I had not been exposed to the corridor known as La Giganta, which you can see in the background of the above photo, when I carried out my work on behalf of WWF several years ago. Now that I have, over the last week, I can only say that it had such an impact on me that I am still processing it. It is partially the geology of this portion of the peninsula known as Baja California Sur. It is partially how that geology intersects with the marine ecosystem. But it is mostly–and here I refer to the impressions I am still processing–the intersection of local people with those two natural wonders that really got to me. The photo above looks from the back of a panga (the type of boat local fishermen use) as we departed a property that is best described as an oasis.
It is an oasis. In fact, when Jesuit missionaries began exploring this peninsula several centuries ago, this was a spot they chose to settle due to the abundance of water hidden in the otherwise barren, seemingly uninviting, desert landscape. The property behind those palms on the beach is full of remnants of that settlement, including centuries-old grape vines and a wine storage cave built into the hillside for storing barrels. The people who live there now, more on whom later, are determined to ensure that this property is part of what we would call an entrepreneurial conservation project for the region.
Amazing people. As were the communities of fishermen and their families in various other oases along the coast north and south of where that photo was taken. As were the people living in the sierra at the background of that photo…
I will write more about that project and those people in upcoming posts, but for now a visual tribute to colleagues at WWF who, in the time since I was last here, partnered with Mexico’s most important business group to raise awareness of the need for conservation in the Gulf of California. I was pleased to see this electronic billboard in the Mexico City airport as I arrived from La Paz, signaling that the company believes its customers should care as much as they do about supporting conservation. Or is it the other way around?