By Trudi Angell
Nostalgia. That’s what it is – nostalgia. And it’s a good thing. It’s what encourages writers to preserve a story, and filmmakers to capture a scene, and elders to share a piece of their own history. Nostalgia is what my vaquero friend Darío Higuera felt when he’d remember the tales that his grandfather and his old uncles used to tell him around the campfires of his youth, in the Sierra de la Giganta, in central Baja California Sur. It’s what sparked him to re-live those stories.
Below is a brief overview of the story that Darío dreamed would happen. More background and updates can be found on the web site LaRecua.com
Pronounced ‘rek•wah’, the word recua in Spanish means a caravan, of equine: horses, mules, burros. Or the whole pack-train, including the arrieros, the packers, who move the caravan down the trail. And they were all over the peninsula at the turn of the 20th century. There were famous arrieros, there were long-haul recuas, and there were the tinkers or falluqueros, who had a route, moved a dozen donkeys throughout the sierras, buying and selling wares, going from ranch to ranch. In our film we are referring to the long-haul recuas that moved traditional goods for many days to the port city of La Paz to trade for rice, flour and other things not so easily produced in the ranches or small villages in the mountain ranges of the peninsula. Before there were roads – there were recuas!
Here is the gist of Dario’s nostalgia turned-big-screen-theatrical-production. And at page bottom I’ll tell you how you can watch Baja California Sur’s own docu-story!
Dario Higuera has a dream. He’s a charismatic and talented regional saddle-maker and an authentic Californio rancher. He knows it will take him some time to gather the string of burros and mules and to make the old-style saddles and packgear, but now, at age 70, he wants to build a recua and move early- 20th-century goods (dates, oranges, sugarcane candy, 40-pound blocks of aged goat cheese, and many gallons of famous San José wine) down the old trails from the village of Comondú to the city of La Paz… And he wants it on film!
Dario invites his son, his 8-year-old grandson, plus Ricardo Arce, and his 10-year-old daughter, Azucena, to ride with him down the trail. They are three generations of competent Californios, traveling on mule-back through rugged Baja outback where, now, only a handful of tough desert-raised vaqueros know the land and the routes to find … water.
Documenting vignettes along every step of the way, Dario and his compañeros herd a dozen donkeys across 200 miles of dry, thorny, beautiful desert, searching for water-holes that were key to indigenous, missionary and cargo-runners’ survival. Never-before-filmed sections of original El Camino Real are traveled. Amigos old and new are met throughout the journey, exchanging memories of the past and enlightening viewers to the concept of pre-highway peninsular travel.
Twining their stories together like the strands of a horsehair rope, the thread of this epic journey weaves Californio vaquero and arriero history, and the personal backgrounds of Dario and his companions into an exciting tale as they move that “long-eared cargo train” down the trail… and realize Dario’s dream.
How to Watch
La Recua will screen in San Diego AMC Mission Valley at the Latino Film Festival on March 18, 2022, at 6:35pm or March 20, 2022 at 11am. Trudi Angell, producer and co-director of the film will be attending the live presentation and a Q&A after the showing. Go to this page on the SDLFF.com web site to stream the film online on March 13, or to buy a ticket for the theater screening. Be sure to vote for La Recua!
We’ll be hosting live and online events in upcoming months in Mexico and the US. See info on social media @larecuamovie or visit LaRecua.com website to join the mailing list for special announcements.
Oh! And you might recognize our Recua protagonist: From the ever-popular documentary by Garry and Cody McClintock Corazón Vaquero – The Heart of the Cowboy … Darío is back!
Author, Trudi Angell, has lived in Loreto, BCS since1984, and has been exploring old trails with trusted cowboy guides for decades. Via her company, SaddlingSouth.com – tours are offered with ranch-culture focus and world heritage rock-art focus.