I am Edith Jiménez Moreno. I come from the State of Guerrero and have lived in Cabo San Lucas for about 42 years. My relationship with the town of La Candelaria began with my father. Talking about that story always moves me to tell more, so I’ll have a sip of coffee and continue.
I begin traveling through Baja California Sur to find its history
When I was 15 years old, I began working in restaurants. I was often asked by tourists about the local history, but I didn’t have the information they were seeking. Although I had not accumulated much knowledge in my short life, I thought, “Why not find the answers?”
So, little by little, I began to investigate. There came a time when I was able to buy a car. I remember it very well – a Chevy Suburban. I started to travel through rural areas with my sleeping bag and a tent.
My relationship with La Candelaria
When my father arrived in Cabo San Lucas for the first time, he got to know the town and fell in love with the port. An uncle encouraged him to come to work here and give himself the opportunity to see other horizons. The rest is history. My father decided to return to Acapulco for us, and my mother and the children who were still living at home moved with him.
He was a bricklayer by trade and, at that time, was building the church of La Candelaria. I was interested in knowing more about him and his work, so a few years ago, I visited the town. I walked through the orchards some truly kind people allowed me to enter. Coincidentally, they had met my father and gave him the easy to remember nickname of “El Gallazo.” I’m still investigating what part of the church he built. Some say the walls, others say the ceiling, while others say the entire church. Like I said, I am still investigating.
After many years, I returned and saw that the community he remembered did not remains. The kitchens – like those you can still see – stand out because the construction of the palapas used palo de arco branches.
The beautification of La Candelaria
After the Odile hurricane in 2014 there were many losses, including houses that were destroyed. The houses that were rebuilt were small block houses with tin roofs. The construction was not as beautiful as the original buildings I remembered from the first time I came. So, we set about preparing new kitchens.
The doors of the house in Chiquis were the first opened to me when I arrived. Since that time, we have become more than friends. The owners are my family here.
As time went on, I made more friends, met more families. At one point, while talking with some ladies, they asked, “what do we need to do to sign up. We also want to improve our kitchens.”
As a result, I spoke with some business owners, hotel managers and other friends and invited them to participate by adopting a family in La Candelaria. The goal was to beautify the houses, starting with the facades, and to recreate that picturesque community.
Without a doubt, the most valuable resource in La Candelaria is the warmth of the people.
Now let’s talk about The Grinding
Milling has been done throughout this area for many years. It was one of the main trades because there is water. In fact, the reason La Candelaria was established is precisely because of the water. There is a canyon with ten orchards where sugarcane has always been grown. The cane was brought from Todos Santos, the closest oasis with cane.
We went to cut the Pescadero cane. We were eight people, eight people who had to be picked up between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. We arrived, we cut, we ate, we cut more, we brought the cane to the mill. There was another group of people who were waiting to grind the cane.
After all that, you do calculations to find out the cost of producing the piloncillo and you realize that it is not a business. I asked, “Hey, Don Manuel, if this is not a profitable business, why do they keep doing it?” And he answered, “merely the taste Doña, merely the taste.” It is not a matter of money.
The cane is cut every season, during the same time each year. It is ground and well, you already know the process. Today, cane also comes from Pescadero, Todos Santos and San Jose del Cabo. They bring it here to be ground not just because it is a matter of business, but because it is a matter of tradition.
The different sweets of sugar cane
There are several sweets made here in the region, such as mango that has its own process. There is a wooden trapiche wheel used to make brown sugar or molasses from sugar cane. We named the molasses Cuban, where roasted corn pinol, peanuts, walnuts or grated cheese are added at the wheel.
The honey that is produced here also has its own process, so that it does not set and become brown sugar. It is called finger honey because you roll it with your fingers. Clear honey is another sweet variant that is bottled and consumed directly from the container. Slices of bitter orange peels can be added.
The story of Don Tonino
You must pull the words out of Don Tonino little by little. Today, he talked more. He played the accordion, and we had some little songs. There is one song that he likes a lot and would sing to his wife. “I have an empty book and I’m going to start it.” He was always in a good mood.
You can say we have a strong friendship. I come to this house the most. I try to come every day, mainly to see him, to bring him a little joy and tell him jokes. Unfortunately, he has become a sad person. He lost his wife in an accident, and since then, he has been sick.
Cane grinding gives La Candelaria life, the fact that people come to visit also gives it life. When I stay here on a full moon, many things are heard, especially stories. It is said that during the war, the Spanish captain Villarino passed through the canyon and other locations. I said that “when I am here, I am not afraid, but I would prefer to not be here at night and alone.”
I wanted to know about Don Tonino’s parents, where he was born, his entire history. There is an interesting story there and it is the first time that it will be talked about it. I do not even have it recorded in a book or anywhere else. But before I left the man, he said that his father met the last Indian and that can be corroborated.
The preservation of the gastronomic and cultural traditions of Baja California Sur
Maijañui is a civil association whose essential purpose is the rescue and safeguard of traditional cuisines of South California, as well as the communication of the uses, customs, products, and gastronomic practices that constitute the pillar of the culture of the peninsula.
Maijañui is sponsored by the Edith’s group of restaurants, who I also represent. Let’s say that I am like the director of the whole project including public relations and everything that a person who is interested in making ideas happen. I do it with great pleasure. I hope that in the next milling season, people will find La Candelaria more beautiful.
We are going to be planting sugarcane in the orchards. If there is water, there will be cane. If there is Maijañui, there will be cane.