Marfa’s mysterious lights

The town of Marfa in Texas is close to the border with Mexico, and not so far from sections of Trump’s Wall, which I wrote about in my previous post.

It’s a small town, with some attractive Art Deco buildings, like the Palace, shown above. It has a rather classy 1950s style hotel, The Paisano, where the stars of the 1956 film “Giant” stayed whilst filming took place. It’s a stylish hotel, slightly old fashioned, certainly characterful. I’ve stayed there twice with family whilst on a road trip, and on the last visit our son and family were accommodated in the Elizabeth Taylor Suite – yes, she was in the film along with James Dean and Rock Hudson, and she stayed there! It was rather chinzty, definitely the lap of luxury in the 1950s, but maybe not to your taste if you like modern styles.

Marfa is suprisingly progressive for a small town, as it’s a centre for art and creativity of all kinds. There are enterprising galleries and craft shops, and the Chinati Foundation, an art museum, is based there in the surrounding desert. The grocery and health food shop I went into there was the best stocked I’ve ever seen, near galleries which are open for visitors to pop into and see what’s new in conceptual art. Not my favourite art form, but when in Marfa, go and take a look! This clean white, striking building is a gallery.P1060849 (2)

On the desert road leading to Marfa, there is a surprising art installation by the side of the dusty desert road. Prada in the desert displays shoes and handbags, but it’s not for real – or is it…? Maybe that’s what conceptual art is about? It’s signifcance ususally escapes me!P1060822

So what of Marfa’s mysterious lights? Out in the desert, a short drive from Marfa, there’s a viewing station which people can go to at night to see if they can spot any of the famous Marfa lights, which seem to beam and float across the surrounding desert and come from a certain direction. Some say that they’re the lights of UFOs flying across the desert, some say they’re the headlights of cars on a distant freeway and yet others claim they’re made by the release of a natural gas which appears in luminous globes. Basically no-one knows, but whatever, it’s a good story and certainly worth going to see them and checking them out.

When I went there is was night time and it was cold out in the desert. A dwindling group of tourists in the viewing area were getting excited at seeing lights floating and glowing across the darkened desert. I was there with my son and we both thought it was pretty obvious that they were distant car headlights. The viewing area emptied and we were almost the last there. Getting cold, we started to head back to the car and I took one last look, not in the direction of the car headlights phenomena, but looking to the left of the direction of the bright lights.

I saw a ghostly, faintly glowing globe of light quite close to where I was standing. It had an ethereal greenish glow and it lasted a matter of seconds before it disappeared. I’ve no idea what it was – maybe a bubble of natural gas – who knows? I’d seen A Marfa light, but whether or not it was one of THE Marfa lights, I can’t be sure.

It did for me though, and I was glad to get back into the warmth of the car and back to the 1950s ambience of The Paisano for our overnight stop.