Nov 15, 2012

Cave Paintings of Pinguica/Canipole

Be who you are and say what you feel,
Because those who mind don't matter
And those who matter don't mind.
Dr. Seuss 

Pinquica / Canipole paintings
About one hour NW of Loreto are some paintings (hieroglyphs) and petroglyphs along a stream bed that our guide Necky of Desert and Sea says are estimated to be between 10,000 and 14,000 years old. I had read the paintings in the general area were around 7,200-7,500 years old so I am not sure of the exact number of years but either way it is longer than I can envision.

Mike with our guide 'Necky'
Although advertized as “cave” paintings, they are more like “wall” paintings under a large rock overhang overlooking a stream. It is highly possible that when they were produced, they were in a cave and erosion has done its work to open it up.

Wall with paintings, overlooking the creek
The drawings are really of simple nature and quite geometrical, something not that common in these types of paintings. Also not quite as common is the high number of colors used: white, yellow, orange, red, aqua, green, and black. It is believed that these colors are not plant based but rather mineral based hence their long lasting life.

Although not as extensive or numerous as hoped, it was nice to walk for a couple of hours in the desert at about 650 feet in altitude and in the middle of nowhere to then be in the presence of something so primitive and ancient. It was refreshing and stimulating.

My main surprise is that these paintings (if real) have not faded much if at all with years faced with wind, sun, rain, critters, and people. I say, if real, because I do not know how to test if these were not just painted there a few years ago to attract tourists even though it is part of an archeological park. I know I am probably overly skeptical but our guide did not seem to appreciate the question when posed to him.

Water left from hurricane Paul - tadpoles abound
Protection is minimal and unfortunately few graffiti are being added over some of the original paintings, unnecessary destruction by modern people.

Petroglyphs
On the way out we exchanged more knowledge of the local fauna and flora. Our guide was quite knowledgeable and we were fortunate to have him to ourselves. This is the slow season so they agreed to have just the two of us instead of the generally obligatory 4 people minimum, and at the same price… We lucked out.

More petroglyphs
Back on the road, we noticed an unusually high number of motorcycles and sand buggies. The famous ‘Baja 1000’ race passes on a nearby road. The dust is flying. Prices for the winners are in the millions of US dollars. This is a very big event in Baja, bringing in many tourists and a lot of money. I never realized we’d be so close to it.

It was great to be back in nature after hours on the plane or on the road visiting family members in cities. It was grand to be where it is warm and sunny again, especially during the winter.

We welcome seeing things we do not completely, nor will we perhaps ever, understand. Mysteries are part of life and I think they humble us a little while keeping our creativity alive trying to figure out what they may have meant. I don’t think we’ll ever look at a cave or wall under an overhang by a streambed the same way again. We would hope to find another historical gem while walking the beautiful deserts of Baja or beyond.

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