Ciudad Constitucion to La Paz
Dec 11, 2007
|Baja California, the peninsula, is more than 1000 miles long, runs more or less north-south from the California border at Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas just a few miles south of the Tropic of Cancer. This is the biggest peninsula in the world! Bigger than Italy. Geographically isolated from Mexico's mainland by the Sea of Cortez. Inhabited by various native tribes until the Spanish mission work of the Jesuits, Franciscans and Dominicans wiped them out with imported diseases and culturally dissastrous assimilation efforts. The hideout for English and Dutch (and other) privateers (pirates) waiting to relieve the Spanish Galleon of their gold and treasures from the Far East. More recent turn-of-the-century mining and other explotation by Europeans, Americans and even the russians has produced the strange cultural mix and flavour of Baja.
Today, the biggest legitimate (some would argue this point) industry is tourism or rather real estate. A decades old system of land trusts that were intended to give the land back to the people , has in many cases been warped into a sell-off by those same folks to cash rich Norte Americanos. A cynical view, I'll admit, and there are some examples of ejidos (land trusts) where the community has managed some sustainable autonomy. I could go on, and maybe should go on, because this issue is shaping Baja right here and now, but let's get on with our trip...
...We left Loreto to move south some more. Leaving the east coast again and travelling over a winding, tricky pass over the Sierra de la Giganta, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere being followed by a black-and-white! Just us and him. I've steered away from commenting here about all the reported police corruption in Baja. It's real, but in our opinion sensationalized and exaggerated. Anyway, there we were, our turn to get 'rolled'. I mentioned to Manon that we had a tail. She said she knew. I watched my speedoeter like a one-eyed hawk. That's becase the other hawk's eye was needed to drive. I said to Manon that if wew were gonna get rolled this would be it. Emma slept. After ten long kilometers of this, the road straightened and the first decent (safe and legal) chance to pass presented itself. The cruiser pulled out and passed and we waved at each other as he went by. No mordida, no trouble. Just a cop going about his duty. I felt ashamed and foolish at my stress level and for having to admit to myself that had fallen prey to our own fear, fueled by a prejudiced and ignorant Norte Americano senitment. Thanks for serving as my confessional.
The trip continues as we arrive at a near empty Manfred's RV Park in Ciudad Constitucion.
...think of the cartoon Siguaro cactii in a Roadrunner episode, spread across miles and miles in every direction, across immense plains or rolling hills or steep eroded mountain canyons. Think dry. Think dust, not sand. More like finely crushed stone mixed with clay, whipped up by the wind and settled in a thin coat everywhere. Imagine this vast strip of land framed on the Pacific side by blue-gray ocean surf and on the Sea of Cortez side by even greater colour contrast with turquoise or bright blue sea against the green and brown and beige of the parched land.
Imagine some of the most gracious people you'll ever meet - the always tidily dressed women and the ever machismo men going about their business but always eager to help visitors like us.
The women run their fingers through Emma's hair as though the blond hair was a good luck charm. The little ones yell, "la nina" from doorways when they see her.
Men, with big friendly smiles wave from their trucks when they see me towing Emma when we ride our bikes.
You may have heard the expression Manana, which means 'tomorrow', used to describe the Mexican pace. Well, it's true but it's meaning is not literal, it's nuanced. It connotes a kind of patience rather than a type of laziness that we North Americans would impatiently impose.
Picture the most earthly, natural palette of colours, never presented in a spectrum, but rather in contrasts. Red and bluish purple bougainvillea next to brown and light green cactus. Turquoise ocean with white surf breaks pounding a beach of beige and black patterned sand. Pink and orange sunrises and sun sets against green-grey water next to light yellow dusty dry arroyos.
Contrasts. Yes, so many contrasts in Baja. Colours, culture, language, standards of living, law and lawlessness, change and no change.
We find ourselves heading out of Ciudad Constitucion. Ciudad Constitucion is in the middle of a vaste plain which has been succesfully transformed into one of Baja largest agricultural regions. The city itself is charmless sprawl. That's o.k., it's purpose is to serve the agriculture that is it's mainstay. After a quick stop at the bank, we're off to La Paz, back yet again on the East coast. La Paz is the Capital of Baja Sur. We looked at an RV Park near town that was clean and safe looking. In fact, behind it's huge white concrete wall, it seemed stifling safe. We chose Campestre Maranatha instead, a family oriented spacious park back Northeast of town. It's most important attraction?... a trampoline. Emma spent hours on this thing over our three day stay.