Thursday, November 18, 2010

Navajo Shortcuts

My husband Alex is Navajo.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Indian Reservation in the United States. It is also a very beautiful place. Alex has about 200 relatives who live there and we go to visit some of them at least every couple of years.

We usually make Gallup, New Mexico our "base" for the Rez trips. There is a hotel in Gallup that we love called the "El Rancho". It was built during the time that Hollywood was making a string of Westerns and it has a lot of history. We usually get the "Presidential Suite" (named that because Ronald Reagan stayed there when he was acting in Westerns). The hotel's lobby is gorgeous, but the rooms are a little run down. It's owned and run by Navajos.

The El Rancho is a pet friendly hotel. The Navajo hotel manager did comment "Those aren't dogs, those are wolves!" when we walked in with Harry and Honey. It's especially nice because we can eat our meals at a big wooden table in the lobby and let the dogs curl under our chairs while we have dinner. Or we can enjoy cocktails in front of a big fireplace while the dogs snooze.

We always rent a big Hummer because Alex insists we need an off-road vehicle for the Reservation. (And we like to show off; Navajos love Hummers!) Sometimes we pick up a bunch of Navajos going back to the Rez after a night in town and pile them in back with the dogs. These guys are funny and appreciate not having to take the long, long hike back home. They are all very amused at the Navajo guy with the blond wife.

Every time we go, Alex wants to take the unpaved "Indian Roads" and we always get hopelessly lost. It's a very big area and one can get very lost when one insists on taking "Navajo shortcuts". We've run out of road, been stuck in the mud, nearly turned our vehicle over, and pretty much abandoned all thought of ever getting back to civilization while we are visiting the Rez. It's all high adventure!

Sometimes we find Alex's aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes we don't. This trip is never really about the destination but about the journey. When we are somewhere else, I am much more inclined to be nervous when Alex starts talking about a "Navajo shortcut". God knows where we might end up. When we are on the Rez, I feel like we can never truly be lost.

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