OCOTILLO WELLS, Calif. — A quirky dream came true for one world traveler at the western edge of Imperial County. On Feb. 6, 2022, a new “micronation” was formed and a self-proclaimed leader was appointed. The leader calls it the United Territories of the Sovereign Nation of the People's Republic of Slowjamastan.
The sandy, mostly barren land sits on an 11.07-acre plot sandwiched between Ocotillo Wells and Westmorland. Getting inside Slowjamastan is not easy. The border is heavily guarded and there’s a strict dress code. Local law prohibits anyone wearing Crocs from entering.
Once you are given a visa, the Sultan of Slowjamastan welcomes everyone with a speech. It is a very long speech, but in it the Sultan explains some of his future plans for the new nation.
“We have many visions. Some are grand, some are small. A bowling alley, a Korean BBQ, an armadillo farm right over there,” says the Sultan.
The Sultan’s future plans may seem a little strange, but Slowjamastan has very few neighbors. The nearest major city is 20 miles away and the Sultan says he does not plan to be hostile to anyone unless they break the dress code.
“We are absolutely a peace-loving nation. There are only a few things we hate. Crocs. The silly rubber shoes with the holes,” says the Sultan.
The hatred for Crocs runs so deep that the Sultan has gone to great lengths to protect his nation from intruders wearing them. Landmines being one deterrent.
“They are confetti landmines. They shoot confetti and Mexican candy. Have you had the Mexican candy with the chili inside? It is very sweet, then spicy. Surprise!”
Despite what the Sultan will tell you, there’s not much to protect within Slowjamastan’s borders. Sand is the nation’s main export, the Slowjamastan River can’t sustain any crops and there are no industries. That is why the Sultan relies on his American job to keep the country afloat.
“My job for money is radio DJ and I do a show called 'Sunday Night Slow Jams.' It airs all across America, 200 stations including Sacramento,” says the Sultan.
The truth is, the leader of Slowjamastan has an alternate persona. The Sultan is actually radio host Randy Williams and he is a world traveler, or at least he was.
“My goal and mission in life is to see all 193 countries. There are 193 countries in the world and so far, I have seen 175,” says Williams.
Williams says he might have seen all 193 countries by now, if not for COVID-19. Like all other world travelers during the pandemic, he was grounded.
“True story. Basically, I ran out of countries, so I made my own,” says Williams. “You can print that. 'Man can't travel to other country, so he made his own.'”
Slowjamastan is more than a patch of sand to Williams. It's more than a fun talking point on his radio show. Slowjamastan is a haven. A pandemic-friendly place in the middle of the desert where Americans can travel outside the country safely.
“I think, Mr. Bartell, that 99% of people actually get what we are doing. They enjoy it and have fun but 1% don’t get it and I think that is because they are scared of the unknown. I once was before was not very well-traveled. I was scared of things I did not understand, but now I understand them and embrace them. We are here to give hugs. During COVID, we do fist bumps. We are a peace-loving nation,” says Williams.