Gran Desierto de AltarThursday, February 12, 2009
In 1974 Rosemary (the pioneer of our family) told me, "I think Mexico right now is unstable. I don't see much of a future for us and for Ale and Hilary. We should move to Canada." Rosemary was not only a pioneer but practical, too. We had decided to send all of our belongings by a moving company but when it came to traveling to our destination, Vancouver, Rosemary suggested we buy a roof rack for our arctic white VW beetle. A year before we had driven all the way to San Francisco using the newly opened Baja California Highway. This time around we drove up the west coast of Mexico through one of the most spectacular and dry deserts of the world, el Gran Desierto de Altar which is part of the bigger Sonoran Desert. We saw volcanos so small that our sense of scale became warped. We saw the skeletons of cars and trucks that had not made their destination. Our home was the off white VW with its orange tarp.
At the Desierto de Altar all I remember was that it was very early in the morning and the mountains (that sense of scale again) were either close and small or far away and large. We really could not tell. Even though the girls were tired and sleeping I stopped and snapped this picture of Rosemary and Ale. I took the picture using Kodacolor II with my decidedly unsharp Pentacon F with its Tessar F-2.8 lens. If you compare this picture with the others you will note that the negatives have suffered emulsion breakdown since 1975 and I am unable to correct the colour across the board. It could have been worse if I had not remembered that the VW was not white but a curious blend of white with a tad of green/cyan.
This snapshot of Rosemary and Ale has become an icon for us. It represents a time when we took chances, saw an uncertain but decidedly rosy future and our children were many years from being older now, than Rosemary and I were then. The picture of Ale on the beach I took on the Gulf of California somewhere near a place called Bahía Kino.
When we visit Ale in Lillooet I sometimes feel a comforting feeling. I think it could be whiffs of the dessert, of that lovely Gran Desierto de Altar and how one can sometimes partially go back home again.