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When Baja was torn from the Mexican mainland, and the San Andreas Fault opened like a zipper, nature set Baja aside as something special. It must have been a spectacular event. No one is sure when the first Indians arrived in Baja. At least 12000 years ago perhaps earlier the most significant human migration occurred when the ancestors of American Indians crossed from Siberia to Alaska via a land bridge across the Berring Straight. At least 10000 years ago, according to radiocarbon dating of artifacts like stone tools and arrowheads; descendants of these immigrants reached the Baja peninsula by way of mainland California. There were four tribes in Baja Sur and the Pericu inhabited Los Cabos. They did not wear clothes. They didn't build houses or tents they lived off of the land (ate mostly fruit of the Cactus) and when it was cold, dug a tiny hole, and everybody crawled in to keep warm. A man's wealth was determined by how many wives he had. Makes sense, they had to forage to eat. The more wives you had out hunting for food, the less likely you were to get hungry. Some anthropologists say the Pericu descended from the Pacific Indians.. .and closely resemble a unique tribe found in South America...but its all speculation. Of course they're all gone now. One reason, the missionaries tried to establish communes where the Indians would live. The confinement was something the Indians couldn't take. They said they had to see the stars or they would die. From the first Baja has been populated by dreamers. Even the name California is out of the imagination of a popular C~lll'iaMiill""aaeeeeee Esplandian (The Exploits of Esplandian) published in Sevilla by Garci Ordonez de Montalvo who wrote of a magical land... peopled by beautiful black amazons who carried gold spears and armor. That was in 1510 and when the first Europeans landed in Baja 20 years later they thought that this must be the California the author was talking about.

The discovery was pretty violent. After defeating the Aztecs and occupying most of central Mexico, Hernan Cortez dispatched several expeditions in search of rich lands as described in the book of Montalvo. In 1532 two ships sailed north from Acapuico, but both ships disappeared shortly after departure. In 1533 the

A Little Bit of Baja History

Concepcion sailed in search of the ships but soon after leaving Acapuico, Pilot Fortun Ximenez led a band of mutineers, who killed their captain in his sleep and headed for La Paz. There they found the famous black pearls and the attractive Indian women. Husbands took exception to the attention paid to their wives, so they killed Ximenez, and only a few of the mutineers escaped back to the mainland. But with them came tales of the fabulous black pearls.

World politics now plays a part in the Baja history. Queen Elizabeth took the throne. Spain and England started taking swipes at each other. And the Queen gives privateers the right to go out and capture Spanish ships. About this time the famous Spanish galleon route from Manila to Acapuico was established. By the time the ships made the crossing the crew was sick and dying of scurvy. So they decided (it's more complicated than that) to pull into Baja. The only fresh water was at San Jose (the river still flows, and is the source of the estuary that is home to over 200 different species of birds) Somehow the word got back to England and the Sea of Cortez became a hunting ground for galleons. Sort of like the whalers who would show up in a century or two.

Along comes sir Francis Drake who begins a career of piracy that would ultimately be called the "scourge of God" by its Spanish victims, and opens up the Pacific to British privateers and pirates. He briefly touched the tip of the peninsula to take on the water and then proceeded north. The galleon route from Manila to Acapuico was along the Japanese current. The trip took about six months. Baja Sur's history is filled with famous battles and adventures as the pirates played their game for almost 350 years. In 1700 it was a Jesuit Missionary Padre Kino, stationed at Mission Dolores in Sonora, in an attempt to discover a land route to supply the unreplenished Mission at Loreto, explored to the North and confirmed that California was not an island but a peninsula. The padres were brave, undiscouraged by the wild surroundings, and their accomplishments were extraordinary. They charted and explored the east and west oast of the peninsula. The mission fathers taught the Indians to cultivate the land. Grapes were grown and wine pressed to be exchanged for goods from Mexico. The Jesuits were responsible for the planting of the first crops in Mulege in their mission founded in 1705.

In San Jose del Cabo things weren't going to well for the missionaries. In 1734-37 the Pericus, fed up with the missionary style of life, hashed the head of the padre Nicolas Tamaral who founded the mission in San Jose The ordeal of Father Tamaral in the hands of the natives is depicted in a mosaic on the facade of the church in San Jose's town square. The missionaries, on their way out of town had left their revenge. From 1742-44 epidemics of smallpox, measles and syphilis (souvenirs left behind by the pirates and privateers) virtually wiped out the remaining Pericu. To get a glimpse of what remains from the Pericu, spectacular petroglyphs and cave paintings dot the peninsula. Some are abstract designs while others are representations of humans and animals. Nomadas Adventure tours offers non-strenuous day trips to see cave paintings in the mountains.

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Disclaimer All above information is gathered from many sources and is as accurate as possible, but not necessary guaranteed. The reader of this material to verify the accuracy of the content.
Copyright 2001 Monty Bisset. All rights reserved.