Burning Man meets Lawrence of Arabia meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (maybe with a tad of Mad Max). That was my experience last week when I made the pilgrimage to the White Sands National Park in southern New Mexico. As you’ll see in the video at the end of this post, this is a luscious lunar landscape that’s as curvaceous as it is transient.
Like a mirage, White Sands is the largest gypsum dunefield in the world with a face that is constantly shifting based upon the winds. It’s easy to get lost especially when you walk (barefoot) until there’s no more footsteps to be seen. It’s there that I met Clement and his merry pranksters, Jocelyn, Romeo, and Bridget.
Two couples who were totally naked in a deep, small bowl protected on all sides by white, sandy walls. They’d traveled from France to experience the American southwest and this was a highlight of their trip since they live near the Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe. They offered me brie, crackers, marcona almonds, Greek olives, and some splendid French wine they’d smuggled in, but they were buck-naked on their blanket. They offered me to join them, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to bare my nineteen Covid pounds. After a moment of hesitancy, I’d joined their merry crew.
So, we sat in a mild sand storm, naked and only donning masks, eating delicious food, and I summoned-up my best high school French. It was a sublime experience full of immediacy and spontaneity and took me out of the typical ghetto of my mind. My favorite part was doing naked somersaults down the sloped, sandy walls...still finding sand in the most unusual places a week later.
Philosopher (and friend) Alain de Botton writes, “We are inundated with advice on where to travel to; we hear little of why we should go and how we could be more fulfilled doing so.” He suggests that we think of travel as therapy and we make our destination decisions based upon what inspiration or psychological remedy we’re seeking. This is part of the reason we’re part of the Transformational Travel Council (co-founded by MEA alum Jake Haupert).
Wouldn’t it be fascinating to create a journey through New Mexico based upon not just the sights, but the feelings the places evoke: White Sands (transience), Meow Wolf (creativity), Chimayo Sanctuary (hope/healing), Ojo Caliente or 10,000 Waves (sensuality), Taos pueblo (heritage/legacy), The Lightning Fields (epiphany in nature)...the list is endless. I bet my MEA co-founder Christine is smiling as she reads this.