A hard life being a Spanish Missionary
We needed something to do, on a windy day during a family vacation to Southern Baja. Secretly, I would have given up a perfectly good beach day to see this sight. I guess this is what happens when your parents tour you around all the Spanish mission sites in Texas, as a child.
What’s left of the original Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó, (founded in 1699 by the Jesuits), is hard to say. Reports indicate that the area was completely abandoned at one time, due to changing Spanish attendants and disease wiping out the native population. The people who maintain the buildings today have done a pretty good job. As I toured the area, my mind wondered what it was like to select the sight and then go to all the effort of creating and establishing the complex? What would it have been like to live here during the heyday?
I was reminded of a book called, “Ines of my Soul” by Isabel Allende. An epic tale of what is known about Inés Suárez’s life, intertwined with rich details of what her life might have been like as a Spanish conquerer in the New World.
It is amazing to see what is left at the mission, but so sad to remember that in the wake of these creations, entire indigenous populations were wiped out. Life in the Baja was, (and still is for many), hard enough, then you layer on the battle to establish a toehold for Spain against preserving a traditional way of life for the Cochimí and the Guaycuras. (Both tribes were thought to have lived near Loreto at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards).
What I find interesting is the lack of exploitation. In the US, the missions are taken over by a group which charges you money to look around. At least there will be a request for donation. There is usually a bunch of information about the mission, maybe even a gift shop. But at Javier, the area whispers on the wind to you. Your imagination works on a few facts posted in English on a couple of podiums.