South – the direction of the summer sun, the direction of the cold-season migration. South from Boulder just as the year turns over and the political season turns over even more. Baja bound. Baja California. Such an unimaginative name that feeds such rich imagination – Spanish conquistadores were often quite literal in their naming of things. Below or Lower California. Yes, it is.
But let us not stop at the literal.
It is an arid-land botanist’s dry dream, a snow-bird’s tank-topped land, a renegade’s hideout, a surfer’s break, a desert-rat’s curiosity, and this family’s road trip expedition.
In Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing, Billy spends his formative years first attempting to re-wild a wolf and then attempting to save his brother and his family’s horses. But he is really attempting to save the wild in the world and simultaneously trying to stop the march of time. I like to think that our crossing is attempting to do the same. Especially in looking to show our kids (Mason – 2.5 and Celia – 4.5) that the walls that appear to divide us are short-sighted and illusory. A bit ominous to compare our family’s road trip to Baja to a Cormac McCarthy novel, but there it is.
The political crossing that we are subject to as we move between the north and the south and back again is not only a recent phenomenon, it is also less fixed than folks would like to believe. There are Mexican American families living in Trinidad, Colorado that pre-date the founding of our country. There are Spanish-speaking communities in Santa Fe, New Mexico whose ancestors spoke Spanish freely in the same place before a single word of English had made its way to what is now the Four Corners.
We feel privileged to be south of the US-Mexico border as we head into the new year and into a political season that focused so much on arbitrarily and aggressively shoving people into their perceived “place”. A season that forgets these fluid boundaries and imperminent identities.
Week one brought us to Guerrero Negro, in Baja Sur, where I tried really hard and was able to publish this post. I (Tim) left Colorado on the 28th, lugging the Scamp behind our 2003 Jetta, planning to make it to Phoenix in time to pick up Shannon, Celia and Mason on the 29th. We would cut the drive in half. We also converged with Tim, Katie, Levi and Cosmo Dittman, with their ridgeback dog Fritz in tow.
The plan worked. Before long we had crossed to Below Baja, via Yuma, Calexico and Mexicali, chasing our own non-literal and non-latitudinal visions.