Returning to the Atacama Desert
by William Bossen Photography
There is something about this southern coast of Peru’, the Atacama Desert, it calls forcefully to me. That deeper part of my soul, my spirit, that quiet knowing remembering eternal part, is demanded to enter her vastness. To be quiet. To feel her breath and breathe. Listen to her winds and learn.
The Atacama is cruel beyond imagining. After hours which seemed of days in this desert immortal where time means nothing. I managed to crest the highest sightable coastal peak (a mere 2000m foothill to the great Andes rising to the east). The view was spectacular.
From there I could see the delicate curves and rolls of her body. I desired to caress her so badly, take her in while she me, coarse as her skin is, but I settled to be a voyeur.
When I finished I descended the mountain to the coast where I fell upon a killing field of a beach. For uncountable centuries sea life has been washing onto the shore to be dried and preserved. Their carcasses, bones, and feathers decorating a morbid display the edges of this eternal land. This is what the Atacama does to those that stay or call this home and I almost joining them.
I almost died and truthfully I am happy for it. In a past life I must have ben a native here. One of those hearty indigenous on a spirit quest to prove my manliness. Surely I lost but must have gained some knowledge my spirit has since forgotten. Now that I am returned my soul is reminded of the those lessons, of the hardships, how to endure, even if only for a brief time. After my short hours roaming the vastness, lost and found, I realized that I was running out of water. Though I had consumed two liters it was not enough. The sun rays are intensely oppressive, the ozone thin, you sweat profusely but the wind and heat evaporate it so quickly you don’t realize how much water you are losing. No beads form. No sweaty back. No sticky balls. Even the wind carries death in the dust you breath being laced with salt to speed the rate of dehydration.
Soon I found myself pushing into exhaustion, glimpsing occasional blackness, fighting 50MPH winds into my face, seemingly in every direction I turned. Combating the desire to lay down and join with death. I needed to get to safety, though I feel like a pussy for saying so because I had spent only 4 hours in those elements. The people who came before us, before our “Modern Time”, how tough they were. I like to think of myself as strong, as resilient, but compared to those of before I am nothing. Would they be seeing black after 4 hours? Would the elements here defeat them so easily? I think not. Maybe I should have just staying on that beach and joined the seals and birds in decorating the shore. Joined that killing field in dishonor in the time worn face of those that came before me in this eternal woman.
But that would be wrong. Why did I return to relearn the lessons I once knew just to die and forget them again? So I decided to push through. Use that lesson and stare back at the black to see the light and fucking walk. To live. Dig down deep and return to the woman I love. Where home is, peace and healing. Make some babies and teach them what little I know. Strangely I no longer feel drawn to that eternal woman and get lost into her beauty. No I want my woman. Her warm, loving, and moist embrace were the salt on my tongue is welcome. – Will
A note on the photos. I am so very tired of perfect photos. I want my images to have heart and feel real. Sometimes seeming nearly perfect but frequently flawed. Sometimes smooth and sexy, other times coarse, even verging on making no sense. In other words human. Nothing and no one is perfect so fuck those other photographers and wannabes who make everything too perfect and constrain their world to “technical” shit. Forgetting aesthetics. Blowout a highlight sometimes. As long as it looks good. WTF?