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2015: Navajos permitted to sell on the pavement &
sell art featuring the local stone from the Canyon.
One of the paintings on stone shown above —
which we bought.
Notice the thickness of the stone.
Other example of paintings on stone.
They are getting pushed around. The Navajo Nation is not doing much to protect them. They do not have the skills, experience & the resources to take on the Park Service. Plus, they are petrified of harassment at the personal-level. Being barred from access to the Canyon — chief among them.
It is true that they are no longer being shot, made to undergo ‘Long Walks’ or have their children forcefully send to Christian boarding schools. But, nonetheless, the persecution is cruel and hurtful.
Between our visit in April 2015 and our recent trip at the end of July, THREE very specific attacks have take place.
- Navajos can no longer display their wares for sale to the tourists on the ground or on tables. Their displayed good have to be on a parked vehicle. So, if they have a truck they can use the tailgate. Many do NOT have trucks. So, they put towels on the hood and trunk of their cars and display their wares that way.
- Navajos can no longer sell any art featuring stone from the Canyon. They have to use purchased slate.
- The Park Service is threatening to stop them living in the National Monument part of the Canyon.
This persecution in inane and very distressing.
In the end this is THEIR land. What is left of all the land that used to be theirs by right.
Having them sell their art and jewelry from the ground or tables did NO harm. They did NOT get in the way. This is not the Grand Canyon or Yosemite. The car parks are rarely packed. Plus the Navajos provide a VALUABLE service — since you will never find or see a Park Ranger on the Rims. The Navajos acts as FREE guides and narrators.
As for the stone … What can you say. Yes, I agree that nobody should be allowed to chisel any new stone from the Canyon. But, there are tons of stone lying around. And here is where it gets crazy and very frustrating. There are NO such restrictions re. stone at ‘Monument Valley‘ and that is Navajo land too. Difference, NO Park Service.
They say they want to build a pavilion in which the Navajo can sell their wares. They have one of those at ‘Monument Valley’. It is EMPTY!
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I don’t, BUT do YOU — other than, of course, the justly famous Navajo Code Talkers?
Well when we were at Canyon de Chelly (AZ) last week I asked this from five ‘educated’ & ‘articulate’ Navajos: two licensed Navajo guides, two very bright and talented students and one gifted artist. They could NOT come up with any names — other than ‘you know there is that actor‘. I didn’t know, and had to Google him. Not sure he is that famous.
So, what gives here? This bothers & worries me.
There are supposedly (per what I heard on the radio while out in the ‘Navajo Nation‘) close to 400,000 Navajo in the U.S. That is a respectable number.
So, I started by checking it out on Wikipedia. I found this, NOT counting the native artists — and they, with all due respect, don’t really count because they have no competition so to speak.
Maybe I am being unrealistic or missing something. But, I, however, don’t think so.
Let’s go back to the start. You would have expected the five Navajos that I spoke to rattle off a list. A list they knew. One guide told me that nobody had ever asked him that question, i.e., who are the famous Navajo.
Yes, they have issues and problems. I have seen it first hand. This was NOT my first rodeo with Navajo. It was my fourth visit to the Navajo Nation and I have been spending time in Arizona Indian reservations since the early 1980s.
Things, ALAS, are NOT getting better. If anything worse. Yes, of course, you see a few exceptions — youngsters doing real well and that give you hope — but not as much as you would like,
I intend to write more on this because I did spend a fair amount of time talking to as many Navajos as I could to try and understand their issues and lives.
My goal is to try and help them as much as I can — and I know that I can’t do much. But, maybe I can give them a voice, some visibility and a platform.
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Attribution WILL be enforced.
The ‘Earth Tower’ at ‘Mohegan Sun’ (CT) is new. It was completed in November 2016. It is the second tower at Mohegan and considerably shorter and stouter than the sweeping and elegant ‘Sky Tower’. I think they can extend it upwards in the future if they see a need.
We stayed in a Double Queen room, in the ‘Earth Tower’, for 4-nights after Christmas, December 28, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When making the reservation (eventually by phone after checking it out online) I purposefully chose the ‘Earth Tower’ because it was new. I don’t think I was given an option as to ‘view’. The room assigned to us, after waiting in line for 20 minutes, was on the 3rd floor sans a river-view. If we go there again I will make sure to specify that I want a room with river-view. Also a higher floor — just for a more expansive view.
But, it was NOT bad at all. Definitely an unmistakable air of freshness, light and modernity.
The Good Things:
1. The room was a decent size, maybe a tad bigger than average for a double queen.
2. Good lighting, lots of light … very fresh and welcoming.
3. Well appointed, very well lit bathroom.
4. Tons of built in USB ports for charging devices. YES. YES. YES.
5. ‘Earth Tower’ is much closer to the self-parking ‘Winter Garage’ than the ‘Sky Tower’ — and that was good because we used the car every day.
6. Electronic ‘Do Not’ disturb sign.
8. Built-in (though we didn’t have a need for one and Teischan used it to keep her snacks).
9. Good water pressure on the shower.
10. Easy enough to get to the restaurant and shops using the ‘Winter Garage’ entrance.
[11. They sent us a FREE chocolate cake the first night. That was a bonus!]
Not So Good Things:
1. No exhaust fan in the bathroom (and why this is so in hotels is an eternal mystery to me even after 60 years of staying in hotels).
2. No drawers — just shelves.
3. Bathroom cabinetry doesn’t extend all the way to the walls — so stuff falls off on the (dirty) floor.
4. Still the usual coffee condiment packets that result in either the sweetener or the sugar sachets from getting needlessly thrown away.
5. The pool at the ‘Earth Tower’ is a joke (as I spelled out in this post).
6. Inexplicably, only one call button for the 4 elevators — when there should be one on each wall as is the case at the ‘Sky Tower’.
by Anura Guruge
++++ Search on ‘Arizona‘ for some other posts >>>>
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The Diné. Lovely people. ‘Navajo’, as at least three of them pointed out to us, quite forcibly, is the ‘Spanish’ or ‘white’ name. They like to be called Diné.
I started spending time in the Indian reservations in Arizona from my very first visit in 1980. When I was 30 pounds heavier than I now am I looked like a Navajo. The first time I visited Canyon de Chelly, in 1986, the locals would often talk to me in Navajo and be surprised when I could not talk back.
Lovely people. I am very fond of them. Deanna took an instant shining to them. We spent a lot of time chatting with them on this trip. We gave rides, on two separate days, to two different female hitchhikers, one old, one young. They hitchhike a lot because many don’t own any transport. In the case of the latter we drove 22 miles out of our way! It was 2pm, it was hot and she was, at best, in her late teens. She didn’t say much. The older lady, a mother of eight, talked non-stop. Told us all sorts of things including stories about rattlers and how one of her sons got bitten by one on a fishing trip.
Just wanted to share these pictures with YOU. Enjoy.
…by Anura Guruge
Dim Sum In China Town, Boston — The Update — Sept. 2, 2012.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012, was my birthday, 59th birthday at that, and per the family custom (introduced by me ages ago) I get to chose what we do for the day. Last year I chose to go on a whale watch because I had not been on one in nearly a decade — and I really didn’t see any whales on that trip. So we went last year, out of Rye, NH, on a glorious, Sunny day. It was a huge success. We got to see 5 of the rare, endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. We saw 5 together. The total worldwide population of that species is about 400. Then on the way back we had a huge, ‘brown’ fin whale swim alongside the boat.
So, I wanted a repeat (though Devanee, never that fond of boats was reluctant, especially as she threw up last year). So it was kind of agreed and we got motion sickness pills for Devanee (which the crew was recommending, highly, today). On Sunday we did Dim Sum as a prelude for the birthday — so the day was ‘clear’, albeit not in terms of weather or Teischan’s school. But, per another tradition, instilled in me by an uncle, a doctor who birthed me, I only celebrate birthdays on the actual day. The day before, the day after or the most convenient weekend might be dandy, but it is NOT your birthday. So we took Teischan out of school, a whale watch, an educational field trip by any standards.
Yes, we had rain. Not as heavy as in NH. We checked the weather, we called them up and in the end drove to Boston, and parked (validated for the whale watch) — around noon. The boat was scheduled to leave at 1:30pm. We watched the weather. I talked to people. We waited until the very last minute. I heard that they had seen two humpbacks on the morning trip. So I bought the tickets.
The boat was 10 minutes late arriving, so we left around 1:40pm. It wasn’t bad. It was gray but the rain had stopped. Teischan and I stood on the 2nd level, open platform for over 30 minutes going out. It is a twin engine catamaran and it sure does hoof it. It was fun. I am used to fast boats. This one was doing about 31 mph. For about 10 years I had a 23′ Four Winns on Winnipesaukee that would do 52 mph. Teischan, for the first time, demonstrated that she takes after Dad and her older two siblings when it comes to water and boats. Totally fearless. Up and down the stairs, with it blowing a gale, with her binoculars around her neck, with no hesitation or problems. Devanee stayed glued to a table. Very quiet. She even slept as did Deanna.
We first saw the whales around 3:25. Another whale watch boat was babysitting them till we arrived. I saw them from a distance. The 3 bows and a tail. Then the other boat took off — at speed and we had the two whales to ourselves.
Mother and calf. Humpbacks. The boat maneuvered around them for about 25 minutes. At least one of the two (typically the baby) stayed up much of the time. The mother would go under and then surface alongside. She was big and would always elicit cries of wonder. Teischan was mesmerized. She was going ‘wow, wow’. Devanee was impressed too. So that was good. It was definitely a moving experience for them.
I didn’t count, but I don’t think there were more than 40 people on the trip — on a boat capable of carrying 300, I think. So plenty of space and no jostling around. The sun actually came out when we were watching the whales. It was great.
We then hoofed it back. Deanna says it was rough. Where we were watching the whales it was 5′ waves. I asked one of the crew. To me that isn’t much. Other than way out, I thought it was calm. I have seen bigger swells in lakes in NH. I spent at least 40 minutes, by myself on the very top observation deck, looking straight forward coming back. It was beautiful. Coming into Boston with Logan airport to starboard. That used to be my second home for nearly a decade.
Good trip all around. I am already planning the whale watch for next year. Last year Rye. This year Boston. Next year maybe I will split the difference and go out of Gloucester. From what I can now see, boats from there have the most direct shot to the whale beds.
…by Anura Guruge
Dim Sum In China Town, Boston — August 24, 2012.
We went yesterday, to China Pearl, of course. I realized, to my chagrin and horror, that we hadn’t been to Dim Sum since March. Yes, we had gone to Boston in June, but that was mid-week, and to meet my father who was visiting Boston on a cruise ship. That is when we did the interview about Buddhism.
The 2 older kids were able to make it again this time, making it twice in a row that they had made it to Dim Sum. My 1st cousin’s son, who lives in Boston, and his son were able to make it too. [For the record, he is not my second cousin. I researched it. He is my first cousin once removed and his son, 15 months old, is my cousin twice removed. My kids and my cousin’s son are 2nd cousins. Got that?]
So we were 9 including the baby. I had asked for a table for 10 because I expected my son to bring a friend. That was the only bad part about yesterday’s experience. They gave us a great table. Huge. Plenty of room, but it, along with another of the same size, were at the back of the 1st (main) floor dinning room — on a raised pedestal. That was a bummer. The carts couldn’t come right up to the table. They would stop at the steps. Fortunately my eldest daughter, now 23, who has been going to this restaurant for at least a decade took charge; as befits someone who will have her Master’s in Forensic Psychology in a few months. She even went looking for duck for her brother. I was impressed. Matthew, very young, acquired a taste for Peking duck. Danielle got us two plates of Peking duck and two of Peking pork. It is good to have resourceful kids.
Good time was had by all. I ate a lot, as I always do. The kids and Deanna are more restrained. We walked to the Boston harbor waterfront, by the Aquarium, after that. They now have a very nice bamboo park, with a water course, outside China Town, paralleling I-93. It is supposed to be, if you know your nature, a Panda habitat imitation. Very cute. Very soothing. We walked through it twice; once going, the other leaving. It was a picture perfect day in Boston. lots of crowds. Lot of boats. A wonderful Labor Day Sunday. And yes, the parking was free. We parked in the Financial District, underneath the Bank of America castle.
…by Anura Guruge
Going for Dim sum, in Boston, in China Town, ‘early’ on a Sunday morning is another one of the cherished family traditions. We try to average about 6 times a year, going more often in Spring and always trying to be there for a Chinese New Year Sunday.
For those of you who have never done it, Dim sum is a traveling buffet where a variety of Chinese food, with an emphasis on dumplings, but ranging as far as crows feet, are brought to your table, on an ever rotating basis by servers pushing steam (or in the case of the sweets, refrigerated) carts. It is Spanish Tapas Chinese style — with considerable more variety and volume.
I can’t really remember when I got hooked on Dim sum on Sundays. [As far as I know, you can only get the ‘whole works’ [i.e., the full traveling ‘circus’ of carts], on Sundays, though nearly all of the restaurants in Boston China Town advertise Dim sum — though the term used loosely to mean a variety of dumplings from a menu.] I think I serendipitously stumbled into China Town one Sunday morning, in the ‘mid-1990s’, while in San Francisco and saw them doing Dim sum — and was hooked; I visiting S.F. at least once a month those days for my work.
In Boston, trust me (and we are experts), there is only one place for Sunday Dim Sum, China Pearl at 9 Tyler Street. It is a side street but you won’t miss it. Follow the crowds — plus it is not that far from the famous China Town arch. From the street it doesn’t look much — because it is not at street level. It is upstairs on levels 2 & 3. You have to negotiate a rather steep staircase to get to the restaurant — but that just gets the juices flowing. At the ‘recommendation’ of some Massachusetts friends, who also do Dim sum, we tried ‘Hei La Moon‘ last year. No comparison. Kids hated it. Never going back there.
China Pearl is where the locals eat. We have been there many times when there have been way, way more Chinese folk than non-Chinese. That is always a good sign. China Pearl also has a small, fixed buffet, serving specialty food like fried calamari and shrimp, in addition the food brought around to your table. There are two levels, 2 floor and the 3rd floor. The 3rd floor has windows. 2nd floor has no windows but has some impressive Chinese artwork. The 2nd floor has more ambiance. Most of the Chinese are given tables on the 2nd floor. You can ask for the 2nd floor and they will give you a table.
We have been there for Chinese New Year Sundays … and TWICE when Valentine’s Day also fell on a Chinese New Year Sunday. Suffice to say they were packed. Lines down the staircase. No reservations. But, they give you a number — but they don’t call out the numbers in sequence. It is still a lot of fun trying to work out who is going to get called. Many time all 4 of the kids make it to Dim sum — and of late they have been bringing along their friends, since Dad pays. The larger the table, more space, more food and more fun. Yes, you can get drinks though I tend to drink the green tea. Danielle, now that she is old enough, likes to order a cocktail.
It is not that expensive, though prices have been going up. Can range from $12 – $16 per head — plus you can, indeed, bring leftovers home. There are no listed prices. They just stamp cute little icons on your check. Then at the end they CLAIM to add it up. I am sure that they scan the volume of icons, the amount of plates on the table, the number diners AND their DEMEANOR and make up a number. Of late I have started telling them, and English is always a bit of a novelty at the China Pearl, ‘to be nice’ when they are adding up the check. Seems to work. Makes them, usually rather dour as only Chinese men can be, smile.
In Boston, on Sundays, street parking is free and if you can’t be bothered to do that there is discount parking for around $9 a day. We usually go straight to the Financial District, next door to China Town, and find a parking spot in what we call ‘Bank of America square’ — since a huge, fort like structure dominates that square. Then we walk. In Spring and Summer it is a treat. In Winter it gets cold.