Monday, November 07, 2005

Cave paintings

Well its been a few days since my last blog..... (I have sinned). But its been a busy time. On Saturday I sorted out a hire car, well really pick up, and a guide (Juve) from Cormorant tours in Loreto. We set out at 8am, driving north towards Mulege but turning inland towards San Isidro on a dirt road. Soon we turned off down a really rough road, salsaing along as I alternately avoided the boulders, sandy patches and catci! After about an hours driving we pulled up in what looked like the middle of nowhere and walked for about 15min into the desert. We came to a dam front, though there was no water behind it. A little fruther along I spotted a boulder covered in petroglyphs of fish and just in front of this a canyon wall rose. Here were the cave paitings of Conipule, deer, fish, turtles, hands and various unattributed pictures (some looked like lots of ladybirds). There were more petroglyphs on rocks across the dry river bed. We sat in the shade of a mesquite tree and Juve told me various tales of the native peoples and settlers from the 18th century. My favourite was of the all knowing paper!!

Once the mission had been established in Loreto, the people in the mountains invited the father to visit them and establish a mission there (now San Javier). Once this was done and the first harvest yielded wheat, the new father made some bread and entrusted a native boy with the loaf and asked him to take it with a note to the father in Loreto. The lad set off and smelling the bread thought he'd try some.... and of course it all was eaten! He presented just the note to the father in Loreto, who said there is supposed to be a loaf too, as written on the paper. But the lad denied it and said the paper was lying. The next year the bread was made again and the father from San Javier entrusted it to the same lad but this time followed him a little way. He saw the boy hide the note and then eat the paper, as he thought that the paper could 'see' what he was doing and report later!!

We drove back towards Loreto and then went up into the mountains again to San Javier. The drive was amazing - we followed river bed (arroyo) past the four or five cave paintings closest to Loreto and then went up the winding road through the canyons. San Javier came as a bit of a surprise as the streets were cobbled and there were lots of bouganvilla plants! Very jolly!! The mission, which is the best preserved in Baja, was built in three stages over 50 years, and still has the original paintings in the roof recesses. Behind the church is a 300 year old twisted and gnarled olive tree, and then an orchard, where we illicitly picked guava and oranges!!

Yesterday I took the bus to Mulege and today I have been out with Salvador to see more cave paintings. We too started early and drove off into the desert to La Trinidad rancho. So called for the three pointed mountain behind the ranch. We walked down to an old dam as well but this time it was filled with (very cold) water, which we swam across! On the otherside it was a short walk to the Trinidad paintings, the most famous of which is the Trinidad deer, which is leaping across the cave wall. We walked and waded our way round to the San Patricio paintings too. This was great fun but without a guide I would never have known they were there. These featured more delicate paintings of fish, whales and turtles.

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