Mexico / Baja California  / Breakpoints / Mulegé
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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mulegé and Bahía Concepción

Mulegé, a pretty little town of 3,300 inhabitants is situated in a wide valley of the Río Santa Rosalía (also called Río Mulegé).

Like San Ignacio, it is copiously supplied with fresh water, because the river, which is invisible in the hinterland, emerges here in the form of long water basins. The almost tropical climate with warm winters likewise contributes to the rich crops of fruits and produce in Mulegé. Dates, figs, bananas, citrus and olives – all thrives excellently. To boot, the sea is not far away so it is small wonder that the place has become a popular holiday resort. People doing aquatic sports or fishing today find several hotels and a good infrastructure. Many North Americans have established their permanent residences here. Still, Mulegé is not overcrowded and has an agreeable, friendly atmosphere.

The advantages of the river valley had, of course, also attracted the attention of the missionaries, who founded the Mission of Santa Rosalía de Mulegé in 1705. It existed until 1828; today the mission church, an austere building on a rocky hill, is the only testimony of it. From behind the church, you have a spectacular view. Below you see the oasis with its palms, cut by the river with waterfowl and sometimes a water turtle. Frigatebirds and turkey vultures hover in the blue sky. The houses are scattered between the palms, the center of the village encloses a small plaza. A fairly big, white building on a low hill catches the visitor‘s eye: the former “open-door jail”. Strange, but true: The prisoners were on leave from morning to early evening so they could work and earn some money. When the bugle sounded at 6 p.m., all prisoners came back to their cells! This system was used until 1975 and seems to have worked. The prison is a museum today.

One of the most beautiful parts of Baja California extends south of Mulegé. Like a giant finger, the Bahía Concepción (Conception Bay) advances into the inland. The sea, which washes some islands, various white beaches and bays lined with mangroves, appears to exhibit an almost unreal blue. And just behind it cacti and an exotic desert vegetation! The colossal cardon cacti have formed a particularly dense stand here – a real forest of cacti. The road winds along the coast through this “Polynesia of the desert” and opens amazing views again and again, until it turns off to the interior farther south.

As the Bahía de Concepción is protected against the wind by its location and has warm water the year round, it is popular with bathing tourists, fishers, yacht captains and kayakers. Some of the beaches in the north of the bay are very much frequented, and there are even permanent settlements surrounding them. Trailers and caravans stand here side by side especially in the winter months. Any further construction has been stopped, though, because the bay is today a marine protection area, where commercial fishing is also prohibited. So there is still place for blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, magnificent frigatebirds, Heermann‘s gulls and Western gulls just as for whales, dolphins and whale sharks.