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La Roca

We_met_Daniel in Las Palomes, a desert oasis in the Baja.  While chowing down on our peanut butter and jelly tortillas, he walked up to us, bags of crab in hand, hoping to make a sale.  We declined his product, but he persisted.  He spoke some English, so it was a good opportunity for both parties to practice each other’s language.  After explaining our background, cause, and plans for the Baja, he became ecstatic.  We had been planning to rest in Santa Rosalia, and he had just the right place for us to stay: La Roca, or The Rock in English.

Volcano in the distance

Two days later, after climbing between massive volcanoes, we descended into Santa Rosalia, a vibrant city nestled alongside the Sea of Cortez.  We knew that La Roca existed and that it was a Christian center, which proved to be enough.  Directions to La Roca led us to the outskirts of town, where we found solitude in the desert, fellowship among brothers, and a rock to rest upon.

The descent from volcano to sea

La Roca is a Christian Rehabilitation Center.  It is where men of all ages seek a second chance, new direction, and a place to call home.  Admitted men spend three months at the center performing manual labor and reflections, while also reading the Bible and relevant guidebooks.  They attend church twice a week, once at the center and again in the city.  We arrived just before the church service in the city.

This metal church in Santa Rosalia was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower's architect

Before long, we were crowded into a minivan headed for the city with three twenty-something’s.  Sitting three across on both front and rear bench seats, we made introductions.  They struck us as an edgy, fun and purposeful group of guys.  Though they spoke little English, we immediately found camaraderie with them.  Language barriers ceased to exist.  It was refreshing.

Soccer match in session in Santa Rosalia

The service was unusual for us (or maybe bizarre by our Lutheran standards). Hours of contemporary Spanish songs and booming sermons filled our ears.  Plus, a majority of the service was spent standing. Add a long day of riding (and our early bedtime) and you have three exhausted gringos.  We survived, and soon returned to La Roca, where we were introduced to our sleeping quarters.

These two boys walked cheerfully up and down this hill endlessly.

Like so many summers at Park River Bible Camp, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the bottom bunk.  As latecomers we had the privilege to sleep in a three creaky top bunks in the bunkhouse with the men from the camp.  Snores abound with ten men in tight quarters, but that was no matter for a few weary cyclists.  We were sound asleep in no time.

Schoolchildren collected Red Cross donations at this busy intersection all day.

The next day brought forth a delicious group breakfast, chores around the center, and a trip to Santa Rosalia, where we walked the town and found a restaurant with Wi-Fi.  I discovered an ardor for street photography and spent a large part of the day talking with locals and capturing life in the city (I chanced upon Daniel again, too!). That night we had one more meal with La Roca.  Crowded around two gigantic rectangular pizzas and a tub of warm milk tea, we enjoyed laughter and conversation.  Desert serenity and strong fellowship permeated the air.  Moments like this filled our time at La Roca.

Late-night pizza at La Roca

As we prepared to leave, the pastor told us we would always be welcome.  I often reflect on experiences like this and find excitement in the thought of return.  Like so many other experiences on this adventure, we found a place like home in a strange land, and for that I am thankful.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I enjoyed reading this experience, please share more! Merry Christmas guys.

    December 23, 2011
  2. Very cool! Merry Christmas!

    December 23, 2011
  3. Treasure Omdahl #

    I’m so glad you are enjoying the wonderful Mexican people. We so love Puerto Vallarta and the people we meet. I sometimes read the awful things about them in newspapers here and even in PV and cringe. I know they can read these things, too, and it must really depress them. We also notice how hard the workers work – often with sledge hammers on concrete rather than equipment like we do here. The ceramic on lawns of Mexican sitting, sleeping with a bottle in his hand is NOT what we experience at all.

    The school children are beautiful and we love seeing them in their white uniforms.

    What a blessing for you to meet these generous people!

    December 23, 2011
  4. Derek Petersen #

    “Fellowship among brothers” both known and new. These are moments of purpose. Wisely, you embrace them.

    Praying for a blessed Christmas along your journey.

    December 23, 2011
  5. Janet Albers #

    What a great post! For those of us who believe in Jesus and eternity in Heaven, what an amazing reunion we’re going to enjoy some day. Just think of all the friendships that will be renewed! Have a wonderful Christmas! I hope it turns out to be a very special day for you. 🙂

    December 24, 2011
  6. Jim and Elizabeth Berg #

    Mom and I especially enjoyed this post. We know there will be many more crossroads on your trip where the Lord will cause your paths to cross with ministries like this. We are thankful for this along with thanksgiving for the many, many people in your lives who have prayed for you, sent you greetings/gifts, offered their homes to you or shared a meal. This is quite a journey for you.

    Today, we especially miss you and wish you a blessed day… Pray,Pedal and Post. Eating and sleeping is allowed in your day as well.

    Mom, Dad, Marta and Grandpa O.

    December 25, 2011
  7. Marcia Torning #

    Prayers for a safe journey in 2012. I’ve enjoyed your posts and photos! Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas to you.

    December 25, 2011

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