Gaining a new perspective
Mexico proved to be a fantastic place to get together.
My husband Rob and I have visited the Baja area of Mexico on several occasions. We love it and have stayed in several locations. We have done some sightseeing, usually within limited distances of where we happened to be staying.
This past winter was a very different and much more exciting and rewarding experience. We are both seniors now and retired. This means that for us we can be more flexible in planning our trips. We were staying in Loreto and met up with our friends Lisa and Dan Goy. The Goys were on their regular winter excursion on the Baja having taken an RV caravan down to Cabo San Lucas prior to our arrival. Their company, Baja Amigos, was doing extensive research on particular aspects of the Baja and visiting the contacts they have made since they first visited Mexico in 1985.
Our adventure included a trip to Mulege and the Bay of Conception, visiting several spectacular beaches, as well as shopping and dining. We went to places that we would likely never have visited on our own. Dan and Lisa’s contacts and ease with Spanish made everything so much easier.
A unique experience
I would like to share a story about another special journey that we took with them out of Loreto. Lisa and Dan know of our interest in early architecture and suggested a trip up the Sierrra de la Giganta to the San Javier Mission. San Javier was the second mission established by the Jesuits on the Baja. They founded the mission in 1699 and completed the current stone church in 1758. This was a remarkable accomplishment.
Off we went early one morning. We had water, snacks, a tank full of gas and fortunately Dan knew where he was going. The trip seemed simple enough. We’d turn right off Mexican Highway 1 and would just keep going until we reached the top. We turned right from the highway and for the first 20 minutes or so the road was smooth with new pavement and Rob and I were sure we would be there in no time.
We have lived in several places in Canada and were certainly accustomed to narrow, twisty and unpaved roads where cars often have to back up for a mile to let another car pass. Suddenly we were in a construction site, surrounded by heavy road building equipment and the roads from the past looked like main highways compared to what we were now on. As we climbed straight up, the bumps started to feel like a roller coaster but not as smooth. We drove for at least an hour and a half without seeing anyone—I started to wonder if Dan really knew where he was going. The higher we went the less room there was to manoeuvre. It was like a ride at a theme park where you look out and down and can see nothing but a steep drop. I suddenly realized why the roads seemed so “unroad-like”. It wasn’t really a road at all—it was an arroyo, a dry riverbed. These often serve as roads where none are available. We continued our climb. I sometimes hear people speak of having to share the road with trucks and buses. We did not have room to share the road with a burro, never mind a bus.
However, at no time were we the least concerned about our safety—Dan was cool, calm and collected. Once on top we just kept driving through stream bed after stream bed (all this water on top of a desert mountain!). Just when we thought we would never see San Javier, we crested the top of a hill and it was like a place of magic had appeared. Here was a small town that was a thing of beauty. We passed a school where all the children were in uniform at their lessons. The Mexican students waved casually as if they were accustomed to visitors all the time. The town had magnificent street lights and the road and centre of town were made of carved stone.
Cherishing the memories
In front of us was the mission. It was beautiful in its simplicity. It was constructed from stone and had a large wooden door with carving on it. As we opened the door we heard what we thought was a recording of someone singing. When we looked towards the front of the church, we realized an older woman was making the beautiful sounds. We waited until she was finished singing and went to tell her what an angelic sound she had created. She explained to us in Spanish that she came to the church every day and sang for an hour as her way of worshipping God.
We walked around the mission and realized from the information provided that every window, every stone and all of the religious artifacts had been carried up this mountain because there were no natural resources that could have been used. Some things, such as the stained glass windows, had come from Europe by ship and then were transported by hand and donkey up to the mission. Around the side of the mission there was a small room that you entered from the outside. It was partially boarded up but we could see inside. There were rows upon rows of old discarded crutches. I could imagine the worshippers coming to the mission and praying for a miracle.
The trip back down from the mission was faster and of course we knew the “simple” way to go. We went back down and turned left at the highway. We would never had this incredible experience if it had not been for the knowledge and skill of our friends, Lisa and Dan. We would have missed out on this miracle at the top of the mountain and the reminder that it provided to us about the meaning of time then and now.
We thought it was important to share our Baja experience. We would recommend everyone who visits Loreto to take the time to make this journey.