Saturday, November 30, 1985

Baja Journal, La Páz to Cabo 11/30/1985 (photos)

From La Páz to Cabo we travel with Julie and her boyfriend Guillermo in the luxury of her car. No more Tres Estrellas buses with urine rivers from the bathroom running down the aisle.

We stop off at El Truinfo, a small mining town. This place was the original treasure of the Sierra Madre. It's hard to believe that this ghost town was once the largest pueblo in Baja California Sur. French cannons were placed at the base of a goldmine in the 1880s. When the French left, they left the cannons, the pianos, and the tall smokestack designed by Eiffel.

Blue morning glory against the sky, like pale stars. Opuntia, chollas, and giant cardón cactus in bloom—even though December approaches. A cactus with spent blossoms like draped sea anenomes. Strange cirios, or boojum trees twist and writhe every which way, remind me of mad, upside-down carrots. A kind of ocotillo, they're the only member of their genus.

We stop to stretch our legs. Julie says Hello crow, hola cuervo! He observes us with glinty eyes. Cardinals and bluejays: azul y rojo in this stern landscape. To see a cardinal here in the desert is like the shock of seeing the blood- blooming opuntia. This feathered flower flies from bush to bush, an odd ritual of spring on the wing in midwinter. I make a quick drawing of a crested cactus hawk standing sentinel on a large cardón. He has white circles on his underwings, and a banded tail.

We pass skinny cows and talk of tequila. Agave swords. Vultures stand on a dead cow seem to be congratulating each other on finding such superior roadkill.

The next two days are hazy. I am unable to write, but my Spanish comprehension improves in leaps and bounds. I lose my fluency in English. I become non-lingual and write nearly nothing. But I dream in Spanish.

We had a good giggle over the poorly translated menus and La Páz  and Cabo, for example: grabs and clamps crabs and clams. We passed a house made of woven sticks, like a basket, open to the sky. I tell John I want to live there.

At the Tropic of Cancer, near Todos Santos, John sits on top of the big boulder painted white with a blue stripe, to write a poem about an idea in the wilderness but this artificial boundary is a manmade concept. We are here at the wrong time of year to see the sun stand still, directly overhead at its zenith. Tropic means to turn back. The sun is no longer in the constellation of Cancer, but, Taurus. And there he sits on his cement boulder, the bull. No turning back now.

added, rev. 2/18
first two photo scans were from slides, and I thought they were bad. The color negative film, last photo, fared even worse.

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