‘So, you guys will be staying in a Hogan tonight, a mud hut we, the Navajo, live in.’
My eyes sparkled at the promise of an adventure to come as we bounced in the jeep, roaring away within the mysterious Monument Valley, situated on the Utah/Arizona border.
In fact, we weren’t in the USA anymore. We had entered the Navajo tribe lands, with their own rules and customs.
Sometimes the Navajo invites in the USA Federal authorities for the very serious crimes but if you committed a minor demeanour then you were at the mercy of the Tribe Council.
But before I talk about my adventure with the Navajo Native Americans, let’s find out what I’ve been up to earlier on with Trek America.
After another scrumptious breakfast at the Wake n Bake Cafe in Moab, we were soon on the road again, waving goodbye at the Arches National Park and the adrenaline fuelled city itself, reflecting on the good times had there in the last few days.
See More: Travelling across Utah
You could tell we were leaving Utah, the whole landscape seemed to change leaving the sun bleached arid lands and giving rise to a more red and more moist look. I couldn’t have picked a more apt view than this where we saw yet another sweeping valley that was once a shallow sea floor hosting a hive of marine life eons past. But my favourite thing about reaching Arizona definitely has to be the mysteriousness. Fog, low-lying clouds and peeling monoliths teased us with hidden wonders only visible at the corner of your eye.
I was excited and I could feel that I’ve arrived in North America, my sixth continent on my travels. But that feeling crystallised when I reached the Forrest Gump Point.
Becoming Forrest Gump
Endless straight roads become the norm in Arizona, making it a perfect haven for roaring motorbikes that whizz by, clad in fraying leather signifying they could be a wannabe Hell’s Angel group.
But this was a special road; it led to Monument Valley and this was the point where many great American movies were made. In this point: Forrest Gump.
If you don’t know much about the film location, it’s where Forrest Gump who stopped running from the east coast of USA to the west coast claiming that he was too tired to his fellow runners on his journey and thus turned back.
It seemed to be a place where runners of the world paid homage to as you can see with the old trainers left at the Forrest Gump sign.
But for me, it couldn’t have been a better place to stop. Just what a view! I absolutely felt that this is the place where I arrived in USA. Walking along this highway with speeding Hell’s Angel flying by, I could hear the sweet chords of ‘Born in the USA’ playing in my head. It all felt rather felt it happened in slow motion as I felt my shirt flutter in the breeze, walking like a cool guy from Grease as I pulled on my sunglasses and running my hand through my hair to get my fringe out of my face. Yes, I looked awesome 😉
This is America.
And what a place to realise this in this epic Monument Valley.
What?! Leaving the USA already?
It’s only for the night. Technically, I am still in North America and no, I didn’t go into Canada or Mexico. I was in another country that not many people know about:
Yes, did you know Monument Valley actually belongs to the Native American people, the Navajo?
You even had to get through a checkpoint!
First, we had time to kill as we explored the trading post and finding out Navajo goods and customs in great detail. Overlooking the three strong standing monoliths, it was a perfect place to try out on of their brewed coffees and just simply relax on this clear yet cool day.
Camping in the desert with the mysterious Navajo
As the sun began to set and we roared through the Monument Valley desert in one of the Navajo jeeps, we were told that we would experience a Navajo culture show in front of a campfire.
But first we stopped off at a Navajo trading post at a beauty point where you could get on a horse and pretend you’re the Lone Ranger.
Still wary of horses since the scariest ride of my life in Bryce Canyon National Park, I passed (Thanks Corey!) sitting on top of a very large horse, again, looking down a very steep drop!But it was pretty funny watching Christine, our tour leader, try to do an introduction for the #iTrekHere video for Monument Valley. Speaking of which, have you seen it yet?
As you saw in the video, the mood of Monument Valley became darker after we finished our Navajo inspired meal ready to face the spirits and ghosts of the mysterious land around us. This is where the Navajo sing and dance to foretell the stories of ancient times from the past.
It was an ethereal experience, one of which you’re encouraged to be involved through the medium of dance (thanks Candice for being my willing partner) as we skipped and sashayed in front of the campfire (fuelled by well, petrol fuel).
It was a strange experience for me anyway as I had to rely on my heightened senses to understand the story being told thanks to my deafness. Using my sight and touch, I could feel the electric vibes soar as the dancing became frenzied, the drumming quickening and the spirit world quickly spinning around us. It wasn’t until when the rain completely down poured on us thus dispelling any forces that we may have brought forth.
But you know what?
I loved being in the desert with sheets of rain soaking you to skin. There’s nothing quite like getting close to nature this way as you happily party away whilst wiggling your bottom. My sexy bottom, that is…
Sleeping in a Hogan like a Navajo
OMG, did you know that the best night’s sleep I’ve had on my ten-day trip in USA was actually in a mud hut on the ground in my sleeping bag (no pillow) within Monument Valley?
Yes, even the plush hotel beds in Las Vegas couldn’t beat this! I’ve never slept so soundly and woken up in such a jubilant and rather too enthusiastic mood at six o’clock in the morning!
You wouldn’t think so to begin with.
After the evening of spirit dancing, the rain stopped play and we had to hightail it to our Hogan in our jeeps to ensure we would warm ourselves up and become dry. Walking through the open rain-splattered wooden door, you would notice that the middle of the room had the fire hearth within a grate. A flute runs up to the top of the Hogan dispelling smoke yet the heat stays within the Hogan ready to warningly give us respite from the cold and the wet as we slept.
And oh, I slept deeply.
The night was quiet outside, the darkness staying pitch black save for the wondrous spectacle of the galaxy of stars that strewed across the sky during a respite from the rain as I went outside to ‘spend a penny’. My neck ached from looking up so much!
But it was just the warmth from staying in a simple yet unique Hogan (mud hut) that had to be my favourite moment from my experience overnight. Sleeping deeply, I began to dream about soaring across the skies of the canyons that first started with Zion then to Bryce then to Arches coming to rest in Monument.
But my dream didn’t end. All I kept doing at the end of my dream was looking southwards within Arizona to the next canyon that knew I had to reach:
Could this be where we would be going when I wake up?
Just wait and see.
Check out more of my iTrekHere Trip Articles: