Monday, September 15, 2008

Baja: Just an illusion?

Winter, 2008
So has Baja become just an illusion after all? Has it lost it's charm and beauty, it's sense of wildness? To travel to the once-sleepy area of Cabo san Lucas is truly a rude awakening. The famous finisterra ("Land's End") arches at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula seem difficult to place at the end of one of the most rugged areas in all of North America. It is as if the area has gone through a time warp into the 21st century...and even beyond! It is not the change that I bemoan so much, as change seems inevitable, but it seems to me to be the rate of that change; unchecked, unheralded, unprecedented.

I first visited here in 1981 and slept on the very beach that this hotel is being built upon. The construction is absolutely out of control, the devastation to the area is absolutely irrational. Do we really need another hotel, set of condos, or golf course so close to the ocean? Where will all the fresh water for these projects come from? How will we handle the waste? Is this the final destiny for all the wild and beautiful places whose only crime is to be located too close to civilization?

History is bound to repeat itself here; on August 31, 1967 hurricane Katrina made landfall on the southern tip of the peninsula, sinking 60 ships and later leaving 2500 homeless after it partially destroyed the city of San Felipe in the northern part of the Baja Peninsula. On September 22, 2003 hurricane Marty made landfall near San Jose del Cabo. A total of 4000 houses were destroyed and five deaths were reported. What will be the impact of the next hurricane to make landfall in the Cabo area? It is not really a question of "If", but only "When". Do we ever really learn from these events?

The harbor itself has been dredged out and expanded to hold literally thousands of vessels large and small. Each morning hundreds of fishing boats disgorge from the small mouth of the harbor and race at full speed towards offshore fishing grounds in search of billfish and dorados to quench the seemingly unending need to show mastery and dominion over cold blooded fish.

And as if to add insult to injury Cabo san Lucas now plays host to large cruise ships who disgorge hundreds of touristas onto the scene. To a casual observer like myself I can only say that I am so happy to have known this area in earlier times, before the madness and mayhem. I have to wonder what John Steinbeck might write about this area today...

For my part I could skip the area all together, but I suppose that it absolutely drives home this point; there are no sacred places left in this part of the world. if you are going to get out and enjoy what is wild and wonderful about the Baja Peninsula then do it now, before the whole thing goes the way of the Cabos. My friends, THESE are the good 'ol days in Baja...enjoy them while you can!

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