Oh how I wish I could stay longer, learn more and see more. But I can't.
Aztec Ruins - A World Heritage Centre
The name is a misnomer. Early Western European settlers named the area Aztec after the Aztec ruins of Mexico, thinking there was a connection between the peoples of Mexico and New Mexico. However, the ancient people who constructed these buildings did so at a much earlier period than the Aztec edifices.
The people who lived here did so during the late 1000 until 1200 AD. They are the ancestors of modern Pueblo people.
The ruins are maintained by the National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior.
I felt the sacredness of this place. I felt at one with the ancient people who lived here in harmony with nature.
And yet, like us, they exploited the land through over population, the need to kill wild life, chop down the pinion pines and over cultivate the desert earth. The time would come when there wasn't enough wild life and plants. So they moved on. But for hundreds of years they lived in this spot and built these places of administration and worship. These were the places where the people gathered to worship and trade.
Chaco Culture - Pueblo Bonito - World Heritage Site
Vultures flew overhead. Cows and goats had the right away. The road was a gravel washboard that wound its way through the mountains to the canyon. It was a rugged drive.
Chaco is a sacred place for the Pueblo people. Although the Navajo are not Pueblo it is sacred for them too because the Pueblos and Navajo lived amongst one another trading goods, skills and knowledge.
Basically the Navajo were nomads and the Pueblos stayed in one place for as long as resources held out, then they moved on to greener pastures, so to speak.
Chaco is believed to be the birthplace of all the Pueblo people.
There are many ruins in Chaco canyon and a photograph can't begin to tell the enormity of this place. A video panning across one of the ruins is the closest I could come to showing the its magnificence. The internet connection where I'm staying isn't strong enough to upload the video.
You would not believe it. Normally a desert gets maybe 7 inches of rain during the entire year.
In 1947 a 30,000 ton rock tumbled into Pueblo Bonito because the heavy rain softened the sand rock. The one picture shows what the rock did. The other photo shows a rock that will likely fall if there is another heavy rain at some point in the future.
Mesa Verde - World Heritage Site
I've been using a GPS. The GPS couldn't find Cortez, New Mexico.
The map I was using to help direct the GPS showed the First Nations reserves, but did not show the state lines. The Navajo nation crosses state lines.
As it turned out, my travels took me beyond New Mexico into Colorado. Cortez is in Colorado.
The park ranger at Chaco told me that if I wanted to see the best of the cliff dwellings Mesa Verde was the place to see them, Cortez is a town a few miles from Mesa Verde.
The Palace is the most majestic of the cliff dwellings, but there are many cliff dwellings in the Mesa Verde area.
To visit The Palace visitors must be escourted, and the walk is strenuous, first down the cliff, than back up. Here is a photo of the way the Pueblos moved up and down the cliff, there is also a photo of my walk up the cliff. My walk was less primitive, although still primitive. My walk was not as dangerous and required less skill.
For some reason I had no trouble going up and down the cliff. But the people following found the trek up a little daunting.
The Pueblo people were farmers. No one knows why they moved down from the plains into the cave but there is a little water in the cave and the cave gives protection.
Our guide thinks that it was an attempt to stay in the area after resources wore thin.
The Pueblo people stayed in the caves for about 200 years and then moved on
For 1,000 years the Pueblo people have lived in these houses and apartments. They are still without electricity and plumbing and they still get water from the stream that flows through their property. They use the water for cooking, drinking and washing.
It is a clear, clean stream because they control the lake where the stream originates.
The dwellings have been passed from generation to generation for 1,000. Most residents maintain their dwellings, protected the adobe with regular mud replasterings. However, there are a few people who are letting their homes fall apart.
At first we are lead to believe that indeed the people do live here. We eventually learn that maybe 100 very old people live here. The rest of the Taos live in town and come out her to sell their crafts to the tourists (although their purpose would be denined, the number of shops speak for themselves.
The only renovation to the dwellings is windows and doors. Originally the entrance was through the rooftop via ladder.