Thursday, October 11, 2012

Acuma Pueblo aka Sky City

I'm not a tour kind of person but when I arrived at Sky City and there wasn't an option for a self-tour I had to board the bus with the rest of them. As I waited in line I could feel the man behind me getting impatient because he wanted to get on the 11:30 bus which was just departing. When it came to my turn he unapologetically walked right in front of me like I wasn't there. Since he was clearly more important than me I let him finish up his business and then politely thanked him for walking in front of me. His response? "Oh, sorry. Well, we didn't make the 11:30 bus anyway". Sigh.

I was asked to cover up because my tattoos are indecent and disrespectful to the elders there. I was happy to do so. The bus was just about full and I was the only single passenger which you get used to when traveling alone. Our tour guide forgot his phone to communicate with the buses once we're dropped off there. The other tour guide on the bus said, "Don't worry, if there's an emergency we'll send smoke signals".... I love that kind of humor.
On the way up
 I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew there were still some inhabitants there, although a lot of it is vacant now. There are 5 caretakers and they are expected to serve one year without leaving the mesa. Their family members bring them provisions during that time. While on the tour many of the people  set up tables to sell their art. I wasn't aware of this so I didn't bring my wallet but I did manage to pick up a little figure of a deer that looks like Okie for the $5 I had in my back pocket.

The first vendor I met was wearing a Motley Crue T-shirt so of course I had to comment. He almost looked embarrassed and then said smiling,  "Hey, it was a good concert". We chatted a bit, Motley was on tour with Kiss when he saw them and they were in full make-up. I think everyone else was appalled by how I was talking to the "natives" but it felt very natural. There was another artist there with full black-work sleeves and I commented on it. He told me they were done by a tattoo artist in Gallup, whom I will try to find today. (sorry dad). I found people on my tour to have a bit of buyers guilt. I'm sure you've seen it before where people are afraid to even approach a vendor because they have no intention of buying. A good conversation doesn't pay the bills but when you are stuck on a mesa for a year you probably welcome it.

There was a woman selling fry bread, which I hadn't tried yet. A lady from my group made a comment about not eating fried food so of course I had to step in and buy one. Which, by the way was amazing; drizzled in honey with icing sugar and cinnamon. The same woman told me later that 'they' all decided it was ok for me to eat it because I'm so skinny. I told her I just wanted to try something new in a place like this.

The view from the top was fantastic. This is one of my favorite types of landscape.
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Church in the center of the pueblo
 The church in the center of the pueblo city was off limits for photos but I could snap one from the outside. The inside was white and pink with paintings gifted by the King of Spain in the 17th century. There was also a crucifixion cross with real hair for jesus' head. They didn't know who's hair it was though.  I may get some of this info wrong but from what I remember our guide, Robert, informed us that the people who brought up the large trees for the ceiling had to carry them on their shoulders all the way up the stairs without letting them touch the ground. If it did the wood was deemed not sacred for the church and they were punished and sent back down to do it all over again.

We had the option to take the natural stairs down instead of riding the bus. I was the only one from my group who chose to do this but clearly not the only one to ever do it since people before me left their garbage behind. Man, that really irks me. I relished the time I had to walk back down by myself in the quiet of the rocks. It gave me a sense of how they must have lived and how hard it must have been to get all their provisions up to the top. Everything up there was carried up on shoulders or on top of heads. It puts things into perspective when I experience these things.
first stairs descending

The stairs get a bit steeper

View from the stairs half way down

The day was gorgeous and I enjoyed the tour, despite the tour guide being like a robot with his information. I almost ditched him for a guide we passed because he seemed so funny and relaxed but his tour was moving in the opposite direction to things I already saw. If you're ever in the area I would recommend this place as a stop along your way.

1 comment:

  1. Was the walk down a refreshing break from the other tourists? You weren't kidding about steep!