Roadside Memorials

By Harvey Rawn

While driving in Baja, I occasionally come across a roadside memorial for someone who has perished in an accident. I’ll sometimes find one in a dangerous curve on a twisty section of road. I’ve also seen them beside straight sections of narrow highway that have no shoulders, and resting in other sobering settings.

Many of the memorials are elaborate installations that contain votive candles, colorful artificial flowers, native plants, and other objects found in Mexican cemeteries. Family members and friends of the victims usually refresh them on a regular basis in reverence and with prayers. I often sense their devotion when photographing the sites.

The memorials seem to become a natural part of the Baja landscape after experiencing them for a while. Following are three striking examples appearing beside Highway 1 between El Rosario and Mulegé.

Kenworth, 36 miles east of El Rosario at 29°59’35” N 115°13’8″ W.

Kenworth

Hugo Martín was hauling an empty gasoline tanker north with “Chiquilín” (Little Boy) when he had his accident. I understand that his family visits his memorial every year to maintain it.

 

Curva Peligrosa, 38 miles east of El Rosario at 29°59’35” N 115°13’8″ W.

Curva Peligrosa (1)
This dangerous curve is known for Hector, who reportedly fell asleep in his tractor. It is said that when a tired driver approaches the curve, someone speaks to him to wake him up.

 

Stairway to Heaven, 2 miles west of Mulegé at 26°53’44” N 112°0’15” W.

Stairway to Heaven

This recently repainted shrine is nestled in the first hairpin curve north of Mulegé. A local resident told me that it reminds him to stay vigilant.