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The peninsula and its legends

Legend according to the dictionary means: A popular narration that tells a real or fabulous event adorned with fantastic or wonderful elements of folklore, which is originally transmitted orally. Or an extensive poetic composition that narrates legendary events. In the peninsula several legends are narrated:

On this side of our beautiful Gulf of California there is an Island called San José, and next to this island there is a tiny dot  on the map, the Island of San Francisco, also called San Francisquito. In front of these two islands we find Punta Mechudo, a place located in San Evaristo about forty miles from the Bay of La Paz, and that is where the legend of “El Mechudo” was born. This legend belongs to the South Californians as much as the peninsula itself, the famous story has always described how a pearl diver turns into a long-haired being that lives at the bottom of the sea on a very small island. The legend goes like this

“To the north of La Paz a peninsula called El Mechudo penetrates the sea. The site, at the turn of the century, was a pearl hotspot with hundreds of divers gathering there every year there to collect them. At the end of each season, before the cold and northeast winds that made diving maneuvers impossible, fishermen usually took out one last pearl “for the virgin.” One time, a diver set out to jump into the sea for the last time. Someone, noticing the attempt, shouted at him: “Don’t dive anymore, we already have the Virgin’s pearl.” The fisherman, ironic, made a gesture of disdain and replied mockingly: ‘I am not going for the Virgin’s pearl, I am going to find a pearl for the devil. And he jumped into the water. Satan took his word and the fisherman did not reappear again, nor did the waves ever return his corpse. The place is now taboo and nobody goes there to look for pearls. Those who have done it, found  the hair and beard grown  ghost of the blasphemous diver at the bottom of the sea He appears to be alive and is holding a huge mother-of-pearl shell in his hands. It is the pearl of the devil, they say. And since the ghost has long hair, he has been given the name of “El Mechudo.”

The sea and its dazzling beauties have always been an object of fascination and an urgency to obtain them gets many people. Perhaps because of this and the danger that the practice of obtaining pearls represented, the story was invented in order  to minimize risks; or at least that is what sanity would suggest But what if it wasn’t? What if there really is such a ghost that roams these currents?

Another legend that resonates in the history of the peninsula is that of the giants; the Jesuits and the voice of the elders give an account of this:

In the book “Natural History and Chronicle of Old California” by Miguel del Barco, we can see that the Jesuits, before being expelled  from the peninsula, tell how they learned about the existence of non-native giants that came from the north. The Jesuit Miguel del Barco mentions as a historical background the testimony of the missionary of San Ignacio Cadakaamán, Priest Joseph Rothea, who had found fossils of human bones of considerable size. He also relates that, in the mission of San Ignacio, an indigenous man told him that when he was a child he had seen a huge human skeleton, that he notified his father about it and that he confirmed that they already knew of its existence. The religious man asked the native to take him to the place, where a kind of ravine had been created by the  erosion:

“When he dug up the huge skull, it crumbled; but he was able to obtain bones, teeth and the jawbone to take them to the mission where he analyzed them, and with the measurement of the bones, and considering the native man’s description, he figured the skeleton had a height of more than three meters ”, according to Ortega Avilés.

According to the elders, in older times “a portion of men and women of extraordinary height had come. They were fleeing from each other. A part of them went along the coast of the South Sea and the other part went across the rough terrain. hey were the authors of these paintings,  they said, referring to the cave paintings.

The same elders said that although it was impossible to know how tall they were, and that perhaps the story had been exaggerated over time but it was said that the giants were so big that “when they painted the ceiling of the cave they were lying on the floor and even so they managed to paint the highest point ”, says the researcher.

Knowing this, cave paintings could be seen differently, right? Some mysticism and winds  of fable and tradition are felt in these caves with this perspective in mind.

There are many other urban legends that haunt our knowledge: the ghosts of the sanctuary of La Paz, the plums of Mogote, Niparajá and Tuparam, the one of the Hotel California in Todos Santos, the ghost girl at La Paz theater, the legend of Pichilingue’s treasure, the legend of the Cerro de la Calavera, among others. And surely there is some truth  in them and some others are being born right at this moment. One would have to dare  investigate a little more and go experience them personally.

 

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