1. Faces of Baja California
2. History of these Pages
4. Why do I do this?
5. Page Design
In these pages any reference to "Baja California" refers to the peninsula named Baja California, and not the political division which creates a state of Mexico called Baja California. The state comprises only the northern half of the peninsula. If any confusion might exist, a reference to the northern state will be as Baja California (Norte), since the formal name of the southern state is Baja California Sur.
The peninsula of Baja California presents two faces to the traveler:
- First, the traditional one of
a desert land, surrounded by the sea, offering a remote place for the exploration and enjoyment of a very interesting and varied natural environment.This is the "Baja" I identify with and have some knowledge of.
- Secondly, there is the
modern resort atmosphere characterized by Cabo San Lucas.I have only had a passing experience with this side of Baja California, and do not keep up with the changes there.
In late 1990 many people interested in a coming astronomical event, the total solar eclipse of July '91, found themselves contemplating a journey to southern Baja California. The path of the eclipse passed over the big island of Hawaii, the city of La Paz, and on over mainland Mexico.
As an astronomer, my son, Tom Metcalf, was active on the news group "sci.astro". When questions began appearing about what might be expected in traveling to this "unknown" region of Baja California, he asked if he might pass on my name as a source of some information. I agreed, and so began the long process which has led to these "Information Pages".
When the number of email queries became overwhelming in early '91, I prepared a number of "ftp" files to answer common questions, and provide information on what to expect in Baja California. Interested netters (there was no "Internet" at that time) could download the files and print them out. These files were given the name "Baja California Information Files."
Following the eclipse there appeared to be a continuing interest in the files, and so I left them up for downloading. Continuing email questions prompted further updating of the information files, and even some expansion - and I had thought it was all over after the eclipse!
In the Fall of '95 I became interested in learning the new medium of the World Wide Web, and so used the conversion of the Baja California Information Files as a way of learning the techniques required. Originally, I maintained both the new web pages and the old "ftp" files, but that became too much of a burden, and so the Baja California Information Files were removed in 1996, leaving only the "Baja California Information Pages." Whereas there used to be about four visits to the FTP site each week, there are now (1998) hundreds of visits to the website each day!
As use of the Internet has grown, I have found myself receiving more email inquiries than I have time to answer. If you have specific questions on this information, or on Baja California in general, I cannot guarantee a prompt response, or any response at all. Recent additions to the pages are an FAQ (March '96) which attempts to answer some of the most common questions, and a Public Message Board (November '96) on which you may post queries.Please check the FAQ before sending questions by email.
As a general guide, a question which is very specific will get a quick response (if I'm in town). However, a vague or very general question will probably have to be ignored. (An example: "I'm flying to Cabo next week. What should I expect?")
Keep in mind that I'm retired - a situation which seems to have sent my sense of responsibility sinking to new lows! There are occasionally long periods of time when I am either without email access, or email access is very slow and I am unable to effectively respond.
If you send me a FAX with questions, do not expect a FAX back - I cannot send a FAX "collect." If you would like a phone call back please say so, and be prepared to accept a collect call!
These pages are prepared and maintained by myself as a public service to the Internet community. I have no financial association with a travel agency, or any other commercial service dealing with travel in Baja California, other than as a user and observer of such services. Unless otherwise noted, all opinions expressed in these pages are my own.
The WWW server and disk space are contributed as a public service by the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Riverside.
In terms of net activity (now consolidated into the Internet) I "grew up" in a non-commercial world where it seemed natural to be a part of a common enterprise. From the early '80s into the mid-'90s, the "net" existed in a very non-commercial fashion, and contributions were made without any thought of commercialization. It was in that environment and spirit of cooperation that these pages had their beginning, and will continue to be maintained.
I design these pages using the Linux version of the Netscape web browser; however, the appearance should be adequate on most other browsers. Of the leading browsers, Netscape offers the only cross-platform browser (available for Unix/X-Windows, Microsoft Windows, and Macintosh).
The primary design criteria are
- readability, and
- speed of downloading.
Dark print on a light background ensures readability. The use of "text buttons" (rather than "graphics buttons") greatly speeds up downloading, as well as provides buttons which correctly size to differing screen resolutions*.
The few graphics elements introduced, primarly on the "front page," play a role which I consider important. The small map identifies Baja California as a geographical location, the Mexican flag reminds us that the pages concern a part of Mexico, and the photo offers a small glimpse of what "Baja" is all about.
Comments and suggestions on the pages are most welcome.
* As a user of a high resolution monitor, I'm particularly sensitive to the size issue introduced by the use of graphics buttons and labels. On a monitor displaying 800x600 pixels (dots), a graphics label might look like this:
while on my 1600x1200 monitor it would then look somewhat like this: