Josie drove them into the canyon the next morning in her Jeep. It was a rough, dusty ride but even without the promise of seeing Lara, the scenery was worth any discomfort. The sheer rock walls and fantastic formations were painted in amber, crimson, burnt umber and orange hues that took Michaela’s breath away. Carved out of the walls were caves, some small, some large enough to hold the ruins of apartment-like stone structures.
Pointing to one such cave, Josie said, “See those pueblo ruins? They were built by the ancient ones who lived here in prehistoric times. Canyon de Chelly is a national monument because of those ruins. They’re guarded by Park Rangers. Tourists are allowed to hike only on one self-guided trail. If they want to see more of the canyon, they have to hire a licensed Navajo tour guide.”
Obviously proud of her heritage, she added, “The canyon lies within the Navaho Nation and a number of families live here. They mostly farm and ranch either sheep or cattle, or both. My dad has a small place up ahead. He grows peaches and herds a few sheep for their wool, which he weaves into blankets.” She chuckled. “Tourist love Navajo blankets.”
As they wound through the canyon, Michaela admired the narrow valley dotted with fruit orchards and pastures where cattle and sheep grazed. Among the green patches stood farm houses or domed, multi-sided hogans, the traditional Navajo shelter, Josie explained. She turned onto a bumpy path leading to one of the latter. As they stopped outside the entrance, an older man with long graying hair walked outside. His dark copper face was lined with age but he stood straight, head erect. He smiled broadly when Josie jumped out of the Jeep.
“Yá'át'ééh, Father,” she replied, rushing to give him a hug. “I have brought you more guests.”
Decoding Michael is available on these sites:
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