THE SPONTANEOUS ERUPTION OF HUNDREDS OF VOLCANOES
Jan 28 Day 6
Anza Borrego to Salton City
Miles today 20 Cum. 127
My feet hurt today and I am still in my sleeping bag. Watching the sunrise paint the desert. Blue cloud over mountains turning purple, warming. I thought the uphill was over but I am still struggling, the badlands have many ups and downs. I am in pain from my first steps. I watch the mile markers, torture. In the beginning I try to watch the purple mountain but when I get tired I watch the dust. This walk is too long to watch the dust Aaron, look for beauty, look for more than badlands.
Apparently the exterior; the true extension of any landscape traverses both the exterior and interior of an individual. In short, landscape is the link between our outer and inner selves. Its substance is as much a part of mind as it is of body and we cannot be considered distinct and apart from it any more than a living cell can be autonomous within the body of it´s host. The natural landscape is the raw material of the human psyche.¨ Bill Viola, video artist
I carry that quote with me, from when I did my college thesis on landscape painting and the perception of space. Landscape as metaphor. To remind me that I am the badlands. That I walk within myself, that if I fear it I fear my self.
Budweiser cans, broken glass, plywood sheets, shredded tires, blowing sand. Yes, these too are in me. Badland canyons, steep hills, a sandstorm to the south. From the top of the hill, I still cant see the sea. That means there aremore hills. A depression in the landscape, another in my mind. The girl, the house, the life. I want all these things, but I need the odyssey. Nothing short of this journey would have satisfied me, nothing else can answer these questions. I want the hero´s journey, the hero´s life, I want the tests, the pain and the temptation and the fear. I want treasure chests to drag back home with me, I promise I will share. I try to remember the hero when I look into the desert, when I walk into the wind, when I want to give up.
And then I am beneath the white haze of the Salton Sea. In these last miles there are palm trees but they are dead. Heading into the wind. Abandoned homes, street signs where there are no streets, a whole city planned, waiting for a boom. A ghost town. There is a sad whistling in the air, I don´t know what is making it. Like a huge electrical generator, but there is nothing around. Skeleton houses, howling wind, streets signs to nowhere. It is sad outside of Salton City, generator funeral durge, the wind blows hard but this is a place with no movement.
There are only 3 buildings on this side of town. Inside one of them I drink 6 cups of coffee. I am afraid of going back out into the wind.
I have only done 20 miles today. Carlos Ramos Mendivil sits down with me. Today is his birthday, he is 17. He wears a gold ring with his family´s name that covers two fingers, he is a descendent of Pancho Villa. He lived in Mexico, he will go back when he has made money. There is nothing here, you just make money and go back to Mexico. Under 3 family pictures of Pancho Villa a juke box plays. Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway. The wind will not stop me. Ok, one more cup of coffee.
Nina Hunter is 70 and 5´0, she has very big white hair, which I will later learn is a wig, and big purple glasses with rhine stones on the sides. She also makes big gestures. Religions become the topic of conversation. Her gestures get bigger. I didn´t see the JESUS SAVES ring on her finger, now it is too late. Gestures. ¨What´s wrong with a little morality in schools!? she screams. I have no problem with morality, so long as it isn´t dictated by dogma. She purses her lips and prepares for rebuttal. But enough of this Nina, let us talk about China, Kansas City, the weather, anything but this. Nina was a journalist in Cambodia when they were talking hostages in the 60´s she tells me. All of the Mendivil family has gathered to listen to us talk about God and the far corners of the world. Our conversation is foreign to them, we are like aliens here. Gestures. Fingers pointing, arms in the air, an animated woman. I have been in this café for over 4 hours. Even though I am not Christian I am invited to sleep in a mobile home parked outside Nina´s house. She says that scriptures are always flipping through her head like a Rol-o-dex, and she came up with ¨The Good Samaritan.
The wind has stopped. Nina´s home is one mile down the road, closer to the water. I can see it, The Salton Sea, at the end of the road, illuminated by a full moon tonight. Six clouds shaped like flying saucers hover over the water like the end of the world is near. If it does end in my lifetime, I hope it is like this, with a full moon and 6 alien motherships, and the spontaneous eruption of hundreds of volcanoes. My stomach is full, and my feet feel lighter now, they know we are done for today. I am happy.
In Nina´s mobile home ther is an altar with a huge cross on it and a praying mat worn from kneeling. Jesus is Lord is embroidered on a cloth and lays across the front of the altar, scriptures and crosses are everywhere. This I did not expect. Sleeping in a mobile church.
Nina grew up in England, she was abused as a child, a runaway in her teens, living in the streets, missionary work with the homeless, and recently 8 years alone in this RV. She has given a great deal in her life and taken veru little. She is a generous woman. She brings me fruit and tea. The end.
Cosmo shakes violently in her sleep. I would like to see her dreams. She is on her own journey. I love my dog. I lay my head on her side and fall asleep there. Tomorrow we walk to Mecca.