I got to go on my first horse pack trip in Colorado this fall and I was excited to know that in Baja we were going to do a backpacking trip up into the
Sierra with horse and mule support.
To truly understand the culture and life here in Baja one needs to dig down and find the people that live here. When one peels back the tourist façade you are able to find a life style where surfing and sea kayaking play little part. We got to look beneath the surface a bit when we met the rancheros who brought our gear up the mountain on their horses and mules.
On the second night of the trip as we sat around the fire the rancheros came over to share with us about their life as cattlemen in the high country of this peninsula. Our guide Sergio translated the questions and answers since their local accent was thick and our Spanish limited.
As we slowly got a glimpse into their lives, we learned that they lived below the peak we had just climbed on small ranches. Each had a few cattle (10-40) and lived self sufficient and simple lives away from town. The recent addition of having trucks simplified getting supplies and getting their children in and out to school in town. They would sell a few head of cattle each year to friends and butchers in town for the little cash that they needed. They also profited from hiking groups like ours who come to the mountains in November & December to explore the place they live (which has been designated as a biosphere by the UN).
As I looked across the fire at the four Mexican cowboys sitting in their white straw hats I realized I had much to learn from these men who said
“they love what they do and could never imagine living in a city.” As Norte Americano teenagers we rarely get the opportunity to observe such a way of living and sometimes even forget that there are other people in this world besides us.