BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR
BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR
-Cape Pulmo National Park:
calcareous skeletons have formed the only coral reef between Tierra del Fuego and Alaska for 25000 years, which has 4 enormous barriers 20 metres deep, 4 metres long and 45 metres wide, approximately.
A coral reef is a biological construction formed by calcareous skeletons of polyps madrepodes, a colonial celentéreo entozoan, grouped in colonies of polypus, which are animals with one of their sides fixed to the bottom of the sea and a mouth surrounded by tentacles on the other. They are linked by seaweeds that give cohesion to the structure.
The coral wall is refuge for a great variety of sea species, and that is why the Park has 220 fish species and an incalculable number of invertebrates and algae. Besides, whales, dolphins, sea lions, stingrays and huge shark whales arrive annually.
Due to the fact that it is a submarine paradise, scuba diving is the most sought after activity to practice. Although, all those wishing to submerge in the waters of the Cape Pulmo Reserve, created on July the 6th of 1995, cannot do it with harpoons, gloves, knifes and anchors. Neither can they touch the corals in order to avoid any sort of damage.
The Park is located 63 kilometres northeast of San Jose del Cabo, and it has modest lodges though you can also camp on the beach. The best places for scuba diving in Cape Pulmo are:
- El Islote: it is south of the bay and has a depth of 18 metres. Snappers, burritos, white Gorgonian fans, angelfishes, butterfly fishes and Moor idols are some of the fish species that can be appreciated in here.
- Brazos del Arrecife: it is north of the bay, and you can appreciate groups of tropical fishes when you submerge in here, along with urchin fishes and gardener eels. Parrot fishes of green colour appear from the rocks and there are mantle rays in sandy areas.
- Los Cantiles: its capricious rock formations are the habitat of snappers, giant groupers, cat sharks and octopuses. Due to the fact that it is far from the shore, it is possible to appreciate dolphin fishes, giant tuna fishes and even sharks. It is 18 metres deep.
- El Bajo: it is a narrow fringe of rocks segmented by sandy canals where you can find schools of snappers, flashy starfishes, big green moray eels, sea turtles and tropical fishes; besides lobsters, crabs, octopuses and so called holocutorios, a kind of sea worm with a weird aspect.
- Shipwreck "El Colima": it was a tuna fishing ship that sunk during a storm in 1939. Today her hull is the habitat of numerous schools of burritos burrito grunts, snappers, sea urchins, trumpet fish and huge stingrays. She is at a depth of 15 metres and located at two and a half kilometres north of the reef.
-Loreto Bay National Park:
dunes, mangroves and mesquite shrubs (Prosopis spp), plants adapted to dry zones, are the perfect complement to neat calm beaches of soft sands. It is a place of reverie with 206581 hectares that form a protected area since 1993.
The Park's littoral presents an interesting marine fauna with 160 species of algae, crustaceous, corals, squids, clams, sea snails, starfishes and sea urchins, amongst other varieties of sea flora and fauna that have their habitat in Loreto Bay.
It is located in the Municipality of Loreto, 360 kilometres away from La Paz, the State capital, following Highway One.
the lands of Baja California were inhabited by untameable people that could never be submitted by the Spanish steel. It was only faith coming in the hands of the religious, which could appease the belligerent spirit of the natives of these deserted lands and wild coasts.
The first of 18 missions founded by the religious was Our Lady of Loreto. The stones that founded the Californian dream were laid in here, and nowadays, in the early XXI century, half of them are still standing.
- Our Lady of Loreto: the so-called "Mother of the Missions of the Californias" was founded by father Juan Maria Salvatierra on October the 25th of 1697. An austere tent housed the priests during the first years. Later, in 1699, a modest stone chapel was built, the oldest one on the peninsula.
The huge cooking pots that founded their evangelising success are still kept inside the mission. The story goes that the missioners realised that the natives would "learn" faster the catechism if they were invited to eat pozole, a dish made of maize, meat, chilli and vegetables, which they prepared in the said utensils. Other objects calling the most attention are a crucifix, an altarpiece with five oil paintings and a Way of the Cross of the XVIII century.
The Museum of the Jesuitical Missions is adjoining, with a collection of 300 objects that are witness to the priests' journeys in Baja California Sur. Oil canvases of the XVII century are on exhibition in here, along with sculptures of the Virgin, and a figure of a lying Christ carved in wood that has a mechanism to have the image extend its arms. All the objects are part of the religious legacy from the colonial period.
The most valuable object in the museum is a bell that fell to the sea in 1875, when they pretended to send it to the mission. It was rescued by the fishing nets of some fishermen a century later. It also keeps a catechism from 1681 and a book entitled "Commentaries of the Ecclesiastic" from 1701.
It exhibits arrows, Corn grinding stone and necklaces made of beads of the Cochimíes and Paricues native groups; besides the copies of two rock paintings that the first hunters and gatherers drew on the rocks.
22000 people visit the museum annually, and it opens Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 hours till 13:00 hours, and from 14:00 hours till 18:00 hours.
- Mission of San Francisco Javier: a curial house and a humble adobe chapel were the first constructions in this mission, founded in 1699 by Jesuit Francisco Maria Piccolo. The building we can still see nowadays was built in 1744, being an architectonic jewel in Baja California Sur. Its solid stone foundations have contributed to keep the façade's modest baroque features, besides the belfry and the ornamentations made of quarry stone.
It treasures a magnificent altarpiece made of carved wood to honour San Francisco Javier on the inside, which shows five oil paintings with religious images.
It is located 32 kilometres southwest of the City of Loreto, following Highway One up to the Town of San Javier, a zone the Cochimíes called "highland on top of the creeks". The mission is open to the public from 8:00 hours till 19:00 hours.
- Mission of Santa Rosalía de Mulegé: it was founded in 1705 in a deserted zone nearby the coasts of the Sea of Cortes. Nowadays there is only a small stone construction keeping an image of Santa Rosalía, the patron of the place.
It is the most austere and sober of the missions, and it is located 63 kilometres southeast of the Town of Santa Rosalía, following Highway One. It can be visited from 8:00 hours until 19:00 hours.
- Mission of San Ignacio: this beautiful mission, one of the best preserved in the State, was built beside a most beautiful oasis with abundant vegetation and palm trees loaded with dates, in the ancestral land of the Indians Cochimíes.
Four stone statues considered amongst the most beautiful in Baja California Sur, stand out in its façade. Two symbols of the Spanish crown can be appreciated at both sides of its door.
Amongst the beauties it keeps on the inside, we can mention a golden altarpiece of baroque style with no columns to honour San Ignacio de Loyola. It has eight religious oil paintings in it, one of them being a representation of the apparition to the Virgen del Pilar. The compound dates back to the XVIII century.
It can be visited daily from 8:00 hours till 18:00 hours. It is located 73 kilometres northwest of Santa Rosalía.
- Other missions: there are other traces of the evangelising task undertaken by the Jesuits priests. Some missions, such as those of Todos los Santos and La Paz, have succumbed to the action of modernity and keep only part of their historic legacy; others have been refurbished (Santiago de las Coras) or keep their old infrastructure (San Luis Gonzaga).
Likewise, there are two bells from the XVII century and one from the XVIII in the mission of San José de Comundú; whilst that of San José del Cabo is currently the main temple in the said locality.
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