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Read all the “Navigating Baja” dispatches.

How does one become an adventurist? Let’s take a lesson from an original, Chris Mathias.

Open the wooden gates and enter another world in Los Barilles, Baja California, Mexico.

It’s a slice of something out of your imagination. A storybook blend of Wes Anderson meets Dr. Seuss co-mingles here down a dirt road laden with spiny cactus, rogue dogs, horned cattle, and eccentric dune buggy enthusiasts. This is why we love adventure, because it squarely puts you in a place that is other-worldly. It shifts your perspective on different ways of being in the world.

We’ve entered Chris’s world and are about to head on an adventure. But first, bathtime.

Cradled by flowering trees and cactus, side-by-side outdoors bathtubs are filling up with frothy bubbles. Our crew is slowly waking up as a dusty dawn casts perfect light over the grounded Airstreams, canvas tents, and palm-laden palapas. It is day two in the desert. We have no plan.

I pour a cup of coffee, slip on my bathing suit, and slide into the tub next to Chris, who’s already relaxing into a morning ritual of “let things happen.” Chris is an unlikely companion and dear friend after we met on an expedition gone south in the Andes last fall. In the face of immense loss, we both reevaluated life. I left New York City to breath, and he, well, he radically changed his life. He shuttered the doors on his business, sold his place in Colorado, and moved down to Baja to, as he says, “operate on a different currency.” And that currency in his words is “radical love, serendipity, and kindness to all who cross his path.”

In the back of my mind, my inner-sceptic wonders if the equation of radical love and fly by the seat of your pants optimism enough to plan an entire ten-day adventure in Baja? Chris is a constant teacher in the art of letting go. Slowly Austin, Max, Hayden, and others pull up chairs and gravitate around Chris and me in the tubs for an unorthodox meeting. His pruney wet fingers pull out a hand-drawn map, dates, and a list of all that will unfold in the coming ten days. There’s whale sharks, Hawaiian canoes, and hot springs in the heart of the desert… a little bit of a roadmap about what could come to fruition if we just trust the process.

And that is it. The process. Chris explains that Baja makes you operate on a different frequency, one where your car inevitably breaks down here, but it’s the cops and the neighbors and the shop owners who stop everything to help. You roll with the punches. (His old Land Cruiser caught on fire later in the week. He threw sand in the engine, then laughed. And a new car serendipitously entered his life later in the day. It’s like that.) He continued that it’s about slowing down and letting it happen. In the overly produced world of filmmaking, the art of letting go is like gripping to the side of a cliff and not seeing the bottom. But with Chris, you must let go because those who fight his process explode with frustration and those who go along—get a little glimpse of magic.

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The Tubist meeting adjourns. Chris and I step out and dry off the remaining bubbles. Max and Hayden go snag their camera gear, Austin grabs his notes on celestial navigation, and the rest of gang head to the gate. We set out on an adventure together with complete trust in the process. Low and behold by the end, we’d circled the list, checked off the map, swam with the largest fish in the world and learned the art of the adventure a la letting go.

Read all the “Navigating Baja” dispatches.

The Adventurists blog series “Navigating Baja” is sponsored by OluKai, which provided footwear for this adventure.

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