It happened this weekend, on Sunday. I got up at 6:30. The day was windy and bitterly cold. The South wind would not leave us the whole journey. Outside the hotel the temperature was almost -5° C. Once we were all in our 4WD and on the way to the sandy dunes, where the rally was to take place, it was evident that there would be rain showers as well. The topography of this region has a raw beauty. Huge sand dunes tower over the beach like mountains. Like the Sahara desert spilling into the sea. Here and there, small cliffs break up the continuity. The waters were high already on account of the southern wind. The waves broke with unusual fury, and the foam was everywhere. There was no water, no crystalline water, I mean. Just surf. White spray. Thick as bath tub foam. It accumulated on the sand and the wind would blow it apart and one could play with it chasing it all over the beach, and it would climb the smaller dunes, in an endless dance with the wind. Our Isuzu Trooper was white with salt. The rally cars and the motorbikes splashed all over it. The foam ran like mad, as if chasing a ghost or as if trying to escape from the great ocean. There was so much of it and it was so cold that the sea looked like if it were covered in snow. What a sight! I can’t tell if the tears that rolled down my cheeks were real or it was because of the wind in my face. Nevertheless it was awe inspiring. Raw beauty expressing itself. Nature showing one of her infinite faces.
It was a great pleasure to compose pictures with the rally cars and the sea, the sky and the sun rays filtering through the clouds. In the distance we could see the city shadows of Necochea backlit by those rays just dimly filtering through the overcast sky. Rays and more rays, surf adding to more surf. Sand onto sand. Strange fractal geometry drawn on the sand by the wind and rain. An amazing place. Hares running away frightened by the noise of our infernal machines shattering the peace of such an incredible land.
We would now drive parallel to the coast on the small cliffs; now on the beach itself splashing our way through the surf chasing the rally cars, shooting television pictures with my huge and cumbersome -10 kg- camera. Awesome pictures, mind you; now on a grassy meadow bathed in sun light with an old stone house in shambles. There were places that seemed out of this world, like on Mars or the Moon. Wreckage of rocks all over the sand, and a real wreck of a ship with its skeleton still showing stranded up on the beach. The cars had to negotiate these dangerous enemies. Not all came out well. There were many injuries. Just the cars, I mean. And there were rivers to cross. Not an easy task due to the amount of water that was being drawn into the mighty sea. Some broke their motors right in the middle of those wild running streams. Others almost got me. Well in fact it was just one. The same car that last year was running wildly towards me in another river crossing, and thanks to a friendly rock avoided my parting from this realm so soon. The man is really wild. Crazy would be a better term. He was passing another car when he found himself on the verge of crossing a flooded stream just a few yards from the ocean. As he approached the river, he did not realize that there was no way to cross, unless he gave up his position to the car he had already overtaken. So he accelerated, literally falling into the water as there was a big step he had to overcome. I was on the other side of the stream, shooting it all with my camera. I had not calculated a mad guy like him would cross at that point and come straight towards me. The guy was blinded on account of the splash. He did not see me. There, enter the Lord’s Angels. The guy veered to his right and I to mine, avoiding the collision. Amazingly I went on taping the whole event, shooting the crossing of the other car as well. The tracks he left were right where I was standing a few seconds before. It happened in a fraction of a second and as I remember it, I felt like one of those cartoon characters that skid on the place they are standing and then dart off like wild goose. But my heart did not pound with after-fear, so to speak. There had been no time for the adrenaline to accumulate. I just went on working normally as if nothing had happened. Another amazing thing. Of course, the guy came to apologize later.
But that is not all. We had many other experiences that Sunday 17th June, 2001.
The sun kept going in and out, and we had to put up with the occasional shower. The wonderful thing about it was that those showers were heralded by... can you imagine what gave us the clue…? Rainbows... yes, wonderful and extraordinary rainbows. We must have seen at least five or six of them. The first one was not far out into the sea. Its colours were vivid and the hues were very intense. The whole arc could be seen. It was further out to where the waves were breaking. A second concentric arc was bigger though thinner and less vivid. I stopped to take some shots. I missed my
The most beautiful one of them all came later when we were half way to the top of an immense dune. There was no sun. But one moment later, its warmth began caressing me while I was waiting for the first enduro bikes and the cars to appear. The wind would not stop, so I put my camera on my right shoulder and looked north with my back to the wind, indulging in the sun’s rays. Then, all over a sudden, I turned around and a huge rainbow appeared right on top of the waves. Its edges seemed suspended there with huge rich, thick and bright colours. As the first bike approached our standing point, the rainbow began moving... towards us! Little by little one of its legs began sweeping over the surf and landed on the beach! Was the pot full of gold at its foot? I guess so! The guy with the Yamaha almost went through it as he sped towards the beach. Never in my life have I seen such incredible scenery. A moment later it was pouring. The wind seemed to have grown to gale force and we had to leave, pursuing the cars once again. My tears merged into the rain, I didn’t have to pretend now. Thanks to the amazing angels my job was like floating on a cloud, weeping with happiness. Feeling One with God.
At the end of the day the storms had ceased, but not the wind. The sea was still high so the cars could not ride on the beach. It was still very cold, but I was happy as never in my life. I regretted not having someone to share my feelings with. Not everyone had experienced what I had.
As a bonus and so as not to leave any doubt whatsoever, we reached a small beach resort, with a few houses, closed for the season. The sun was setting, leaving its red tint printed on the white houses. From here we would leave our crazy adventure driving on sand dunes and rocks, or even sliding on the surf. It was a short cut to the paved road to the city. The little town, now in shadows, is called... Los Angeles.
CaminoAcasa © 2003
Note: Necochea is a small city off the Atlantic coast, about