A Crossroads

There comes a time in every sailor's life when some hard decisions have to be made. We are at that point.

We are currently in a little town on the Baja called Santa Rosalia. It's amazingly different than any other place we've seen so far in Mexico, and after 9 months in the country, we've seen a lot of places.

Santa Rosalia is a mining town. Copper was discovered here in the 1860's, and after a few change of hands and some tax breaks and incentives, a French company took over the mines and the town took off. They imported wood from Oregon and Canada, and with that wood, they did something that we haven't seen anywhere else in Mexico. They built stuff...using wood. Nearly everything in Mexico is built from concrete, steel, and cinder blocks, so, without having to use too much brainpower, it's pretty easy to see that this place is different. No hard math or powers of deduction are needed - it's staring us right in the face in the form of homes, businesses, and infrastructure built with good ol' trees. And those places that were built with good ol' trees in the late 1800's? Well, they are still standing and in use today.

Not only is the town built using wood, it's made with obvious French architecture. The guy who designed the Eiffel Tower in France (Gustave Eiffel...he also designed the Statue of Liberty, among many other majorly cool and notable structures) designed the local church. It was purchased by the mining company in Brussels, Belgium in the 1890's, disassembled, shipped halfway across the world (this part alone is a major feat in those days), and then reassembled in this little town and is still in use today. As far as churches go, it's a pretty amazing little place.

The mining company built a deep water harbor for ships to transport their copper out as well as bring supplies in, and happens to be where our little floating home is currently peacefully floating. Santa Rosalia was the first town in Mexico to have electricity as well as the second town in Mexico to have a phone system (I was told this info from the guy who runs the local museum...don't quote me on those facts, my Spanish isn't perfect...he could have been asking me if I had any peanuts...again, my Spanish isn't perfect). Their highly sophisticated telephone and power lines of the day connected nearly 40 miles of spread out mine shafts to the main town and office building.

Since the French ran the mine, another notable thing was brought here - bread. You can still buy a freshly baked French baguette for about 50 cents from the original French baking company, and it's even still made in the original wood building from the 1901. Pretty cool (and tasty).

With bread, some spectacular architecture, and stuff made from trees, you might think that this little town has everything. Well, you'd be wrong. The one thing that is missing here are tourists. Other than us, there aren't any. We are an anomaly, which I have to admit, is really cool. We stand out like a sore thumb, with smiles and giggles sent our way, and with people going out of their way to help us feel welcome and find our way.

Even though this town seems pretty amazing on paper, like it's all gumdrops and roses, and by all accounts it seems that way to us now, it definitely has a sorted past. Like most mining towns in the 1800's, life was hard. Needed labor was filled with imprisoned Yaqui Indians and immigrants were brought in from distant parts of Mexico, Japan, and China. Working conditions were miserable and dangerous, pay was next to nothing, sanitation and clean drinking water were non-existent, and the possibility of death from either the mine or dysentery was a reality that is made clearly evident by the cemeteries that line the hillsides and surround the town as a reminder.

There is a different type of history and working charm that we haven't really seen anywhere else in Mexico which makes this place interesting to say the least. And that's not to say we have seen charming or other interesting places in Mexico. We haven't seen a place yet that we haven't liked. But, this place is different. This place is why we are traveling and the type of place we're always searching out. We are always looking for interesting, new, and exciting, whether it be a town or a natural wonder, and just when we've found this place that scratches an itch, we are having a hard time deciding what to do next. This is where the crossroads lies.

Mexico has been good to us. She's actually been great. But all of the sudden, what was great and fun and exciting has become brutal. Mexico's summer heat is killing us and it's doing it quickly. In a matter of about a week and a half, the heat went from tolerable albeit difficult, to downright miserable. We are grouchy, irritable, and lethargic, we smell and look like we just ran a marathon, with sweat dripping from us at all times, and with sleep being nearly impossible while stewing in that same sweat that makes us look and smell like the hardcore athletes that we are. It's become unbearable. And worse yet, the locals and the other long term cruisers we've talked to who have been in Mexico for multiple seasons all tell us it's only going to get worse for the next 2 months before it turns a corner and starts getting better.

I have to interject and say that if you read my last post about Bahia Concepcion - a place which we have endearingly named Crotch Bay because it's balls hot there - I have to be perfectly clear and mention that where we are at now is much cooler, but, it's still oppressively hot. The temperature in the boat hasn't dropped below 100 for over a week. Ugh.

To beat the heat, most of the other cruisers around us have installed air conditioners, tied to a dock at a marina, plugged in with that A/C running full bore, and don't leave the boat until the sun goes down and things start to cool off. The ones that do leave their boats run for cover in any place that has A/C and will let them hang out for a while.

I always knew that it was going to be hot here. It's Mexico after all, and dry, dusty, deserts are synonymous with heat. I would have been crazy to think this would have been comfortable and easy, but at the same time, we didn't think it would be this miserable. We've thought about installing an A/C unit in the boat and getting a slip at a marina so we can power the heavenly A/C, but to us, that defeats the purpose of us being in Mexico. We aren't here to sit on the boat, in air conditioned bliss, just so we can be in Mexico. We're here to see cool stuff and eat tacos, and those things don't happen if we are locked up in the boat with the A/C cranked up to eleven. And besides that, if you know us at all, you know that we don't sit around well. We've got to move. We have a gene that doesn't allow us to be idle. If you ever thought we were miserable in the heat, try cooping Brenda up for a couple of days and you'll see fury and misery like you've never seen before.

So where does this leave us? Well, that's a good question. We have to leave Mexico in 3 weeks to renew our visas. We'll store the boat, cross the border on a bus, and visit my brother and his family in Arizona while soaking in their pool and cranking their A/C up to eleven. But after that, we don't really know what to do yet. To renew our visas, all we have to do is cross the border, pay a few pesos, fill out a form, and then we can re-enter Mexico. We originally thought that we'd visit my big bro in Arizona and then head right back down to our little floating home and continue our journey through Mexico, but now, it looks like we are going to need to figure something else out, just for a couple of months until the insane inferno of Mexico's summer cools off. Then we'll hop back on our boat and continue working our way through the country, most likely pulling into Central America this fall.

I guess the good thing I should point out is that we have options, we don't have anywhere we need to be, and we love a good adventure. Whatever we decide to do and wherever we decide to go, it will definitely be cooler than here - that I can guarantee.

A hot cup of coffee on a scorching hot day while waiting for the mining museum to open...why not?
The Eiffel Church

A view from the top of town overlooking Santa Rosalia.  As you can plainly see, everything is made from good ol' trees.
You guessed it, we're in Santa Rosalia

The old smelter and processing plant.  It's crumbling, and since it's Mexico, it's wide open for us to check out, with no fence, guardrails, or even warning signs.  Safety first.


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