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On the day I crossed the border into Mexico, my sister texted me a few items to check out in our meandering through Baja. In the National Geographic magazine, “50 of the World’s Last Great Places”, which my brother brought, it mentioned Baja California for its aboriginal rock paintings in San Borjitas and the Boojum tree.
Wednesday, I finally encountered the Boojum tree, aka cirios in Spanish. I hardly knew what to expect, but these beauties were not it. I don’t know if they are more tree or cactus, but at this time of year, they kinda remind me of a Dr. Seuss meets Charlie Brown Christmas tree, with maybe a hit of the Nightmare Before Christmas because of the thorns on the branches.
The Boojum tree is located in this fantastical land called the Valle de los cirios (for you English-speakers, Valley of the Boojums). As you head landward from the coast into the middle of Baja, these trees start to spring up. They are not the only interesting aspect of the valle. There are tall, large cacti that Jonathan thinks might be Saguaros. I have no clue what they might be, but they grow wickedly tall and thick, often with several branches. Aging and growing, the lower parts turn into wood or bark almost.
Then as you get closer to the middle of Baja, there are mounds of “photogenic” rocks. Between the otherworldly Boojums, the outrageous cacti, and the intriguing landscape, the Valle de los cirios is an alluring and beautiful place.
The land didn’t seem to lure Jonathan as much, but I spent an hour traipsing about in the Valle, and could have spent several days there. But, alas we moved on after a day. I do believe Valle de los cirios is a Mexican national park. Apparently, there are a lot of dramatic things to find throughout the park, including a natural pool, surrounded by palms, and the ruins of a mission. Perhaps I will get to see them next time.
Our camp in the Valle was Rancho Santa Inez. When I went running, I discovered an airstrip that was on the location. Jonathan’s grandparents, Fred and Martha, visited Baja back in the day. Fred piloted a plane, and they had to stop at several spots along the way down to Los Cabos. I have no idea where they stopped, but it reminded me of their journey.
From the Cataviña region, we drove to Bahía de Los Angeles (Angels’ Bay). I guess leaving the Boojums behind was acceptable as we got to the beach again. This bay is a beautiful, rather peaceful inlet of the Gulf of California. It makes me happy and gives me peace just looking at it.
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We made our way to Playa La Gringa, which is aptly named as a white man seems to keep the grounds there. After lunch, I convinced Jonathan to go kayaking along the shore. He acquiesced and we spent a couple hours on the kayak. Halfway through our paddling, we stopped on the shore and explored the shore and point of our protected area. There were all sorts of interesting sea memorabilia washed up along the shorelines.
Spanish Words of the Day:
Air strip: pista de aterrizaje