Baja: Mulege and Loreto

IMG_1058After three days of almost non-stop driving days, we arrived in the little town of Mulege. Like many of these Baja towns, there was an obvious dearth of young people, the majority of whom had moved to larger cities. There were a few shops geared towards scuba, deep-sea fishing, and snorkeling tourists, but it was mostly a sleepy Mexican town, with a rather non-descript church, a closed museum, a restored 18th century mission, and an old state penitentiary. We took a beautiful drive on a winding road overlooking the sea of Cortez on one side with mountains on the opposite shore and cliffs on ours peppered with fields of saguaro cactus and campers (mostly from Canada). Our destination was the slightly less sleepy city of Loreto. Mostly a modern place, it was nonetheless attractively laid-out. The mid-18th century mission church is the one “sight” in town, which we had mostly to ourselves. Though the building is fetching from the outside, it’s rather plain in the interior and stood over a sad story, one repeated unfortunately too many times. By the time it was built, the small native Monqui population that was being missioned had been almost entirely wiped out because of contact with European diseases. By the end of the 18th century, their culture was all but extinct. Their own legacy, which may go back to the first inhabitants of this continent, only lives on in the rock drawings that can be seen nearby.

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