Most people say: “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” But perhaps folks on the Baja Peninsula say “the cactus grows thicker on the other side of the valley.” At least that’s what was going through my head as I stood at the top of a hill overlooking the picturesque seacoast town of Rosarito, Mexico.
A friend of mine had invited me to spend some time working with him on mission related projects at his home in Tijuana. One afternoon, to take a break from our work, we went down to the beautiful city of Rosarito to relax and enjoy the sunset over the Pacific. I brought my camera and tripod along in hopes of getting some nice landscapes. But as we stood on that first hill, I could tell it wasn’t going to be the best place for pictures. Looking across the valley, I saw another hill that I thought would surely be a much nicer spot. So with only about 40 minutes of light left in the day, I decided it was worth the risk to try and make it to the top of the second hill.
The dirt roads we took down into the valley and then back up the other side were steep, bumpy, and deceiving. It was a full 20 minutes before we realized no more roads led closer to our destination. So I jumped out of the car and began the 15 minute accent through cactus and sage brush to the top of the hill. It was excellent exercise! And by the time I reached the top of the hill, I knew it was worth it. With just a few minutes to work with before the sun completely set, I set up a few compositions, bracketing three shots at 1 and 2/3 stop to capture the complete dynamic range. The last few minutes of light passed all to quickly, but there were definitely more cactus on this side of the valley.
So sometimes it is true that the grass is greener on the other side. Just be prepared for a rough crossing at the fence. You just might be pulling cactus spines out of your leg.