Christmas in La Paz: Desert Notes

Christmas Brunch

Table set for Christmas brunch. Click to embiggen.

Every morning since I’ve been here, I’ve been awake before the dawn, lying in bed next to my snoring husband and listening to the desert waking up outside my window. This morning, I chose to return to bed instead of padding out to the living room and kitchen in search of coffee, and when I woke again, the sky had brightened.

“This morning is drawn in pencil-strokes: the sketch of a cloud, the faintest blush of pinkening sky, the spiny cactus saluting the sun.” That’s what I posted on Twitter, my attempt at a word-painting, since grabbing the phone to snap a shot through the window would have ruined the stillness of the moment.

Yesterday morning, too, I missed a great photographic moment: a caracara bird, a type of local falcon, had been strutting around my parents’ front yard. I’d stepped out back to try and capture the image of this great bird of prey wandering around like a chicken, and as soon as I approached the edge of the patio, it took off from the ground and flew by me, mere inches from my face.

Caracara birds may walk like chickens, but they have the wild piercing gazes of true predators. I made sure to tell my mother to keep her smaller dog inside that morning.

I don’t mind the missed shots. Why? Because I firmly believe being IN the moment is more important than taking a picture OF the moment. For me, a memory is indelible, and a photograph is the mere echo of an event, with no flavor or context.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Christmas in La Paz: Desert Notes by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.