Baja Oven

Mulege is on the Gulf of Cailfornia side of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. It was for many years a sleepy little town situated in the middle of an area of beautiful beaches, excellant tasting-safe water and carefree Mexican people. Nowadays these beaches are often surrounded by fences and gates designed to protect the mostly yanquis richos from anything and everything that once endeared travelers like me to the area.

We camped along the beaches in the general vacinity of Mulege and used it reprovision ourselves on 3 different trips down the Baja during the mid-70's and early 80's. We lots of neat folks, both Mexican and Gringo on these camping-road trips and stayed in many beautiful spots Over time i'll try to tell a few stories about those people and places here on the blog.

Once upon a time my 10 year old daughter, a good friend Gwen [the baker in the crowd] and i beached ourselves on a bueatiful, secluded Baja beach. The area was 'owned' by a small family farmer-fisherman who's wife worked endlessly, who's children laughed endlessly and who's chickens saw no distincion between indoors and out. Each morning the guy would walk out the couple hundred yards to point on the left side of bay in front of our beached paradise and row his small boat accross the mouth of the bay trailing an old net behind him. As he approached the opposite point he'd turn the boat in towards 'our' beach and land the boat along it. The net he towed ended up forming a small semi-circle maybe 20-30 yards wide in the shallow sandy bay, net on the waterside, beach on the other.He'd get outta the boat with his bucket and spear and walk around harvesting a few of the fish now coralled in his pen. Once he had a few good sized fish in his bucket he'd row back out his original spot at the point, allowing all the other corucopia of fish to escape. Next we'd watch as he walked to his old truck, parked on a bit of a hill for a rolling jump start, and off he'd to the mercado to sell and trade his catch for whatever was needed that day which always included a bottle of tequila. Some hours ater he'd come back, park the jalopy on its perch and stumble back to the hammock in front of the 'house'. Next day, same thing, a truely sustainable lifestyle eh.

One morning our little grngo band of 3 decieded to try to bake bread from scratch. By that evening we had hauled the rock and mud needed to build our oven. We'd let each level of rocks and mud dry a little before the next went on. While one course was drying we'd be out searching for and collecting rocks for the next course. There it was, firebox, chimney.and an oven that worked. Next my daughter and i went a collected fuel while Gwen prepared the dough. The surrounding hillsides had many bits of old dried ironwood, a fantasic fuel once you shook the scorpions off. The sun set, our dinner of fresh scallops and buscuits baked, all was well. They were the best biscuits i've ever tasted.