In the morning we arise and walk. There’s a group of 3 wild dogs running around the campground. One older slow one. One middle aged friendly one. One young, very playful one. The young one and Sherman play a bit. If we were in a place Sherman could run, they’d have a great time.
Back to the van. Eat. Head to Visitor’s Center. I go in for a map and suggestions. I ask the man at the counter where anthropologists think the original people here migrated from? We’re they from the Mesa Verda diaspora? He just said he has no idea, and laughed. OK. Me neither!
There’s one hiking trail into the canyon. But Sherman’s not allowed. So, no hike today. I choose the South Rim because it has more overlooks.
Looking in the other direction. I am fascinated by this place. The beauty is mind stopping. The energy rushed from the ground through the body and up into the atmosphere. The place has an powerfully grounded, loved presence.
After a couple turnoffs I’m not feeling great. A friend calls and we talk for awhile. I’m overwhelmed by the venders at every stop. At the next stop, I get the message that I need to start talking with them. Mostly these are craftspeople trying to make a living. Just like me. We talk. I buy some nice stuff. I feel better.
The people I buy from all live in the canyon. Navaho and Hopi are matrilineal. I said later in the day that I think women should run the world. Men haven’t shown that they are qualified.
There are about a dozen cliff dwellings in the valley. Most are small communities. The largest, White House, is the one with a public access trail to it. With the amount of arable land and a steady water supply, the need for cliff dwellings was not so high as in Mesa Verde where the fields were on TOP of the mesa. Living high on the cliffs was a short commute! Here with crops in the canyon bottom, the dwellings are near the bottom of the cliffs.
This is White House. A woman that I bought some jewelry from asked me if i’d hiked down there. (This is the one trail that is open to the public without a Navaho guide.) I said no. She said to look for the farmhouse closest to the ruins. That’s her house. It was built by her Grandfather. Her mother was raised there. She was raised there. Her mother now lives nearby out of the canyon. The roads into and out of the canyon are too harsh for her age and health. Before the house was there, her ancestors lived in hogans on the land. There ‘s a peach orchard that was planted over 200 years ago by her ancestors that still produced huge numbers of peaches. The tilled lands have been her families for generations and generations.The people who live here were never resettled elsewhere by the US Govt. When the soldiers came, the people hid. When they left, the people came back.
At the end of the road. This is Spider Rock. I’m expecting something different. It’s another red rock spire! A girl about 10 who lives in the area says she’s been here many times. Explains to me that the spider taught humans how to weave. And that the spire is freestanding. It’s NOT touching the rocks behind it. I ask if it’s touching near the bottom? She says, “Yes, the bottom bit is touching, and then it’s separate.” She says she loves coming here. Her family of parents and 5 kids is gathering food and stuff out of their van to have a picnic.
OK. That’s the end of the South Rim. Canyon de Chelly, you were a surprise. A stunning beauty.
We’re now off to Hopi Reservation, about 2 hours away. I’m looking for the Hopi Cultural Center on 2nd Mesa. I find it at 4:30. Most of the small shops are closed. The restaurant is open and a craft store is open. I go in the craft shop, talk with the man there about being a craftsperson. Buy something from him that I can gift to another. I ask him if he knows how to get ahold of any local guides? He say yes and goes to a desk against the back wall, looks at a list titled Guides, and starts calling. He only gets ahold of one, who’s busy on a family project and can’t go with anyone until that’s completed. No one else answers. He says he’ll be back in the morning about 6:30 with some jewelry and will check with them again. He’ll come to the camping area out back and find me if I’m not up. So, I’ll be up!
No pics allowed on Hopi. They specifically ask that no one take any photos, make any drawings, record anything. Take all the photos and make all the recording in your head that you like!
So, you’ll have to imagine along with my descriptions, using what you’ve seen printed elsewhere.