After two days and six dives in Cabo Pulmo, adventures with bull sharks and fish tornadoes, we were off to Sierra Laguna Biosphere, ready for a change of scene. Our fantastic Red Travel Mexico guide, Christian, had a little disappointing news for us. A “norte” (a storm where the winds come from the north and are cold) was closing in on La Paz, making our trip to Espiritu Santo to see whale sharks and sea lions unlikely. To save you the suspense, the winds were high and the ports were closed, so we were unable to participate in that itinerary. Thankfully, we had a flexible, seasoned group who knew that Red Travel and Travels with Tam can’t control the weather. Instead, we enjoyed other areas of the Baja, which means we’ll need to go back to Espiritu Santo another time! Something to look forward to.
On Day 3 we visited the Sierra Laguna Biosphere in the mountains of Sierra Laguna. UNESCO has designated the Sierra de la Laguna a global biosphere reserve: “This semi arid to temperate subhumid climate area represents highly important and contrasted ecosystems, including arid zones, matorrales, low deciduous forest type, evergreen oak: Quercus devia (“encino”) woods, pine-evergreen oak mix woods and oases with palms and “guerivos” situated throughout the gallery forest following the long river basins.” The Biosphere reserve was established by a Mexican presidential decree of 6 June 1994, which designated a core area and buffer zones. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_de_la_Laguna) Within the biosphere are ranchos, and we visited Rancho Refugio where the old ranchero way of life is unchanged. There are few left, and the culture may well die out since the children are opting for cities and the larger world.
We toured Rancho Refugio with one of the family, Rogerio, and discovered the life of the authentic rancho family. I was expecting a “hacienda”, but that is not rancho culture in the Baja. The family had furniture outdoors for sitting and sleeping, and the kitchen was also outside. The ranchero showed us how they live, different ways they make their living (leather working, crops, animals), and the lack of modern day “necessities” (which of course, are not necessary). We embarked on a hike through the mountains, taking us through boulders, woods, and streams. The stream was as clear as glass, I don’t know that I have ever seen such clear, clean water! We walked through huge white boulders and saw waterfalls, pools, and even a “slide”! No, I didn’t try it, that would be tempting my luck too far. We had one fall, but it wasn’t me! (Mark!) We also bouldered, and looked at a ficus palmeri, also called a rock fig. It is known as the Boulder Strangler. The fig roots encircle another tree’s trunk and eventually reach the ground. The roots then enlarge and squeeze the host tree’s trunk while the upper branches overshadow it and starve it for light. The host dies and rots, leaving a hollow giant fig tree. It looked like a banyan tree, only white. Fascinating killer strangler tree! After our hike, we headed to the outdoor kitchen and made tortillas. Their honey was absolutely amazing, maybe the best I’ve ever had! Lunch was lovely, under the trees.
We headed to La Paz after our day in the mountains. As you can imagine we were very tired! The sun was setting, so we snapped a few photos and headed to our beds at the Hotel Catedral. The hotel was quite lovely, and more on that later!
You’d also enjoy reading about a Baja Tornado of Fish!