopping, eating and tourist attractions are all throughout the city.
There is an International Airport (General Ignacio Pesqueira Garcia), with flights to Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, as well as a few cities in Mexico (México City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Toluca, Chihuahua, Ciudad Obregón, Rocky Point). The airport code is HMO. If you are close to the border (Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez) check flights leaving out of those airports in Mexico, they are generally cheaper than flights from US cities into Hermosillo. Aeromexico (and its affiliate Aerolitoral that uses smaller aircraft), is the airline with more schedules in and out from Hermosillo, with both national and intenational destinations. Low air-fare providers are Interjet and Volaris; while Viva-aerobus is the cheapest of them all beware of the airline policies for it wont give any protection for any delays or cancelations. At this point Aviacsa's operations are shut down, due to government intervention. Mexicana (temporarilly out of service) although not flying any aircraft of its own to Hermosillo has a ticket office and carried a shared-code flight with Aeromexico.
The road from Nogales (on the border) down to Hermosillo is a well paved, new highway, however, due to a large amount of rain in December 2007 the highway (Mexico 15) had developed many potholes, some of them very large and deep. These potholes have caused extensive damage to vehicles and tires, and have even caused some fatal accidents. The potholes are on both the north and south bound sides of Highway 15. As of April 2008 reconstruction and maintenance of the highway is taking place so be prepared to take the designated detours. The portion of Highway 15 between Magdalena de Kino and Hermosillo is a toll road, keep your receipt as this is a form of insurance. To file a claim you will need to return to the toll booth (either in Hermosillo or Magdalena). If you are bringing a car in from the United States of America, or Canada (including rental vehicles) you will need to have insurance through a Mexican company, if you have an accident call these companies immediately, in most cases a representative from the insurance company will be dispatched to the scene of the accident, be prepared to wait for them, though no more than 2 hours, especially if you are in the middle of the desert somewhere. Also be aware that quite often when you are involved in an accident which requires a police report the vehicle will be impounded overnight. Most police officers (federal and local) are very courteous and helpful, some of them may be willing to forego the report in order to help you out. On your Mexican insurance forms there should be a number for the "Angeles Verdes" (Green Angels) which is a roadside assistance service similar to AAA in the United States. Keep that number handy when you travel, Angeles Verdes drivers are bi-lingual and are very helpful.
Going to or coming from Hermosillo from Nogales you will encounter several checkpoints. On the north bound side there is a checkpoint manned 24 hours a day by the Mexican military. The soldiers posted at the stop sign who speak to the drivers are almost always able to speak enough English to deal with American and Canadian tourists. They will ask you where you are going, where you are coming from, and may ask to see your ID. Random and suspicious vehicles will be directed to a parking area to be searched, if you are selected to be searched the process normally takes less than 5 minutes (assuming you aren't carrying anything you shouldn't be). They will search through your bags, and the interior of your car. There may also be Federal Preventative Police (PFP) checkpoints, these checkpoints are often set up in different locations. Most PFP Police Officers will speak english, but will normally wave through any vehicles with American or Canadian plates, so long as the occupants are obvious tourists (break out your straw hats, brown shoes, and black knee socks!)
Hermosillo is about a 7 1/2 hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours from Tucson, and about 3 hours from Nogales, Sonora.
When you arrive in Hermosillo be on the lookout for topes, or speedbumps. Not all topes are marked (a yellow sign with a black speedbump) or painted yellow, pay particular attention at night as they are not always visible, and you may leave your engine on the street.
People in Hermosillo tend to drive somewhat recklessly, particularly the bus drivers. Red lights, stop signs, and speed limits are often treated as suggestions rather than law. Be careful of vehicles coming from side streets, they normally have stop signs, but sometimes will not stop until their car is already halfway in the nearest lane. Traffic lights are like most others in Mexico, where the green light will flash before it turns to yellow, and then red. Passing through a yellow light is a violation, there is no delay from when your light turns red to the other light turning green as there normally is in the United States. When you see the light flashing green be prepared to stop. Many intersections will have stop signs in addition to the lights, if the light is green you do not have to stop, this can be confusing to some people who have never encountered this setup before.
Central de Emergencias 066
Federal de Caminos (Federal Police) (52)(662) 289-7098
Sonora State Police Headquarters
North (52)(622) 218-5564, (52)(622) 218-6416, (52)(622) 218-5526
Central (52)(622) 213-4046, (52)(622) 213-3738, (52)(622) 213-3401
TelCel and MoviTel also have emergency numbers, check your cell phone's display screen to see which service your phone is currently using.
If your phone is not currently on one of these two networks use one of the other numbers listed above.
Most likely you will have to have a basic knowledge of Spanish to communicate on these lines, or ask if there is anyone available who speaks English (Hablas Ingles?).
Also see the "Stay Safe" section of this entry.
TUFESA bus line runs from Arizona(Tucson, Phoenix, etc) to Hermosillo. Fares are around $49 one way from Phoenix, and vary based on other cities. The Hermosillo stop is on the Ciudad Obregon route.
There's a trolley bus tour that goes out just in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Hermosillo right in the city center. It will take you to the best sight seeings and landscapes of the city.
Hermosillo has recently begun to replace their older public buses with new German made models (which thankfully have air conditioning!). These SUBA buses have caused some confusion as new routes are started and others are discontinued. Unlike most cities in the USA or Canada the bus in Hermosillo is a simple (and cheap) way to get around. The buses will run every few minutes, so if you miss one just wait a few minutes for the next one.
Taxis are widely available and are a cheap way to get around.
Most people in Hermosillo speak some English and almost everybody in the service and food industry speaks English. While visiting the parts furthest from the city only some people speak some English, though certainly not enough to have a philosophical conversation with you. They will likely be able to help you find places, directions, gas stations, etc.
Young people will certainly know more than average and can talk as well as you, so don't hesitate to ask for directions or just start a conversation.
Visit downtown Hermosillo (El Centro.) In El Centro you will find many shops, selling anything you can think of. There are also food stands if you get hungry or thirsty. Be careful though, the streets in El Centro are always crowded, and traffic is heavy. Also the sidewalks are higher off the street level than you may be used to, this will be a difficult area to traverse if you are in a wheelchair, or have a baby carriage. A heavy police presence is maintained in the area due to its popularity, and constant crowds, help is never far away.
There are many good universities here, between the best known are: University of Sonora, University of Valle de Mexico and "Tecnologico de Monterrey". The University of Sonora has a very good school of foreign languages, where you can enroll for a moderate price to receive Spanish lessons.
Vangtel Mexico Provides oportunities for english speakers.
Hermosillo is slightly more expensive than other parts of Mexico, probably due to the presence of American firms. However, prices are still good compared to the United States! There are lots of American stores, including Office Depots, Blockbusters, Office Max, COSTCO, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, and others. Also, Hermosillo is FULL of shoe stores. The open air market is ok, but not as good as most. Soriana (grocery/department store, similar to Wal-Mart) has several ATMS, which are the best place to exchange money. Wal-Mart also has ATMs.
Hermosillo is full of great restaurants, including American ones such as Applebee's. There are lots of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other ethnic restaurants as well. The best, though, are the Mexican-run taco stands.
Beer stores are located everywhere in Hermosillo. The most popular brands are Tecate, Pacifico, and Modelo (Corona). In a hurry? Look for a "Tecate Six" you can buy your beer in a drive-thru. Coke and Pepsi are available at almost every restaurant and store. Tap water is safe to drink, being one of only a few places in Mexico where the water is treated and filtered. While it is safe to drink the tap water, many of the locals suggest drinking purified water, the tap water contains many chemicals which are bad for your teeth and maybe be hard on the stomach. Do not fear drinking the water occassionally because the effects of the chemicals on the teeth can only be seen with extended exposures.
Hotels and accommodations abound around the city.
Very nice hotels in Hermosillo cost about the same as a mid-range hotel in Phoenix. For around $50 per night, you can find a hotel that would cost around $100-200 in the U.S.
In case of emergency, call 066 or 911. Both numbers work as emergency numbers. 911 is exclusively for tourists and you will be answered in english. State your emergency and if you know where you are give proper directions, if not, just give a general location or where you were in the past couple of hours, and if you have no idea where you are or are lost they can trace your call. Try to stay on the line for as long as possible or until help comes. If you are disconnected, having called will help since emergency services will now look for tourists and locals can usually spot you and tell them where you are. The Hermosillo Municipal Police can also be reached at (52)(662)250-4882.
If you need to contact US authorities, call the U.S. Consulate. The Consulate is located at Avenida Monterrey #141 and can be reached via telephone at: (52)(662)289-3500.
Hermosillo is safer than the rest of Mexico, far from being a dangerous place, but recently the criminals have increased their activity in the city. Use common sense and if you wouldn't do something in your home city, don't do it in Hermosillo, lock up your car, don't wave money around, keep your purse close to you, etc. Tourist attractions are very safe and police are always close by in case of emergency. Usual response time for paramedics is under 5 minutes.
If you or anyone in your party is drunk, do not drive. Drunk drivers are easily spotted and you will get pulled over. If you find yourself in this situation, be nice, be patient, and even if taken to the police station only the drunk driver will be locked up in case he gets rowdy. If this happens, wait for him to be sober up, give him coffee, and you'll be on your way. If you visit the city in December, beware of an increase on police checkpoints all over the city, this time of the year the officers will find any excuse to try and arrest people in order to get money out of them via bribes. Be very careful.
For the most part Hermosillo has been spared the drug violence which is plaguing much of Mexico, especially the border areas. Sporadic violence related to the drug cartels does happen in and around Hermosillo. In May of 2007 a grenade was thrown into a newspaper office in Hermosillo, no one was injured. That same day in the northern Sonora city of Cananea drug traffickers shot and killed 5 municipal police officers. These traffickers were followed by State Police into nearby mountains where 15 of them were killed. Several months ago another set of hand grenades was tossed at a State Police Investigative office near the central part of the city, luckily the only causalties were a few windows. While drug cartels are certainly active in Hermosillo, Hermosillo has not seen the levels of violence that cities such as Tijuana or Ciudad Juarez have been subjected to. As a tourist you do not have much to worry about as the drug cartels mostly target rival members, the police, and the military. As a tourist your biggest crime fears would be the same as they are at home, pickpockets, thieves, drunks, etc.
Although Hermosillo is home to more and more American companies, and businessmen visiting from the north side of the country's border, you will still get stares and second looks, especially if you are black or asian. But have no fear, most people are very friendly and welcoming to tourists and business visitors, and will do anything they can to make you feel at home.
Hermosillo is probably more "liberal" than other parts of Mexico, however Mexico is a conservative Catholic country. If you are gay/lesbian people will stare at you and your partner, some may even make comments to you. If you have purple hair, a nose ring, and six earings expect the same.
Even in the hottest of the hot Hermosillo weather men and women will still wear jeans, you will rarely see a local wearing shorts unless they are involved in an athletic activity. Even if it is 120 degrees, wearing shorts will still expose you as a tourist. Most men wear jeans, and different types of shirts, many the cowboy style with a sombrero (cowboy hat) and cowboy boots. Women mostly wear jeans and different types of shirts as well. Trying to fit in with the local population will make you less of a target for those who prey on tourists, i.e. criminals, some taxi drivers, corrupt police, etc. After normal working hours are over you will notice this practice is relaxed, and more people will wear shorts in the evening rather than the traditional jeans.
From Hermosillo you can access points all over Sonora, or continue south to Sinaloa. Mexico's Route 15 goes all the way down to Mexico City, though flying is the better option if you plan on heading to that area. Hermosillo is only about 1 hour east of Bahía Kino, a small town with a beautiful beach, and access to Isla Tiburon. About an hour and 15 minutes south of Hermosillo is Guaymas and San Carlos. San Carlos is more developed than Bahia Kino, with many condo/resort facilities, however there are some areas of secluded beach. San Carlos is also home to Tetakawi, a large mountain right on the water that is sometimes refered to by locals as "Goat Tits" due to its unique shape. Not far from San Carlos is the port city of Guaymas, smaller than Hermosillo, it is a bustling and growing city with excellent restaurants, and access to a largely unknown Mexican maritime culture. Continuing past Guaymas one can also reach Ciudad Obregon from Hermosillo, which is also a city on the rise, and home to a beautiful lake frequented by locals. Most American and Canadian tourists are just passing through Hermosillo on their way to one of the nearby beaches. Unfortunately for them they do not know what they are missing in this clean, modern, and beautiful city.