Visiting Monument Valley
Monument Valley is part of everybody’s memories. We’ve been there in a memorable short trip from Las Vegas.
“To Be” there it’s diving in your imagination, a sort of reincarnation in a past, where only the vehicles awake you to the reality of the present.
Lucky Indians, those who can live a decent life sharing (at a price!) those marvels with the tourists! But what about the others, surviving in those dry, nude and hostile lands?
What do they do? How do they live?
3 hours or 3 days
You may go in search of detail, therefore needing a couple of days, or, as most of us do, just have a general look and feel the place. The strength of the emotional revival hurts you immediately upon arrival.
After that, it’s only, a different rock, a different look, a different angle, and more dust.
The most popular formations in the park are the “mittens”, so called for its resemblance to gloves only with separation of the thumb.
They are seen from the visitor centre, but the inevitable guided tour will lead you along a dirty road, with a Navajo explaining you the obvious, and, with luck, the not so obvious.
The Three Sisters
Imagination and the need to identify specific points in natural ambiance lead people to give a name to any odd formation. Three thin rocks got the name of “The Three Sisters”.
OK for me. But imagination never ends, and we may keep on saying, for instance that the younger one is not very healthy, forcing her sisters to protect her, or anything that you want. (If you are more than 18) – A Latin man would, probably, use his imagination in another direction: Why not “The Dream of the Warrior”? The feet of a man, sleeping behind the hill, and dreaming with his beautiful Indian princess…?
Goulding’s Trading Post
In the wide areas of the valley, contrasting with the very discreet houses, two small complexes dominate business: the visitor center, where crafts are sold in the air-conditioned, and Goulding’s Trading Post.
Here, a small museum stands beside the restaurant, displaying the old life in the trading posts.
Only back home I realized that each stone or combination got a name.
Yes, we both were at the north window without noticing it.
Don’t ask me why that name! I think that it is a Navajo idea!
The power of movies
How will it be possible that a place where we had never been, so far from home, so different from our natural landscapes suddenly seems so familiar?
“Movies”, is the answer.
That’s the greatest attraction of the park: being physically backed to our memories built by John Ford and other giants. And then, enjoying the dusty landscape.
Eating in Monument Valley a Navajo Meal
Our package from Las Vegas included a “Navajo meal”. We had it, in the visitor centre.
It was a big salad, with a great variety of vegetables, and to be honest, I found no great differences to common American salads.
A regular lunch, with nothing to remember or to complaint, and without any idea about its price.
Directions: Visitor centre
Flying to Monument Valley and Grand Canyon
For a Portuguese, used to have everything close to his door, driving those many hundred kilometres along the desert would be hard work, not holidays.
That’s why, saving some money in Las Vegas, we made it by air, with great advantages.
It’s expensive? Maybe. But… it was our casino. We booked from Portugal a Scenic Airlines 2 overnight flight from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, with a return flight from there to Monument Valley.
Everything went perfectly, with no rush or lost time, only the rain hampering a little.
I made the war in Angola, and there, I felt the sensation of landing and taking off using improvised runways in compacted earth.
For Fernanda, however, it has been her first situation of landing with no sights of tarmac. It was absolutely safe, but different. And at the end of the runway, there we had the tarmac, to protect us from dust, when stepping out of the plane.
A funny experience, anyway.
It’s impossible to visit the west, without coming back with a feeling of admiration for the Navajo Indians’ capacity to survive in such a territory.
I read that they charged too much for the visit, and maybe they do (my costs were included in the flying package from Las Vegas), but… my God! They deserve it!