Volcanic cinder cone
Thousands of similar paintings and petroglyphs exist throughout Baja, in areas inhabited by several different tribes when the Spaniards arrived. It is but one of Baja's oddities that the ancient sites were publicized in this century by the author of the Perry Mason murder mysteries, Erle Stanley Gardner, who spent many years of his life exploring and writing about them.
in the central Vizcaino Desert.
Legal visits to the sites require permits or licensed guides. In San Ignacio, one can arrange to visit both whales and cave paintings in a single day trip.
Tortilla and I arrived in San Ignacio after a grueling day's drive across the desert. We had enjoyed a great meal and room at the Hotel La Pinta in San Quintín the night before, our first night ever in Baja, and we were looking forward to the same spoiled gringo luxuries from the equally expensive La Pinta in San Ignacio: a modern hot shower, air conditioning, satellite TV, good food and comfortable beds to soothe our aching backs.
We'd had our adventure for the day, we spoke almost no Spanish, and on this, only our second night on the road in Mexico, finding the best budget hotel was not on the agenda.
Desert landscape near San Ignacio.
We pulled the car off the highway at dusk, and drove the two miles into San Ignacio, amazed and refreshed at the sight of the man-made lake, and the canopy of date palms overhead.
Set among the palms at the edge of town was the La Pinta, looking a bit tired and worn, not as impressive as the San Quintín version, but its handsome neo-colonial arches were a welcome sight. Relieved that the parking lot was nearly empty, we stopped to claim a room. But, the polite desk clerk informed us there were "problems".
The room rate of eighty gringo bucks would not include hot water tonight. But, the clerk was kind enough to call the other hotel in town to learn that, yes, they still had hot water.
So, not without difficulty in our overloaded little car, we picked our way among the sharp boulders protruding from the dirt of the narrow side streets, finally found the unmarked Motel La Posada, and squeezed into the tiny dirt lot that appeared to be for parking.
The proprietor handed us a key, and left us alone to check the room. In the dim light from the bare bulb in the ceiling, we could see peeling paint and a tiny shower stall, with primitive plumbing. The room seemed clean enough. The air conditioning was a small electric floor fan with a frayed cord. The two mushy beds were matched opposites...one mattress was higher at the foot, the other was higher at the head.
At twenty-five bucks the price seemed steep. We decided we could do without hot water. The proprietor seemed not at all surprised when we handed him the key, thanked him, and returned to the La Pinta.