July 2nd, 2014
The sweat that has been covering my skin these past couple of days is turning into a layer of sticky moisture that will remain until the next shower, whenever that may be. Standing in this powerful ocean wind is definitely a step up from the humid desert and, despite the stickiness, I feel cool. I feel great actually. I can’t hold back my huge smile or intermittent fits of laughter. Off in the distance, out of reach, are the barren, desolate mountains and deserts of Baja California, separated by a body of water and enough breeze to protect me from its radiating heat. It’s not just the heat that this boat is carrying me away from, that peninsula means so much more.
So many thoughts and feelings are attached to that plot of land jutting out into the pacific. A battle with fear, frustration, lonesomeness, anger, separation anxiety, and fatigue. An inescapable heat which created the environment for the fungal rash whose itch I can feel at this moment. Dusty air kicked up from the dirt roads and desert winds causing this infected pink eye I’m looking through.
The massive English-manufactured ferry chugs along slowly but surely, parallel to Baja’s coastline. I watch the scenery slowly change from hillsides spotted with cactus, to secluded white beaches, to craggy, steep, cliffs butting up against the clear blue water. It’s so beautiful from afar. It’s a shame that my sensitive human body and psyche can attach such ugly emotions and thoughts to such a beautiful place.
When I’m looking at a photograph of a beautiful landscape in some far off place, it is easy to be detached and take in only what I want from it. Just the pure visual aesthetic pleasure of colors and shapes from the comfort of my computer. No hardships involved, just sparks of imagination and fleeting inspiration.
A smile grows again as I realize there’s so much more to every picturesque scene. It is the humanness that determines the level of beauty in a given combination of forms and colors. What does a photo of the New York skyline inspire in someone raised in a small town halfway around the world? The waterfalls of a south american jungle in an inner-city apartment dweller? A vast landscape for someone searching to escape whatever world they may feel stuck in?
My pink and blue eyes fixate on the unpopulated coastline and take in the meaningful view. A triumph over hardships; I was so close to allowing my frustration to take over and turn back around to head home. I feel blessed to be spending the next sixteen hours floating on the Sea of Cortez, a second chance to look at things in a new light. A time of rest from the sensitivities of my fragile body and mind, a refresh button. I know many of the negative aspects similar to the first leg of this trip can be avoided with a change of mentality and a calmer approach to obstacles. Already, the accomplished feeling of courageously taking the next step in this journey is filling me with an inner strength that will carry me on to the upcoming destinations.
I hear my voice, as if from a third person perspective, singing a melody into the blowing wind. The feeling is too strong for me to hold in and I do my best to ignore the fellow passengers leaning against the railing to either side of me. I’m not sure what they think of this “gringo” singing into the ocean breeze, standing on the railing and leaning as far as he can over the five-story drop to the rushing water below, but it’s not worth caring at this point.
Out of the corner of my eye I see a man approaching me and turn to him, the smile still lingering on my face. As he reaches out his hand to shake mine, I recognize him from earlier.
“Tú estás bien? La moto está bien?” He inquires if my motorcycle and I are alright.
“Sí, sí, no pasa nada. No se preocupe señor.” I assure him the motorcycle is alright and that I didn’t get hurt. He apologetically explains himself and I reassure him that it is all OK. Earlier, during the confusion of boarding the ferry, he backed into me without looking and knocked the bike and me over.
That was back on that harsh peninsula, that was back on the testing grounds of my nerves and apprehensions. I’m thankful that this man is kind and apologetic instead of trying to blame me for his mistake. I feel for him and would rather be in my own shoes in this situation than his, so with my newfound strength I do my best to show compassion with my tone.
He thanks me for my understanding and leaves. I turn back to the desert that metaphorically and literally knocked me down and give it forgiveness as well. What a blessing it is to have been knocked around a bit, it makes this moment so much better. I spend a few hours thinking about what is to come and watch the last sunset over Baja, ending a chapter and beginning a new…