Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Indian Pueblo Culture

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre is marvellous. It's owned and operated by the 19 pueblos of New Mexico. At the moment there is an exhibition of women artists from the pueblos, as well as the permanent exhibition that takes you from the very earliest times of pueblo Indian settlement, through to the current day. It goes right through the Spanish coming to the area and the impact of that coming as well.

It's a great place, and left us both with a really strong and rich appreciation of the pueblo culture. It also left me wondering (although I know the answer) why oh why don't we have something like this in Australia that both celebrates our own indigenous people, and educates white Australians?

The best part was the dancing. The dancers were from the Zuni people and were just awesome. And we were allowed to take photos.

The Eagle Dance

The Buffalo Dance

New Mexico

Driving into New Mexico is like every western movie that you've ever seen. At any moment, the cowboys are going to come over the nearest rise, galloping, the Sheriff's posse after an outlaw. Turn in another direction, and you know that really, it's Bonanza, and that you've wandered onto the Ponderosa, that Little Joe and Hos are coming, and that Pa is back at the ranch. It's even possible that Zorro may appear in the Hispanic areas.

After Arizona, the land flattens out and is less red. There are still the hills that appear to be sheared off and that rise out of the plains at strange angles, but more than anything this is plains country. Between Flagstaff and Albuquerque is the country of the plains Indians – the Navajo and the Apache. In and around Albuquerque and Santa Fe are the lands of the pueblo Indians. Where as the plains Indians moved across the country side, the pueblo Indians built more permanent structures and stayed more or less in the one place. (and boy do I hope I've got that right).

UFOs come to New Mexico. In the south west corner of the state is Roswell. Mulder and Scully from the X-Files hang out there. In the movie 'Independence Day' this is where they kept the aliens, and where Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum had space dog-fights and shot 'em down. Roswell is a haven for UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists. In 1947, something was found at Roswell. Initially the US military released a statement saying that the wreckage of a spaceship had been found, then four hours later it released another statement stating that it was just the remains of a weather balloon. That was enough for conspiracy theorists and UFO freaks – ever since then Roswell has been synonymous with 'they aren't telling us everything and it's a big cover up' and 'there are really aliens here already'.

In addition, Los Alamos is in New Mexico. This where the Los Alamos National Laboratory is located - the home of the first atomic bomb in World War II.

So New Mexico has some interesting – even if some of it is kinda quirky - stuff.

Albuquerque is the junction of two major highways in New Mexico - Interstate 25 running north – south, and Interstate 40 running east – west. They meet and cross bang smack in Albuquerque, effectively dividing the city – and the state – into 4. The guidebooks tell us not to be out off by this – but honestly, it's difficult not to be. Everywhere we go, it seems that we're on a freeway.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Leaving Arizona

Tomorrow we're moving on. We've got a week organised in Albuquerque in New Mexico. So, before we leave – here are

Andy's Tips for Arizona

1.Go. Don't miss Arizona. It is spectacular.
2.The prices vary enormously – so consider staying in a cheaper town and traveling. Flagstaff worked well for us. It's really friendly, very cheap – as a tourist – and central to North Arizona.
3.Use the National Parks services at the Grand Canyon. And leave a tip. These folks do an awesome job and do it with humour and generosity.
4.Don't stay near the railway tracks in Flagstaff – having seen all the trains going through town, I can tell you – you'll be sorry.
5.Don't go anywhere Sedona. You won't like it. I want it to stay as undiscovered as it can possibly be, so that when Amy and I win the lottery we can come back to it as it is.
6.Go out early and come home early afternoon – it gets hot.
7.And for goodness sakes – don't go to Chloride!

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon appears out of no where. After we paid our admission to the Grand Canyon National Park, we drove towards the carpark to get the shuttle bus – and came around a bend in the road and there is the side of the road, as the trees clear......The Grand Canyon.

It is the most breathtaking and awesome sight that I've ever seen.

The National Parks Service do a great job. There are a series of shuttle buses that take various routes through the park. They stop at different spots throughout the park, and run every 15 minutes. So it's easy – pick your sight seeing route, hop on the bus and take a free tour. The bus drivers know stuff – so we heard all sorts of interesting information about the forests as we drove from place to place. At the different stops there are park rangers who give talks and answer questions. So we'd get get off the bus, look around and at some stage there'd be a ranger talking. At the pueblo – ruins that go back to 1150 – this was great. The ranger talked at length about the people who had lived there, the hopi indian legends associated with the ruins and the archaeological dig that has been taking place. She was great. And all this was included in our admission price to the National Park.

I can't describe it – so I'm going to let the photos make an attempt instead.


Sedona is one the most beautiful places that I've ever been. The desert earth is red, the trees are green and the landscape looks like it's been carved out with a sharp knife. This is the place that we buy land a house when we win the lottery. Words can't describe Sedona- so here are the photos.