Baja Bells and Christmas
Christmas in Mexico is a streaky red tinged sunrise, silent dry desert air, strongly present cordon cactus casting classic trident silohettes, huevos rancheros with sour lime enthused ginger and honey tea. We now sit in a little square, the owners of a cafe having given us free reign to power up devices and check in with the rest of the world as they attend a birthday party. The odd car passes, a bottle of wine is shared between amigos. Benches hold the odd patron, observing the comings and goings. Ranchero music drifts in the breeze to our ears on occasion. The town largely closed up as families sit down to feast together.
We have reached Mulege on the sea of Cortez after a week of traveling down the skeleton of Baja on highway 1. An oasis town, we are surrounded by towering palms and steep canyon walls. Sunlight comes and goes through wispy clouds that are making there way south. We have been followed by a band of weather from the start, much needed rains that the land is calling out for. Feels good to be at the proceeding edge as we make our prayers for the land at each port of call.
Many curious realities have enfolded for us since crossing the border at Tijuana. We started our time at Cuatro Casas, a place I ended up in 2 years ago and held fond memories of. A good place to eclimatize and be after our race to the border. We parked up right on the cliff edge and woke each morning with a panorama sunrise over the sea with Aerial’s back opening up to face it. It showed us where our set up was lacking before we went completely off grid and before we left Richard the owner gave us a big ol’bottle of propane to fill up so we didn’t have to rely on small desposables. We bought a hatchet, a big refillable jug for water and we were ready for the desert.
The 6th hang took place in the surreal environment of an abandoned Onyx mine, 15 kilometers off the highway, the turning itself a few hundred kilometers in either direction away from any major site of habitation. We were truly alone, the silence all encompassing, the tree was there waiting out on its own, right by the old mine school house made completely from banded onyx. It’s a stone said to increase ones level of focus and ability to complete everyday mundane tasks; how appropriate!
We hang in the setting sun and even in the barest whisper of wind the bells rang out loud and strong, incessantly. It felt like the work was needed, the prayers soaked up by the land as readily as water on the sandy soils. We had passed through an area of intense greenhouse agriculture where a lot of the salad fruits and veg destined for the United States are grown. With this comes a heavy toll on the land which is supped of nutrients, the little topsoil eroding and blowing out to sea once the delicate ecosystem of slow growing desert fauna is removed. Chemicals take up the slack but eventually land is abandoned, operations move on. Whats left is a sea of plastic and shanty shacks, barbed wire fencing and bare scarred earth breathing a sigh of relief as the slow work begins on regeneration.
At sunset the breeze picked up, the bells came down. We left broken bell up through the night. He was a comforting note against the silence of our solitude. We were up at daybreak and re hung all 22. They spent the day chiming a lighter song, as if after the work of the day before they were grateful to be just singing for there own amusement. We both spent the day lost in our own worlds, Nathanael collecting rusty metal cans for a huge cityscape-like mosaic. I chose to stretch a lot in the sand before arranging broken glass into a sun mandala underneath the bells.
We moved on as the weather came in, ushering us further south and into the cactus fields of middle Baja. Landscapes left our jaws slack with wonder. We have filled our days with side quests into dry riverbeds to collect treasures of different coloured clay deposits, ancient glass bottles, river worn Selenite and marvel at the sheer variety of plant, bird and geology.
Our plan is to spend the next few days down in the Bay of Conception, to Kayak out to an island with fishing line and tent and ring in the new year in a simple manner.
Sending Christmas wishes to all of our dear ones in all corners of the world. bless bless.