Where does it start and end? A landscape of blurred lines spanning sprawling density and a sparseness so vast that the echo of an echo has no answer. Hard to compute; hard to comprehend. This intensity ebbs and flows like a viper preparing to strike. I had to take a rest. Frequently. To lie down in the midst of nowhere and absorb the eerie oddness and the often familiar.
It was this solitude and loneliness that I sought to find.
This is Mexico – a land of so much and so little; of such vibrancy and intensity and yet such quietness and solitude and loneliness. It was this solitude and loneliness that I sought to find. Not the hustle or density, but to tap into the quietness of the soul that beat within.
You know that feeling when you’ve just gotta go. You get all tight in your chest and everything seems to close in on you and the air seems thin, like you’re at Everest basecamp, and your head’s rushing and thinking and dreaming and making no sense.
We got into the car in Mexico City and decided to head 900 kilometres north towards Real de Catorcé, a tiny village in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. I have no idea why, nor did I particularly care. I was keen to get out of the city; lose the lights, the noise, the chaos, the subway, everything that cities are, and get out into the nowhere. I love the nowhere. I don’t know why but I always have. Cities make me feel strange sometimes. I feel like I’ve seen them all a thousand times and they just repeat themselves over and over. I pretend to care but mostly I don’t, and I just want to get the hell out and go and see something different, somewhere strange and somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Like now. You know that feeling when you’ve just gotta go. You get all tight in your chest and everything seems to close in on you and the air seems thin, like you’re at Everest basecamp, and your head’s rushing and thinking and dreaming and making no sense.
I don’t know where that somewhere was, but it was somewhere else, and that was a good and necessary thing.
So we drove. And drove. And then we got somewhere. I don’t know where that somewhere was, but it was somewhere else, and that was a good and necessary thing. We drank a beer and sat and looked. And breathed deeply, and started to see the place for what it was, in all its faded colours; the man selling ice creams with a cowboy hat on; the lady in the hairdressing salon.
We drove a gold car, somehow both subtle and obnoxious at the same time, listening to way too much Jamie XX and Caribou and alt country and cool trendy stuff, fast paced and energetic which put us in a trance for a few hours. We arrived at the next little place. It was pretty old and had some sort of castle and had great streets for walking, and old restaurants that made delicious tacos al pastor with chicken and pineapple that were pretty addictive. I couldn’t stop eating them. We rented some small horses in this town and went for a ride. I’m not much of a horse rider but it was enjoyable. James named my horse Trinket. I liked the name. He was a good horse.
I photographed more landscapes that were dreary and vacant but had a strong sense of longing. The roadside crosses and crucifixes and deities I liked also. The Mexicans have a strong sense of faith that for the most part is unflappable.
….travel is like that if you let yourself go, and let it take you for a ride. It frees you up for endless possibilities and chance occurrences.
We left. I took more photos; of a man standing in the middle of nowhere playing the viola and telling us stories; of a shepherd with a fake arm; of a red canary in a cage with dried snake skins around it; of identical twins who worked at a hotel called Las Palmas who wore matching blue jackets and had matching moustaches and who were just generally excellent. For the most part it felt like I was an extra on the set of Twin Peaks. But travel is like that if you let yourself go, and let it take you for a ride. It frees you up for endless possibilities and chance occurrences. In the end, and only after we photographed more people, and places, and supermarket workers in identical outfits, and car boots full of rock melons or cantaloupes, and small hotel rooms that had cat blankets, we left and drove back to Mexico City. It poured with rain and thunder and lightning and I had no idea where I was going the whole time. It was busy and nighttime, it was stressful and we argued and shouted, and it was back into city life. I kept feeling the walls coming in and my chest tightening and suddenly all the relaxing space and fresh air was gone. And we were back. But that’s just it. You adjust. You have to. Because life’s not a photo shoot. It’s not a travel story. It’s not even this story. It’s all just bits and pieces of everything. You pick these bits and pieces up and some you put down. And you just get on with it. But sometimes it’s good to get lost.
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