Marfa, Texas, is a quaint little town that counts some 2,000 residents. Over the past decade, the status of Marfa has reached almost mythical proportions because of an incredible influx of stores, art institutions, and quite a few Los Angelenos and New Yorkers who set up camp here as they were looking for a life somewhat simpler.
The town is situated in a vast desert setting, and the nearest town is almost 20 miles away, while the nearest major airport is over 200 away. Marfa is now one of the new subjects of modern life, and people return here awestruck from the starry nights and desert landscape, while they share great Instagram snap shots of them and Prada Marfa. It goes without saying that the small town of Marfa has amassed so much hype.
Unlike other popular travel destinations like Mexico City or Puglia, Italy, Marfa is asking visitors to respect the area’s rugged desert landscape, a situation that sometimes has no magic at all, particularly to those folks that are used to the necessities and the rhythm of big-city life. But okay, I packed my carry-on bags and started out on my journey west to become part of the 3rd annual Marfa Myths Music festival, organized by Marfa’s Mexican Summer and Ballroom.
The festival was set up the first time in 2014, and it is a proven instrument to introduce new artists and people to the town. This is a great fest for journalists, musicians, photographers, or just a few college kids who are seeking some off-the-grid fun. This year, the festival was the largest so far, and the almost 1000 music lovers had booked up practically every camp site, rental, car, or hotel room in the area. and the festival hosted artists like Connan Mockasin’s Wet Dream and No Age.
Getting to Marfa
In the time it took me to get to Marfa, I also could have been traveling to, for example, London and back. It took me, when I include all travel time for flights, delays, and car rides, more than 15 hours to get there. Most travelers will probably prefer to travel through El Paso’s airport, as from there it will take you some three hours to get to Marfa by car, by far the shortest route.
If you travel through smaller airports, like I did, you’re sure to have to deal with several delays. Driving your way through a great desert landscape, though, is absolutely magical, and the city of El Paso is boasting a few of the strangest signage that I’ve ever encountered. The hills and mountains in the desert setting are stunning at any time of the day, and this is great, just like everything in Texas seems to be great.
Beware that rest stops are far in-between, so be sure to bring some water and snacks before you set out. You really need to stop at Prada Marfa, some 30 minutes from Marfa, which is looking at its best at sunset or sunrise.
Understand small-town logistics when you get there
There are some essentials that you’ll want to have around you straight away by the time you get there. You can’t do without cash, sunglasses, sunscreen, and very comfortable shoes. Get your cash before you get there, as Marfa has three ATM’s in total, and none of them are from a major bank.
The streets of the little town, particularly in a day’s early hours, are sometimes totally empty, and to anyone who is used to see other people at any time of the day (and night) this may stir a pretty uneasy feeling. Hardly any people are seen walking through a town like Marfa, so don’t be surprised to see nobody else on the sidewalk, that is, if there is a sidewalk. Cell phone coverage is highly unreliable, so bring out a map as well, and plan daily stops before you set out.
The music and art scenes
The Lost Horse Saloon, Planet Marfa, Capri, and El Cosmico all host musical performances all year long, but if you want to check out Marfa’s music scene come to the town during Marfa Myths. This is a cultural program that in 2016 took place from 10 to 13 March, and that’s organized by Ballroom Marfa in cooperation with Mexican Summer, a Brooklyn-based record label. Marfa Myths features musicians and artists from the world of music, visual arts, and film.