Roads appeared at the start of the mountains. A solid path of tarmac cuts into the sand, not a drop of gravel out of place. For the first time our posse of motorbikes travelled on a surface designed for their wheels.
The mountain air was cooler than the desert, and infused with wild herbs. A tiny lizard scuttled past. So far, so normal. Further up, the atmosphere changed to something damper. My shirt soaked up the extra moisture. Green flowers dotted the scrubland, starting off thin and weedy, but growin to the size of branches. I had seen some before on a trip to the zoo. They were much larger and vibrant than the ones brought to the surface.
The path turned around a corner, and surrounded us on all sides. A pair of Janco’s magpies stared at us.
The birds were at least a foot long, with conker eyes, and beaks like paper knives. They hopped along branches far too weedy for their weight. The size of them was incredible. There's something very physical and intimidating about a bird that size . You realise this is the norm out here? People go hiking down this route.
We took a break where the plants grew to the diameter of redwoods. Something small and dark swam inside the leaves. Jean-Michel pulled out what looked like an iron covered in spikes. He rammed one into the foliage, and water sprayed from four neat holes.
‘The rule is put back anything you find,’ he said.
He cupped both palms, and slid them into the gushing stream. I’ll be honest, I thought he was washing his hands. Until a fish plopped into his makeshift container.
The scales were grey, with needle teeth shoved in the mouth, and a tube dangling between the eyes. I vaguely recognised something similar from a documentary about the deepest parts of the ocean. The Butter Mouse nuzzled into my chest. I didn’t even realise I had put her on.
‘The are pumped up down from the surface,’ Jean-Michel said. ‘Confusing huh? The pressure doesn’t affect them in Nadada. No idea why. Maybe it’s more the pressure doesn’t affect us.’
He handed round spiked irons, and we all caught deep sea fish. If you trap them in the right way between your fingers they glow.
We camped near the peak tonight. Although we have a fair way to go, the light of Duchamp are already visible. I wonder where The Kandinsky is. Perhaps crawling over the rocks like the lizard, or swimming through plants with the strangest creatures of the ocean.