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The Bare-toed Vaquero

Life in Baja California's Desert Mountains

Peter J. Marchand

Publication Year: 2013

Rarely visited by outsiders, the ranchers of the Sierra de la Giganta in Baja California Sur live much as their ancestors have for the past two centuries. They raise goats and cattle and grow a magnificent variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In this book a gifted photojournalist introduces us to individual ranchers and their families and describes their traditional practices and the ways they have adapted to twenty-first-century challenges and technological advances.

Marchand’s photographs and text are both informative and intimate. His introduction to this little-known corner of Mexico will delight travelers and scholars alike.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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p. vii-vii

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Preface: The Rancheros of Sierra de la Giganta

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pp. ix-xi

In his classic Last of the Californios (Copley Books, 1981), historian Harry W. Crosby wrote of the lives of rancheros in Baja California’s interior mountains whose ancestry, traditions, and values Crosby believed could be traced directly to the Jesuit mission era of the peninsula. Descendents of early Spanish and English adventurers—priests and soldiers, mariners and pirates—these traditional pastoralists and horticulturalists have survived long geographical ...

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1: Tiombó to Rancho Viejo

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pp. 1-6

The ranch at Tiombó appears an Eden out of place, an oasis of deep green in a hardscrabble landscape of broken rock and defensive desert scrub. Lying 2,000 feet below the craggy ridge bearing the same name, the ranch has an abundance of water—abundant, that is, for one of the driest places on the continent. Tiombó is not unique in its setting—just a little better off, maybe, than most ranches in this country. The canyons of the Sierra de la Giganta ...

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2: Rancho Nuevo to Los Pilares

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pp. 7-12

The great irony of desert landscapes is the extent to which they are shaped by running water. Walking up the dry arroyo toward Tiombó on my previous visit, in the heat of midday, I could hardly have imagined the torrents of runoff capable of eroding such a broad streambed in that land had I not experienced the rage of summer cloudbursts myself. It seems cruel that so much rain should run off a land so thirsty, squandered as it were in a ...

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3: Los Corrales and Los Dolores

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pp. 13-19

The recent rains seem to have put everyone in an exceptionally good mood. At Los Corrales, José “Che” Martinez and his two older boys, Jorge and Alberto, were readying their gardens for planting. They were not in any particular hurry, as no one ever is, and were more than happy to drop what they were doing to talk and laugh and show me around. Jorge was planting onion seeds in small, earth-bermed plots remarkably similar to ...

Photographs

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pp. 20-107

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4: La Higuera to Agua Escondida

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pp. 109-114

The road to La Higuera follows a long valley rising gradually to the remotest and highest reaches of the Sierra de la Giganta. The valley is more open compared to others, the head of it more distant. Horizons are softer, slopes a little gentler. Mesas replace the jagged and convoluted ridges of the Sierra crest. Long vistas and arroyo crossings on water-worn bedrock with an abundance of palms add to a different impression here—a sense of tranquility ...

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5: Rancho Viejo to Tiombó

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pp. 115-119

The next time I saw Tista, he had started rebuilding his cocina, enlarging it by erecting a new roof over the old one that he would then tear down. Tista built his present cocina eighteen years ago after Juanito was born. In spite of ample ventilation, the palm thatch and structural members are totally black with soot. But Tista has told me more than once that they still prefer to cook with wood. Tista is an excellent craftsman. He had ...

Appendix: Rancheros Visited for This Work

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pp. 121-123

Back Cover

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p. 137-137


E-ISBN-13: 9780826353573
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826353566

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2013

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Subject Headings

  • Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula) -- Description and travel.
  • Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula) -- Social life and customs.
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