26 Los Cabos Magazine | Spring 2016 L I F E S T Y L E Unfortunately, not a single drop of rain fell for 18 months, and the expedition was abandoned at enormous cost in 1685. But the short-lived experiment fired the imagination of Kino, who was eager to convert the indigenous people he had encountered in California. Kino shared this enthusiasm with a fellow Italian Jesuit named Juan María Salvatierra, and after years of legal wrangling, the two were eventually able to get the necessary licenses and permissions from the viceroy to return to the peninsula…provided, of course, that they were self-sufficient and privately funded. The two made haste, but Kino was detained due to Indian trouble in Sonora. Salvatierra and a small group of soldiers set sail without him, arriving in San Bruno in October 1697. Within a week of their arrival, they had already experienced something Atondo never did: They had been rained upon, drenched in a tropical downpour. Salvatierra was joined by another padre, Francisco María Piccolo, and a mission was soon established in Loreto. This was the first permanent settlement, the beachhead for more than 70 years of Jesuit mission building on the peninsula, and earned Salvatierra an enduring legacy as “the first Apostle of California.” The first years were hardscrabble ones. There were few soldiers, and they were often dispatched on supply runs to the mainland. Engaging ships for this purpose was also a problem, as the missionaries were often taken advantage of, and sold inferior goods at inflated prices. And when they sought to redress this problem by buying their own ship, they were sold a ship that was barely seaworthy and in constant danger of sinking. By the end of the 1698, the population had grown…to 22 Spaniards and eight beasts of burden. At the same time, the indigenous population hovered around 50,000 throughout the peninsula. It should not be supposed, however, that the indigenous people were homogeneous; many tribes existed among the larger groups of Cochimí, Guaycura, and Pericú, and insults and attacks often led to warring factions that made the “civilizing” work of the missionaries much more difficult. But the missionaries worked with a single-minded determination, and had soon established missions throughout the center of the peninsula, from Mulegé to Comondú. And as the first generation of apostles passed away, new missionary leaders took up the task, completing the southern “loop” with missions at La Paz (1720), Santiago (1724), San José del Cabo (1730), and Todos Santos (1734). The southern Pericúes, were from the start of the region’s mission building phase, the most recalcitrant and rebellious Indians the Jesuits had encountered. Ill feelings The missions that dot the Baja Peninsula offer fascinating looks into the history and culture that has shaped the region. From top: San Luis Gonzaga mission in 1990, Mulegé mission in 1989, Loreto mission in 1990, and San Ignacio mission in 1991.
Los Cabos Magazine #43
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