We left the coastline for El Rosario; the Southernmost mission town of the Dominicans, who sought to civilize the Cochimi but decimated them instead. The shanty Cantina had double swing doors; a couple of fish tacos.
El Rosario is a beautiful farm-supply town; inland, stuck between two steep ravine-cliffs. The desert is unforgiving to the reckless disregard of San Quentin, and here there is a sense of place, and that's reflected in the smiles and the clean streets. "Cerveza?" we asked. "No cerveza. Presidente!" A pair of Chinese hikers stumbled into the Cantina, mumbling something in English to the barmaid.
"Ask-a two American" she said. And they scrambled over to our table, "Excuse-a me. We need time to sink." "You're sinking?" Vance responded. "No. Need time to sink." "I don't understand. Speak slower." "Umm." And the female stepped forward and tried to out-English her friend. "We need to have some time to sink," she said. "Perhaps you need a ride to a hotel?" I said and Vance asked the barmaid where was a hotel? "It's two miles south. We'll drive you there in ten minutes. Just let us finish eating." "Okay, very good. Sank you."
And they disappeared. The fish tacos were excellent, and a green jalapeno salsa at that, but the Chinese appeared again and said, "Sank you, but we are done sinking. We will walk now." And we saw them hauling north over the road that would stretch fifty miles before the next town.
We left in the truck and went south and east, crossing the fiery stretch, in a forsaken place god had never known. This was a wasteland of flats and gnawed mountains. Brown, dead, death. Vultures. We played Ekova - Euro-Techno: what other way to interpret this harsh land than with the loopy rhythms of free-form electronica?
Then came the Boojums - spindly trees of a single arm, and Elephant trees, which looked of elsewhere, and wiry Ocotillo as from the flats of Anza. The cardons were next: tallest cactus in the world; sprouting from everywhere. But when we arrived, hours later, in Baja's Central Desert, the land was scoured by giant boulders; mountains of them, and hills, and the boojums were wily; going about each and every way - lawless plants they were.
We thought this a good place to camp, despite getting stuck in sand, despite the heat. We made salsa, and played guitar, hiked to an ancient Indian cave - cave paintings of geometric shapes and human-like forms. The last accounts of the Cochimi, a people who settled this desert but never made it beyond paleolithicism, reported that the paintings came from their ancestors, who they referred to in Spanish as 'The Giants.' The Spanish of Baja, sometimes over-generalized as 'The Conquistadors', and who were noted in that time to write in their journals in terms of economic value of places (the Grand Canyon - the most useless piece of land on Earth) and the need for all 'natives' to be 'civilized', accounted stories of the Cochimi.
According to the reports, they had little to eat for most of the year, but when the fruits of the organ pipe cactus would bear, the Cochimi would endure weeks of doing nothing other than feasting and 'engaging in massive orgies drunk on the sweet fruit of 'the pitayaha.''