It’s late afternoon and I am sitting on the veranda at my parent’s house in the small mountain town of Montagu in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. In front of me lies a fishpond, inhabited mostly by Koi, and beyond that stretches a green lawn scattered with a variety of fruit trees. Some overripe apples have fallen to the ground, enticing several of the plump hens who have free range in the garden. To my left is a large vegetable patch and the chicken coop where my mother collects fresh eggs every morning. Grapevines creep up and over the latticework above my head, creating a dappled shade, and hummingbirds flit around the birdfeeders that have been hung from the pillars (read more).
The Baja California Peninsula is one of the most naturally stunning parts of our globe, split from the mainland of Mexico by the San Andreas Fault. Yet for decades, outsiders saw the area as an isolated and unproductive land with minimal economic value. Especially following the decline of the local whaling industry in the early 1900s, regional economic opportunities were limited to fishing, irrigated agriculture and ranching outside of the rise of the saltworks industry in 1954 (more on that later). However, the ‘secret’ of Baja California’s natural beauty was destined to get out. In the latter half of the twentieth century, the arid landscape was reimagined by locals and officials as a tourist’s paradise complete with beaches, surfing and—at least for a few months a year—the opportunity to get up close to Pacific gray whales. (read more)