Monday, January 10, 2011

The Fallacy of Extremist Theories—the Baja California Theory, Part III

Continuing from the last two posts regarding the lack of qualifications that Baja California has for a Land of Promise that matches the scriptural record, the description of Baja’s climate, temperature, soils, etc., is far afield from Jerusalem’s Mediterranean Climate where Nephi’s seeds would have grown abundantly.
This land is so barren, not much else than cacti and other succulents grow. At times, the vegetation all but disappears, even the succulents cannot survive the frequent prolonged droughts. The boojum “tree,” which is a cacti succulent whose single trunk grows straight up, is the typical tall growth inland from the coasts. Some areas are so arid that even creosote bush, the most drought-tolerant plant in North America, grows only in drainages. The droughts in the north are interrupted by occasional deluges from passing hurricanes, and an entire year with no rain is not unusual—it is not unusual for three year droughts dropping only 1/12 of an inch of rain in 3 years.

The images of inland Baja are stark, forbidding, and extremely rugged, and the coast is often no less rugged and inhospitable.

In addition, Baja is not only a desert, and the topography considered extremely rugged as well as dry and hot, it is a difficult land to journey across or through. The early Spanish who searched for an overland trail to San Diego, ended up thinking it would be more profitable and much faster to go by sea. However, when attempting to sail along the western coast of Baja to San Diego (Rosenvall’s West Sea), the south flowing California current was so strong and difficult, it took over three months to cover what men on foot did in 50 days. Of 219 men starting out on the ship, only 100 survived when they reached San Diego Bay, and all those suffered from scurvy when they finally reached port.

And the Sea of Cortes (Rosenvall’s East Sea), better known as the Gulf of California, also has a strong south-flowing current. On a 16-deck, 6,000 passenger, 1188 feet, 225,282 ton ship last year, we felt the strong current hit the ship all the way across as we sailed around Los Cabos and across to Mazatlan on the Mexican mainland. In fact, Hernan Cortez sent Captain Francisco de Ulloa to look for a so-called island of Gold. Ulloa sailed the length of the east coast of Baja, realizing for the first time it was a peninsula—when he rounded the southern tip, he sent back a supply ship to report his findings, then pushed on into the Pacific, intending to sail up the western coast of Baja. But he and his ship were lost in the rough seas and never heard from again.

This makes the sailing of Hagoth’s ships and some twenty to twenty-five thousand emigrants sailing north in the west sea from the narrow neck of land (Alma 63:4), a three hundred mile journey in that current, an almost impossible task.

The indigenous natives of Baja belonged to three major groups: The Cochimi in northern Baja, the Guaycuras in the central section and the Pericues in the cape region. These people were hunter-gatherers and spent their days hunting small animals and fishing and gathering wild foods such as pine nuts and cactus fruit. They lived in communal groups and shelter was provided by holes in the ground covered with branches. Today the descendents of these people live primarily in the northernmost part of the peninsula and are part of the Paipai, the Kumeyaay and the Cochimi tribes.

Little more than claim-shell “middens” are found along the coasts, but inland there are cave paintings found in deep, nearly inaccessible canyons. Many paintings of figures, spirits and animals are larger than life-size. At more than 200 scattered sites across the peninsula, the early inhabitants of the island left rock art ranging from simple petroglyphs pecked on exposed rock to enormous murals painted on the walls and ceilings of rock shelters and caves.

Left: the canyon in which the caves and rock art were found; Right: a sample of the rock art

(See the next post, “The Fallacy of Extremist Theories—the Baja California Theory, Part IV,” for more information on Baja California and how their narrow neck of land does not meet the scriptural record requirements for the Land of Promise)


  1. Having visited Baja on numerous occasions and spent some time there, it is hard to imagine anyone thinking of this place as the Land of Promise. The climate is horrendous, especially in the southern half, it is all desert with little chance for growth of anything but cactus and the like, and except for the beaches, is almost uninhabited and for good cause--it is a most inhospitable place I can image in all of North America. I wonder if this Rosenvall has ever been there and if so, what on earth is he thinking? Besides, there is almost no evidence of any prehistory development of the inland area at all--no ruins, no ancient settlements, no areas that anyone would have wanted to settle! What a joke!

  2. Fact Check:

    Foul #1: "The images of inland Baja are stark, forbidding, and extremely rugged, and the coast is often no less rugged and inhospitable."

    Fact #1: Simply wrong. The higher elevation inland areas that the Baja model proposes are green and pleasant, while the "wilderness" areas...particularly the "wilderness" areas by the seashore are dry and desolate. The Book of Mormon consistently describes the areas by the seashore as being "wilderness" and describing the inland areas to be the desirable places to live. This is especially true when you look at everywhere south of what the Baja model shows as the Land of Desolation. The description given in this article presumes that the "choice land" means all of the peninsula, when the Book of Mormon clearly says otherwise.

    Foul #2: "it is a difficult land to journey across or through"

    Fact #2: Foul #2 is a foul not because it is wrong, but because it is right, and by being right it describes exactly what the Book of Mormon describes: A land where groups of people frequently get lost for "many days" and where the northern border of the land is called "Desolation"...which is so desolate that it's not until the book of Helaman that it is successfully crossed by the Nephites. The book CLEARLY DESCRIBES a land that is difficult to travel around.

    Foul #3: "The indigenous natives of Baja belonged to three major groups: The Cochimi in northern Baja, the Guaycuras in the central section and the Pericues in the cape region"

    Fact #3: The groups described here are the natives inhabitants described by the Spanish in the 1600's, not ancient cultures.