Zooming In


It’s been a few days since I’ve been back in North Carolina, and the memories from Mexico are still as vivid as the scenes themselves. Naturally, my memory cannot capture every single little detail of the whole trip, and to be honest, I am glad I didn’t even try – I would have spent the entire time looking at things so hard that I wouldn’t have enjoyed my time there.

Still, I am a little surprised at the images that shine brightest in my mind.

When people asked how Mexico was, after the initial answer of “Amazing/Fantastic/I adored it,” people understandably expected more details, and (hopefully) they were never disappointed. I chattered on for 30 minutes straight about the wonders of touching grey whale calves. I sent a long email, complete with pictures, to my parents detailing my excitement over swimming with California Sea Lions, and I have generally carried on to anyone that cares to listen about how climbing a 30m sand dune was one of the most exhausting, yet exhilarating things I have done in a long while.

However, when I close my eyes and day dream about returning, it is a very different series of images that flashes before my eyes: The colour of the moon when it rose above the sea; the look on a Herman gull’s face when I came too close to its nest; the scorpion tracks all across the sand; the sunlight playing endlessly across the surface of the ocean to create 100’s of different shades of blue and green. These are the things I can never describe adequately, yet think are the most beautiful.

One of the most interesting transformations that occured, in my mind, was my internal change of focus. Obviously, the dolphins and whales and other charismatic megafauna were wonderful to experience, however, what I found was that the excitement they invoked slowly became less and less at the expense of all the other animals, plants and views that Baja had to offer.

As the days progressed, the desert completely changed in my eyes. On the day we went out with some hookah divers, the sand changed: it ceased to be an expanse of yellow-ish ‘stuff’ and I started to see all the millions of tiny shells, fragments and beautiful little coloured stones that were all jumbled together to form the sand.  We stopped off on an island to allow our diver, Gualin, to change into his wetsuit and I ended up spending a good 10 minutes lying on my stomach just looking at and appreciating the sand.

Likewise, another day (also when we were fishing, as fate would have it) we stopped at a semi deserted beach and went for a little explore to stretch our legs and take pictures whilst Valentine rested for a second. It was then when I was gazing out upon the hills that surrounded us and suddenly I noticed all the beautiful golden grasses that were growing at the base of the cacti. Then, the little insects that were perched on the branches of the nearby shrubbery were thrown into sharp relief. The entire scene was absolutely stunning, and I stopped walking just so I could properly take it in. I have no doubt that it was no more or less beautiful than the other desert slopes I can looked at on the previous days, but this time I could actually appreciate its beauty.

I won’t, and can’t, detail every single time that I found a new fascination in things I had merely thought were background, but by the end of the trip I was perfectly content just to sit and gaze out upon whatever scene we happened to be near to, taking in as much as I could. I can only hope this newfound appreciation of the small, and the distant, won’t fade.