Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Los Californios

I've spent the year so far traveling throughout California, both north and south of the border. 

On the US side, there's my family in the Bay Area. Elsewhere there's this...

On the Mexican side, there's my family in Bahía Coyote. Elsewhere there's this...

Oh my, but I am in love with the vaqueros of the Baja Peninsula! For years I have visited their remote ranchos on foot, but I have always wanted to return with Trudi Angel, who has cultivated relationships with the Californios in the cordillera on muleback for more than thirty years. 

I was finally able to swing it this time around and it was magic: 

Palm oases silhouetted against the stars, lively conversations, baby goats and scruffy burros, bells echoing off canyon walls, serenades and dancing around the campfire, tequila and Tecate in the evenings, empanadas and café in the mornings, cave art from civilizations past, and mucho cariño all around. 

I swoon for these authentic cowboy cultures the world over.

In Baja, the younger generations want to remain rancheros. Their ability to do so is a question of finances. Most ranches make the majority of their money selling goat cheese. Taking tourists on pack trips can supplement a family's income, but names only come up so often on a guide list of more than 100 vaqueros and most tourists stick to the coasts on the peninsula. 

That said, this culture has proven adaptable, creative, hard working, and resilient in a land without water for the past 300 plus years.   

¡Ojalá que sobreviva!

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