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Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

When you think of a trip to Baja California, you think of a sea full of life and red sunsets on the coast of the immense Pacific Ocean; but this territory hides paradises that can fill your eyes with amazement and make you live sensations of deep adventure. It is experiencing the simplicity of lifestyles, with rhythms of life dictated by the presence of the sun and the arrival of the night, with old songs to listen to around the fire …

Me and Bob (Dylan)

In my travels, I oftentimes pass the kilometers and the photogenic horizons with the company of the harsh voice and dreamlike lyrics of Bob Dylan. For decades, that voice has accompanied my dreams, like those of many of us. “Forever young”, “I shall be released” and “Like a Rolling Stone” are just small musical fragments of a voice and a harmonica that have accompanied entire generations.

We arrive …

Without delay, the Toyota takes us up 1,200 meters (about 4,000 feet) to the central Sierra of Baja, where there awaits a small village composed of about 30 families who live in this place where time seems to stand still. These families are isolated from progress but continue their existence in the mountains and canyons they live in; they are gentle but tenacious people who rely on the community to survive. In this pueblo, we load the enormous amounts of equipment onto the mules, who often carry timid glances, and we begin to descend the winding paths that will take us to a hidden paradise in the middle of nowhere in Baja California …

Pietra is my faithful companion, a young mule, who is nervous enough to show that she wants to be free, climb and descend between stones and crevasses.

Cave Paintings of baja California

We spend the night under a carpet of stars, with the open curtain giving me a huge moon to illuminate my dreams. The morning arrives early, long before the heat of the sun as the hot coffee helps us take the first steps.

In the morning, the local “Californios” recover the mules scattered amongst rocks and cactus of this immense canyon, and at night, they let them free to go and look for grass and water, as there is nothing that puts them in danger here.

Once everything is ready, we climb on the mules and we begin to walk in the heart of this huge vein of Baja California, through the paths that will lead us to the remote coast bringing us to caves with traces of the past engraved in the wall by ancient inhabitants of these areas. Most likely from the Cochimi people, whose language, culture and traditions went extinct in the nineteenth century, which left many traces of their existence.

Cave Painting of Baja California

After a few kilometers, I feel the need to isolate myself from everything and I think that my modern iPod will surely help me.

I feel the hot sun on my shoulders and strong smells of wild nature, and I am eager to choose the best soundtrack for this moment …

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

It was a magical moment …

I found myself in a mythical imagery among pink stones and pools of crystalline water in a majestic canyon … my mind trying to follow the lines of the flight of the hawks over our heads…

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

Focusing on the fluctuation of the progression of the mule, holding my attention to every flower in the ground, to every butterfly in flight, to every leaf that touches my face – Few times in my life have I ever taken a moment to live in the moment, but I was living “the now”, savoring all its nuances in each and every second.

The majestic beauty that surrounds me is a mixture between huge Cardon cacti that witnesses the slow passing of the seasons, and the small mammillaria cacti that witnesses how much strength nature holds in this magical place …

Looking at the height of the canyon, you could clearly see the course of time marked by the various levels in which the water of ancient rivers had dug and made its mark in this land.

Mama put my guns in the ground I can’t shoot them anymore

The beauty of travel consists of getting out of one’s own patterns that are built over time and getting out of one’s useless “personal cosmos”; but once we notice our surroundings and note the changes around us, the eyes are filled with things we’ve never seen before … we abandon our habits and discover that we can live a different way as well …

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

Arriving at the first “cueva pintada” after about 4 hours, we admire the enormous human figures that are painted; including huge hunting scenes and even whales, which testifies to the good mobility of the territory of this group. Thanks to these conformations of the rock, we can keep them alive even if dated between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago.

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

Seeing these images, I recall a passage from a book that said that the forms of cave paintings were the first attempt to stop the memory of something other than thought, transfer the images of memory to the wall with a possibility to create something in which time has stopped: to pass on an experience. The first form of photography.

It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see

Time is an unstoppable companion and slips quickly between our hands and all that can enrich us is only contact with new experiences … getting out of one’s own “comfort zone” is the best way to challenge the darkness that awaits us …

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Doors

The sun is high and strong as it warms these stones, the sound of the firm footsteps of Pietra accompany me between thoughts of freedom, smells of savage and feelings of deep life.

Thanks Baja, thank you Pietra, thanks Bob.

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Adriano Ceccarelli

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