Mexico 1971

Travelling to Mexico was my first experience of leaving northern California and the US and my first experience of the Los Angeles freeway maze.  It was also my introduction to travelling in a foreign country. 

In the spirit of the time we set off in my 'hippy-van' with three adults and two children with a plan to camp and eventually reach Mazatlán where, after a stay near the beach, our friend Wendy would return home by bus. 

We entered Mexico at Tijuana and it appeared to be more desolate than I had imagined.  Tijuana was a mythical place of sex, drugs, and cheap car upholstery from the folklore of my teenage years.  We kept heading south and made it to a fishing village on the Gulf of California and set up our tents in a hot, gale force wind.

At the end of a very long day we had a soft landing.  El Golfo, as I remember the village's name, was restful and the people friendly and we enjoyed the food in the beach cafe.  Travelling south, camping was difficult, and we did wind up in the odd motel where the image of Rachel floating in the swimming pool (Mexico #1) was made.

A sense of potential danger seemed to travel with us as a sixth passenger.  We met a seemingly friendly Mexican farmer with a child and he invited us to his property but when we arrived we saw that he had a pistol and the situation was not one we trusted enough to exit the van.  We left as soon a we could with some degree of politeness.

It was the sense of danger that suggested the acting out of a tragedy.  I don't remember the exact circumstance but I do remember that the acting out, for the image of Rachel lying on the ground (Mexico #3), acknowledged our collective sense of vulnerability.  The photographic ritual, with Gael and Toby involved in the image-making process, along with Rachel making comments like 'hurry up, this ground is hard', objectified the anxiety that we all felt and offered a few laughs and a healthy sense of relief.

We had a few days in Mazatlán with the full group and, once Wendy was heading home, we drove into the mountains to begin our homeward journey.

Somewhere before Durango we found a cottage to rent in a small, well established village with a sizable stone church.  We had all been sick along the way and we needed time to rest before the long return drive (Mexico #2).  After the village we found a spot to camp in the high country on a point surrounded by precipitous cliffs on three sides.  The view was fantastic.  It was a very inviting place to stay for the night but we also would be locked in if anyone blocked our exit.  We had a group vote and decided to camp there for the night.

It was an extraordinary environment and that night I had a very strange — was I asleep or was I awake — dream that remains vivid in my memory 45 years later.  The last two of the selected images (Mexico #4 & #5) were taken at this site.