It is not down in any map,
True places never are.
|Cueva de la Cuesta del Palmarito - Cave Paintings|
|From dry desert to lush oasis overlooking old volcano|
Santa Rosalia hasn’t changed much, still a blue collar mining town backed up by some government jobs (Santa Rosalia is Muleje’s county seat). Last year we came by a couple of times and on the second occasion we found some businesses closed down, only 6-8 weeks later. This time around, things seem to be booming. A lot of construction, renovation (the library is getting a facelift), expansion (one of the grocery stores is doubling in size), addition (a new grocery store) and clean up is going on. Not sure where the money or support is coming from for all of it but it is certainly very nice to see this happening. A new commercial pier is being built for ships to be loaded via conveyor with whatever the miners dig up. Many English speaking people are around town managing or working on this project (Fluor Co).We are here for internet, groceries, a couple minor fixes and clean-up the boat. We want to visit San Ignacio, a small desert oasis about one hour away for our inland fix. Then we move to Bahia LA, a safer place to weather the hurricane season which will start in about one week at this latitude…
|Pelican feeding frenzy in Santa Rosalia harbor|
Boat in background used to belong to Howard Hughes
from 1952 to 1972... She is 85' long and is named Destiny
Each evening we see a hundred or so pangas go out to fish. We inquire about it for they all seem to leave at the same time and form a long line outside the bay, a technique we hadn’t yet seen in the Sea. It makes for a pretty sight to watch all these twinkling small lights along the water after sunset. We were told that for 2-3 months a year, they fish for squids. Last year the squids didn’t show up so they are happy to catch whatever they can this year. The fishermen get 4 pesos (32-35 cents) per kilo – barely enough to pay for the fuel to get there. Wal-Mart sells the same product for 32 pesos/kilo, 8 times what they pay the poor fisherman for it… They all stampede back just before dawn, making it difficult to sleep in. We think many have other jobs and fish after hours but we are not certain.
We meet a gentleman (thank you Chuck) on a motor vessel who owns a car and takes Mike to get propane which is not walking distance from the marina, and another time takes us both on a 20 minute tour of Santa Rosalia. We see the location of the old mine, the jail, the floodplains where many people live for free and have to rebuild their dwelling after each flood, the flea market, etc. It’s interesting to see parts of town too far to access by foot. We are thankful for his generosity.
We wake up one morning to a loud THUNK near the mast and think something is majorly wrong only to find a stunned pelican. It possibly didn’t see our side stays (the steel cables that go to the top of the mast to hold it down) and flew right into the ones on the starboard side. There were many small feathers on deck but he was able to fly away. It makes you realize the size and weight of these birds when something like that shakes you up…
|Mission in San Ignacio|
Hanging colorful papeles cortados above from last week's festival
|Fortress-like building is now a museum of cave paintings where we paid|
our fees before visiting Palmarito
|View from one of the mesas we hiked. Church right of heavily treed main plaza. |
We stayed where the large tree is to the right and down from the church.
|Further view of mission with valley filled with palm trees as far as the eyes can see|
No winds are predicted for nearly a week, a good time to head inland to visit San Ignacio, a beautiful desert oasis, only an hour away. We have been referred to Casa Lereé by friends who stayed there last year and are happy to meet Jane, our gracious host. She is an absolute wealth of knowledge on the history, culture, and art of this area. She has lived here 10 years and is constantly doing research to collect the elders’ knowledge before it disappears. She is also an avid plant person and has begun a small but very informative garden near the mission. Each plant is carefully labeled with the Spanish, English, and Latin names. She allows dogs and has two friendly ones of her own: Chivita and Bajamil… No TV, no AC but otherwise all the comforts of home. To us it seems palatial coming from a small and very warm boat.
|The beauty of the lagoon|
We find Casa Lereé, a colorful old hacienda from 1885. The entryway is guarded by a large fig tree and it is in season so we pick them each time we enter or leave Casa Lereé. What a treat! The courtyard is filled with various plants and antiques, a very interesting territory for Nikki to explore. Casa Lereé is lucky enough to have water running through it so there are water friendly plants as well as cacti and fruit trees. Jane said that in the old days a few fish would be found in the water but that she hasn’t seen them for a couple of years. In Casa Lereé you also find a library and a small store with books and various art work, jewelry and embroidery.
|Mike reading, Nikki sleeping after a good outdoor breakfast|
Reading the history of San Ignacio put together by Jane, we find out many interesting tidbits:
- Locals used to eat turtle and burro for they were plentiful.
- Locals grew poppies for the simple beauty of their flowers. Chinese immigrants came to San Ignacio and started harvesting poppy sap to make opium. No one understood what was going on until a visiting legislator noticed Mr. Fong scraping the poppies and stopped that activity.
- San Ignacio is not very far from a lagoon on the Pacific side so it is affected by the ocean’s weather. There is sometimes fog even though we are in the desert.
- Local fishermen go to San Ignacio Lagoon during fishing season. When the season is over, they dig a hole above the high tide line and bury their panga (fishing boats) in the sand for storage until the next season instead of toting it back and forth.
- In the 1700’s there were only 100 date palms. After floods destroyed crops of corn and wheat, farmers let the fields go fallow and now the whole valley is covered with date palms. These dates are not of the best quality and it is getting harder to get workers to pick them so many are not being gathered. However other farmers are introducing better varieties of dates to revamp the date market of San Ignacio.
- We have found date bread, date pie, and heard of date empanadas. We also found orange bread, another product from this area.
- Santa Rosalia was the first city to have electricity in Baja, thanks to the mine.
- Santa Rosalia was the largest city on the Baja side thanks to its mine. Tourism eventually took that away and other cities are now larger.
- In 1925 Santa Rosalia was the site of the first strike in Mexico. Miners united. About a decade before that some miners complained of wages. This was dealt with by the execution of many of them; then asking if anyone else wanted to complain… None of the other 7000 miners came forward.
|Water running through Casa Leree's backyard|
|Old wooden horse next to large laurel of India tree|
|Beautiful pair of teal-green doors.|
|Whimsical giraffe in cafe's yard. Closed for the season...|
|Bright colors and interesting shapes are everywhere|
|Beautiful palm leaf roofing. No nails or staples - all natural|
|On our way to the cave paintings|
|Our first view of the paintings upon arrival to the cave. Two red deer facing each other|
|Upper middle, small circle is thought to be a turtle|
|Mike on stairway. Manuel our driver and Fausto our guide on the right.|
|Same people, our driver and our guide looking at the right side of the cave|
|Top figure looks like a man with black boulder over his arm/shoulder. No one knows what it represents|
|Mike, Markus (Austria), Roberta (Italy), and Manuel our driver. |
We managed to share van's cost by going with them
|Return to Santa Rosalia by bus|
Nikki is sleepy in her Trader Joe's travel bag