In Search of Manuel Diaz’ Cave: Introduction

Photo of a young Manuel Diaz copied from ‘Rock Art Papers, Vol 11’

This shows Manuel pointing at a rock outcropping with various pictographs on it. This was described as ‘Manuel Diaz’ Cave’ by the author of the article, Eric Ritter.

The location of sites for this article is the Arroyo El Tordillo situated west of Los Cocos beach in the Conception Bay area about 25kms south of Mulege in Baja Sur Mexico

So, Why is it called Manuel Diaz’ cave?

A number of years ago the author came to Baja on a vacation. I was intrigued by the desert areas around Mulege and before long I was introduced to some of the rock art left by the Cochimi. I found myself asking questions of others that they couldn’t answer like. . .’Who were the Cochimi? What’s the meaning of this rock art?’ One friend told me that I should really talk with Jim Workman. ‘He really knows a lot about the Cochimi and their rock art’. In due time I met Jim and was immediately impressed by his ability to shed light on my questions. He asked me if I had seen the rock art in the arroyo behind Los Cocos Beach where we were camped. I said that I had seen the Pez Gallo site, only it was called The Family Cave by the person who first showed it to me.
‘Are there more sites in there?’ I asked.
Jim showed me a book he had “Rock Art Papers volume 11″
‘I’ve found some of the sites Eric Ritter mentions, but not this one’.
Jim showed me the book and I noticed that some of the sites depicted were ticked off.
‘I’d sure like to find this one’ Jim said, pointing to one of the descriptions.
The article was ‘Social Issues Regarding the Rock Art of Arroyo Tordillo’ by Eric Ritter.
In the article, Cueva Manuel Diaz was described as . . . Facing north-east 15 meters long, with pictographs found on about eight surfaces. Further on in the article, Figure 23 is a 1969 photograph showing a young Manuel Diaz with outstretched arm pointing to a prominent rock with a somewhat faded, black lizard like figure. . . The location of the cave was described as . . . ‘Near the mouth of the arroyo-canyon’
Above the photograph of Manuel Diaz in the article, Jim Workman had written in pencil “April 7, 2015 still on the hunt for this shelter”

I don’t know who said it first, but I know it was said. . . “Let’s go and find Manuel Diaz’ Cave!” And the hunt was on!

What clues did we have?
Well, from Eric Ritter’s article he said that it faced north-east and was near the mouth of the arroyo-canyon. “It shouldn’t be too hard to find. . . . Ha!”

So, Garry Davidson, Jim Workman and myself set to work to locate the fabled ‘Manuel Diaz Cave’

Here is what we found. . . .

The best of these sites in El Tordillo arroyo can be visited in 3½ to 4 hours from Los Cocos beach. The Pez Gallo Cave is easy to reach and requires no climbing, just a “walk in the park” Most of the other caves are reached by scrambling up the side of the hill and requires good footwear, sturdy clothes and a reasonable degree of fitness. The Pescadito cave is at the highest altitude, has good art work and the best view. The Lizard Man Shelter (Manuel Diaz’ Cave) has a good selection of art and is well worth viewing. Please note that these sites are on private land held by Manuel Diaz and family. A small donation to the family, as well as permission, would be in order if you intend a visit.

Fig 1 Google Earth view of El Tordillo Arroyo with sites marked

The diagram above shows the location of the sites in this series and are numbered S1 through S15. The descriptions that follow are so numbered. I wont give the GPS locations of the sites, but follow the diagram above and you cant go too far wrong!

Most of the photos that follow in this series have been enhanced with Jon Harman’s D-Stretch process (see to provide much clearer pictograph images. Thanks Jon!

From left to right; The author, Jim Workman, Manuel Diaz.

Have a look at the site descriptions that follow, have a laugh with us, search with us . . . at least you wont have to sweat with us. I hope you enjoy this little slice of Cochimi life!

David Symington