Wow, time has flown. I was a little stressed from so much movement, tea serving, and some transmission troubles – but we found this little nest to give us some R&R.
We arrived Marfa on Halloween afternoon, with only a lead on a friend of a friend who was playing music at a local bar. Shortly after the bar owner gave us his blessing to open the doors of the tea bus out front of his bar, two folks came aboard. Michael and Mallory were highly interested, and insisted that the tea bus should go with them to a costume party at El Cosmico – a local hotel of vintage trailers, tipis, wall tents, and a yurt.
Upon arrival, I knew it was the right place to be. Michael and Mallory jumped out and checked with the manager to see if it was okay to serve tea here. After a thumbs-up, I pulled the bus up to a vine-covered canopy right out front. There were lots of folks, all dressed up, including myself dressed as Hewho Sipsalot. It was a great night of tea, DJs, costumes, and good people. The tea flowed! Towards the end, I secured a work-trade agreement with the facilities manager, Biff.
And here at El Cosmico I have been for almost three weeks. In exchange for a place to park, shower, bathroom, and the ability to use the shop here, I’ve been helping out around the property. I fixed a bunch of burned out LEDs that line the pathways, helped lay flooring in one of the trailers, organized and cleaned the shop, helped fix a sink, and several other little things.
With help of having access to the shop I was able make a new stamped copper Gift & Take sign, paint a piece of scrap sheet metal with chalkboard paint and trim it in above the windshield, swap out my WVO lift pump (for one with more PSI), finish the interior window trim, do some solar battery maintenance, and several other small projects. Also, finding vegetable oil here was incredibly easy. My theory that WVO is easier to find off the west coast and on back highways has proved to be true thus far.
Amongst projects, I was able to get out a little and serve tea at places like the Farmers’ Market, the Marfa Lights Viewing Station (it was raining and I didn’t see the lights), and at the Food Shark food truck. One day at the market/Food Shark, we had so much media attentions, that I almost ran off. There were folks from the radio station doing some follow up, three well-known photographers taking pictures, and all the usual photo-taking. Exploring this small town has been fun and interesting. Marfa is really an enigma. It’s a town of modern art, ranchers, Hispanics, and New York/Austin Hipsters. I actually started saying: Marfa: Where Austin and Brooklyn meet. But in reality, there are people from all over the world that come here. We met folks from Japan, South Africa, Canada, Portugal, and more. Marfa seems out of place, or else a lot of the people seem out of place here – one or the other.
One of the most interesting characters that I met here was a fellow who was Mexican. He was always coming by with his coffee cup, and never getting tea – just stopping by to chat. Through our conversations, I found that he was extremely racist against “wetbacks.” When I questioned him about what he considered a wetback (since I had only heard of it as a term for all Mexicans/Hispanics). He said that wetbacks were Mexicans from Mexico. He was NOT a wetback. He said to be careful of wetbacks, especially if they don’t speak any English – they would come in my bus, put me in a choke-hold and take all my things. Be careful, he warned. Also, Do you like niggers? F’ing niggers. Those mother f’rs are always swearing around children and being disrespectful. This interaction was very interesting to me. I didn’t know someone could be so racists against their own race (or section thereof), as well as against other minorities. Wow, throws a wrench in where I thought racism existed. There is a whole spectrum of people in this great country of ours.
My plans to make a loop out to Presidio, Terlingua, and back to the next town of Alpine, were thwarted by the warnings of several to be careful of Border Patrol and Border Stops. My vehicle would gather lots of attention, and they probably wouldn’t like all the dried leafy material (no officer, it’s tea. I swear!).
We arrived Marfa knowing nobody, and today we leave with many friends. Today we head towards Alpine (the next town), where we’ll be setting up to serve tea at the yearly weekend-long Artwalk Alpine. From there: onwards through Del Rio and San Antonio to Austin, TX.
Thank you so much to: Michael for sharing vegetable oil, knowledge, and other resources; Ian, Mia, and Ryan at Marfa Public Radio for your interest and producing some radio pieces about the tea bus; Biff, Sarah, and everyone else at El Cosmico for hosting and sharing; Keith, for being a good friend, hiring me to work on his trailer, and sharing many meals and a ukulele with me; The Get Go for being a savior of healthy food; Mallory; and many many others. Thank you!!!
Oh, and PS – the Prada Marfa store wasn’t that interesting to me, and is in disrepair.