Uxmal and the Pyramid of the Magician

Uxmal is one of my favorite ancient Maya cities in the state of Yucatan.  Over the past twenty-five years, my family and I visited it often.  No matter how many times we see it, we don’t mind coming back to it over and over.

Revisiting the Ancient City of Uxmal
We were some of the first visitors of the day to the ancient Maya site of Uxmal. We enjoyed the cool breeze when we started walking, since we knew that later it would be hot and sticky.  In the hills of Yucatan a breeze is a rare commodity and the humidity is high enough to make the heat unbearable.
Like every time we find ourselves in the region, we got up early to arrive to the site when it opened. Once again, we managed to beat the crowds that show up late morning in the tour buses from Cancun.
The Pyramid of the Magician
Pyramid of the Magician. Uxmal
Pyramid of the Magician. Uxmal
The first structure we noticed upon entering the site was the Pyramid of the Magician. Its massive frame dominates the plaza, and the whole site.  One of the largest reconstructed pyramid on the peninsula, it is also my favorite.  Its rounded sides have more of an appeal to me than the sharp corners of the pyramid of Kukulcan in Chichen Itza.
But part of the reason I love this particular pyramid has to do with the legend of its creation.
 
According to this legend, a dwarf, hatched from an egg, built it in one night. While doing it, he proved himself worthy to be the king of the ancient city.  Read the whole legend, as well as a different point of view of my trip to Uxmal here.
Revisiting the Nunnery Quadrangle
The Nunnery. Uxmal
The Nunnery Quadrangle
Early in the morning we were sharing the site with only a handful of visitors. We made our way to the main compound of the Nunnery Quadrangle. The name doesn’t fit, it has nothing to do with nuns or any kind of nunnery. The Spaniards mislabeled it when they first saw it.  The plaza surrounded by four major structures resembled their idea of a nunnery.
Archaeologists think that the plaza was a palace for high officials. In the center, it has a stage for ceremonial dances.  Walking though it, we marvel at the elaborately decorated facades of the buildings. We can no longer enter any of the rooms, though we remember being inside them during previous visits. They are each very similar, in shape and size, with small variations.
Archway Entrance to the Nunnery. Uxmal
Archway Entrance to the Nunnery
Ball Court in Uxmal

We left the Nunnery Quadrangle, and walked through the ball court.  Not quite as large as the one in Chichen Itza, it is still spectacular. This time it looked better than I remembered. We could tell that work was done to reconstruct it in the past few years.

Ballcourt. Uxmal
Ballcourt.
Walking through the Palace of the Governors

We walked over to the Palace of the Governors, a long building on top of a high platform.  My favorite feature of it is the facade. In fact, it is the longest facade in the Yucatan featuring the Rain God, Chak.

Palace of the Governors. Uxmal
Palace of the Governors. Uxmal

These rooms were not closed, so we were able to enter them once again. We revisited the rooms that Stevens and Catherwood, the first Western explorers of the region, lived in while here.  We talk about them as we walk through the rooms, and recognize the signs of fire in one of them.  I remembered reading an interesting entry in their book about how a native built the fire for them. They wrote the Incidents of Travels in Yucatan over a century ago, but the book is still a good read.

Facade on the Palace of the Governors. Uxmal
Facade on the Palace of the Governors

Facade on the Palace of the Governors

Casa de la Tortugas

We walked over to the Casa de Las Tortugas, the small structure decorated with turtles. It was starting to get warm as the day progressed. We were prepared for the usual hot and sticky feeling we always get while exploring Mayan ruins. This time, Chak must have been in an unusually good mood. Clouds rolled in and a welcomed breeze cooled us down.

Casa de las Tortugas. Uxmal
Casa de las Tortugas
On the Grand Pyramid
We moved on to one of the structures we can still climb, the Grand Pyramid.  We sat on top of it for a long time, enjoying the breeze, and the view of the site.  
The pleasant breeze was soon accompanied by a few drops of rain. We visited this site often during the years, but I don’t ever remember rain here.  Chak, the rain god, was happy indeed.  We stood on top for a long time, enjoying the water hitting our hot bodies.
On top of the Main Pyramid. Uxmal
On top of the Grand Pyramid
While we were enjoying the light rain, we didn’t notice the crowds coming into the site. We looked down and realized that the major parts of the site were overrun by huge tour groups. When one of the large groups started climbing the stairs of the pyramid, we decided that it was time to leave.
The Cemetery
We took the opportunity to revisit the cemetery. Most tours and visitors don’t bother walking so far, so we found ourselves alone once again. Later, we encountered one lone visitor here, among the stones decorated with skulls. Like us, he was enjoying the quiet that this out-of-the-way part of the site offered.
The Pyramid of the Old Woman
Later on we took the less traveled path towards the Pyramid of the Old Woman, the mother of the legendary dwarf. Overgrown by vegetation, the trail doesn’t seem to be used, though is not closed down. Few visitors wonder out this far off the beaten path.
The pyramid of the Old Woman is still in rubble, though for the first time since our many visits, it is roped off. ‘Will they work on reconstructing it?’, we wonder. It is a good size pyramid, though far from the center of the city.
According to legend, this Old Woman was a witch and lived in a small hut.  After her son, the dwarf, became king, he built this pyramid for her.  It must have been beautiful in its time.
 
On the way out, we had trouble navigating the crowds in the main plaza and the entrance area. We were glad that once again we managed to enjoy the site while sharing it with only a handful of fellow visitors.

How to Enjoy a Visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Visiting the South Rim

Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time was an experience I will never forget. I was in awe, with a total loss of words. No pictures, no video recordings can ever prepare you for the first glimpse of it.

Grand Canyon South Rim 1

The rock layers, each a different color, as you look deeper into it takes your breath away. It stretches on for miles and you can see all the way to the other side, the sheer size of it leaving you speechless. It seems impossible to fathom that a river carved it all. Here, in the desert of Northern Arizona, the rocks leave a valuable geologic record of what was going on over 500 million years ago on Earth.

Although it seems to stretch as far as you can see, looking at it from the top you don’t realize that it consists of thousands of miles of smaller canyons, mesas, volcanoes and a web of drainage that connects the Grand Canyon to the rest of the world. It all seems totally inaccessible.

Grand Canyon South Rim 2

Then you see the trails that lead into the depths of it, and you feel like you need to walk on them it, at least for a short distance, to feel like you are part of this wonder of the world. You hike a few steps on the closest trail you see, most likely the Bright Angel Trail. Quickly realize that it is descending so fast, it will be hard to get back out of it. So, you turn around and promise yourself that you will make it to the bottom one day. Just not today.

Grand Canyon South Rim 3

If you want to hike down to the bottom, you can find a few trails, as well as mules to carry your packs. You might want to stay overnight, in the camp ground on the bottom. But for now, just enjoy the scenery from the top, eye level with the birds.

The Grand Canyon Is Home to Indigenous People

The human history in and around the Grand Canyon stretches back at least 13000 years.

The Hopi, one of the tribes who still lives in the proximity, consider it sacred ground. For them, one of the points in the bottom of the canyon, is their ancestral home, their place of origin.

The Hualapai and Havasupai have inhabited the South side of the Canyon. The Havasupai still live on the bottom of the Canyon, far from civilization, since there is no road to their village, only an eight-mile long trail. You do have to hike there, if you want to visit them. They consider themselves the guardians of the sacred ground of the Grand Canyon system.

The Southern Paiute inhabited the North side of the Canyon and for them it is also holy land.

The Zuni have their place of origin in the depths of the Canyon a well.

The Navajos and the Western Apaches also inhabit the area, though they have arrived a bit more recently, but still hundreds of years before the Spaniards.

For all of these tribes, who have lived here for centuries, the canyon is sacred land, in one way or another. If you catch a glimpse of it, you will understand why.

Grand Canyon South Rim 4

You Are In a National Park 

Given its beauty, geological and historical significance, you would have thought that the Grand Canyon was the first National Park in the US. It wasn’t so easy though. The first bill to establish the Grand Canyon as a National Park was indeed introduced in 1882. However, it took until 1919 (February 26th) to actually designate it as such.  Miners opposed the bill, since they wanted to get to the copper, zinc and silver at the bottom. Developers wanted to build a railroad on the bottom of the Canyon, so they fought against the bill as well.

All is well if it ends well.  After much debate, we have one of the natural wonders of the world designated as a National Park and as such, protected from developers. For now at least. Or so it seems.

Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim

My Visits Over the Years

The first time I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, I was visiting it as an out-of-state tourist, over twenty years ago. While it seemed a bit crowded, we were able to enjoy it. Now we live so close to it, we can see it multiple times a year if we want to. And we have seen too much development around it.

Now, there are moments when I get to the South Rim, to the Visitor Center and I want to run. There are so many people, I cannot get to the Canyon for a glimpse. But if you take some time, you can still get away from the crowds and have a moment to enjoy your surroundings. The view itself never loses its magic.

But you do have to walk to enjoy it. If nothing more, just walk the rim trail.  Even on the busiest day, you might find yourself alone on some stretches of it.  Take a break at each of the educational stops, and learn about the ages and consistency of the rocks that make up the Canyon.

Sure, you can take the shuttle. In fact, if you can’t walk, do take the shuttle instead of driving. Free to ride, it runs on compressed gas, so it doesn’t pollute like your car would.

But I always felt that we would miss something if we just rode the shuttle and stopped at each overlook. We dragged our kids, even when they were young, on the rim walk. They have complained at times, but overall, they had a better time. On our last visit, we would have missed the deer grazing by the trail, if we didn’t walk.

The park has seen too much development in the past two decades. A brand-new town was built just outside of the park’s boundaries, by the South Rim. Other than hotels and other amenities, it offers helicopter tours, and an I-Max movie theater so see the Canyon if you can’t make it a few more miles into the park. The problem is, the helicopter tours, and all sorts of other tourist traps are hurting the environment in the Canyon. If we want to keep it for the next generations, we need to take better care of it.

This natural wonder is fragile, and its National Park status protects it.  But just outside the boundaries things are getting too built up. If everything that is proposed at this time happens, it will turn into an amusement park, instead of the National Park. I hope it won’t happen.

If You Go 

Expect big crowds if you go, no matter the season.  It is the worst during the summer, but it might still be crowded in November, even on weekdays.  Try to walk in the morning, if possible.

No matter how crowded it gets, if you walk the rim trail, you might find yourself alone on some stretches of the it. Better yet, you can walk down a few meters either on the Bright Angel Trail or the Kaibab trail.  You don’t need to go to the bottom to enjoy the feel of being in the Canyon.

You can take the shuttle at a few different points through the trail, if you get too tired or the desert sun gets to you. Please remember to carry water and wear a hat if you walk any distance.

As spectacular as the South Rim is, our favorite side is the North Rim, mainly because it is more remote.  That’s where the historic Grand Canyon Lodge is, and you can stay in small cabins in the forest surrounding the rim.  To visit that side, you need to make reservation well ahead.

 

Exploring a Nature Preserve in Mexico – Calakmul

Sleeping In A Nature Preserve

The loud chatter of thousands of birds wakes me up in the morning.  As I slowly return to reality I realize that I slept in a Mayan hut, with no windows, only screens to keep the bugs out.  We are in Calakmul Nature Preserve, in Campeche, Mexico.

When we first arrived, we noticed a family of howler monkeys up in the trees above the huts.  One of the Mayan guys working there smiled and told us in broken English that ten individuals make up this family.  They have lived in the trees within the hotel boundaries for years.

Howler Monkeys in Calakmul
Howler Monkeys in Calakmul

The hotel Puerta Calakmul seems more of a village with individual huts, each with a short path leading to it.  We’ve stayed there in the past and always had a great experience. It is one of the best places where we have seen a lot of wildlife, and experienced life in the jungle.

Exploring the Preserve in the Ruins of Calakmul

In the early morning we take off on the sixty-mile dirt road that leads to the ancient site and the trails. The road is so narrow, two cars can barely fit through and the canopy encompasses it.  We are driving in a tunnel of green.  We keep it slow in the hopes to see wild animals close to the road.  Iguanas are sitting in the middle of the road every so often, basking in the sun.  It is hard to make them move, at times we stop altogether until they take their time to walk off.  We spot a few ocellated turkeys, their colorful plumage bright against the surrounding green.  Later on, we even spot a peccary wandering close to the road.

Ocellated Turkeys in Calakmul
Ocellated Turkeys in Calakmul

On the trail, we try to walk without making too much noise or talking.  Birds chatter, insects buzz, and lizards run around in the dried leaves under our feet.  The jungle is full of life even when it seems quiet.

We catch up with a group of local birdwatchers. One of them offers her binoculars to our daughter and points out a bird for her to look at.  Soon we all take turns with her binoculars. We follow her directions and notice a tiny bird that looks like a toucan, only much smaller. She is colorful and her yellow beak is huge compared to her body. Soon I spot a few more close by in the canopy.  We learn that they are called toucanitos, or little toucans.  There are a few of them together, we find out as we watch them for a few minutes.

Toucanito in Calakmul
Toucanito in Calakmul

As we make our way through the ancient structures, we see a family of spider monkeys on the top of the trees.  They seem to be resting, some of them sleeping with their long limbs dropping on the sides of a branch.

We spend all day on walking on the trail, and climbing structures.  We hear the distinctive call of the howler monkeys from the top of a pyramid, though they are hard to spot from that height.

On Top of a Pyramid in Calakmul
On Top of a Pyramid in Calakmul Ruins

Back to Our Mayan Hut

When we return to our hut, the howler family greets us.  They throw sticks and half-eaten fruit at us, trying to either get our attention or chase us off.  We decide they want our attention and stand under their tree for a long time, watching them.  I notice a tiny baby on his mother’s back.  Other young howlers also walk around the mother, while the older ones hang in trees close by.

Howler Monkey. Mother and Baby in Calakmul
Howler Monkey. Mother and Baby in Calakmul
Night in the Jungle

At night, we sleep surrounded by the music of the jungle, the sounds of crickets and insects, bats, and owls, tree frogs and lizards.  Then suddenly, as soon as we fall asleep, we are awakened by the loudest growls we could imagine.  For a moment I think it might be a jaguar, but I realize that it is the howler monkey family.

Howler Monkey in Calakmul
Howler Monkey in Calakmul

Someone or something woke them up and they are all howling and hooting, growling and roaring.  We record their sound, it is amazing! As we listen, we start to discern the sounds of the big males, the young monkeys, the mother and even the baby. Soon they settle back to sleep, and the night is quiet once again.

Quiet is relative in the jungle. In this case it means the sound of crickets, insects, tree frogs, bats, owls, rodents, lizards moving.  It is the most relaxing music to fall asleep to.

As soon as the sun’s first rays peek over the horizon, the loud chatter of thousands of birds wakes us up.  As we walk out, we notice all of them, in the trees that surround us.  They are big and small, colorful and plain. We even recognize the mot-mot bird, with its distinctive long tail feathers.

We set off for our next destination, one that will involve more nature preserves, both in the jungle and on the coast of the Yucatan peninsula.

What Is Calakmul?

Calakmul was an ancient Maya city, one of the greatest in its day.  At the moment it is one of the few an archaeological site where you can still climb the pyramids.  Sitting in the middle of the jungle, in a nature preserve, it is off the beaten track. Spending time there is an adventure in itself, especially for children, if you are traveling with them.

Since it is out of the way, at the end of a sixty-mile dirt road, the best option is to stay at the only hotel close by, La Puerta Calakmul. If you really want to rough it, there is a camping site within the preserve, but I haven’t tried it.

La Puerta Calakmul has different size rooms, all in stand-alone huts, or bungalows.  No TVs in the rooms to distract you, but you do have signal if you carry a cell phone. The rooms have comfortable beds and hammocks, with modern bathrooms.  Although instead of windows, you are surrounded by netting, they are very well insulated, so no mosquitoes or bugs of any kind get through.  The beds have mosquito netting, just in case.

The hotel also has a restaurant, that has some of the best meals I have ever tasted.  If you go to the ruins for the day, you can also buy packed lunches to bring with you, since you will most likely spend the whole day there. The pool is small, but clean and refreshing, especially after a long trek in the jungle.

How to Get There and Other Helpful Information

Cancun is the easiest airport to get to on the peninsula, and chances are, you might want to visit other sites, or spend time on the beach as well if you’re there.

Rent a car and drive towards Tulum. You might want to stop there and enjoy a day on the beach or visit the site of Tulum.  Then keep going south, towards Bacalar.  This is another place you might want to stop, for a beautiful lagoon, called Laguna des Siete Colores or the lagoon of seven colors.  It is beautiful and worth a swim.  You can find a hotel in Bacalar for any budget, right on the water if you wish. From Bacalar, you need to take the road towards Xpujil.  Shortly after you pass the town of Xpujil, you’ll see the road to Calakmul.

The hotel Puerta Calakmul is on the left, off a short dirt road, right after the turn-off.  You are in a nature preserve here.

When you walk in the preserve, make sure you carry enough water, and snacks.  Wear good hiking or walking shoes. Wear a hat and sunscreen, and keep bug spray at hand.  Remember that is hot and humid, especially during midday, so dress accordingly. Being in a nature preserve, there is no real dress code, even in the more traditional Mexico. I would just stay away from very short shorts or crop tops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaco Canyon – In the Footsteps of the Ancient Ones

As I walk through the ancient structures in Chaco Canyon, I think of the people who once called them home. It is hard to imagine them surviving in the harsh desert, let alone thriving.  Yet, they built a civilization here, lived and died here for a few centuries, before moving on to a slightly more hospitable land. They left behind their ceremonial center and homes, for our present-day archaeologists to study and the ret of us to wonder about them.

Chaco Culture National Park is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the Southwestern US,  and it is also a World Heritage site. It preserve structures built centuries ago, witness to human history.

Chaco.
Watching the road and the surrounding high desert through a window of a Chacoan structure

Getting There

Visiting Chaco is always an adventure. We drive through the high desert in the Navajo Reservation. Most of the area seems deserted, and we have the opportunity to enjoy the colors of the desert. The surrounding rocks form a swirl of color, from deep reds through coral, yellow and even green. Still, as beautiful as the landscape is, it doesn’t seem possible to support life.
 
Yet, again and again, we notice tiny one-track roads leading off towards nowhere that we can see. An occasional hogan stands witness that people live here.
 
We almost miss the dirt road leading to Chaco.  We’ve been there so many time, yet it is always hard to remember where exactly the turn-off is.  
The dirt road seems deserted, as we expected. After a few minutes of driving we notice other cars ahead of us.
“We are not the only ones going to Chaco today,” I comment.
Although the road continues to a small Navajo settlement, we know these are not locals. These are cars, in good shapes, not barely-held-together trucks that locals drive.
Chaco is getting more visitors. It is a long weekend, so it is not a total surprise. Still, I am sure it won’t get crowded, like most other National Parks.

The Site

 
As we enter the site, we stop at the Visitor Center. We show our National Park’s pass, and decide against taking another brochure, we know the site well by now.  Not quite ready to get back in the car, we check the newest exhibits.
 
The sun is blinding as we step out from the visitor center. I forgot how bright it is here, with no shade other than the structures. Still, far from being hot, it is comfortable to walk.
 
We decide to take the short walk to Una Vida.  It is a first, we haven’t done it before. On top of a small hill, though far from impressive, the site offers a great view of the surrounding area.
 
Leaving the parking lot, we set of on the nine-mile loop trail that goes through the real Chaco.
 
After about a mile we stop at our first big house, Hungo Pavi. This set of ruins consisted of over 100 rooms, some of it reaching four stories height. We walk through it, stopping in the shade of its back wall.  The kids are way ahead of us, but we stop at the great kiva, or ceremonial center.
 Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito
Our next stop is the parking lot for both Chetro Ketl and Pueblo Bonito.  We usually spend a lot of time here, and this time is no exception.
 
We walk over to Chetro Ketl first. Not quite as large as Pueblo Bonito, it is still impressive. Its most distinctive feature is the elevated kiva, different from the other ones in Chaco.  We walk through and around it, then make our way to Pueblo Bonito.

 

Kiva at Chetro Ketl, Chaco
The elevated kiva at Chetro Ketl
Instead of walking back to the car, we take the petroglyph trail between the two ruins.  We walk slow, trying to look at each petroglyphs on the wall by the trail.  Some are clear, but others are so eroded, we can barely tell they are there. 
A few minutes later we reach Pueblo Bonito, the highlight of the site. With over 650 rooms and 35 kivas, it is the most impressive structure in the park.  Since it is pleasant still outside, we walk outside through the kivas first. As it starts getting warmer, we head inside the larger structure.
 
Inside Pueblo Bonito, Chaco
Room Inside Pueblo Bonito
As I walk through the rooms, I remember my kids, playing hide and-seek here when they were younger. The doorways through the interconnected rooms were the perfect size for them.

A Hike to the Mesa Top

At the far side of the loop, we stop again.  This parking lot leads to back country trails, and it is the first time I decide that I want to go to the top of the mesa.  The kids are much older now, I don’t worry about them, and I am ready to explore something new.
 
We sign up at the trail head and put the papers in our car window.   Klin-Ketso, another great house, is a short half-mile walk on the trail.  We explore the site, and find the trail that leads to the top of the mesa.
 
The most fun part of the trail goes through a narrow passage, between two tall rocks. Huffing and puffing, I slow down as I climb the rocks. I am out of shape, but I don’t want to admit it. I decide to blame it on the heat, and pretend to stop in the shade of the two rocks to cool down, not to catch my breath.
Chaco
The “wind tunnel” on the trail to the mesa top.
 
“Mom, do you need help?” I hear my daughter. “I’ll carry your water bottle and your camera if you want,” she offers.  She was way ahead of me.
 
I appreciate the offer, but I have a feeling that helping me is not the only reason she ran back. She admits that she enjoys going up and down the narrow wind-tunnel. At age ten, she’s a mountain goat, loves to run on rocks, where most people only stumble.
We make it to the overlook of Pueblo Bonito.  From up here, the site looks even more impressive.  We can see its distinctive D-shape, and its straight wall in South-North direction.  
Before heading back, we sit down and enjoy the view for a long time. 
Chaco - Pueblo Bonito
View of Pueblo Bonito from the mesa top

Casa Rinconada, the Great Kiva

The sun is setting by the time we stop at Casa Rinconada, the great kiva.  Isolated from other structures, it is the largest kiva in Chaco Canyon, with a diameter of 64 feet.  The short walk to it takes us through barren land. No structures, no trees, only small bushes add a little green to the area.
The kiva is spectacular, standing alone in the sunset. We spend some time sitting around it, as we imagine the ceremonies that took place in it centuries ago.

The People of Chaco

As I sit at the side of the great kiva, I look around the landscape.  Across the road, the structures look beautiful in the sunset.  It is quiet now, most visitors left already, I only spot a tiny hare running across the field not far from us. The canyon is quiet, deserted.
 
It is hard to imagine the place filled with people, living their lives.  They held ceremonies in the great kiva only at certain times of the year.  But the other structures housed people living day-to-day lives, in this harsh environment.  
 
Yet, they did.  The canyon was home to ancient people long before the first structures were built. The first evidence of people living here date back 4000 years. Yet, they didn’t build anything lasting until 400-500 AD, when they erected the he first pit houses. Around the end of this period they started building more centralized structures.  
 
The biggest transformation happened around the 9th century though. The great houses, like Pueblo Bonito, started to emerge.  This is so distinctive to Chaco, archaeologists call it the Chacoan Phenomenon. The population of the area designed the area as a whole, a city or ceremonial center, or both. 

Who Were the Chacoans?

Archaeologists call people who lived here the Chacoan Anasazi. They were part of an ancient Puebloan civilization.
 
After the first great houses, the Chacoans built more for the next 250 years. They traded with other cultures around the Southwest and the Mesoamericas. They built dams, canals and a road system.  
 
Evidence suggest that very few people lived here full time. But Chaco became the center of the world for many more. Most of them traveled here on a pilgrimage during certain times of the year, for special events. 
 
But by 1150 Chaco was starting to loose its importance as a regional center. 
 
There are many theories as why this happened. A lot of factors came in consideration. Drought was one of them. Overpopulation, depletion of the natural resources is probably more important.

Where Did They Go?

The Chacoans didn’t disappear.  Many clans moved to other sites. They settled along the Hopi Mesas, Mesa Verde region, the Zuni Mountains, Mount Taylor and the Chuska Mountains, and along the Rio Grande
 
Hopi clans trace their ancestry to Chaco. Pueblo people from Acoma, Zuni, Zia, Laguna, and others have traditions and stories that talk about their clans migrating from Chaco.  The Navajo also trace the origins of some of their clans back to Chaco. 
 
All these nations consider Chaco sacred. 

Back to the Present

Standing in the middle of this deserted city, the canyon is so still, I can hear the leaves rustling in the breeze. The walls of Pueblo Bonito glow red in the setting sun.

The deserted structures stand witness to an ancient burst of human activity.  Chaco tells part of the story of human history, with its good and bad parts.

We have a long way to go to get back to civilization, so we need to leave. I know we will be back. Every time we come, we find something new, or we see the same in a different light.


Further reading:

Chaco. A Cultural Legacy, text by Michael Strutin; Photography by George H. H. Huey. Published by the Western National Parks Association, Tucson, AZ