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BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR

MEXICO

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BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR

MEXICO

Blurry roads, deserted settings, caves tattooed with rock paintings, traditional towns of fishermen and extensive coasts that are the doorway to a fabulous sea world, configure the untamed geography of a region surged by the volcanic violence that ten or fifteen million years ago torn apart the San Andres Fault, giving origin to the Peninsula of Baja California.

It is a land of contrasts where the desert faces the blue intensity of the sea. Heads and tails: a peninsula illuminated by the immense and vigorous sun, and several sombre and rocky caves that unveil the world of our ancestors. Aridity and abundance: dry lands with meagre vegetation and a prodigal and exuberant ocean, the “aquarium of the world”, according to famous explorer Jacques Cousteau.

The first vestiges of human presence in Baja California are tattooed on the walls of several caves and on rocky cracks. Human and animal figures, and hunting and fruit recollection scenes 10000 years old lead visitors to a spectacular and unedited journey to prehistory.

“Men of a race of giants” drew the everyday life scenes, including sexual, at the sierras of San Francisco and Guadalupe, according to the natives consulted by the chroniclers, thus leaving their descendants one of the largest samples of rock painting in the world, an authentic Patrimony of Humanity as UNESCO recognised it.

When the Spaniards set foot on the Peninsula for the first time in 1534, they were intimidated by the lack of water and the strong resistance posed by the Pericúis natives in the south, and the Guaycuras and Cochimíes in the north, who expelled the strangers after a tenacious fight.

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    The Jesuits would arrive years later, on October the 25th of 1697, to found the first of their 18 evangelising missions. With patience and tenacity the religious led by father Juan Maria de Salvatierra, appeased the belligerent attitude of the natives. The "men of God" settled on the Peninsula preached the Catholic faith and taught the locals agricultural and stockbreeding techniques.

    You need to tour the 9 evangelising centres still standing in order to understand the hard and sacrificed task of the priests, or visit the exhibition rooms at the Museum of the Jesuitical Missions of Loreto, whose seat is an old colonial house, to find out about their experiences and pilgrimages.

    The entire peninsula was Mexican territory in those times, although the area of Alta (Upper) California turned into the hands of the United States after an armed conflict in 1844. Three years later the government would divide the remaining area in north and south.

    The State of Baja California Sur would only be recognised as such as on the 2nd of September of 1974, being its capital the City of La Paz, located 4310 kilometres away from Mexico City. Its current population is of 420 thousand plus inhabitants.

    We leave behind history, the missions and the museums, and now we are headed to the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean. The coast in here is gorgeous, the isles are a true geographic whim and the fauna is abundant, being the habitat for an interesting variety of species. Amongst them we have playful dolphins and hundreds of sea lions that relax under the sunrays.

    These waters are visited yearly by huge grey whales that travel for nine thousand kilometres from the cold Bering Sea that separates Alaska from Asia, in order to mate or give birth in the lagoons of Ojo de Liebre and San Ignacio, in the Biosphere Reserve of El Vizcaíno, the estuary of La Soledad in Puerto Adolfo Mateos, and in the Port of San Carlos, in Magdalena Bay.

    Other marine giants such as the blue and humpback whales, sperm or cachalot whales, besides killer whales, also visit these coastal waters.

    The waters of the Sea of Cortes are a temptation for those who practice scuba diving and snorkelling, for they house giant squids and more than eight hundred fish species.

    However, fishing is the most popular sport activity, being the coasts of Loreto ideal to catch black and blue marlins, dolphin fishes or mahi-mahis, wahoos and golden tunas, amongst other species.

    About 200 aficionados coming from all over the world every year in October, take part on a fishing tournament to capture black and blue marlins, with a one million-dollar prize.

    But marine activities do not end here; there is also windsurfing, sailing, and sea kayaking, sport experiences that allow an approach to nature while at the same time cool you off in the scorching heat that reigns in the zone. Thermometers soar above 40º Celsius during the summer.

    You need to exercise your palate after practicing sports, and the gastronomy of Baja California Sur offers treasures based on lobsters and clams, amongst other seafood. Do not fail to try the imperial steak, consisting of griddled shrimps with bacon.

    Exotic places of reverie and full of magic, where adventure and amusement come together to keep on writing the history of Baja California Sur, a land conquered by the strength of faith.

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