During my recent trip to Marfa, Texas, I spent three nights at El Cosmico. To call El Cosmico a campground would hardly be accurate, as it’s clear the bulk of its revenue doesn’t come from cheapskate self-campers like me. In fact, the property is often listed as a hotel in tourist publications. It’s better known for the luxury yurts, teepees, safari tents, and trailers it rents out for hundreds of dollars a night. Let’s call it glamping.
That’s not to say we self-campers were treated as second-class citizens at El Cosmico. I was able to use all the same amenities as the glampers, except no one came to change my sheets every morning. The rules for self-camping were straightforward: don’t put your tent within 20 feet of an amenity or within 20 feet of another camper. Surprisingly, I wasn’t given anything to identify me as a paid camper. I’ve camped before in places without site assignments, and usually I’ve been given a tag or sticker to attach to my tent and some sort of receipt to keep on my person. I had neither here. It seems to operate on the honor system.
Shortly after my arrival early Thursday afternoon, I set up my tent in a grove of trees, in the middle of the best shade I could find. Since there were only about three other tents on the whole property at the time, maintaining the 20-foot rule was no problem. The tent I brought was the one I usually use with Kathryn, and although it sets up more easily with two people, it’s doable with one. After a half-hour or so of setting up the tent and preparing my bedding in the hot West Texas afternoon heat, I was ready to relax. I headed to one of the hammock groves to chill out for a while.
After relaxing for an hour or so and then heading out to see the town, I decided that I’d had enough sweat and wanted a shower. The outdoor showers are probably the most enjoyable amenity at El Cosmico. I showered just before dusk, and there was a gentle breeze which felt great. The walls of the shower are made of cedar or something similar, so they smell nice too. I might have a different opinion of the outdoor showers if I had been there in February, but there are reportedly showers in the main house too. In June, the outdoor showers are perfect as far as I’m concerned.
After a refreshing shower, I was ready to spend the evening on the patio of the main house, enjoying some cold beer and watching a live performance from a band called Siamese out of Dallas. After the band performed two identical sets — the cowboy I mentioned in an earlier post arrived late and bribed them to repeat the set — I bought a copy of their CD to bring home to Kathryn. And maybe also as an excuse to talk to the keyboardist. After listening to the CD, Kathryn described the music as “that slow-ass post-modern shit that you like,” or something to that effect. Not an unfair description — of them or of me.
Although there was no more live music during my stay, the rest of my time there was much of the same: hot days, cool showers at dusk, beer in the evenings. At home, I’m usually an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of guy — I started writing this post around 4 am, and I was already on my second cup of coffee — but sleeping in a tent in Marfa in June meant I had to stay up well past dark, unless I wanted to get into my tent and sweat for the first several hours. All things considered, I slept rather well while I was there.
So, bottom line, would I stay at El Cosmico again? Absolutely. Next time, though, I’d prefer to be there with Kathryn.