It is always hard to know where to begin. After a long flight from Jamaica to Phoenix, I drove the next morning slowly North to my next Amizade site, The Navajo Nation in Tuba City, Arizona. I took a side trip to Prescott and then followed the scenic trail through Jerome, and Sedona to Flagstaff. As twilight approached, heading through a desolate moonscape, I past the turn-off for most tourists, namely the road to the Grand Canyon, and then found myself on a lonely stretch of highway, which led me to Tuba City.
The top photo taken from inside the quad of the Tuba City Boarding school where I spent my first day with 8th graders in the culture class. This school is a federally funded K-8 school which must have 90% Navajo enrollment and has almost 1200 students, some who live on campus, but the majority live at home with their families. Some of the children are from entirely Navajo speaking families and like my host family, speak their native language fluently. Like in all of the previous sites, I was again totally among people who were not white, and conversed in a language I did not understand, except this time I was in America!
I chose the second photo to verify how ethnic this location is. This older lady, who only spoke Navajo, allowed me to take her picture. She was selling a few handmade beaded items at an open air market I visited this afternoon with my host. This was not a tourist spot but a place where local people bought household items and food. I bought some beaded bracelets and earings from her that I hope my family members will appreciate. I can not vouch for the quality, but I felt great not shopping in the many "trading outposts" I saw loaded with tourists on my way here.
The third photo was a necessity to include. What would a first day be on the reservation without a traditional meal of mutton and fry bread! I sat on a long table with my host family who initiated me into the tribe by buying me this plate. By the way, under the corn is a long fried green pepper. In each country I have visited I have been treated to the local "delicacy" and this is one of the finest and complicated parts of the adventure, namely to eat healthily. I praised the meal to my hosts, although I'm sorry to admit that I have eaten so many carbs these past months that the paunch I so so struggled to remove last year, is again reappearing.
Instead of going to the Grand Canyon this weekend, my family is taking me on a special journey to Canyon de Chelly, a National Park which is allegedly so beautiful, private, and deep in Navajo country. There is also supposed to be a local music and songfest in a nearby community. My host's husband is from that region and has built a small cabin in the mountains where we will stay. I had to laugh when I was asked whether I minded that it had no running water or indoor plumbing! What else is new? Been there, and still doing that!