J. J u s t i n C a s t r o It is a proud thing to have been born in La Paz, and a cloud of delight hangs over the distant city from the time when it was the great pearl center of the world. --John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941) The famous American writer John Steinbeck thought highly of La Paz. During Steinbeck's fabled expedition with biologist Edward F. Ricketts along the coasts of the Baja California Peninsula, the author waxed poetically about the long and inviting history of the port during its glory days as a global pearl provider. The locals, Steinbeck recalled, considered the city "a huge place--not of course as monstrous as Guaymas or Mazatlán, but beautiful beyond comparison." Size and beauty are relative, perhaps. But in a desert peninsula "unfriendly to colonization," La Paz certainly drew the adventurous from around the world.1 The same year that Steinbeck scoured the coasts for marine (and human) life--1940--a fifty-nine-year-old engineer by the name of Modesto C. Rolland pressed desperately the need to develop the land of his birth, to "conquer" it. Rolland promoted dams, irrigation, roads, and free trade.
Journal of the Southwest – Southwest Center (Univ of Arizona)
Published: Jul 14, 2016