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Dusty sandlike dirt has been our companion for two months now, dust inside the rig, dust outside the rig, dust covering the car and the rig, dust and sand blowing when the wind picks up. When we rolled up the rug as we prepared to leave Los Cerritos, pounds of dust fell out and pounds remained in the rug itself, deeply embedded. When we unrolled our rug, as we settled into Los Barriles, dust puffed into the air.

Yesterday, we went to the Santa Rita Hotsprings, about forty five minutes from where we are staying on the Sea of Cortez in Los Barriles. We took a long, adventurous route to get to the hot springs. Thankfully, we were in Matt and Emma’s truck and were able to make it. We drove through loose sand for part of the ride, and my adrenaline spiked as we could all feel the loose sand grasping and pulling at the tires, trying to claim us with its insidious grip. Matt navigated well up a twisty steep road with, sometimes pausing for goats and cows to make their way ahead of us, and we arrived with nothing more than awe for the land we were on, up in the foothills of Sierra de La Laguna.

After paying our entrance fee of $154 pesos each to a man standing under a tent, we walked through a gate and down a a sandy, rocky path through palm trees, toward the the hotsprings. After so much dust and dryness, this was technicolor life, surrounding us with a vibrant heartbeat of green. There were tall grasses waving gently near the water, cacti on the hillsides, and a variety of trees. We crossed two little wooden foot bridges to arrive at the hot springs – a thermal pool – in a freshwater river that came from a spring further up the rocky canyon.

As we settled into the hot pool, and laid back against rocks like they were lounge chairs, hot water surrounded our bodies, my eyes went skyward. Sunlight splashed across the hills, bright and yellow. As we rested in the water, high in the sky I saw a raptor circle, a holding what looked like a thread from its talons. A moment later another raptor drew close with talons and beak outstretched and grabbed the “thread” and we could see that it was a snake, a mid-air meal shifting owners.

The half moon, high in the sky, steady as the most reliable of witnesses, observed it all. We settled even deeper into the earth warmed water, murmuring our awe, appreciation, and wonder. Eden is real, and we had found a piece of it. Juliana was less certain it was Eden and more certain it was heaven. And surely, even as the missiles fall on Ukraine, as families flee, as children and adults die, as soldiers fight, as hell unfolds and thrives in various places, a bit of heaven on earth remains. Surely, as cancer and pain continue to assert dominance in human bodies, a bit of heaven remains, directions to places of beauty and peace, written on a cosmic whiteboard, that refuse to be erased. Surely, amidst the dust and dust on dry, powdery dust, an oasis of green, of water, of life, remains somewhere.

But even heaven has its limits, and we knew the gate would close soon. At 5pm, having lingered and relaxed and soaked in as much as we could, we retraced our steps, the gate closing behind us, but we left carrying with us a piece of heaven and the faint smell of sulfur back to our dusty rig.

Path to the Santa Rita Hot Springs

Oasis in the desert

Are we on the right path?


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