After camping off of a road leading into the San Francisco de la Sierra mountain range, we continued south to Guerrero Negro. The town is located on the 28th parallel, which separates the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur. There is not much to be said for the area as far as scenery goes, but as is the case in much of the less scenic areas of Baja, the marine life here is amazing! The area is flat, drab, and has little vegetation to break the monotony of its landscape. But nearby Scammon’s Lagoon on the Pacific Coast is famous for a remarkable event that occurs every winter. Starting in January, huge numbers of female gray whales travel to Baja’s largest lagoon all the way from Alaska to give birth to their calves.
Because of the massive whaling enterprises of the 1800s, gray whales became nearly extinct. They are now protected and their numbers are estimated to have grown to about 21,000. Gray whales are huge, being 30 to 50 feet long and weighing 20 to 40 tons! The young calves consume 50 gallons of milk per day and gain 60 to 70 pounds PER DAY! Brad and I had taken a whale-watching boat tour on a previous visit and got up close and personal with a few of them. What an experience that was! They truly are gentle giants.
We continued on to San Ignacio, a charming town on the edge of a peaceful oasis surrounded with palm trees. These date palms were introduced by Spanish missionaries over two hundred years ago. The town has an annual date harvest and fiesta in July. In town is a mission that was completed in 1786 by Dominican friars for Spain, and church services are still held there daily. The town square is completely shaded by six huge Indian laurel trees which lends a very elegant, inviting look to this lovely park.
One of the things Brad and I really wanted to do was to go to the archeological museum in town to get more information on the prehistoric cave paintings found in the area. Unfortunately the museum was closed for the day and nobody around town could provide more information. We hoped we’d find the museum open on our return trip home.
We left San Ignacio and headed south to Santa Rosalia, an industrial town that owes its existence to copper and manganese mines founded in the 19th century. There is a church in town that has a remarkable history. The church was constructed of prefabricated iron wall panels and was designed by Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. The church was a prototype for missionary churches in France’s humid colonies of Africa that were constructed of materials resistant to termites.
On the southern outskirts of Santa Rosalia is our favorite hotel in all of Baja, Hotel El Morro. Once we get to there, we KNOW we are on vacation. The hotel sits in a lovely setting on the edge of the Sea of Cortez, surrounded with lush tropical-looking vegetation and flowers galore. The rooms have their own little patio overlooking the harbor, and the hotel even has an aviary filled with songbirds that begin singing at dawn. Connected to the hotel is a wonderful restaurant that has a magnificent view of the water, and their specialty is fresh seafood brought in by the local fishermen. When I’m there, the song that comes to mind is Jimmy Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” as you feel the rest of world fade away.