We enjoyed watching the whales at Guerrero Negro. There is a big bay where the mothers like to use to have their young. The water is warmer and saltier than the Pacific Ocean. It was especially fun to see mother and child swimming together.
On Thursday the 27th, we moved on north and we once again crossed the Baja Peninsula to a beautiful bay on the Sea of Cortez. We camped there on the beach at Bahia de Los Angeles. Like so many of the villages on the Baja it is suffering on hard times. It appears that at some time in the past, tourism was much greater or they expected it to be. Hotel and Motel swimming pools are empty and in need of repair, there are many unfinished homes and business along the way and campgrounds are empty and unkempt. We found several interesting things to do, fishing in The Sea, boat sightseeing, and a trip to a mission far up in the mountains. A boat load of fellow travelers went sightseeing and brought back a five gallon bucket of clams they had dug on one of the many outlying islands. They saw humpback whales, orcas, blue footed birds, sea lions, and flocks birds that dove in unison for fish. We, with ten others, chose to visit the mission far into the mountains. To get there we had to take a jeep trail. The 21 mile trail took us 3 hours. What fascinated us was that the mission, San Francisco de Borja Adac, was founded in 1762. The church was completed in 1801 and the mission was closed in 1818 for lack of Indians. The missioners not only brought Christianity to the Baja, but disease - mainly small pox. About 90% of the Indian population was wiped out. It decline from 150,000 to 15,000 or less.
The mission was built at one of the few springs that are scattered out in the dry Baja. It is a hot springs of about 84 deg f. There is not a lot of water so they store it in a holding pond till it cools down then irrigate with it. It is hard for someone from Idaho to think that a mission church this big and this well constructed was built before Louis and Clark headed west, and abandoned before Boise was established. It was constructed different than the others we saw earlier, no towers for the bells. The main church, built with limestone, is still in good condition, but the outbuildings, constructed of adobe, are almost gone. There is a native family that lives on the grounds that have watched over the church for 7 generations. Though neglected, one can still see the small farm. Some of the old grapevines are still producing fruit. There also are date palms, olive, mango, and avocado trees. When one envisions how grand this mission must of been when new, one wonders why when it was so far from any town or village.
The ride to and from was great. The group asked Sergio "The Green Angel" to go with us, and we had him drive our 4 wheel-drive truck, so Hugh could enjoy the scenery. The variety of cacti was awesome. The Boojum tree looks like nothing else. It is often described as a giant green carrot growing upside down, with its "root" sticking up to 50 ft high in the air. It has a trunk and leaves and no branch until it is at least 100 years old. We do not know if matters, but it might be fun to know the names of the 150 species of cacti that grows in the Baja. To think, for thousands of years the natives lived off this vegetation. The trip took us almost 7 hours. We ended the day feasting on fresh steamed clams, barbequed fish, quesadilla and margaritas on the beach by the campfire. It doesn't get any better than this, but it did. The sunrise that we woke up to on our last day on a beach, was one of the most spectacular we've ever seen. Just two more days and we will be back over the border into California.