The sun sets as we climb into the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca in our rented Beetle, and on a road that suddenly seems too narrow, we cross gorges thousands of feet deep. We are driving to Oaxaca City, the capital of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, to explore its burgeoning art community. But first we have to cross the mountains, over deep rifts in the earth, through creases between heaving rocks, past crevices like cracks between a giant's toes. Then we round a bend and quickly stop.
Red light sweeps our faces and the mountain beyond. Three police cars are parked in the oncoming lane, and in our headlights an officer beckons us forward. We don't move. Spotlit behind him, a panel truck teeters on the guardrail, front wheels over empty dark, back wheels floating above asphalt. Though we can't see the driver, he must be frozen in fear that a sudden shift of weight will tip the balance.
The officers gathered around the truck seem as dumbfounded as we are. One stands at the guardrail, hands on hips, peering into the gorge. Only the beckoning officer moves, and he waves his hand more insistently until we drive past this spectacle, the only brightly lit spot in miles of blackness.
A few twists of the road later, the darkness is once again complete. The image of the truck and driver, the impossible balance, seems surreal, almost a dream.