January 3, 2012
Terlingua, TX overlooking the Chisos Mountains
ES and I are immersed in a perfect day here in Terlingua, ensconced on the side of a rocky hill overlooking this little town, both of us sitting at a table on an open porch from where we can survey the Chisos Mountains and the progress of infrequent cars winding up the road toward the StarLite.
The sky is big here in West Texas. Hazy today. The mountains far inland across the Texas/Mexico border are a line of indistinct blue-grey.
ES is painting with watercolors and he just set one finished piece to dry at his feet. It is so quiet that all we hear is the tapping of my keyboard, the stirring of the paintbrush and that occasional pick-up truck on the road below.
Today, we decided to do nothing, meaning no hike in Big Bend and no excursion further west toward Presidio to see Big Hill. The most we’ll do is take a walk at sunset down the hill to a tent hostel, where yesterday I noticed that the white tents were golden orange in the sun. Yes, it’s a photo op.
There is a partially eaten salad by my laptop. Torn kale, chopped red cabbage and a sliced Persian cucumber, all mixed with a bit of Paul Newman’s Caesar salad dressing. It takes time to chew raw vegetables, so lunch is a deliberate process. ES is eating a homemade tamale from The Posada Milagro coffee shop.
We ate breakfast there this morning. ES had a chorizo breakfast burrito with his coffee and I had a side of beans along with spaghetti squash I brought from Houston in one of two coolers, filled with green leafed vegetables, olives, pesto sauce, salami and Trader Joe’s chocolate covered blueberries.
The Posada Milagro coffee shop seems to be a morning gathering spot for folks who live in the Terlingua environs. There were a few visitors, but most of the tables were filled with men who sport substantial grey beards and wear Western wide brimmed hats or baseball caps. They know and greet one another and a few arrived with a dog or laptop.
Our small stone casita is not a part of Mimi Webb Miller’s Posada Milago. That is further up the hill. Seven rooms for guests surrounded by a big stone patio and an open kitchen. Check out her website - it's a beautiful place.
No, the casita is a part of her compound and hideaway from a busy job on both coasts. ES knew Mimi decades ago and last year, they found one another on Facebook. Everything about her place is unique. Built over time, it’s hand crafted, secluded and idiosyncratic.
The casita is just as we left it a year ago. The window set into the turquoise door is covered with a piece of crocheted lace. A space heater keeps us warm at night. We can watch the sunrise through three windows next to what ES calls a ‘letto de matramonial’ because of its small size. This morning, ES said “You sure take a lot of the space in this bed.” I do list away from the edge of the mattress.
ES says our perch on the side of this hill reminds him of the place he stayed in Oaxaca so many years ago. “It feels the same,” he says. “Look down, over and out, just like the valley of Oaxaca. Except there were more sounds there. Dogs, church bells.”
Again, the stillness of the place flows through me. The sun is intense and our faces will undoubtedly be red tonight. Several bees have found their way to me. Must be the Neem oil I doused my hair with this morning.
Another car wends its way along the road below, a momentary sound. ES is sketching now. There is nothing to be done except to sit here and look at the mountains and then squeeze each other’s hand.
P.S. There’s a half moon in the uppermost part of the sky is so bright that it wipes out the brilliant starlight we glimpsed last night. Tonight, we won’t even need a flashlight to go to the nearby bathroom.
I did say that our casita is a simple single room?
Twenty feet away, there is another little stone building with a fanciful tiled shower and lots of hot water. If we turn right when leaving the casita, climb a few steps and take a left, there’s a door leading into a small room with a toilet and sink. As I left this little interior space earlier this evening, I was momentarily stunned to walk into a Big Bend landscape. Reality. I guess one gets used to stepping out of a bathroom into a vista with huge sky and distant mountains?
We did not go down to the Starlite to eat this evening. Instead, I made a salad with Chinese cabbage, more kale, black olives and avocado. Served it with a package of Italian salami.
ES asked where we were to eat this repast. I said in bed and spread checkered napkins. “Anything you prepare is wonderful,” he said, as I drank Kombucha and he a Shiner beer.
It’s been a very good day and I have not even mentioned our late afternoon walk down the road to the edge of a petite canyon in the middle of this town. ES rambled on about the evidence of a perpetually eroding landscape. Although it doesn’t rain here often, when it does rain, torrents of water erode the canyon, ever so slightly.
He warmed to his description as we looked out across this landscape. “It’s always in a state of erosion, though we can’t really see it happening.
It’s the slow dance of creation and destruction. It reminds me of Shiva and the eternal slow dance.”
OK. You see why I was attracted to ES so many years ago. It was the commentary, the conversation.
Moments later, we walked through the Terlingua cemetery that borders the canyon. The cemetery is dusty and dry. There are memorials made of concrete blocks covered with cement and white paint, graves with wooden crosses and upended glass jars. There are fresh gravesites, recent deaths and commemorations.
Across the road is a strangely weird tent hostel nestled in a low protected space. The tents are placed on raised platforms and a few plastic chairs were added reminders that folks had stayed in those tents. A photo will suffice?