I snaked my way south from the White Sands of New Mexico into Texas through the gates of El Paso. I was heading for Marfa, a town I’d only just learned about through a friend from New York. With a night booked at the beautiful Hotel Paisano I meandered into the seemingly sleepy town, and checked in. This hotel was incredible, and a luxury stay compared to my regular car-camping, but the nights were hot, and I needed a decent sleep as I had a 7 hour drive ahead of me the following day.
I’d arrived with zero expectations of Marfa (apart from the famous Prada, Marfa installation just out of town) and was quickly blown away with the town. Minimalist architecture surrounded me, made all the more stunning by the late afternoon light bouncing off the bare surfaces. Old cars lined the streets as shadows fell around me, telling a story of a quiet and lonely place full of artistic talent and a culture of it’s own. There may have been plenty of people in town, but it was hard to tell. The streets felt completely deserted as I walked the length of the entire place. I realised I needed more than one night here, but I was on a bit of a schedule now, and had to make it to the East Coast in less than 2 weeks. Here’s a quick account of my short time there..
Austin, I needed to experience your music scene, food and night life. I had two nights over the 4th of July (again, not enough time) and stayed at an Airbnb with a lovely lady named Ruba. I’d arrived in the evening after a pretty gruelling drive, with just enough time to see the city from the other side of the river, and experience the nightly bat migration, witnessed by hundreds gathering at a nearby bridge. It was hot, but this time humidity was the killer. Following this I ended up connecting with a friend of a friend who showed me the local nightlife, including the White Horse bar, famous for its music and line dancing, and some delicious Mexican food.
Next day I found myself drawn to a group of musicians, street-livin’ and carefree, playing a blend of bluegrass folk music outside the famous Allens Boots store on Congress Ave. I sat and chatted with them a while. They had no permanent residence, and happily lived wherever that day took them. Their gig on Congress was pretty good though, with a constant stream of tourists donating to their fund. Their vagabond lifestyle made a part of me envious of their freedom. I mean, I was also pretty free, driving across the USA on my own time, but there was something so romantic about the notion of owning merely what you carried with you. One of the musicians had led a high-profile life in economics, only to give it all up and follow his heart, and there was something very admirable about that.
I spent that night on the banks of the Colorado River along with the rest of Austin’s residents and guests, drinking beer and watching an insane fireworks display while listening to the Austin Symphony Orchestra play live. I lay on my back in the grass, looking up at the flying lights, and as always when I see fireworks, wondered how the heck they worked. I mean, these ones made pictures of the American flag, animals, stars, people…. how did they do that?!
Anyway, here’s a few from Austin. Next stop.. New Orleans!