Camping in La Purisima
We left San Juanico at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon on our way to La Purisima. Shortly before three o’clock, we arrived at a house at the entrance of town that, with large banners, said: “Kayaks and paddleboards for rent.”
The house belongs to Lilia Peralta Higuera—who, apart from being a teacher, has also been an alderwoman and a delegate—and her husband Alberto Abelardo Higuera Arce, whom Lilia refers to as “Lalo.”
Jaime Llaca, our photographer and drone expert, was the one who introduced us to this couple that, in a matter of minutes, made us feel welcome in their home. Their house is a construction of large white and green walls and a big hallway in the center that takes you to the courtyard, where the magic happens.
Between the abundant vegetation that threatens to sprout everywhere after the rains and the pleasant weather that made you feel neither cold nor heat, but quite the opposite, teacher Lilia excused herself to continue with her price quotations. Lalo pointed the way to the place where we were going to spend the night: under the stars, next to the stream, and right in front of the hill El Pilon.
Camping isn’t scary, traveler. You discover things you didn’t know and you are wrapped by a feeling of survival, adventure, and adrenaline.
But, if you feel like getting something more comfortable, you can also spend the night in one of the cabins rented by the friendly couple.
We recommend that you camp with friends or family. Having Oscar and Jaime as journey companions was the best thing that could’ve happened to us. One of the phrases that Oscar used to cheer us up was “We didn’t come here to suffer,” to refer that we were equipped and prepared.
While they set up camp, we women went looking for food. La Purisima is a town located in Comondu, 145 kilometers north of Ciudad Constitucion. Its population is between 100 and 150 inhabitants. Next to it is San Isidro, a town that only takes you two minutes to get to and that has the same number of inhabitants.
We took the task of bringing provisions for dinner and breakfast very seriously. Although we had some groceries in the cars, like coffee and canned tuna, we wanted to make a feast to celebrate our first night in the moonlight.
We arrived at a store where some people were chatting at the entrance. It made us remember the small-town lifestyle. When we entered the store, we came across all kinds of products, from shampoo, clothing, and jewelry to flour tortillas and sausages.
Seeing the sausages, we decided our best option was to make hot dogs for dinner. Seeing the cheese, we knew we already had the breakfast: quesadillas.
We returned to the camp happy to have found everything we needed. Samuel Higuera, a former student of the teacher, was already waiting for us with wood for the campfire. In the conversation, he told us the legend of a ghost town:
“San Vicente is an abandoned ranch in the very middle of the creek. Supposedly, an Indian who stole fruit lived there. But the fishermen who stayed there say that a gentleman used to arrive and then, like an hour later, a kid would get inside. They pulled their blankets, pulled their rope, and said to them “Hurry up”… But there was no one there.”
As he smoked his cigarettes and drank a cold coke we had brought along with the groceries, Samuel kept telling us stories of his town. Like the one that happened a long time ago, when a villager of La Purisima, owner of one of the abandoned buildings, discovered gold in the church, demolished it, and left to never return.
Between anecdotes and laughter, I noticed where I was. The camping area was full of green, of life. The water from the creek ran through the wind while the sausages were slowly roasting over the fire. The flames were coming out from the sides of the pan. The sounds reminded us that nature was all around.
The oasis is another of the microecosystems that we have in Baja California Sur and, in that moment, we marveled at the difference: a day before we had sea, now we had oasis.
When the night came, we heard other kinds of sounds. The owl telling us it was there, the crickets singing, the breeze blowing in the air, and the dipping that some animals—whose identity we never discovered—were taking in the creek very late at night, frightening us with the clarity of the echo.
The most shocking thing, for me, was the stars. You can’t imagine it, but I hope that with the photos that accompany this story you can have a little piece of the sky that was before us that night. The stars have a very special meaning for me, and these have been the prettiest I’ve ever seen in my life.
They were hundreds and hundreds of stars, hundreds and hundreds of bright spots, hundreds and hundreds of sensations.
Cabins La Purisima is the name of the place where we camped. Their owners always dreamed of investing in their own business, where they could serve tourists and thus, they’d see the beauty of their town.
60% of the town supports itself through fishing, as it is only 20 kilometers away from the sea. It is also supported through tourism; thanks to you, who wants to learn the stories and live the adventures instead of being told about them.
Teacher Lilia, her husband Lalo, and Samuel were the perfect hosts. They made us promise we’d return to taste their cuisine: the caja china where they cook sheep or goat; the ancestral recipe of pork meat pickled with organic vinegar, three chili peppers, pineapple, and fruits; the buñuelos with honey and cinnamon; the missionary barbecue beef with herbs; and the marinated prawn with basil, spearmint, oregano, and honey. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also wine and date producers, so you should also promise them that visit.
We left at three o’clock in the afternoon the next day, after the group photo and a mandatory stop in the bathroom. We were anxious to see what people we would meet and what stories we would hear, with the uncertainty of not knowing what else awaited us on the peninsula that has it all.