Ocean beaches the world over change with the seasons and long-term weather events. La Ventana Bay beaches have these same dynamics but with less wave action. Beach sand comes and goes and is related to weather events and currents. Around La Ventana Bay, there will be years of no sand, and in other years there will be a significant amount of sand on the beaches. People who have spent their lives in La Ventana can testify to these decade-long changes. They might recall that 20 years ago, a beach had mostly rock boulders and just a small amount of sand near the bluff base. But they also remember when they first came here around 1987, the same beach was twice as wide as it is now. But no data was written down by anyone involving dates, amounts, etc.Continue reading “La Ventana Bay Beach-Sand Dynamics”
The Baja Peninsula is the third-longest globally, stretching 747 miles from the border at Tijuana to Land’s End at Cabo San Lucas. Drive the Transpeninsular Highway though and you will log closer to 1061 miles. The new road, completed in 1973, created a demand for cheap labor in tourism and agriculture. People from the mainland came to La Paz seeking better-paying jobs and a safe place to live. But many could only afford to put up tar paper shacks on the banks and dry streambeds of arroyos on the southwest edge of town.
Earlier settlers had built homes on a web of north-south running arroyos in La Paz that were sometimes dry for several years at a time. These arroyos secos were eventually filled in, paved over, and served as the main streets of the central downtown area. During a downpour, they often flood.
In 1973, engineers built an earth-and-rock levee along El Cajoncito, the big arroyo between the city and the mountains to the south. The levee gave the migrants who had constructed shelters below it an illusion of safety.
El Cajoncito carries runoff from the Sierra Cacachilas, the rugged mountain range between the Bay of La Ventana and La Paz. The arroyo begins near Rancho La Huerta, just a short hike off Highway 286, connecting Los Planes and La Paz. A few miles closer to the city, it widens and goes by the gap between the landmark hills above the town and continues around the city’s western outskirts before entering the Bay. In 1976, El Cajoncito and its tributaries had felt no more than a drizzle of rain from the storms that passed nearby.Continue reading “Baja Hurricanes”
We asked our readers a few questions to help get a sense of what everyone is thinking about this unusual season. With 356 respondents, here are the results!Continue reading “Season Kickoff Survey 20/21 Results”
Are you looking for a way to help local community during the COVID-19 crisis? We are pleased to help promote an opportunity to donate and volunteer with an organization providing direct support to the La Ventana / El Sargento community.Continue reading “Helping the Community During COVID-19”
Since the arrival of the Spaniards in 1519, Mexico has gone through several major political iterations. But La Paz and the Peninsula have, in addition, had their own peculiar brushes with international politics. First, some early history.
La Paz Bay was “discovered” in 1533 by Spaniard Fortun Ximenez, but efforts to establish a colony were thwarted by natives who killed him and his 21 crew members. Hernán Cortez arrived in 1535 after successfully subduing the mainland and named the Bay “Santa Cruz.” But his attempt to gain a foothold on the wild Baja peninsula also came to naught. His colony failed in a few years.
Fast forward to 1596 when the Spanish finally made a go of it. A successful colony was founded by Sebastian Vizcaíno and given the name “La Paz.” “New Spain,” as the country was known, held forth until 1821 when, after a protracted struggle (1810-21), the sovereign Republic of Mexico was established with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba.
In 1861, however, conservative elements fought for the return of a monarchy. The French helped make it happen. France invaded and put monarch Maximillian I on a throne. The U.S. during this period, of course, was embroiled in the Civil War and didn’t have resources to help Mexican liberals keep the French out.
But, at the end of the war, the U.S. actively opposed Maximilian’s regime. France withdrew its support in 1867, monarchist-rule collapsed, Maximilian was executed, and the republic was restored.Continue reading “The Invasion of La Paz by an American Filibuster”
Read Part 1 of this story first, if you haven’t already. Onward…
The crew was anxious to port in La Paz. Their encounter with ragged little St. Lucas had been disappointing.
Cape St. Lucas had not really been a town, and our crew had convinced itself that it had been a very long time out of touch with civilization…. In addition, there is a genuine fascination with of the city of La Paz. Everyone in the area knows the greatness of La Paz. You can get anything in the world there… (and) a cloud of delight hangs over the distant city from the time when it was the great pearl center of the world.
Steinbeck noted that the La Paz pearl oyster drew men from all over the world.
And, as in all concentrations of natural wealth, the terrors of greed were let loose on the city again and again.
In Chapter 11, he recounts a cautionary folk tale about the greed associated with finding a massive pearl. The story became the catalyst for his novella, The Pearl, published in 1945, in which an impoverished pearl diver finds a huge pearl. “The Pearl of the World” promises to transform his life. It does, but not in the way one might expect.Continue reading “John Steinbeck in Baja (Part 2)”
In 1940, author John Steinbeck took a breather from writing fiction—he had just published Grapes of Wrath (1939)—and ventured on a six-week, 4,000-mile expedition down the Pacific Coast of Baja and into and up what is now more commonly called the Gulf of California. Steinbeck and long-time marine biologist friend Ed Ricketts leased the Western Flyer, a 76-foot sardine boat out of Monterey.
The result was a work of non-fiction, The Sea of Cortez (1941)—a 600-page pioneering treatise focusing on the intertidal or shoreline (littoral) ecology of Baja. Steinbeck published The Log from the Sea of Cortez, a more accessible preface to the much larger work, in 1951.Continue reading “John Steinbeck in Baja (Part 1)”
Below the vast blue mirror of Ventana Bay lives a variety of flora and fauna, what the locals call “silvestre” or the “wild”. At the core of this diverse ecosystem are the rocky coral reefs that dot our beautiful coast line. While our predominantly finger-based coral may not provide as colorful a display as seen in coral colonies throughout the Caribbean, these shallow, rock-based reefs provide a critical habitat for a diverse array of life that have called Ventana Bay “home” long before we did.
Baby fish or “juveniles” seek protection and sustenance in these shallow reef systems and adult turtles come in for rest and nourishment. Slow-growing coral colonies are nurseries not only to fish, but to crustaceans, star fish, sea urchins, clams, sea anemones and a host of other critters that hold a symbiotic relationship with their living host. Mary Sim, a local snorkeler living in the area since 1987 and a full-time since resident 1998, recalls in one snorkel session, “logging over 95 varieties of fish on one reef.” Continue reading “The Coral Reefs of La Ventana Bay”
Jesuit Padre Joseph Maxiáno Rotheax gazed in surprise and wonder at the ceiling and back wall of the underside of the huge cliff. Staring back at him were a series of life-sized or larger than life-sized human figures standing with arms outstretched, feet wide apart. They were virtually neckless. The heads of many were decorated with several forms of headdress. Most of the figures were neatly split down the middle—one side painted in reddish pigment; the other in black. Some were depicted as having been shot with one or more arrows.
Fact checking has become a major industry. The focus is primarily political as legions of fact-checkers try to ascertain the “truthiness” of politicians’ pronouncements. But, other “facts” need checking, too.
In my recent article The Eiffel Chimney & Mining Museum of El Triunfo, I parroted the common wisdom that French engineer Gustave Eiffel—he of Eiffel Tower fame—designed El Triunfo’s iconic 10-story high chimney, built in 1890. But, despite numerous citations to that effect on-line, the reality is that Eiffel’s involvement in the design of the chimney is questionable.