Leaving Bryce, we reached the Valley of the Gods, the starting point for the Four Corners Area.
Like I had expected, it was hard to really get a feeling for how life is, here, but it proved to be harder and more complicated than I thought. In fact, you enter a third world country; the sour history of this place comes to the surface, and is more complicated than I had learned in history books.
We needed to read more about this area, and come back later.
Imagine driving for hours tarmac, on a plain, when suddenly, at the moment the sun is setting, the tarmac turns into gravel. Before you, hairpins go down, and before you opens a landscape, illuminated by the red setting sun, of strangely formed rocks, in a desert landscape. Yo have arrived in the Valley of the Gods.
We were so lucky to sleep in the Bed & Breakfast of the same name. You have to book a year in advance, but when we arrived they had a couple of days off, and they were happy to accomodate us. This Bed & Breakfast is situated in Paradise...
The Gods of the Valley of the Gods, are Changing Woman and her army, who stand there to give their strength and braveness on to the Navajo who visit them.
A visit to Monument Valley should start at the Oljato Trading Post, which will give you some sense of the young history of this place. It will make you realise even better, when you drive between the monuments, how long they stand there, and how tiny we humans are, and how fast we live and die.
The monuments themselves are strangely familiar, and foreign at the same time.
There are more photographs of Monument Valley on the Dutch nl Day 1 .
There is a big version of this picture (161 KB).
You are able to drive on the bottom of the Canyon de Chelly, with a guide, but we drove alongside. There are walks at certain points to places where you have a view on, for instance, old Anasazi dwellings, like this one.
More pictures on nl Day 2 .
The Aztec Ruins were a nice surprize. We visited them at sunset, which is of course the most beautiful time of the day, with the added advantage that you have the place for yourself.
You are allowed to walk in some of the buildings, and you can vist the great kiva which is fulle reconstructed. Nowadays, that would never be done again, because you never know for sure how you should reconstruct the building, but it is nice to have one place where you can dwell inside an intact kiva.
More photographs on nl Day 2.
Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon is a beautiful, big pueblo. Our guide told us of the theories about he sudden disappearance of the Anasazi (which has probably more to do with a more attractive religion that was practiced at other places, or with the fact that the culture couldn't "cement together" a big community like the one of Chaco, than with drought.
A bigger version of theis photograph is available (125 Kb).
At Chaco, there are two great Kiva's, very big, and rather well preserved.
More photographs on nl day 3...
We ended in Cuba, where people live exactly in houses and on land like I think everybody should be allowed to live ;-)
More pictures on nl day 3
In the Four Corner Area, we felt estranged and confused. By that time, we didn't know very much about the Native Americans living there. I had learned from my guidebook that the Four Corner Area is inhabited by Hopi, Navajo and Apache.
Only later we would learn, by reading books, how different these peoples are.
The Hopi are descendents of the Anasazi: they are pueblo people, and have lived where they live now for a very long time (one of their villages is the oldest permanently inhabited place in the USA).
The Navajo and the Apaches came in the time of the Spaniards. They were dwellers, not settlers. They lived of hunting and raiding.
In the time of the Spaniards, the raiding did not only consist of stealing food, but also on taking chlidren and women from the Hopi, to sell them as slaves to the Spaniards. At the same time, the Navajo settled down in the area, and the raids became so severe that the Hopi almost vanished completely off this world.
It is a strange fate that the land of the Four Corners was originally given to "the Indians", and that the Navajo have taken the biggest part by far, and that the Hopi are surrounded by their previous enemies.
Somehow, you sense that there is something wrong there...