While coming out of Salvation Mountain into Niland, California yesterday, my wife and I came upon a character. A disheveled man was leading two mules and a dog toward shade…an abandoned Mexican restaurant’s front porch area. We stopped and conversed with the man, who identified himself as Cuervo. And, ‘Yes you can take my picture for five bucks!”.
My wife snapped away as I talked to Cuervo. He was calm, measured and talkative. He related stories of Mexico, arrests, the transient lifestyle, all the while easily moving about posing and feeding his mules. His dog hid in the shade. It was an interesting enough experience.
But, later that day, I wondered if that was a random event with Cuervo or a staged photo op for camera touting tourists coming down out of Salvation Mountain feeling the good vibes of that experience and coming upon Cuervo! Hmmm? What were the odds if I queried ‘Cuervo’ & ‘Niland’.
Well low and behold Cuervo (Craig Kline) does attract a bit of attention (mostly positive) and that was alright. A Nomad with Mules that hustles to survive is a step up from the guys hustling the freeway exits with dogs, etc. in Portland. Perhaps they are just missing the mules, but I am rarely driven to talk to them or photograph them. A difference in circumstances and locale I suppose…all relative.