The Blog

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dilkon to Ganado - May 6

We woke to more wind and rode out of Dilkon around 9 after playing with the horses, talking to Art about the tepee and saying goodbye to Leon and his daughter.  There's a good chance we will meet again at the Stanford Pow Wow or some other event when he and his family come to the Bay Area.
The riding today was fantastic. Strong tailwinds pushed us through incredibly beautiful, wide open and vulnerable looking landscape.  Wind turbines pumping water for livestock, double wide trailers with and without power, hogans, horses, cattle and sheep were about the only signs of humans we saw.  Drivers passing us in both directions were friendly and courteous as we whizzed along averaging almost 20 miles per hour without much effort on our parts.  About three miles from our destination, we stopped at a gas station for ice cream and phone calls.  When we got back on our bikes, the winds had increased and were now coming from the side.  Heading out of town we were almost immediately blown all over the road.  Without any discussion, we got off of our bikes, called Sean and loaded up.  We did 55 miles in less than three hours and used hardly any battery power.  Once again, the wind was our friend and our enemy as it both pushed us towards our destination and pushed us into traffic.
Arriving in Ganado, we stopped at the Hubbell Trading Post where Teresa walked into the shop and right up to me and said, "Are you Oliver?"  I answered in the affirmative and asked her how she knew.  "Oh, she replied, "You look like a Californian."  We went on to spend a delightful hour with her on her 7 acre farm where we learned about the irrigation project newly put in by the Navajo Nation.  The sad part is that there are now hundreds of acres with access to water but very few farmers.  One of the goals of the project is to reinvigorate the traditional farming ways of the Navajos, but there just aren't enough people willing or able to farm.
After Teresa left, we spent the afternoon pretending to be farmers, turning off an irrigation valve that started flooding the fields and watching prairie dogs play in the fields.
During dinner, Derek and his family showed up.  They are completely delightful.  His two daughters (10 and 6) are both enrolled in a Navajo immersion school where they are learning both the language and the culture.  They greeted us in Navajo, were both wearing moccasins and constantly asked Derek for the Navajo word they were trying to remember.  Their little two year old brother loved the van and was bouncing around like a ping pong ball.  They stayed for about an hour before heading home and giving us directions on how to find them tomorrow.

I spent a lot of time on the bicycle today trying to think of what I will say on Saturday at the gathering that Derek has arranged in Window Rock.  The challenge I have is to try to talk about sustainability from the glaringly obvious non-technological angle.   Over the last couple of days, the Navajo's we have spoken with and the land we have seen has opened my eyes to daunting task of creating a sustainable future that depends on all humans learning to treat the planet as a colleague and fellow humans as part of the same tribe.  Technical solutions without a spiritual evolution that celebrates sustainability will not get this planet to a place where our children and grandchildren look forward to a brighter future on a healing planet. 

Landscape, livestock and lovely conditions

Pit toilet at Teresa's Farm

A delightful spot to camp and hang out for the afternoon

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