Day 37. A sacred place

The day starts with another challenge. I have never been good at looking the other way and shutting up when I see injustices or rude behavior happen. Especially when I am on a trip, I get more emotionally sensitive by being by myself so much. Shortly after waking up and taking down my tent, I begin to hear a person in the next camp lash out at her boyfriend, yelling and screaming over a minor incident. I have never heard another person use the word “fuck” so many times within every consecutive sentence during a raging fit that lasts over half an hour. Actor Christian Bale’s infamous fit that went viral on YouTube a while ago pales in comparison… The person is angry, essentially about water and sand, seemingly natural ingredients of the outdoors. But the anger is not directed at the elements, but at another human being, and a very sweet and calm at that. It wrenches my insides having to listen to it and I feel relieved when our ways finally part.

However, I get the best chance to recover from all of this today. I meet with Rick, my 99-year old friend Lizie’s son and a resident of the town of Flagstaff, and his character, kindness and humor are like a healing balm. Rick takes me to the confluence of the Colorado River with its tributary called the Little Colorado, on the lands of the Navajo. It takes us a while to get out there, as there is not one but many dirt roads, meandering across the vast lands.

The confluence is a sacred place to many Native American tribes, and it is still at risk of being destroyed by a developer who wants to turn it into a touristic circus complete with a cable car running down into the canyon from the rim. The incredible efforts of the people have succeeded to turn this proposal down for now, but it still needs much more work to preserve it for the future. Please read more about their efforts on the website of “Save the Confluence”.

To give you a faint idea of the magic of this sacred place, that I had the chance to witness today, and of its vast surroundings, I will share some pictures. But it will take me some time to process this experience until I can actually come up with the right words to describe how this place has affected me.

For more moving images, created by Pete McBride for the Grand Canyon Trust, you can watch the beautiful little film Desert Cathedral.

I particularly fell in love with the Agave plants and I will have to research them more. They point their stems high up into the sky like fingers. Up there are their seeds, that can then be flung across the vast lands by the wind.

I am grateful to have shared this very special day with Rick, who is another kindred person. We share the passion for the outdoors, the humble respectful approach, the urge to move, and I am glad we will get to spend some more time when I get to Flagstaff on Sunday.

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