You have to put your hands into the soil of a place and get that on you so it becomes you, basically. I feel like that's the only way to mesh, is that the earth has to kind of eat you too, not you just eat the earth.


The Sonoran desert spills out either side of the US-Mexico border. Its terrain is riveted through by The Wall like a sewing machine, technology and geo-politics deciding what constitutes one place over another. But the border is not the territory and the desert will do what it’s going to do, despite The Wall’s puncturing. Down here the land and sky seem technicolour – impossibly vivid – and unimaginably vast. The heat is gas mark 6 temp and people seem meshed in and laconic.

There’s a charge here. It feels dramatic. Full-bodied reverb. The nexus is at Baboquivari, sending out ancient energy across the whole landscape like a heartbeat. I’m sitting pretty driving into it all in my friend’s SUV with superior AC and H&M plimsolls. I can enjoy it and find it juicy. Lagging over that border on foot for even a day would soon wipe the grin off my face. You’ve got to know how to move through it or you’ll get wiped. I want to find a desert woman who knows the contours and curves of this place intimately. Who’s tuned in. I’m pulled down to Arivaca after a tip-off in a cafe in Tucson. Down there the women birth their babies in tepees, they told me. That’s all I needed…

Samantha Moore – my bereft desert woman
La Gitana – the wonderful bar on Arivaca’s main drag
Sasabe Store & Wholesale Mesquite Firewood – in the back of which is the bar of dreams
Border Patrol – I recorded our conversation but it was covert so didn’t think we better use it
Tumbleweed Cafe – which is now closed down I see
THE BOOK: The Devil’s Highway – Luis Alberto Urrea

Following the threads down to the La Gitana bar in Arivaca, to the brittle dirt of a huntress’s land and an abandoned halfway house, on to a coven of new wave desert women in a secret bar at the back of a store – and then gravitating further down to the border to get up close with The Wall.