Okay folks, Here we go again

Baja Bernie - 10-8-2007 at 03:37 PM

Here we go again this is the first chapter of my second book, Bouncing Around Baja. Hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t that’s acceptable too.

I have decided to begin posting the stories on Mondays or Tuesdays because when I was posting the first ones on Fridays they seemed to get lost in the rush to Baja.

An Hysterical Overview of the
History of Baja California

I suppose that as with all histories I shall be forced to start at the beginning. A few million years ago this area was a literal hotbed of volcanic activity. At about the same time the peninsula began to sneak slowly away from the mainland. This creep began to form a small inlet and then over the centuries the wonderful Sea of Cortez, or more properly the Gulf of California, was formed. This abundant body of water was unknown to Europeans until 1533 when Hernando Cortez wandered by the cape of Cabo San Lucas. That was almost a century before our forefathers came ashore at Plymouth Rock.

The peace and tranquility of this hostile strip of land was left undisturbed by the Spaniards for over 150 years. Then Jesuit Padres attempted to establish a Mision at the site of modern day Loreto. This was not what you could term a roaring success and they had to beat a hasty retreat when the natives rose up to smite them for their pushy ways. More rewarding endeavors were those conducted by the English pirates who quartered in the coves of the cape to venture out and relieve the lumbering Spanish galleons of much of the gold that the Spaniards had stolen from Mexico and Latin America.

About the same time someone began calling this peninsula California. There still exists, in those hallowed halls of higher learning, a raging argument as to the origin of this name. Many favored the fact (really) that it was derived from the Spanish words, Caldia Fornax or Hot Furnace. It was and still is that, but I hardly believe that it really fits. More in line with the majority of intelligentsia (of which I am proud to exclude myself) was the fact that the sea captains of the time were very much aware of novels written by Cervantes (you know the guy who wrote “The Man from La Mancha” or more commonly known as Don Quixote—sure, you know the guy who jousted with windmills) in which he depicted the Amazons and their Queen Califa marching from the fabled country of “California” to Constantinople in an attempt to throw out the infidel Turks who had captured the town and established the Muslim faith. These guys make the further argument that this novel caused the great Amazon River to be so named because of this same novel. The conflict will never be resolved because the mystical novel, supposedly titled “California,” has not survived in any of the used bookstores. You cannot even find it on the Internet.

When the well intended Padres arrived on the shores of California they found what was estimated to be 40,000 Indians. A few years later only about 7,000 Indians remained alive. This is how several of the priests described these ‘heathens’: They wore no clothes, did not practice any form of marriage and they had no tools. They seemed to have only three main vices and those were fornicating, lying and drinking (sounds familiar). They were extremely lazy and subsisted on locusts, lizards, caterpillars, spiders, and head lice. The fathers were not exactly complimentary regarding their charges. The more people they baptized the fewer there were to do the work.

In 1768 the deranged King of Spain expelled all of the Jesuits. He ordered his soldiers to bind them and expel them from all lands of Spain, both old and new. Their removal has been described by some as mirroring the Baatan Death March of WWII. The King’s reason for this was that opposing lobbyists at the royal court had convinced him that the Jesuits were holding out on him and that they were hoarding gold for themselves. The Franciscan monks, lead by Father Junipero Serra, also had lobbyists at court and somehow they were named to replace the Jesuits.

On arrival in Loreto, Padre Serra took one look around and decided that he wanted no part of this waterless, desolate and depopulated land. There were no workers left to continue to build missions. He learned of the wonderful green valleys, wild rivers and numerous Indians to the north. He sent word to his lobbyist at court directing them to convince the King to send the Dominicans to relieve him and his Franciscans so that he could move on to greener pastures in Alta California.

At the time the border between California and Alta California was just south of the current city of Rosarito Beach. The border ran from the coastal village of Califa east to the gulf near present day Yuma, Arizona.

So Father Serra marched north into the history books by establishing a very successful chain of missions that are still functioning in Alta California.

The border between the two California’s remained at Califa until the Treaty of Guadalupe in 1848. You will remember that this was just after the war with Mexico when they allowed us to purchase New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, etc. Then the wheels from Mexico City convinced the gringos to move the border north to San Ysidro and extending east to about Yuma, Arizona. Why? Because this would allow the Mexicans a land bridge on which to ride their horses from mainland Mexico to Baja California. The conquering gringo’s agreed to this change only because they thought that the peninsula had no value.

We should thank our lucky stars.

Note: The name changes. California became Baja California. Alta California became California. Then Baja California became Baja Norte and Baja Sur.

Nutty is it not!

P.S. I know that is a little slow for a start, but somebody told me that is where I must begin—so I did.

Paulina - 10-8-2007 at 03:42 PM


My books got here two days ago. I just started with this same chapter yesterday.

Thank you very much!


Osprey - 10-8-2007 at 06:49 PM

Bernie, When you entertain and educate you owe the readers the straight scoop. Don't you mean "Calida Fornax", not Caldia Fornax? Didn't you mean to write Calafia, not Califa?

George Bergin

Baja Bernie - 10-8-2007 at 06:54 PM

First indication that you even read my stuff. Thank you.

David K - 10-8-2007 at 08:04 PM

I specially like the chapter that begins on page 57 :light::biggrin:

Thanks Bernie!

David K - 10-8-2007 at 08:10 PM

Originally posted by Osprey
Bernie, When you entertain and educate you owe the readers the straight scoop. Don't you mean "Calida Fornax", not Caldia Fornax? Didn't you mean to write Calafia, not Califa?

Who was it that said, "Don't let the facts get in the way of telling a good story"?

The facts are readily available in many Baja (California) history books... Bernie's little paperbacks are for fun that might actually inspire more to seek out the little details of California's fascinating history he touches on, in a fun way.

Anyway, I already gave heck to Bernie for little details like that before it went to print... then he helped me realize what I just said, above...

Bajafun777 - 10-8-2007 at 09:02 PM

Bernie, just thinking how people think that got it rough now with all the modern conveniences and just think how long by burro a trip took, unless you had the updated modern "horse" to travel by. However, then and now always had something to relax with and drink to the good life. Later=== bajafun777

Gnome-ad - 10-10-2007 at 04:42 PM

Bernie ~
Just got my drawings off to the contractor and so I had time to come back and read this first chapter. Great stuff. bajafun777's post made me think about our first trip north from BCS and the escapade we had surfing a rock with our Toyota Corolla at Questa del Infierno - gulp. How did they get through there??? :o Maybe a burro is better than a low riding Toyota for that area. :lol:

Think I'll go toast volcanic activity!

Look forward to the second chapter. Thanks again!

Baja Bernie - 10-11-2007 at 01:43 PM

Harry Crosby would say that the only 'real' way to see Baja IS/was by burro.

Gnome-ad - 10-12-2007 at 12:20 PM

I am such a newbie here, have only patted a burro on the unpaved road up the East Cape. There were three of them - two adults and one baby. The mother and baby kept their distance when we got out, but papa burro was fascinated by Amir's beard and as Amir was taking his photo he was walking through a bush to come and see if Amir's beard was edible ... he discovered it was not, but stayed for ear scratches and then poked his head in the vehicle driver's side when we were leaving to check out the pastries our friend had. After a nice cheese empanada he let us go.

The mother and baby grace Amir's desktop background on his laptop. They always make me smile.