Not deterred by stories from friends of Mexican road trips gone awry, American-Australian photographer Jesse Lizotte headed south from LA to for a two week road trip traversing the Baja Peninsula.
From Mexicali to Cabo San Lucas, the Baja Peninsula extends over 1000 kilometers, its land mass separating the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. The landscape of this demi-island and its oceanic surrounds is disparate; the 3000 kilometers of coastline edges on crystalline waters and marine reserves—the Sea of Cortez was famously called ‘the world’s aquarium’ by the French explorer Jacques Cousteau. The land itself is composed of deserts, mountains, volcanoes, and forest, at points as narrow as 40 kilometers across, and at others as wide as 360 kilometers. Driving for two weeks with his partner, Lizotte explains the trip as being very placid—despite the tales of warning friends had imparted. “It’s somewhere I have always been fascinated by, but had heard mixed reviews of”, he says laughingly. “Some horror stories from friends made me reconsider certain parts, but that’s the same for everywhere you go in the world I guess!”
His series ‘Alto Aqui’ is just 16 photographs; the lighting and color of each illustrating just how vivid the landscape the Baja Peninsula is. “The people are beautiful, and everything is so vibrant and colorful”, Lizotte explains. “I think I’d been in LA too long, which is comparatively bleak and grey, so that made me happy!” The truncated nature of the series was not wholly due to choice—on returning to LA from Mexico, Lizotte had his cameras stolen, and the photographs that ‘Alto Aqui’ comprises of are from a camera that survived the robbery. Still, he maintains one of his best memories from the Baja trip was captured on one of the lost cameras:
One night I was standing on the street across from a farmacia. I was admiring the bold and colorful signage out the front advertising “VALIUM, XANAX and VIAGRA” amongst other things. I thought to myself that sounds like a good time, although I wouldn’t want to mix those ‘uppers’ and downers! [laughs] Then a group of three cowboys on horseback appeared. I pulled out my camera and one of the men caught my stare. Not sure if it was intentional but the horse reared up on its hind legs. I snapped the photo and ‘Drug Store Cowboy’ the Gus Van Sant movie came to mind [laughs]. Anyway, when I returned to LA that camera was stolen but the image has stuck with me.