A quick 48-hour stopover in Santa Rosalia, as we continue to head northerly. We drove through this city on the way down and thought it was a bit of a shithole, but wanted to give it a second chance. We were pleasantly surprised by its history and all the amazing sites to see. Santa Rosalia is a copper mining town, originally owned by a French company El Boleo in 1884 – many of the town structures were built based on French architectural influences – there is a lot of wood and colonial style buildings – which is out of the norm of the regular cement brick used in Mexico. There were quite a few historical sites all throughout the town, like:
Original hotel – we didn’t go in, the sign said we couldn’t unless we were registered guests.
The original mine – we think they do tours, cause we peeked inside the windows and saw original equipment and laminated signs explaining things. But you could freely walk around this enormous iron and wood structure, boasting severe health and safety hazards at your own will. It was crazy that it was still there, as was all the other stuff associated with the mine – like open dilapidated copper rail transport pits, rail cars and other large pieces of equipment
Cathedral – designed by A.G. Eiffel – it was a metal church, pre-fabbed in France and shipped over and still sits in the same location. We crashed a Friday nite church service in Spanish, cause we could.
French style bakery – we looked, but did not buy anything. The baked goods here (to me) seem enormous in size, sometimes odd pairings of sweet things together, but Todd doesn’t think that the quality is there (personal opinion – and don’t even get me started on the lack of hard cheese….)
Mine museum – we tried to go twice, but both times it was closed (we assume for siesta)
Cemetery – we didn’t go, because we saw a cemetery in Mulege and assumed it would be similar
By 1954, the French company threw in the towel and left, it was eventually taken over by a Canadian/Korean company in 2010 and now fully Korean company, but has seemed to flourish and you can tell…. Overall, this is the first city we’ve seen in our travels, that seems like everyone is pretty well off – and I’m using the term loosely, meaning, it seems like people had “nicer” cars to drive (not completely broken down), shops/stores seemed to be well stocked, newer merchandise to buy and well dressed people. We assume this to be because of the mine being a major employer for the city. There’s your history lesson.
But be careful when walking down the sidewalks in this place, you have to watch where your going, sometimes the sidewalk just goes up, or down, or there’s a hole in it or there are 2 or 3 levels….
We tend to drive down any type of backroad / off-road / unpaved or paved road that looks like it might go somewhere cool! This is not always the case, but we did end up on top of the city, twice. I’ve noticed a couple funny things about street names (if there even are any, which is a bonus!), but streets are typically a persons name and sometimes a date – like this one for example, the corner of:
The second time we found ourselves on top of the city, we came across this cool small house district. All houses were the same size – 2 bedrooms, a kitchen (with only a sink and very small counter), an empty bathroom and living room. The front came with 2 cement lines for car parking and the smallest front yard – no one really needs a front yard, its all sand anyway. Total cost was $25,000 – but you still had to add the kitchen appliances and cupboards and the bathroom amenities (toilet, sink, shower). But, what a cool concept – why can’t we do this at home?
So if you find yourself down in Baja, and looking to stretch your legs or have a hankering for a good pork donair taco thingy – head to Santa Rosalia, you will not be disappointed!