Cowboys and Indians

Dear future me,

After leaving the Grand Canyon I wondered if I had seen it all. But the best part of being a traveler is that you live in the here and now. Constantly. So everything you encounter, comes to you fresh and new. That means, if you allow it to be that way. And I am happy to know that I’m still capable to see everything through a child’s eye. It’s exhausting, but mind blowing. Who needs artificial stuff to feel happy, if you just can absorb it from your environment. No, leaving Grand Canyon wasn’t the end of my trip; it turned out to be just another day (at the office).

As my Lonely Planet doesn’t have much to say about Arizona, I had to rely on hearsay and a bit of my own exploring. And all of my day activities in Arizona turned me into a wiser woman (so watch out for me as I  am perfecting my ‘all- knowing’ look). I learned that you have to run really fast if you see a meteor flying in the air as it makes a deep impression on our mothers skin. It might give you a terrible headache if you’re in its designated landings zone. I also learned that in ancient history some Arizonians have made a trip to Europe and copied our way to build cities against mountains. I could almost imagine myself in France while driving through Jerome and Bisbee. A bit funny, but in Bisbee they tried to copy the impact of a meteor too, but they failed miserably. Where the Meteor Crater is beautiful, the Lavender Pit (an open mine) is very ugly. You don’t have to be an expert to see that it is manmade. Can’t beat Mother Nature! The third lesson was in biology. I can honestly tell the difference between a Saguaro, an Organ Pipe, a Barrel, a Prickly Pear, a Buckhorn Cholla, a Hedgehog and so on and on. It’s good that nobody assigned me to water all this cacti as I probably kill them instantly. I’m  famous for not be able to let any plant live in my house as I give either too less or too much water. No, I only had to look at them, visiting the national monuments or the desert museum. Some of them are real giants and make me feel small (again). What is this about America?!? Why do they always have to exaggerate everything?

School hasn’t finished yet here in Arizona: it had some more knowledge boosts for me: they have excellent museum’s! If they hadn’t closed their doors and kicked me out, you would still find me wandering in the MIM in Phoenix. Listening to all the different music styles and instruments of every single country in the world. Amazing! Or what about the Titan Misile Museum in Tuscon, where I learned that people lived underground for twenty years, just to wait for that one call from the President of the United States. They were well prepared, but fortunately for us….the call never came and the nuclear bomb never got thrown over the wall. While I am writing this, I suddenly have to smile, knowing that a lot of Dutch friends have to use Google to translate my blogs. They will probably not understand one word of what I am writing. Anyway, I have to keep going with my lessons. The fifth one was a bit of a surprise for me. I left California not expecting to see any hostel for a long time, so I resigned to the idea that I would spend my evenings all alone. However, Arizona turned out to be a Mecca for backpackers like me. The hostels here are homely and attract very nice and interesting fellow backpackers from Europe and America. Especially the last group is quiet unusual. Someone told me that Americans don’t like hostels. To share their facilities and to sleep with other people in the same room. But no, that doesn’t turn out to be true in Arizona. And the best thing about the hostels in this state is that they are focused on the interaction between the guests. Sometimes by restricting the use of a table (strictly only for talking to each other, no computers allowed) or hiring a squad of talking guys, so you can’t concentrate on working on your computer, or by giving free tickets to concerts. That’s why I spend almost all my nights in these hostels talking and talking and talking or dancing and playing music (I can drum the opening of ‘In the air tonight’) or tennis. Or at least trying to hit the ball. This seems very hard, because you have to focus on the ball in order to make it hurt. I discovered (lesson number six?) that riding on a motorcycle and playing tennis do not go well together. Not when you try to do it at the same time, but even not if you separate them. Riding a bike is all about the big picture. You don’t focus on one particular item for you either a) hit it or b) get hit by something you didn’t see. Playing tennis is all about following that yellow circle and crush its bones when it tries to sneak passed you.

Where was I?? O yes, my lessons in Arizona. The final lesson I learned was that this is the land of Cowboys and Indians. I thought I would never see this side of America and figured that they must have been hiding somewhere in the middle of the States. But no, here in Arizona the spirit still lingers around. You can  read a lot about the native Indians in museums, ride the Apache Trail or the Geronomo Trail (New Mexico), visit ancient cave dwellings or buy Indian souvenirs in the shops or on the side of the road. If you are rich, you buy a Katsina doll for 1600 dollar. If you are less rich, you buy a necklace for twenty dollars. If you want to see cowboys, just visit little towns like Tombstone, where they reenact all the famous gunfights. I know all about Wyatt Earp  now and his legend in those days, because he always left these gunfights unharmed. Not a scratch, while bodies piled up. Nowadays people dress up to let those old times come alive again and the big bangs are filling the air.  Americans and guns….it keeps fascinating me. As I am very scared for fireworks, I felt unnerved watching these shows and threw myself on the frozen yoghurt  instead. I needed some cooling off as it is very warm in this Cowboy and Indian land. Time to leave for the next (chilly) state: New Mexico.

The Lonely Planet barely seems to acknowledge the existence of this state, so again I was facing New Mexico ‘on my own’. This time I followed two internet sites to make my way through the area: Weather.com and New Mexico/Scenic Byways.com These byways are one of the finest and I am really happy that I found out about the program to pinpoint all the beautiful roads per state. Not that it is very hard to find scenic roads here in the newer version of Mexico, because every inch of pavement or gravel leads you through amazing landscapes. From the Black Mountains (they are really black if you ride in the dark) to the Gila Forests. The spirit of Arizona crossed the border: people are very nice and there is lots to see about Indians. One thing is a bit weird though. Even if I didn’t know much about New Mexicans, they all seem to recognize me. Wherever I go, everybody greets me. On a motorcycle, in a car, on a horse, on the veranda, on a tractor. Strange folks. What else can I do than give them a hand wave back??

SYL,

Annemieke, 29 january 2014

Reacties 6

Dennis 30-01-2014 09:32

TaDa TeDe TeDe Tudum Pak Pak!!

Rian 30-01-2014 10:33

Hoi Annemieke.
Net weer je nieuwste avonturen gelezen!! Geweldig allemaal hoor!
En wat een mooie foto`s weer. Ps: Hoe laat is het "bezoektijd" in de gevangenis?? Ha ha ha
Geniet ze verder!!
Liefs vanuit een (eindelijk) koud Nederland.

Groetjes Rian

Diane 30-01-2014 12:09

Ha Annemieke,

Met enige jaloerse gevoelens lees ik iedere keer jouw verhalen over jouw reis. Heerlijk zo op de zondagochtend, kopje koffie erbij, meedromend met al jouw belevenissen. En dat inspireert enorm moet ik je zeggen ..........)!

Vorig jaar ben ik naar Kirgizstan en Tadzjikistan geweest op de motor en voelde me toen al helemaal stoer. En in combinatie met jouw constante stroom aan verhalen, borrelt er langzaam een groter plan bij mij. Dus je kunt ' een inspirator zijn voor anderen ' toevoegen aan je lange lijst met competenties!!

Als het uitgeborreld is, dan hoor je meer! Geniet van iedere kilometer en iedere fijne dag; ik ga nu nog even wegsmelten bij jouw foto's!

Liefs, Diane

Patrick Vergroesen 30-01-2014 18:30

Hoi Annemieke,
Goed om te lezen dat je nog steeds aan het genieten bent. En ja,motorrijden en tennis zijn inderdaad twee verschillende dingen. Ik zie echter ook een overeenkomst. Ze zijn allebei heel erg leuk om te doen! Ik hou me momenteel veel met tennis bezig. Ik hoop over een paar weken de motor uit zijn winterslaap te kunnen ontwaken voor het eerste ritje! Groetjes,
Patrick

Bernadette 31-01-2014 08:33

Hoi Annemieke,
Heb net weer en stukje je met je meegereisd: geweldig! Heerlijk om te lezen en foto's te bekijken. Sommige brengen oude herinneringen tot leven, andere dromen voor de toekomst. Geniet jij er maar lekker van in het hier en nu, traveler!
Liefs, Bernadette

Sue 02-02-2014 17:16

Ik ben weer helemaal bij - nog een paar maandjes te gaan en dan kan je je boek gaan uitgeven - lijkt me wel wat
nog heel plezier Annemieke en we blijven we volgen

toodles

Sue

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