November 15, 2011 – We arrived in Loreto, BCS yesterday and have had a chance to poke around town. Folks are really enjoying what is “The Birthplace of the California’s”, both north (US) and south (Mexico). Everyone was looking forward to our Fiesta Night Dinner and no one was disappointed. Marv & Shel were great hosts and prepared a wonderful meal for the gang, our Mexican Musicians were terrific and everyone really enjoyed themselves. Lots of dancing, lots of laughs and good company, an experience everyone one will remember for some time for sure.
Speaking of experiences to remember tomorrow morning we head up to the San Javier, the 2nd oldest Spanish mission in the Baja. San Francisco Javier, was initially founded by the Jesuit missionary Francisco María Piccolo on May 11, 1699 at a spring called Viggé Biaundó by the native Cochimí, about 8 kilometers north of the mission’s subsequent location. He started the construction of a chapel in October of the same year and Father Juan María de Salvatierra dedicated it to All Saints the 1st of November. Juan Maria Salvatierra was the lone missionary in establishing Loreto among its Monqui inhabitants in 1697. Piccolo crossed the Gulf of California to be Salvatierra’s assistant about a month later. The site was abandoned in 1701 because of a threatened Indian revolt, but was re-established by Juan de Ugarte in 1702.
Several years later, it was moved to the better-watered present location of the community of San Javier, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The energetic Ugarte constructed dams, aqueducts, and stone buildings. He also introduced cattle breeding, big and small species, developed agriculture and taught the locals to thread and knit wool, not only for themselves, but also for the missionary project in general. The construction of the Church of San Francisco Javier was begun in 1744 by Father Miguel del Barco and was finished in 1759 which is often referred to as “the jewel of the Baja California mission churches.”
(*On a very sad note Lisa & I are really thinking a lot about our friends Val & Dan)