Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Traveling down the Transpeninsular, part 2

If you want to start at the beginning, here is part 1 of this travel journal.

We were finally in Mexico, and it was the day of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Unfortunately, we had to get on the road early, and the place we were heading to was so remote from anything that it has no church, so we knew that we were going to miss mass. However, God blessed us on the road, as you'll see.

But first we had to get out of Tecate. Here's a street in Tecate all decked out for Christmas - one of the only scenes there that I could find interesting enough to take a picture of.

Once past Tecate, you go through a valley in which they grow olives for olive oil.

Then came the wine country. This is the Valle de Guadalupe, which is sort of like driving back through time to Sonoma County in the 50's. We stayed at a B&B last year that was the house that the property owner grew up in, surrounded by acres of grapes. He told us that the Mexican government is actively encouraging the wine industry in this area and is giving low-interest loans for property owners to plant grapes, build wineries, etc.

There is a small community right on the highway (San Antonio) with a really nice shop selling local wines, cheeses, and olive oil, which we have decided is a "must stop" on the journey.

Then on through Ensenada. This is a big city, about a million people - interesting enough if you want to stop, which we didn't (although we have in the past). A short way past the city we came upon our first peregrinacion (a cabalgata) in honor Our Lady of Guadalupe.

One of the younger participants was riding a paint burro, which we had never seen before.

Then it was on through several small agricultural valleys.

This is one of the best parts of the journey, seeing the small ranchos and farms that form scattered communities, just as in the Midwest during the time of the Great Expansion. But the scenery is so much more varied than the Great Plains!

Onward through yet another wine area. This was the original area that the padres planted to make wine for the many missions up and down the peninsula.

This area is dominated by a couple of large companies, and the vineyards are massive. The round thing in the photo above is the roof of a new wine tasting room.
From time to time we passed corn fields ready to be harvested.

And here is a field of nopales (paddle cactus), which is not only one of the primary vegetables used in Mexico, but also one of the most nutritious things you can eat. And nopales are used for numerous medicinal purposes as well.

Then we got to the REAL agricultural region: the Valle de San Quintin. This is filled with miles of greenhouses growing all sorts of things, including berries. The area is right next to the coast and is usually cool and foggy, much like the coastal agricultural region south of San Francisco.

And at the end of the valley (actually a very wide coastal plain) we saw our second peregrinacion, but this one with dancers! There are a lot of migrant farm workers here, from poorer areas of Mexico, and this traditional dancing comes from one of the mainland areas.

Well, we were only halfway to our night's destination at that point, but I'm going to stop with one more photo. This is of the last agricultural area in Baja California (the state in the northern half of the peninsula). The major crops are beans and onions. All the fields are in a large river bed which actually floods every few years. The rest of the time the river, like most on the peninsula, is underground. God's clever that way - to keep the water from evaporating, He causes the rivers to flow under the surface, and thereby provides water to people, plants and animals.

Tomorrow: a most enchanted place, military checkpoints, the Sea of Cortez and more!


  1. What a gift, I would love to see all these celebrations for this feast day. My #8 was born on this day and we really celebrate it!

  2. Me too! It's such a joyous occasion. Have you ever seen the TV special broadcast from the shrine at Tepeyac? A HUUUUGE extravaganza, and of course "Las Mananitas" at midnight with all of Mexico's most famous singers.


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