On day three of the Pace University documentary project in Baja, two film crews were dispatched. Four students and one professor headed by boat to a nearby fishing village, called San Gil Tierra. Once we arrived, the “village” actually turned out to be little more than a couple of tin structures and vehicles. Several brothers were lugging crates of freshly netted fish from their boat up the beach.
They described their catch and its destination — cities hours away. One student, Keith Reynolds, won the bravery award for the day by hopping into the back of a pickup truck amid a cloud of bees to get the best angle as the fishermen dumped fish in an insulated bin.
After a quarter mile walk along a dirt lane through the scrub and cactus, we met with another family whose quarry was a particular clam species that lives amid the roots of red mangroves. Their clams, kept cool in sacks covered with a pile of nets, were bound for markets in their home state, Sinaloa, across the Sea of Cortez to the east. They’d moved from Sinaloa to Baja 30 years earlier to work in cotton farming. But — displaying the resilience we’ve seen in many people here — shifted to clamming, finding that they could make a living harvesting this mangrove species — which was plentiful but unpopular in Baja — and selling the clams back home where they knew there was a healthy demand.