Part 5: Bahia Maria to Mission San Francisco Borja


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The Trip

This segment of our expedition took us from Bahia Maria to Mission San Francisco Borja in the center of the baja peninsula.  To do this journey required yet-another dose of slow, wash-boarded gravel road.  But, once we were past the rough segment, we had a reasonable paved highway until our jumping off point to the dirt.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The Mexican road crew loved Matt's 416.

From Bahia Maria we traveled the gravel to the pavement, then east to Mex 1.  First we went south for fuel across a miltary check point.  Then north to the turnoff to Mission San Francisco Borja.  From the turnoff, we headed east into the mountains.  Sadly for us, we took the wrong turn and what would have been an "easy day" turned into a very long day.  Above, we headed throught a nice grove of cardon cactus.

The photo above shows elephant trees on the left, yuccas in the foreground, a cirio and a yucca in bloom in the background.

Along the way, we passed this raptor nest.  I think this is an eagle rather than an osprey.

We passed some impressive stands of cactus on our trail to nowhere.  Cholla are in the foreground above, Creeping Devil cactus on the right.

Some of the cirios had multiple heads that branched again.

On our way into the mountains we passed many ranchos.  This rancho had a reasonable Ford pickup body in the "front yard".

This is classic central baja terrain.

This coyote heard us but did not seem that afraid.

The end of the line.  The vaqueros confirmed our fears that we were way, way off course.  2 hours in, 2 hours out, then off to the actual road to the mission.

We arrived at Mission San Francisco Borja around sundown and found this fellow wandering around.  Ever hungry, Matt was asking for a large tortilla to wrap him up.

The mission had some palapas and allowed camping for 100 pesos per vehicle.  The place was interesting and the deluxe toilet accomdations were included in the camping fee.

We did not use the palapas, but rather just raised the roof in the parking lot.  The photo above was shot the following morning.

The mission site was a true oasis including palm trees, fruit orchards, bean fields as well as a hot springs.  Kathleen and I did not avail ourselves of the "you dip" shower, but the others did and came back with happy faces.

The mission was much bigger and in much better repair than I had envisioned.  Built in the 1750s by the Dominicans, it cost the lives of over 1,000 indians during it's construction.  It was abandoned in the middle 1800s.  The family that lives on site has personally done the reconstruction of the mission.  Our tour guide said that he is the 7th generation of his family that has lived here.

There was quite a bit of intricate stone work on the facade of the mission.

The spiral stair case was made of hand-hewn stone steps.

The stairs led to the choir alcove above as well as providing acess to the roof. The guide stated that the due to the stone walls, the acoustics are excellent here.

The gutters were also made of hand-hewn stone and were carved with an intricate star-in-square design.

We asked the tour guide to take our photo.  Rear (L to R): Nancy, Matt, Kathleen, Bob, Dan, Ron.  Front: Kai, Bill.

A view of the stone pulpit.

I don't know if the painting is original, but I am certain that the electrical connections are not.

The dining hall.

A wash basin. The water comes out at the base of the shell and drains through the floor.

The mission is built at the confluence of 2 (usually) running arroyos.  Even if the streams are not running on the surface, the water table is close to the surface to make a well a reasonable source of water.

A good view of an Old Father cactus.

The mission was a reasonable camp spot.  It was odd having the families living across the parking area from our camp, but the facilities were clean.  But, their dogs cleaned us out.  We turned our backs on them and they jumped on the table and ate our left-over bratworsts.

Next objective: Bahia Los Angeles and Punta Final on the gulf side.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2011, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.