Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press
Photos by Laurie Wishard

Visiting one of the earliest missions on the Mission Trail


One of the earliest missions in the Californias is hardly ever visited as it is a two-day trip off the beaten road.

Dating back to early 1700s, when the Jesuits landed in Baja California, Mission San Jose de Comondu is preserved for anyone to see.

It was after living in Baja for 15 years, we made our first trip to the mission but it was not open to view inside. Last Sunday, just by luck, we attended a special anniversary service celebrating its existance after all these years.

The repair and restoration of the old mission is amazing to see from the inside. Much of it is original, such as the pews and the concave ceiling, the alter and the bowl which baptized so many children.

The cobblestone road to the mission has all been restored and a priest who served eight other congregations gave service for almost 50 people. Tres Leches cake was served, and the laugther of children playing in the mission yard was loud and clear.

When the Spaniards came to the Baja Peninsula, there were only natives. The first mission was built on the coast in Loreto, on the eastern side of Baja.

The Jesuits soon realized proper soil to grow the food was needed to survive on the coast, and they built the second mission not far away, called San Javier.

Mission San Javiar, has also been restored with gold inlay of the alter.

At one time the Mission San Jose de Comondu was considered the possible location of the capital of southern Baja. Since the Mission San Jose was deteriorating, the government built a new mission only three kilometers away, Mission San Miguel de Comondu.

The town of San Miguel de Comondu has been preserved by the government as a national hertiage site with a fine hotel called Hacienda de Don Mario as well as many historic buildings repaired.

Staying in the hotel overnight, and waking up in the morning, was like being in a time capsule. The original well was there and the rooms were done in rock with modern bathrooms and even television and air conditioning.

While the rooms were small, the beds were very frim and comfortable. For $60 one got the room with a full breakfast for two, which normally would have run $6.50 each. The real cost was only $47 and the service and food was excellent.

A giant pot of Menudo was being cooked on an open fire as we joined other locals who were enjoying their breakfast.

A walk around the town was like opening a history book into the past. Many of the buildings were still in some process of repair, painted in the brilliant colors which the Mexican people love so much.

There is little advertising prior to getting to the turnoff for Mission San Jose de Commondu, and it is easy to miss; however, the road in quite good without many potholes. It is only about 30 miles from the main highway leading north from Constitution and there is no gas station close to the mission.

While in the area it is worth going a little further north to see the town of La Purisimo and San Isidro both located beside the a beautiful river and the high mountain range called Sierra de la Giganta.

We suggest if one really wants to know what real Mexico is like, pass up Cabo and follow the mission trail from Baja, all the way to San Francisco.