This was not on the program initially. But to do a private sunset tour, on the largest Indian reservation in the U.S., with a Navajo guide was irresistible. Thus onto Kayenta, Arizona the nearest city to the Monument Valley tribal park, after an unsuccessful try to book the hotel on the park grounds. A local B&B near the grounds where one would sleep in an original Navajo Hogan amended with a real door and a queen bed instead of sleeping on the floor, was rejected by my spouse, who needs air conditioning (in 100+ degree temps) and ensuite facilities.
|Monument Valley is so so Red|
|Winter picture of the Hogan B&B|
|The classic entrance picture to the park|
So we booked the most, although not fact checked yet, expensive Hampton Inn in the country. Seems that way, or the fee and taxes to the Navajo Nation causes this, or that Hampton Inn lacks competition and behaves in a capitalistic free trade fashion. The fact that the gas prices here were much lower than outside the reservation makes me opt for the latter.
|Most famous Grandmother|
The next unfortunate realization was that throughout the "Nation" no alcohol can be sold. I realized too late that the family structure here is matriarchal. Grandmas rule the clans. The nearest wine and beer outlet, as a consequence, was 2 hours driving from the hotels, across the Nations border. O'Doul's rules here. Our guide Wayne smiled when I asked if there were stills around. I brought up this subject during our sunset trip, because I wanted to live with the hope that grandmas can only rule to the extent that can be endured by man.
|Wayne trying to tip the cube|
|The hole is right above us|
|The gossiping sisters|
|The Navajo Cathedral|
Dinners were infinitely cheap as a consequence. By the way, stay away from Navajo fry bread, an unseasoned corn tortilla that is deep fried, dense and oily.
The weather did not oblige as I had hoped during the sunset tour, because no wonderful sunset was observed that night. Having Wayne, a talkative guide naming each rock formation with touristy labels such as "right thumb" and "the three sisters" led me to change the subject to clan life. His family history here, while we passed compounds of hogans blazing smoke through the roof vent holes and to schooling, lack of electricity, job opportunities, etcetera, etcetera. The average clan size here is thirty members, ruled by the oldest female. She has a council of wise elders, which can include men.
Having a guide brought us off the tourist trails onto tribal lands to rock formations not otherwise accessible. And we enjoyed songs, by Wayne and other guides, to the spirits in a cave with a hole in the roof, considered a religious gathering place by the local tribe.
|All clans have one or two sweat hogans. I was wondering why in this heat? I immediately said to myself but the winters are very cold. That must be why. Wayne however explained that these sweat lodges exist because there is no or little water in the desert. And sweating is one way of cleansing pores. So it is their shower. Wow.|
|Masterwork by water and wind|
The next day we drove around the Navajo Nation and visited a National Monument co-managed by the National Park Service and the Tribe: the Canyon de Chelly National Monument, where we saw Indian villages below us on the canyon floor, where farm life today still flourishes. Pumpkins, Indian corn, melons, peaches etc. are grown here in one of the widest canyon valleys in the US.
It was here where we bought the only souvenir during this trip from a young Indian, who wanted to use the money of his sales to leave the village on the canyon floor for better opportunities.
|The only souvenir I bought and the artist|
From here it was on to Moab on a Sunday morning driving back through Utah where, funny enough, on Sundays one can not buy alcohol!
|Anaszasi Ruins on Valley floor|
|Petroglyphs in Monument Valley|