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Back to Catavina, Mexico

Thursday, February 28, 2019 - 7:15pm by Lolo
344 miles and 7.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


My favorite roadside graffitiMy favorite roadside graffitiThe fun part of the trip was pretty much over. Our southernmost destination on the peninsular had been Loreto, and we had started our journey back north with last night’s stop on Playa El Requeson, where a beautiful sunrise greeted us the this morning.

There are not many choices of roads in Baja, so we would have to retrace our steps along Mexico 1, back through Mulege, Santa Rosalia, Las Tres Virgenes, San Ignacio, Catavina, and San Quintin. We did, however, make the decision to cross the border in Tecate rather than Tijuana this time, both because it was rumored to be quicker and also because it would allow us to see something new along Mexico 3 - the Valle de Guadalupe and its burgeoning wine country.

I put “Home” into Google Maps, and it said 1,222 miles. Oh boy! We would have to figure out some fun breaks along the way.

Cacti outside of CatavinaCacti outside of CatavinaSo far, all I was coming up with was trying to find a building that I had wanted to photograph on the way down, but weren’t able pull over in time - and there are not many opportunities for a U-turn on these narrow roads. I wrote myself an email describing its location, on the chance that we could find it on our way back north.

About 5 hours into our otherwise uneventful drive, I told Herb that I thought we were getting close. There was not much else along this stretch of highway, so when I saw a white, rather decrepit building just ahead, I told him to pull in. There it was - an old, crumbling building with graffiti all over it, the best of which were large black letters saying “Make America Mexico Again.” Herb was quite impressed with my navigational abilities.

That was pretty much our highlight for the day, with the exception of some pretty awesome cacti just outside of Catavina.

Predawn cactusPredawn cactusThere weren’t that many great choices of lodging along this stretch of the road, except for the Hotel Mision Catavina, where we had stayed on the way down. Fortunately, they had room for us. It was much warmer than on our way down, so I attempted to sit by the pool for a bit, while Herb napped after our long drive.

The next morning, Herb got up before sunrise and went out by himself to photograph the cacti in the morning light. When I saw the photo he took, I wish I had dragged myself out of bed to join him.

Going back to my rather cliche analogy of the optical illusion of the old woman and the pretty young girl, upon our reentry into northern Baja with its contrasts and extremes, we were being visited by both of them.


Looking out our hotel windowLooking out our hotel windowCatavina is a small town in the middle of the desert with a mini market and one hotel. There is no longer a gas station, but in its place are several pickup trucks selling barrel gas. Because there is not much between El Rosario and Guerrero Negro, it is a popular overnight stop for people passing through.

However, beyond its convenience as a stopover, Catavina has much to offer on its own. The terrain around the small town is a photographer's paradise, with its striking boulder fields sprinkled with cacti and desert plants.

Also nearby are the Catavina Pinturas Rupestres, the most easily accessible cave paintings in Baja. To find them, at kilometer 76 look for the INAH sign on the east side of Mexico 1. Park your car hear and follow the well-marked trail up the hill to the paintings - about a 10 minute walk. Their are informational signs along the way explaining the history and significance of this site. Unfortunately, they were all written in Spanish.

The paintings are tucked inside a small cave at the top of a hill. The drawings, done in yellow, red, and black minerals, depict a sun, geometric designs, and other abstract shapes. They were believed to have been created about a 1,000 years ago by the Cochimi people.

Back to Catavina location map in "high definition"

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