|Travel Photography Desert Mexico
Baja California Sur
I like the idea of being where I am now, in a place where roosters are crooning about, and people are selling used hack-saws and post-hole diggers and air-compressors. Actually, I am beneath that place, at the bank of the clammy-green Rio Mulegé, in the reedy section where most of the water is stagnant and swampy.
A thousand majestic date palms tower above me, the bamboo and the reeds. Twelve vultures, bold suckers, are eyeing me and two-stepping their way closer, hoping I leave. They intend to finish off that five-foot moray eel whose carcass has floated as far from the Sea of Cortez as the river could take it, before having its eyes pulled like strings by these unfortunate and hideous birds.
Twenty minutes past sundown, I am to meet Brother Hans and Father in downtown Mulegé, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, for Thanksgiving dinner. Right now, they are paddling up this river from the mouth at the Sea of Cortez. We came to Mulegé because it is a rare desert oasis: an incident of Spanish missionaries spitting their spanish date seeds along the riverbanks of a vast estuary three hundred years ago, making of it all a shadowy place between the badlands.
John Steinbeck passed up Mulegé because it was rumored to be malarial. Most others passed it up because it was Mexico's infamous no-walls jail where prisoners were allowed to roam the streets until the bell tolled at sundown. Today, Americans still pass up Mulegé because 'what's there?', and Mexicans' because the only economy is the pleasing of a few geritol-expats, a squid-packing facility, and agriculture and ranching which faces a 10 year drought.