We have not yet completely understood the actual condition of the native people, or “American Indian” as we usually call them. In the region we are traveling, the tribes of the Navajo (The delight song of tsoai-talee, N. Momaday), Apache, Ute and many other small groups were leading a nomadic life. Crossing their territories, we understand from where comes their deep respect for nature and all beings: those are semi-desertic lands with a continuous scarcity of resources and full of risks, where only the strongest horses (the splendid Mustangs) can survive. We understand why they were nomadic peoples, continuously moving and why their music is so melancholy and full of echoes from the past. It hurts us to see that they are almost obliged to exchange their amazing culture with small amounts of money, in order to go on. On the contrary, it is fascinating what we are learning in New Mexico, where the ancient pueblos (indianpueblo.org) are helped in the attempt to keep alive their culture and traditions.
We love thinking about us as beings coming from the underworld, the Mother Earth, to begin an endless travel through the South, in peace with nature and ourselves… a nomadic travel which we are following too, someway.
During the travel through Albuquerque, we discovered a landscape characterized by arid bushes, red clay and rough canyons: we are in the torrid New Mexico, where the Anglo-Saxon spirit meets the Latin soul… where many dreams begin and many other are inevitably disappointed.
Walking in the city suburbs, we feel like embedded by a warm and quiet atmosphere. The adobe flat homes become colored of rainbow. Maybe a Mexican heart begins to beat in our chest, drawing us insistently… or maybe it is just a mirage of sand and sun.
We were already planning to leave Durango, when the luck helped us: we lost the bus to our next destination, so we were obliged to stay here one more day… It has been an amazing day, warmed by a shining sun and full of sport activities. To begin, a strong but unforgettable bike trip on the Trails 2000. It is to be noticed the aggressive spirit of Cicci! Well, we admit that we lost the way at least twice. Not satisfied, after lunching with rice and beans, we went to the swimming pool for some hours. Tomorrow we will try to loose our bus another time, destination New Mexico…
Yesterday we traveled along an amazing road, which led us to Durango, at the extreme south-western corner of Colorado… after crossing the Rocky Mountains, we came to Grand Junction by night. The following day we discovered a nice and unexpected landscape, a semi-desertic valley surrounded by red soil mountains and interrupted by sudden canyons. We were thinking of coming to the desert yet, when we found us in the middle of green meadows and woods. The road began to rise, climbing through amazing canyons covered by conifers: we crossed small towns of gold miners and we reached the snowed peaks. Finally a long descent took us to Durango, where our travel knows a break, for the moment…
We will remember the week spent on the Rocky Mountains near Breckenridge for a long time. Not only because it was a beautiful place, but also because we met a lot of nice people there… and we were so lucky to know a young couple from Denver, who offered us a passage to the city by car. We travelled along a scenic road, climbing the mountains through the Continental Divide. There, we reached the highest altitude in our travel along the Americas (11990 feet).
The day before yesterday, it was the Independence Day, one of the most important celebrations in the United States: even if it was raining, we saw some fireworks and some people on the road. Probably, we were the happiest ones, because Italy (the soccer team) gained the final in the World Cup!
Finally we are on the mountains, and it is like being at home. From Denver the road rises strongly, climbing on a red soil… suddenly the landscape colors of a green unknown by our mountains in the Alps: the meadows and the trees appear almost silvery colored. Soon we have overcome the 3000 meters of altitude and we could even see some snow. Here the valleys are so large that the mountains peaks (up to 4000 meters), seem just hills. Our trip ended in Breckenridge, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains: our accommodation is a picturesque hostel, owned by a nice and funny couple from England and their dog Gaspode (Fireside Inn). Here we have come in contact with one more face of America: we could define it the “other America”, but we prefer to think about it as another piece of a complex puzzle… this is the America which loves and respects its land and environment, the America of the endless natural parks and the free public transportation, powered by renewable energy (bio-diesel and hybrid electric). It is the America which tries to find out and remember the road traced by the native peoples, so much neglected in the past.
The days are so amazing here: we are exploring the beautiful woods both by walking and cycling, the sun is always shining, even if there are frequent and short thundershowers. Today is our first month of nomadic travel, it could not begin better!
This time our nomadic travel followed a long and quick trajectory in the heart of the United States. In fact, we left the hot South and we traveled through the amazing and wild forests of Arkansas, following the riverside of the Mississippi, by the usual and colorful bus. After a short brake in the city of St. Louis, placed where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet themselves, our travel took the direction towards the West, through endless hills and cultivations of corn and grain, broken off by woods and small villages… finally we discovered the beautifulness of the prairies: on the border between Kansas and Colorado, the road begins to rise gently, until it comes to the valley where Denver is situated, under the Rocky Mountains. These are the places of the “on the road” travels of Jack Kerouac and many other nomads before and after him… the places where the buffaloes were freely grazing, where the proud tribes of the native peoples, Anasazi, Ute and Comanche established their territories and where the pioneers came from the East looking for gold. These are the places of the wild West and the Route 66.
Denver seems to us a young and dynamic city, modern but in a different way in comparison to other cities we visited before: it appears a community where the social affairs are at least as important as business activities. Maybe we are wrong, but we believe it is a true feeling…
A short travel along the Interstate 40, the highway which connects the West and the East coast of United States (going from Washington DC to Los Angeles), took us to the extreme western border of Tennessee. Here we are in the city of Memphis, along the sinuous curves of the Mississippi river. Coming to its riversides, makes us feel to get to the end of a long travel, which ideally links all the great rivers of the world (Rio of the Amazons, Nile, Gange): along these rivers endless stories of prosperity and tragedies have been strongly connected themselves and renewed by the stream of the time. The Mississippi river, with its sensual slowness, lingers on a past of frontier and prosecutions against indigenous peoples and black slaves. It represents the pulsing artery of what America is today, for better or for worse…
Memphis is an amazing city: walking along Beale Street, where everything began, you find yourself into an enormous juke box, which plays the major successes of rock & roll and blues, obviously at peak volume. Memphis, house of the blues and birthplace of Rock N’ Roll.
Yesterday it was the summer solstice, a day which seemed to us so long because the time zone changed and the weather was very, very hot. We have just moved to Tennessee. After a long night travel by bus, we arrived in Nashville, the city known as the worldwide capital of country music… we noticed that music is becoming more and more important in our travel along the United States, from when we were so lucky to see a bluegrass concert in Virginia (guitar, banjos and violins accompany words on beautifulness and hardness of rural life). Tennessee is the place where different music styles meet and blend themselves, due to its geographical position. Here, the music which made and still make the story of the last century, developed… from the fusion between country and the lazy rhythms of the South (jazz and blues), emerged the miracle of rock n’ roll, whose capital is considered Memphis, the city where Elvis Presley lived.
In Nashville we found a lot of bars and restaurants, where you can eat and drink a beer, while listening to country music. But it does not seem to offer much more to visitors. Being on the west side of the Appalachian mountains, now we feel all the greatness of the central prairies and, even if the extremely hot temperatures remember us we are travelling towards the desert, we are surprised to see around us a luxuriant nature and endless woods.
Today we had a very relaxing time, walking through some miles of the fabulous and wild Appalachian trail. One of the most important and entertaining trips you can do here seems to be along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a road taking you outside the world and through an exuberant nature, beautiful forests and impressive wildlife.