Viewing entries tagged
baja farming

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 30

Scorpion Bay to Comondu

San Juanico is the official name for this surfing and fishing village. The locals’ lives are spent around fishing and the gringos all are there for the surfing. During our visit, overlooking the bluff at the best surf spot around, known as Scorpion Bay, there were only three surfers in the water. Back home in Santa Cruz to have clean, head high waves that one could ride for half a mile with only two other surfers would be absolute paradise. I can see the attraction to this place.

Bikes on bluff overlooking Scorpion Bay (San Juanico)

Bikes on bluff overlooking Scorpion Bay (San Juanico)

"The Comondus" is how most gringos will refer to the two towns of San Jose de Comondu and San Miguel de Comondu. Both lie about a mile apart and are settled in a beautiful canyon with high lava and basalt rock walls. Goldman wrote that while standing on the wall edge overlooking the valley of these two towns is "one of the most beautiful in all of Lower California." Date and fan palms are widely abundant, crops of various vegetables are grown, and orchards of many varieties of trees seem to be happily growing in this well watered and fertile place.

Inside Mision San Jose de Comondu

Inside Mision San Jose de Comondu

It is a very sleepy and slow paced town with not much going on. When we arrived at the mission site, there was a group of children on a field trip. That seemed to be the most excitement the town had seen in a while. Nelson and Goldman wrote very little about this beautiful oasis town even though they spent five days here. In 1905, Nelson writes that date palms were scattered irregularly along the stream in a thin line through the vineyards and fields. Today the entire bottom of the canyon is a thick forest of date and fan palms. Several years ago the forest was subjected to a fire of strong intensity. The scorch marks reached to the tops of most trees and left a healthy fire scar on each tree. I suspect that it was a controlled burn to remove debris and litter dropped from the trees and to burn the dead hanging leaves of the fan palms.

While waiting for our next move and giving ourselves a break from filming in the harsh light of midday, we met and talked with two dirt bikers that rode into town. Greg and Eric had split off from the same group that we met in La Purisima. Both these guys were from Washington State and were quite the characters. We swapped motorcycle stories, learned about each other and our families, and mostly talked about how beautiful Baja is.

While we were all sitting on the side of the cobblestone road in the shade of a young ficus tree, another gringo approaches us from around the corner holding a map. He seemed glad to find someone that spoke English. Then he was glad that someone could tell him where he was. After that, his disappointment began to show. He was carying a single page map of Mexico that had a VERY small sliver showing Baja. He was using that to navigate from Cabo to San Diego.

I pulled out our map and showed him that he was 2 1/2 hours from where he needed to be (which was back were he had come from) and that no other road north was a viable option considering his vehicle and choice of navigation methods. This poor guy from Pennsylvania saw no humor in the matter and walked away with a curt "Thanks."

We camped that night a few miles out of town, well enough away from the water and the bugs, and just off the road so as not to be bothered by the noise of the traffic. Four cars drove past us that night. All of them slowed a bit (most likely they could see the flames of our fire) and then slowly drove off. One even gave us a little honk, just to say hi!

"The Devil's Road" Main Expedition, Day 29

La Purisima to San Juanico

We broke camp as soon as possible for fear of being eaten alive by bugs. Our mission for the day was to attempt to find the "intake" for the aqueduct that runs through both towns (San Isidro and La Purisima) and for a length of maybe 8 miles. This canal de agua is still very much in use today and was built by the missionaries. It is also some very impressive engineering for the time.

After several dead end roads, we were able to find the head of the aqueduct. A dam had been constructed across the entire river and at one side water is diverted into the flume. It appears that an old dam, just upstream several hundred feet, might have been the previous intake point for the canal.

Aqueduct in La Purisima, built by missionaries.

Aqueduct in La Purisima, built by missionaries.

The rio, as we were told, flows all year and keeps the town's crops of corn, nopale, citrus, mango, date palms, and others growing well. This area, although quite fertile, is very slow and tranquil. A few farmers were seen tending to their crops, but most were left to fend for themselves and keep the weeds at bay.

JT and I ended up at the only restaurant in La Purisima and soon found ourselves entertained by four young Mexican boys. They all wanted stickers and were in awe of us and our motorcycles. Then a group of 5 dirt bikers came in and we watched the four boys turn their attention on them. JT took advantage of the situation and asked the boys for an interview. The two youngest stayed quiet and mostly hid, but the other two stole the show. We very much enjoyed our time with them and I think they enjoyed the tricks I could do with their soccer ball, spinning it on my finger, balancing it on my head, and the variety of soccer moves like flipping it up in the air and catching it behind my head. This old guy still had it!

We were told that the old woman that owned the restaurant and the property had lived there her entire life and her family is well embedded with the town and its history. When we inquired about a possible interview, the young man running the restaurant assured us that she would be delighted. He suggested that we wait and it may be an hour or so. Then it turned into two hours more. We were pushing the daylight limitation and had an hour and a half drive to our next stop. So, we passed on that interview reluctantly and headed for San Juanico (Scorpion Bay).