Marfa. How a road trip became a soul trip.
I don’t remember when I first heard about Marfa. But I know for sure it was some time before I moved to Texas. My brain just stored a blurred memory of Marfa mystery lights seen on some travel channel, mixed with some Instagram pictures of Beyonce, mixed with something I read about it being an art town in the middle of nowhere in Texas. I just know the place was already marked on my imaginary map of places I have to see. Little did I know how life changing this (back then) future experience will be.
Traveling to Marfa is not the easiest thing to plan. The town is 500 miles away from Dallas, and 600 miles away from Houston, and accessible only by car. It was quite naive of me to imagine Marfa has a small airport :). Also, Marfa doesn’t have many hotels, and one month previous to the trip the only decent hotel was fully booked. A Marfa road trip is not something you do alone, especially when you are new to the country and have no idea what to expect and finding a travel companion is not an easy task either. So everything falling into place so easily, makes me think the stars were perfectly aligned to create some serendipity and throw some magic dust our way.
I met Elena (my travel companion) when I was still in Dubai, on Instagram, while both discovered our common interest and love for “La Blouse Roumaine” – a project meant to reveal and promote the beauty of the traditional romanian blouse (‘ie’ in Romanian). And yes, we are both Romanians, living in Texas, but since neither of us chooses our respective friends based on nationality (rather based on common interests and personality), this was just a detail adding more meaning to the beauty of our future exchanges and adventures.
Before me and Elena met in real life (the day she came to Dallas to pick me up on the way to Marfa), we were just Instagram and Facebook friends, and I was a fan of her novels (she is a writer, a painter and a college professor, which was fascinating to me). I have to admit, I was a bit nervous – let’s face it, there was a small chance we won’t get along – but my trusted friend – my intuition – didn’t fail me. I have to make a special mention here, of Holly – the Boston terrier, Elena’s dog who, with her easy going and friendly nature, might have helped a little bit with the bonding.
The rest is just a beautiful memory. About 1,500 miles driving across Texas, magical sunsets, bunny rabbits, road runners and tumbleweed crossing our paths, flocks of hawks floating in the sky, the mystery of Marfa lights and the starriest sky I have even seen; the gentle man missing two fingers who helped us in the town of Valentine, when we ran out of gas on our way to see the Prada museum, an art installation on the side of the road, in the middle of nowhere; the group of American tourists talking about how Romania was one of the most beautiful places they have ever visited, a beautiful couple from Chicago joining us for a conversation about travel in a coffee shop with a Swiss owner; a double stack train transporting containers from Los Angeles to Houston and passing throughout the middle of the town; a charming hotel where James Dean and Elisabeth Taylor stayed when filming Giant; but most of all, the light… to me, Marfa, the small quirky town in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert, is a place shaped by light and shadows, playing, revealing and hiding, tricking our poor eyes, teaming up with dust and wind, making us squint, almost blindingly following the empty streets and the strait lines of buildings in pursuit of some sort of mirage, or magical discovery.
Marfa is not a place, Marfa is a state of mind, is freedom, is soul searching, is possibility, is infinite light and space. Marfa came into our lives bearing precious gifts: friendship, inspiration, harmony and most of all, the taste of freedom, the courage to trust our intuition and follow our hearts. One of my favorite quotes about travel is Henry Miller’s “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
We do see things in a different light post our trip, and we can’t wait to put together our first joint project, a coffee table book with photography and thoughts from our soul trip to Marfa.
Cheers to new ways of seeing things! ❤
More about our trip on Elena’s blog: Have Watercolors Will Travel