San Borja Mission is located more than twenty miles from Rosarito, a small stopping place beside the highway. The side road we took to San Borja meanders through a forest of cardon cactus, yuccas, elephant and cirio trees.
The road was rough and narrow with sharp rocks protruding from its sandy bed. Some times the ruts are deep with the high center almost scraping the bottom of our camper. Often, there is barely room for one car with no place to pull over should another car come from the opposite direction. Sometimes it took us hours to go only a few miles.
“After crossing dry creek beds and continuing over hilly land covered with boulders, the dirt road forked.
As with most peninsular roads, there were no signs posted to give directions.
I kept on what appeared to be the main road, but I wasn’t sure.
Eventually, a rancho came into view and I stopped to ask for directions.”
The house was a dilapidated structure with drying red peppers hanging from its walls. It was flanked by a corral and a small cornfield. Barking dogs guarded the entrance to the house. Seconds later an elderly women emerged from the doorway to see what the commotion was about. She appeared dignified despite the signs of hardships etched on her weathered face.
I waved to her and asked in my limited Spanish, “Which way to Mission San Borja?” Without speaking, she pointed her finger down the road.
As I continued, the road ahead began to climb higher and higher. The increasing, rock formations were as startling as the forest of cardon cactus and cirio trees. This was accented by the drab grayish colored ground. Ocasionally, a pretty, reddish barrel catus brightened the somber landscape.
We hardly saw another car. The only signs of life were a few half-starved bony cattle munching on thorny cactus and buzzards tracing lazy circles high in the sky.
When I reached the summit, I stopped to sketch the fantastic panorama of sun-baked table top mesas and rugged volcanic peaks. The scene was further accented by fleecy white clouds, slowly drifting overhead.
“The sky, the mountains and the desert became a fusion, a blending of unforgettable beauty.
This place will always hold cherished memories for me. It inspired me with its quiet desolation and primitive natural landscape. Man seems lost in this wild country.
I attempted to reveal my emotional response to this land on canvas.”