Twenty five miles south of Loreto on Hwy 1 is a dirt road that leads west for 30 miles into the the heart of the Sierra de la Giganta. Back in the day; early 90's, the road was a wash boarded dirt road from Hates that lead through some of the most beautiful Mexican dessert you could hope for. Something more akin to driving on the surface of Mars, this road had so many ruts and rocks that your typical 4x4 with aired down tires struggled to get over fifteen miles an hour without shaking the spark plugs out of the engine block ( and by the way.....that has happed on these roads). The first time I traveled there, I'm not really certain how long it took because my good friend Nico and I were having such a wonderful time looking at this amazing landscape and listening to the one casset of Frank Sinatra that we brought on a two week trip to Baja California, that we forgot to notice how long we were traveling for. It was definitely quite a while; probably more than three or four hours before we crested the top of an amazing valley; a hundred feet deep with sheer cliff walls, with a fresh
water stream that ran right through the middle of this barren dessert. Zig-zaging our way down the side of the cliff along a the dirt road that lead into the village, the bottom of valley looked something like Central America. I was amazed, such a lush environment... date palms, wandering live stock and little homes made out of palm tree fronds lined the creek as it made it's way down the canyon valley. We had just come thru one of the harshest desserts I had ever driven thru and now this amazing oasis, what a contrast. Just a little ways down the dirt road we came upon an adobe village that looked like it was something right out of a Clint Eastwood western and it was at that moment that I knew that I had found what I was looking for.
Over time, I was to find out that this wonderful little village was to be known as San Jose De Commondu. Built as the third Jesuit missionary site along the El Camino Real in 1717, the date palms and the stone church in middle of town were brought here with the hopes of establishing the Catholic Mission system in Mexico and along the west coast of the North American.
Word got out quick that there were a couple of visitors to the town and shortly after arriving at the town's main square, the mayor's wife invited us for dinner and a place to stay. We politely declined as we had already set up camp just outside of town. Needless to say, I fell in love with this place...... I had a wonderful conversation with a local farmer who our entire conversation was about what type of stuff we would haul with our trucks. His cargo, sheep and livestock, mine mostly camping gear. What a great connection we had.
Over the years, I have made it back once or twice but have not been there in years. My hope is to travel there again soon. Its been twenty years since I have been there and the world has changed a little bit. Google maps shows that the roads have improved a little and search tells me that there might even be a bed and breakfast with a tour of the local wine community. That's Ok; all things change, that's just the way things are. I'm going to get down there again some day and when I do, I'm going to make a little gesture of gratitude for this Baja Jewel. Gasho.
San Jose De Comondu on our Spiritual Travelings Map
Here is a wonderful book which details the missions along the Baja California penninsula.