Friday, December 09, 2011

Baja Solstice, 2010 into 2011, Part 2

I decided to take a long sight seeing trip all the way around the southernmost Cape Region, south of Todos Santos to Los Cabos and back up around the circle on the east side, around to the campsite at Las Playitas again by sunset. I have long wanted to drive the entire peninsula, and here I was in Todos Santos, not that many miles from the very southernmost tip. It took a long time and I was less than thrilled with the entire Los Cabos region. In fact, I didn't stop or take a single photograph from just north of Cabo San Lucas until I saw the sign for the Tropic of Cancer on the other side. I got lost in Cabo San Lucas looking for the famous finisterre rock arch on the beach, and it was just an unpleasant city, at least, in the mood I was in. But north of Cabo I stopped and photographed Mammillaria armillata and some Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum:

Huge Ferocactus to the east of San Jose del Cabo:

Fierce young spines on P. pecten-aborginum:

This unassuming sign along the highway not too far north of San Jose del Cabo. A landmark moment. It was peaceful here.

I stopped briefly at a tiny place called La Ribera, advertised all along the highway as The Baja Riviera, and in the midst of some sort of huge condo development along part of the beach. One wonders if it will ever be completed, and if any will ever be sold. The public beach here deserted this time of year, incredibly windy.

Driving farther north, this sign caught my eye: Santuario de los Cactus. Hmmm. It was already nearing sunset and I was eager to get back to the beach at Las Playitas to see the sun go down over the Pacific again, but I had to visit this place. It felt like an obligation.

It was surreal indeed. A wild habitat with very ancient mesquite trees, huge, propping up and even growing various columnar cacti.

Dmitrio, the tender of the cacti, clasping his hands, talking about how old the mesquites are, in very broken English. He and I had a series of hilarious miscommunications, all of which I have forgotten. He was very proud, though, of his cactus garden. His ejido's cactus santuario.

The very scarce and very cryptic Perskiopsis porteri, cultivated here. It has been reported from the dunes back of the ocean, around Los Cabos:

I hustled out of there much more quickly than I might have, although it was very somber, shady, strange and not particularly interesting regarding cacti, except for those enormous mesquites and the epiphytic columnars. Dmitrio was a charming host and seemed lonely and sad to see me go so soon. The cemetery just outside the grounds looked fascinating too, but the sun was setting.

I drove like mad and made it back to Las Playitas just in time to set up the tent and then hoof it to the shoreline to see this. A couple of whales, spouting out on the far horizon:

The camera played tricks in the evening, or caught the cardon spirits. Or both.

Looking back over the vast dunes, the little frogs starting to talk in the cooling air.

In the morning, a few large schools of manta rays went by, flying out of the water impressively, impossible to photograph. That gray smudge is a ray. I swear.

I went into Todos Santos and found Mike, Mikka, Mikka's parents and their friends from LA., who I had also spent some time with in La Paz. The friends have a house in Todos Santos. Great breakfast....

Some scenes of Todos Santos:

I had had enough of company and tourist energy and went back to the dunes early.

Tillandsia growing on ancient cardon.

Very old areoles:

Brand new areoles:

Some of the bark speaks to why they are called Pachycereus:

Incredible lichen and moss on the local Stenocereus gummosus:

Mammillaria species:

Mammillaria peninsularis, I think, not sure:

What grand intersection is this, you ask?

The entire beach, entirely to myself, again. It was only near sunset that I realized it was Noche Buena.

Christmas morning. Break camp, starting the meandering trip back north. This fantastic shrine on the highway. Headed back to La Perla.

Finally caught the turn to San Carlos and also finally found the incredible Stenocereus eruca, easily accessible, right next to the main highway. The cactus faeries laughed and laughed. I didn't mind, hanging out with these incredible plants.

Also some remarkable Ferocactus here:

Only 1 fruit in this entire colony:

Vaulted up over the mountains, back past Loreto and to the site of Neoevansia diguetii. Is it the same as Peniocereus striatus? Still not sure.

Back to La Perla in time for sunset, a fantastically windy evening. The kind of wind that feels exfoliating.

But very calm by morning. Woken by a flock of pelicans diving noisily for fish in the dark. The oddest sound, like a gigantic serpent.

I took a trip to Playa el Coyote, to check it out, hike up the hill at the end of the beach, visit again. The Poetess and I had spent three or four nights here on our second excursion to Baja. The Ferocactus rectispinus here are particularly cool, with very long, very straight spines.

Echinocereus brandegeei:

I ventured into Mulege to try to get a sense of the town. When The Poetess and I had been there, I had been in a terrible mood. Cranky, irritable, anxious, clutchy and unpleasant. I wanted to wander around in a more spacious mood and make amends.

AA event, next to a flyer for Hotel Serenidad.

Back at La Perla. The high class pit toilet facilities. Por favor, no tire papel en al baƱo.

A walk around the dunes near the Sea of Cortez revealed this oddball creature on a cardon. It took a minute for me to realize it was a landed frigate bird, a.k.a the "eyebrow bird," as The Poetess used to call them, because they circle very high and look like stylized eyebrows in the air. Yet more bird voodoo. Everywhere I went, birds seemed to be watching me, wary yet curious.

Cochemiea poselgeri:

The habitat:

Beautiful Palo San Juan tree, Forchammeria watsonii:

Back to camp, to bed, to watch one more sunrise over the Sea of Cortez and then to pack up and head north.


Anonymous said...

what in the world is the last photo of? A torn bag, a shed skin, an animal head...??? I just have to know!

Unknown said...

what in the world is that last photo of? A torn bag, a shed skin, an animal head...?

peter breslin said...

It's a fish head.