Make a Wish Nomad
You wait for the clock to hit twelve and start driving up the mountains. The last 23 kilometers take a good hour and the road is not forgiving. The moon is 3 days from full and lights the sky in that sort of way that inspires songs and kisses.
The Soria Dam comes into sight. The car goes quiet.
It is a beautiful night out and the Soria looks nothing like she does when the sun is beating down on her. By the moonlight it could be Iceland and in the silence you suddenly become aware how explosive this whole thing is.
One thing I didn’t know about Gran Canaria is that Guinness Book of Records lists it as the Island with the most lakes, but this is the third dam I’ve seen since I’ve been here. The Embalse de Soria is the biggest water reservoir on the island. It’s deep and steep, and built in 1971 boasts the capacity to hold more then 83 million cubic meters of water. I have no idea how to illustrate it, besides sharing the first thing out of our driver’s mouth. “It’s fucking massive.” It is indeed a massive block of corroding concrete, looking large and in charge and ever so out of place as it curls between the mountains, one ugly fucker in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
Over the next two and a half hours I’d have a lot of time to think about the dam, to listen to the frogs and the dogs, the lizards and the birds and wonder just what the hell they were screaming about as their song ping ponged across the canyon. It’s amazing how a mountain can remove you from the mousse, let you stop calculating and start meditating so to speak. In the three months we’ve spent here I’ve been amazed at how much changes when nothing happens, and how much can happen when nothing seems to.
I hugged my friend and said see you soon. There was never any sense in suggesting to him that this might have been a bad idea, though that’s exactly what I’d thought as we scouted the place a few nights ago. Likewise, there is no real sense in going into detail about why he felt this had to be done.
He walked down the road as it snaked around and came to an end in front of a small green door, on a small white wall. On the other side of the door were steps that led to a ledge about one meter in width, which followed the Dam to provide workers access. I don’t think workers step out there all that often though. The whole thing looked like it hadn’t been touched in over a decade.
Once he’d gotten to the stairs, unless this rusting ledge had some sort of surprising Fort Knox security system, the most pressing concerns were over. Without a key to the door, he had to climb the wall very carefully and position himself to push of the handrail and onto the ledge. A few inches to the right and the only thing the darkness hid was a 100m drop from nowhere to nowhere.
Safely on the ledge, he had some help getting the 20 liters of paint into his hands. From then on, it was a solo mission that would take place 200 meters above a whole lot of rock.
It would have been more visible if he’d done it in black, but there is enough black surrounding our wishes. Let our wishes be pink and soft and playful. There was nothing aggressive in this intervention besides a militancy of attention that was absolutely necessary for a successful mission. Things can go wrong in a couple of centimeters, long before you start painting in pitch blackness or trying to space out 9 letters, which are 4m high and go on for 60m with a huge pipe blocking the path. I am not sure what I’m more impressed with; the idea, the skill, the will or the mastery of craft involved in doing something that looks somewhat easy, but anybody who ever tried will know, involves layers of complication and challenge.
And I said I wouldn’t go too far into it, but you must want to know- Why? Why take on such a suicide mission? It was not a death desire, but a will for transformation and beauty. This is the art of transformation and it often looks almost exactly like reality, but is just that little bit different as it unlocks potential and shares its own joy. Transformation is the only real reason.
I found a nice place on the top of the cliff that had a clear view of the ledge and took a seat. Where was he? If he was half as nervous as I was, he never let it show. Finally I saw him in the way you see traffic from an airplane. He looked like an ant as he walked 60meters to his right and then returned left for a sentence starts in European languages.
MAKE A WISH
So I did. Several times in fact. And less then three hours later my friend came out caked in paint, sweating like he’d just guarded Lionel Messi for 90 minutes and smiling like his lips might reach up and wrap around his ears.
After I get some sleep I guess its my duty to write to the Guinness Book of World Records and tell them that Gran Canaria now also boasts the biggest wishing well in the world and it didn’t take an army to build it.
You can read more about Dam Art, Dune Art, Land Art and our four cats called Charlie in the links below.