This is part five in a series of blogs on my recent artistic adventures in Mexico.
In preparing for ZoeFest, we all would have to find our way up the Pacific Coast of the Baja Penisula to Todos Santos from the Cabo San Lucas International Airport. That meant renting cars. Two days before I was to fly out of Chicago, I was checking all of my paperwork, passport, flights, maps, etc., when I clicked on the email link to my car reservation.
Confirmed, November 23rd, one compact car at Hertz, San Jose, California.
I should never book important things at 3 o’clock in the morning. Scramble, scramble. No Hertz at the Cabo airport. Hmmm.
Avis! They try harder, right? Avis it is!
A few minutes later, I had a new car reservation, this time in the proper country. And since I want my travels to be as drama free as possible, I alway sign up for the insurance. All of the insurance. Insurance for the car, the people in the car. Everything. It would prove to be a wise decision before my adventure was over. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Having never been to Zoefest before, I was under the impression that I would rent the car, drive myself and my new friends to Todos Santos, park the car and do very little driving until it was time to return to the airport. Perhaps a waste of rental car money to leave a car sitting for days, but I didn’t see any way around it.
The reality of it was even though we were all mostly walking distance from each other, walking even a mile or two in the mid-day Mexican heat was a bit too much for most of us. I found that having a car was essential to get where I wanted to be, when I wanted to be there without lugging a backpack full of camera gear along the way.
And even though Todos Santos seemed to be a relatively safe place in Mexico these days, we’d all read the news. You never know.
I became a bit of a model taxi for the rest of the adventure. Any time I would leave one of the hotels, I’d always check to see if anyone needed a ride to their next shoot location or back to their respective hotels. Most of the time I ended up with a carload of lovely models. Another opportunity to get to know everyone a bit better.
Plus there were the runs to the store. Eggs for Brooke, cigarettes for Rebecca, things like that. I was going anyway for myself and it seemed the decent thing to do was to ask, considering how hard everyone was working and I was one of the few with a car. I mean, we were having the best time, but it was work as well. Good art is work. Make no mistake.
Early the following morning on day two after my usual coffee and chat with Mel and Scott, this time punctuated by maneuvering with my coffee cup around several lovely nude models already shooting in the fountain near the veranda (I know, brutal thing to face first thing in the morning), I jumped in my car and drove off to pick up Ella Rose at the Hotelito.
We headed off in the direction of Playa Las Palmas on the Pacific Ocean with vague instructions on actually how to get there. You see, in Todas Santos, most directions include the phrase, “…A few kilometers further, there’s a dirt road off to your right…” I found that actually spotting that little dirt road as you’re doing 60kmph past it, is a bit of an art in itself. It usually only took me three tries to do it.
After a few passes of kilometer marker 57 and a couple of U-turns, we finally found ourselves on the dirt road we agreed was the correct one. Ella and I took our best guesses as to which of the various forks in the road to continue down until the road just sort of stopped and we got out to walk the rest of the way.
The area of Todos Santos is a bit of an oasis in the Baja desert. It can be dry and desolate one minute and lush and green the next. Ella and I continued our walk that we hoped would eventually lead to the Pacific Ocean, through a large shady palm forest with giant trunks and tall branches above.
We continued to talk about life and art as we meandered down what seemed to be a path. Ella has a lovely voice as well, being from the U.K. and it occured to me that one phrase you never ever hear is, “I just LOVE your American accent.” It’s true. The Aussies have beautiful accents. Ditto for the Irish, French and Spanish. Lyrical. Pleasing to the ears. Not so much with the Americans.
Meanwhile, I was trying desperately to make mental notes of various things along our path so we could find our way back to the car. I’ll remember that tree stump, right? That little spiky plant in the middle of the path before we have to make a left? Sure, we’ll remember!
A bit more walking and we reached the edge of the palm forest and… there it was! One of those views you usually only see in pictures and never with your own eyes. We stopped for a moment, jaws unhinged to take it in. There were little rocky cliffs off to either side of the beautiful, long, curving beach cove. And we were the only people there. Completely stunning.
Ella and I walked carefully into a little stream that spilled into the ocean, she reminding me to be careful not to leave footprints on the pristine sand where we might want to make our first photographs. Good call. I have mentioned before that all of the models were very intelligent and exceptional at what they did, right?
I spent the next few hours with Ella jumping, standing, spinning into so many graceful and beautiful poses in such a lovely environment that it was really beyond what I could have hoped for. I got into the water, carefully laying down in the stream or on my knees in the ocean, desperately trying to make sure my camera never submerged.
A couple of times with the waves rolling in behind me, shooting Ella near the shoreline, she would occasionally yell out, “WAVE!”, just in time for me to raise my camera over my head as the waves knocked me over. It’s fun to play with nature as long as you keep your camera dry. Cameras and lenses simply hate salt water.
After a few hours, covered in sand, we happily walked back to the car, past the little spiky plant in the middle of the path and past that tree stump. It had been a wonderful morning of creating.
As always, more to come.