Catherine M. Mayo, otherwise known as C.M. Mayo, has fallen head over
heals in love with Baja. Drawn numerous times to its mountainous
interior, broad beaches and crystal blue waters, in a search to learn
its secrets, she presents what she learned in Miraculous Air, a book
that’s sometimes travel narrative, sometimes historical account, and
sometimes Mayo’s personal memoir. Together her book is a portrait of a
mysterious land separated from mainland Mexico by the Sea of Cortez.
Mayo’s book is wonderfully written, captivating her readers sense
of curiosity as she satisfies her own through her travels. She fills her
pages with unique details that help peel back the shroud from this
A part-time resident of Mexico, Mayo divides her time between her
home in Mexico City and the United States. Her intimate knowledge of
Mexican culture has given her the ability to present the contracts that
are Mexico–in a compassionate way. But Baja, just like the rest of
Mexico, presents a study in contrasts. The landscape, once barren
desert, now blossoms in places with luxurious oases for the rich. And
that part of it that has been cultivated now produces rich crops and
Even since the Jesuits arrived in the 16th Century, this
peninsula has attracted expatriates and opportunists. Both sought to
take advantage of Baja’s excellent weather and cheap land.
But Baja has been discovered than by more than Mayo. After reading
about its ancient petroglyphs, its long-abandoned missions, and its art
colonies, scores of adventure seekers and those seeking the hedonistic
pleasures of its luxurious spas will swarm over its shores.
Americans flock to Los Cabos to fish and play golf. Few have seen the
interior traversed by the Transpeninsular Highway. Mayo has. Through
various trips, she explores the villages, old missions and towns of
Baja is another world. It’s a place where nothing is as it seems, a
place full of beauty and touched by evil, a mystery to all those who
have occupied it. John Steinbeck once wrote, "The air here is
miraculous, and outlines of reality change with the moment."
In her book , as in her life, Mayo, experiences Baja to the fullest,
devouring its essence, conjuring up images of unexplored places. Mayo
offers her readers a glimpse of this spellbinding place, introducing
them to a myriad of characters–pearl fishers, Jesuit missionaries,
tomato pickers, sea turtle researchers, and, yes, even a donkey painted
to look like a zebra.
Mexicophiles will relish Mayo’s in-depth portraits and insights
while those with little knowledge of Mexico will learn about some of