Day 2: Why Don’t So Called Experts Listen To The Locals?
Our Baja California travels take us to a fishing village whose residents warned Mexico's gov't not to build a marina.
Read more about our travels on the peninsula.
GUERRERO NEGRO, MX – So we finally made it to the fishing village of Santa Rosalííta just before sunset. Or is it Santa Rosalillita? The highway road signs spell it both ways.
Bathe in the soft light of a Baja California sunset is a testament to bureaucratic arrogance: the marina at Santa Rosalííta. Instead of the economic benefits of having boaters visit their seaside village as vessels gently bob in the protected cove, they now have, arguably, one of the world's largest sand boxes.
At least the breakwater they built into the ocean has made for a sweet surf spot…
We spoke to a local, who said villagers advised government officials not to build the marina at that location because it would fill with sand. A slew of experts ignored the advice from the 250 or so people who call this stretch of sand and rock in central Baja California home. You would think someone would have listened to them. Most in town are fishermen and know these waters better than their own kids.
Now, the government of Mexico sits on a multi-million peso boondoggle. But it wasn’t all for naught: villagers say they got a new, paved road to the highway and electricity in return for having to look at empty buildings rust away in the salty air. And, they hope to get Internet access soon.
That’s right; within driving distance of the richest, most powerful country in the world are hamlets where the conveniences of modern life are non-existent.
Santa Rosalííta is about an eight hour drive south of Ensenada. Leaving Ensenada, the road quickly turns into a rural, two lane road filled with green fields and rows and rows of crops. Grapes for wine making, broccoli for salads and strawberries for ice cream are grown for miles and miles in large valleys surrounded by lush mountains.
You could tell the size of the towns by the number of stoplights. If there was at least one red light, like Camalu, it was on a map. Without a light, map makers don’t even bother.
In the one stoplight town of San Vicente, I was reminded of a unique tradition in Latin America: collection roadblocks. In this case, two attractive women were standing in the middle of the two-lane highway in front of the ambulance stand soliciting donations for the emergency service. Considering how narrow the road was and the size of the oncoming trucks, I sought some good Karma and donated a few pesos in the hopes we won't need to use their services.
Then, after the town of El Rosario, the road climbs and the climate turns dry. Leafy green mountains turn to mounds of boulders, dotted with tall cactus and cirio trees. Apparently, a pastime for Mexicans is to use these boulders for murals, political messages and love notes to "María" de "José". I guess one man’s graffiti can be another man’s local arts scene…
Then, the climate turns even drier, with white sands and brown scrub. Yet, out in the middle of this arid expanse, a cow. Can’t see anyone for miles, but you see livestock.
The breathtaking environment inspired some choice quotes from the reporting crew.
“Wow, this is truly trippy,” Replogle said. “It is really cool not to see anyone around.”
Hope she didn’t mean it because without people, we wouldn’t have much of a job as no one would see, hear and read our stories.
Up on a windy ridge in an undisclosed location to protect it from potential green energy speculators, Euphrat tried to make as much noise as possible to shoo away snakes while filming the landscape.
“The wind is making my earrings sound like wind chimes,” she said. It must have worked, she made it back with no extra poison in her system.
More than 400 miles later, we finally made it to Guerrero Negro for the night and to the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. A brilliant moon helped guide the way along the dark, winding highway. Our next stop is Scorpion Bay. Hope it doesn’t live up to its name.
I leave you with a video of how we ended our day. I may be biased, but it’s much better than sitting on a bus or stuck in rush hour traffic. Feel free to click play for a quick break from reality.
Hasta mañana amigos...