Migrations Through the Alkaline Nation
I stumbled upon the Salton Sea a few winters ago when I was on my way to Baja California in the northern part of Mexico. The sky was heavy with a rain that would not yield, and I was concerned that the roads might be too muddy, so I headed east until the rain stopped and found myself driving through a bizarre landscape of forlorn towns, defunct motels, and abandoned cars partially submerged under water. The Salton Sea stood still like a mirror reflecting everything around it. The shoreline, encrusted with salt, crackled under my feet. Electric poles, fences, and trees dried to a chalky white stuck mysteriously out of the water. In the West, men and women were praised for taming nature, but here at the Salton Sea, it looked like nature was reclaiming itself amidst the forgotten relics of a dream.
The following essay is part of a larger series of vignettes that explore the migrations of water, birds, snowbirds (veterans and retired drifters), and undocumented immigrants in the Salton Sea area. Through these migratory groups, I hope to question boundaries and borders, to question ways of affecting and reconnecting with nature, and to reveal how the Salton Sea exemplifies and illuminates the hybridity of our world.
The first vignette explores the migrations of the Colorado River and the rupture that created the Salton Sea. Human intervention created an artificial sea teeming with paradoxes, and now human intervention is necessary for the maintenance of life and well-being in this new hybrid state.