La Giganta, the view from Comondu
After days of traveling from the north to the south central highlands of Baja California Sur, a famous adventurer from the middle of the last century declared when he reached Comondu that what his eyes beheld was Shangri-la.
The description is still accurate. A stream flowing into the Pacific Ocean separates the towns of Comondu, San Jose and San Miguel. The banks are lined with rustling palm trees, papyrus reeds, pomegranates, figs, oranges and other fruit and lies in the middle of a canyon flanked by smooth volcanic stone. Modern amenities have yet to reach Comondu. The lives of the inhabitants go quiet between the twinkling of the stars and the crowing of the roosters.
Leaving this oasis to cross the spine of La Giganta to the Gulf is risky. It is 30 miles of slow ascents and descents between rocky hills and gorges split by crevasses. The trip is a test for both the four-wheel drive truck and the traveler. If you seek to reach the planned destination and enjoy the trip, patience is definitely a requirement. The tour lasts many hours and travels on a goat path that has barely changed since the first Jesuit began the religious conquest around 1700 and traveled on foot from the mission of Loreto.
Many birds can be observed in the thorny bush and the blue sky along the way. They accompany the traveler from dawn to dusk and include the lark, woodpecker, wren, sparrow, güíribo, pitayera pigeon, chacuaca, peregrine falcon, and hawk. In the red mud and on them mountain slope, the hares, cachoras, rattle and brown snakes and other reptiles observe the slow passage of the vehicle.
After a mountain rain from a passing storm, dozens of goats graze on the budding plants. The moisture benefits the few goat ranches in the mountain that have remained nearly unchanged for three hundred years.
The magnificent landscape dominates the trip. A vibrant sun creates red and blue horizons and sometimes the fresh air contains the snarls and growls of an unseen puma that must be watching our noisy intrusion.
Finally, at the summit of La Giganta, there is a walk of a few yards on asphalt to the entrance of the canyon and the mission of San Javier. An emblematic cross carved into the volcanic rock marks the entrance and a wide river stone walkway leads to the ancient missionary building.
Crossing the Sierra is a difficult journey but not painful. The landscape is worth it!