The book “Cronicas de mi puerto, La Paz 1830-1959” by Rosa Maria Mendoza Salgado is fascinating. Her literary style, along with her memories and yearnings, place us in the time and the environment described by her lines. The photographs illustrating the work are historical treasures. They revive the construction of Baja California Sur’s capital city.
Her research on the ancient inhabitants and Spanish conquistadors is very valuable. So are the stories about the cave of La Calavera, where the pirate Cromwell hid his treasures and his surname was transformed to Coromuel, the name given to one of the nearby bays and beaches. The light wind, that at a certain time of year relieves the heat, the pearly robes, and the daily efforts of fishermen living off the riches offered by the Sea of Cortez do not go unnoticed in this book.
Attention is drawn to reports on the price of passage on the stagecoach that ran from La Paz to the mining town of Triunfo. Curious and equally interesting is the cost of different cabins on ships coming from San Francisco and docking in La Paz. The ships continued south on the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal to the Atlantic Ocean, and finally reached New York.
Her descriptions detail the layout of the city, including the homes, the stately buildings, and the departmental stores, highlighting the architecture of the “La Perla de La Paz” and the so-called “Eiffel Tower.” They are indelible tales of the site’s history and the efforts of its inhabitants who fueled the economic development of the region. Emphasis is placed on the construction of the boardwalk and the cathedral.
There are likeable anecdotes that provide details about the use of the first cars the prominent families used on Sundays to visit relatives. The curious thing is that tires were installed on the vehicles in the morning and removed in the afternoon. The cars were placed on blocks of wood to prevent them from being stolen.
From historical times, the author highlights the US invasion during the war of 1847, including the heroic resistance of the population and Lieutenant Mijares.
Interestingly, a young and well-known businessman from La Paz traveled to Mexico City to complete his studies. In February 1913, during the Decena Tragica when President Madero was assassinated, the house where the businessman was staying was ransacked. However, the man managed to save his coins, hiding them in a jar of water from a wash basin.
Many people arrived by boat in La Paz, heading to San Francisco, California to attempt to make a fortune in the so-called gold rush. They ended up staying in Baja California Sur. It was a rewarding land and excellent place to raise large families.
The book describes parties, outings, fashions, advertising and a city that grew and was transformed through the efforts of the citizens to what it is today. For this and much more, the book is worth reading and keeping as part of the history of Baja California Sur.
Las Arboledas, January 2016.