The film currently has a working title of The Devil’s Road. This is a multi-faceted reference to Baja’s notoriously “devilish” hot weather, the creeping devil’s cactus found there, and a twist on the historic “royal” road that spanned the length of the Baja Peninsula, connecting San Diego and the present day town of Loreto.
It is often said that Baja in the summer is “hot as hell.” There is little to dispute about how hot and dry it can get in parts of Baja at certain times of the year. But how hot is hell? Surely, only the devil knows!
By the time Nelson and Goldman reached the Magdelena Bay region, they supposed all the possibilities of novel forms among the desert plants had been exhausted, but they were mistaken. A new form of cactus appeared, consisting of great beds of devil’s cactus, creeping along the ground in all directions like gigantic spiny caterpillars.
During their journey, Nelson and Goldman traveled mostly along the El Camino Real, or “The Royal Road.” The historic road connected the peninsula’s numerous missions, presidios, and pueblos—and water holes—running between principal settlements. Centuries later, this route has been reduced to a thin meandering trail through the desert—used predominantly by coyotes and local ranchers—it’s physical existance reduced by the desert climate, shifting sands, and ever-encroaching cacti.
Machaerocereus ecura was dubbed “Creeping Devil” owing to its prostrate habit and rigid, serrulate spines. The branches radiate from a seedling or detached joint, and rise just enough to clear a low obstruction, thus giving the appearance of a creeping, stiffly bristled caterpillar. The fruits, to 10cm in length, oval in outline, are edible, faintly acid-sweet, and highly prized as a delicacy. (From Flora of Baja California, by Ira Wiggins)