“More than 8,000 people come to visit for the fiesta on 3rd December,” said our guide, referring to their patron saint day. As our van pulled into town, we were greeted by a clear view of the impressive San Javier Mission, perfectly preserved and untouched by modern modifications. He told us that everyone in town helps to maintain its pristine condition, and that the padre from a mission in Loreto makes the trek up to San Javier give a service every week.
New to the Ears & Eyes
Intrigued by such an impromptu history lesson, I listened more, and followed our guide to the mission’s doors, where he pointed out a white, circular symbol above the open doors that indicated it used to be a Jesuit mission. It took fourteen years to build. We stepped through the door, and walking past the pews, we saw before us a large, golden altarpiece occupying the front of the mission.
San Javier is located about hour and a half southwest from Loreto, and this town itself only has a population of about 250 people. They received electricity about one year ago, but it is clear that this city is unique in more ways than one. Shocked by the population count and their length of time with electricity, it was definitely unlike anything I was used to hearing.
After standing in the awe of part of Baja California’s history, we ventured outside, where there was a small cemetery attached to the side of the mission. Walking past it after examining the names and dates on the tombs, we found ourselves at a tree with twists and knots for a trunk—an olive tree. The olive tree here is the oldest in the area, and still carries olives and creates oil despite being 300 years old.
Beside the olive tree is what looked like a stonewall, but our guide told us that, “It is actually an aqueduct.” He led us to the edge of what we believed to be the stonewall, but saw a groove in the middle of two stone columns, and water trickling in between strands of grass, glistening in the sun.
San Javier’s Charm
This agricultural town itself is charming, and where there aren’t many people on the streets, you’ll see a few people lingering around and occasionally a car will pass through. You’d more than likely see a handful of small dogs kicking up dirt from their trotting across town, too.
After walking through the town next to fields of growing food, and trees with small oranges and olives, we stopped to have a snack at the a small and simple eatery. We were served homemade quesadillas with goat cheese, taquitos, and guava paste to eat with cheese, which were absolutely delicious and hit the spot after our late afternoon excursion. Before leaving San Javier, we stumbled across an edifice with some of the men of the town artfully, and diligently carving stone with hammers and chisels–it was something new to see, and something you don’t see every day!
Without having noticed how much I actually learned in one day, within a few hours, I realized the best kind of history lesson is one you can see right before your eyes; even if you’re on vacation.