Embracing nature, learning the culture

With no cell phone reception and spotty satellite internet, I’ve enjoyed being able to focus on the people we are around.On Sunday, Will and I met a woman who, after conversation during potluck lunch, invited us to join her on her running route by the ruins of an old Mennonite church atop “Third Mesa.” An amazing experience: running a gradual rise in the soft sand of a shaded valley; climbing the same steep stone paths used centuries ago by Hopi women carrying water to the nearby village perched defensively at the edge of the mesa; hearing description of the history of the struggles of this church, twice struck by lightening and burnt to the ground leaving only stone walls and arches; humbled by the view of the setting sun behind the far off San Francisco peaks; but also hearing first hand of the experience of a woman caught between Hopi and Christian tradition and beliefs.On Monday, while washing brushes, I met a guy about my age who had been working near to where we had been painting. He told me he was working because he’d been caught drinking at a party (alcohol is strictly prohibited anywhere on the reservation) and had to choose between 2 nights in jail, or 100 hours of community service. Then after talking to Jim Yoder (volunteer coordinator at the Hopi Mission School, or as the girls say, Grandpa) over supper, we began to see how in the same way the Hopi exposure to American diet has led to a huge diabetes problem, American culture has brought upon a people socially and genetically unexposed/unadapted to alcohol use high rates of alcoholism.This morning, Jim and Doris (aka Grandma) left as a result of the unexpected death of Jim’s brother-in-law. But in light of our ability to complete the planned work ahead of schedule, this was not a problem. Today we finished painting the final coat on the duplex and knocked out a few other small painting projects in time to spend the afternoon climbing Canyon De Chelly (about two hours east). Tomorrow we plan to drive the other direction for a day of hiking in the Grand Canyon.