This is a hard place. 

The gentle sunrise behind the mountains. The cold, beige sand. The clouds that streak across the sky, swirling around the sun. And the tall cacti rising up across the landscape like the hairs on the back of your neck... It's all just a reminder of what's to come. A moment of forgiveness before the bell rings. The only mercy the Sonoran landscape might show you. 

Those first few minutes of morning, before the sun has fully shown herself, before her warmth reaches across that cold sand and up the trunk of that tall, green cactus. Afterwards, the colors change. Beige becomes yellow, becomes white. The chilayos providing a place of respite from the sun when she's not directly overhead. The clouds migrate to other parts of Mexico, leaving behind a tight blue canvass stretched all the way to the horizon.

Narcos in stolen silver trucks crisscross the land, with ski-masks and mismatched fatigues and Soviet era AK-47s slung over their shoulders. They're young, with blood in their eyes. And they're lost. Guidance comes only from an older version of their misguided selves, whose bravado wafts into the air like prom queen perfume. A stare turns to a smirk when they realize your intentions are not interfering with theirs. Hands around your neck. At their mercy. 

And this is just your first day in the desert.