Sometimes you need to take a detour to find, not what you are searching for, but what you didn't know you were searching for. Which is what happened to us in May while driving through California and the wild desert in Death Valley. One hundred and fifty miles from the nearest supermarket or gas station lies Darwin. Darwin is a small town of only 35 people, and it was 35 years ago that many of them first met, wallowing in some of Death Valley's most amazing hot springs.
The first guy we meet is J. He welcomes us with open arms and takes his time to show us around. It turns out that Darwin has a long history and used to be a busy city with a population of more than 3,500 people, most of them miners who worked in the mountains that surround the town. Now J the mines are empty, and J is free to wander around them collecting stones. He makes art out of the stones. Beautiful sculptures that he exhibits in front of his home. J´s trailer is full of pictures from his life. “This is my ex-wife,” J says. “She was a beautiful ballet dancer.”J used to run his own business with more than 30 employees. But as he told me: “When money gets between people, they change to the worse and I don't like that”.
Out here there is no money to spend. In fact, the only employed person in Darwin runs the post office. J tells me that they all have their own reason to live in Darwin. They all have experiences of living in big cities, but seem to like the quietness and freedom that Darwin offers, a tale common among the retreatist communities in the American desert.
After two hours of spontaneous sightseeing, J tells us that we happened to roll up on the same day as Darwin’s yearly "Spring Magic" party. Once a year, they gather friends and family for a three-day festival. This year’s theme is "Alice in Darwinland". We all gathered in the Darwin Dancehall, and spent the weekend dancing, eating great food and tie-dying shit. It was a pretty weird experience.