Guest Blog by Associate Producer Bri Bruce
We woke early an spent the day on horseback. Oscar took us from the villa stables to La Boca de la Sierra, winding on a dusty road through the foothills of the Sierra la Laguna. Along the way, he stopped to point out and several species of plants and flowers, explaining what native Baja Californians would use for medicinal purposes.
At one point, we traversed the Arroyo San Bernardo, and for a moment I felt as I imagined Nelson and Goldman once did during their time here, looking to either side of the road at the expanse of the dry river basin. To think that in this very canyon they rode their own horses during their own trek, over a century before. Suddenly we heard a loud whooshing noise, cross between a strong gust of wind and a plane flying overhead. When we looked up to where the sound was coming from, whatever it was was moving--and quickly--we saw a person, clad in helmet, gloves, and ropes, suspended from and rolling along a cable high above the arroyo. Zipline. All this before I could presume that little had changed in the last hundred or so years, with the exception of trash hung up in the underbrush and the branded cattle roaming about. Shortly after we came upon a small outpost, vans emblazoned with "Cabo Adventures," offering ziplining and ATVing to tourists from the cape.
We continued on, noting the number of ziplines in the area, the platforms of various heights that were scattered among the peaks. Every now and then we heard someone whooping as they swung from one platform to the next along one of the the cables. We couldn't go five minutes without a bus full of smiling tourists lumbering down the narrow road or convoy of ATVers at our heels, revving their engines in an attempt to urge us to guide the horses to the shoulder. We were left to choke on their dust and calm the horses for some time afterward.
The road ended in a picturesque, rocky canyon that had collected rainwater in blue pools in its basin--a welcome reward for the journey. The water was remarkably clear for having been stagnant for some time, shrouded in grasses, a lone palm at the southeastern end. The horses drank and trotted through the water, clearly pleased, as several of them began pawing at the water, letting it splash around us. We did our best to cool off before filming a black water snake we had happened upon near a marshy crevice at the water's edge. Oscar tended to the horses, checking their saddles and upturning his hat, filling it with water from the canyon, and offering it to them to drink, pouring the rest over their necks and flanks.
I have a new respect for Nelson and Goldman and all they endured and were able to accomplish in this place. They must have been incredibly seasoned horsemen because I cannot imagine riding over 2,000 miles on horseback when only a day's ride has left me so sore and bruised I can hardly sit.
On our return, the horses were eager to get back, picking up their pace to a trot despite Oscar's insistence (and our pulling at the reigns) that we not let them. Undoubtedly they were also growing more agitated at the constant convoys of ATVs whizzing past, coating us all in a fine layer of Baja dust.
We finally made it back to Rigoberto's villa, hot and thirsty, the horses sweating and snorting. We helped Oscar wash and brush the horses, and then tie them up beneath some trees near the aviary to feed them alfalfa. Afterward, Oscar helped us in recreating a photograph that Nelson and Goldman took on their expedition of a vaquero in traditional dress. We were in awe. The photos we captured were nearly identical, down to the way the horse held his ears, the brim of Oscar's hat, the handmade leather chaps and saddle. This was truly a highlight of our time in the area, and truly a recreation of the original expedition we're aiming to recreate.
Later in the afternoon, once packed, we bid Rigoberto and Oscar farewell and thanks, and continued south around the cape. After ten or so miles on a rutted and windy dirt road toward Cabo Pulmo, we arrived at our next destination: a gated community of houses and condos atop a cliff overlooking the ocean. We're staying at a condo belonging to a surfer from Southern California in one of the last small housing developments along the road.
The entire drive, as the sun was slowly descending toward the western horizon (and not over the ocean as I'm so accustomed to seeing back home) I watched the surf. The blue-green waves rolling around the rocky points near Nine Palms and Shipwrecks brought butterflies to my stomach.
We watched the sun set and the moon rise from the beach below the condo, watching as JT and Jade went for a swim, struggling with the shorebreak and the undertow.