from arizona to california, canyon-wise
I do not talk with anyone there – the artists & jewelers are busy setting up their wares for the tourists. Normally thru-out the country there are only vending machines at rest stops or the occasional welcome wagon w/lousy coffee spiked with Christian books proffered by old white men & women. In Arizona & New Mexico, you might find indigenous people selling silver & turquoise jewelry and other hand-made items.
I still carry the sadness from my last conversation, so I just allow the sacred beauty that abounds here to encircle me & permeate my every welcoming cell. I am so grateful I have made the time to come here. Everyone should.
Continuing thru Arizona, we begin to get lots more positives as we approach phoenix. It is late afternoon now, almost rush hour, so I don’t want to tarry. We stop at a gas station west of phoenix, fill up, and then pull forward to park as orit uses the bathroom and searches for her American junk food fill. I’m examining the map, wondering if we have time to go to another holy place that has been hugely defiled, palm springs. I do not notice the minor crowd that has gathered around my truck until a womon approaches my window & asks to shake my hand. I step out the truck & begin to talk w/her and her mom – another mother/daughter team traveling together. People ask if rae is my daughter and now they ask about orit. My ‘daughter’ is getting younger & younger – hmmmm. These wimmin are from Louisiana, desperate for connecting with like minds. They talk a little bit about the peace movement in Louisiana – none. I talk w/them about starting one, rustling thru the truck getting codepink info. The whole time we’re talking, I’m aware there are other folks hovering around – I can hear them reading every single word on the truck, each bumper sticker on the sides, even the pink slip bush ones which repeat often. As soon as the mother & daughter leave, a small, older white gay man rushes up to me & asks me if I remember him. I guess I look a little blank cause he says ‘arkansas – I have a black & white something (kind of dog) & we talked about Mark and how he was a republican senior citizen?’ I grasp his extended hand, smiling, which he takes for a yes. ‘well, what does Mark say now’ he exclaims sarcastically, ‘now that his social security is being cut, now that bush has announced 178 cuts in all social services’. As we continue to talk – he has watched the state of the union address – I couldn’t bring myself to do it without codepinkers even tho orit offered to be my codepink support-umhm – as he tells me what bush said, the voices are getting louder. I glance over & see about 4 men and a woman declaring unity with every sentence on my truck. One big white male approaches me and asks me if he can sign my truck. Hmmm – well okay, he’s asking. He could have just done it. The womon who is with him wants to sign also but says she wants him to sign for the both of them. He rushes into the store for a marker & pens ‘sen pedro paul’ on my truck. He peers at me expectantly & then explains – he starred in some film – can’t remember it now – which must be why he wants to lend his name to my endeavors.
Off to palm springs. I want to revisit the amazing palm canyons and give orit that experience, rather than the defiled one. We stay at the motel 6 which orit calls the 6, as in look, there’s another 6! She wants to know why so many motels are named numbers, and not even number 1 – okay, I have to admit I don’t know – it’s something I never thought to question.
The next morning we drive to the reservation where the palm canyons are. We have to wait 20 minutes for the gate to open. The ranger moves his car to let us in. he doesn’t comment about the truck but asks why we’re there. I tell to see the canyons. he seems confused – well, how many folks come site-seeing in imprison bush trucks, I guess – and wants more clarification. I tell him I’m returning from the counter-inauguration in d.c. & wanted to stop at the canyons.
He asks me if I’ve been here before. I tell him I have but my cousin (that tickles me so much) from Israel who is only 21 & came by herself, hasn’t. He recommends the first canyon on the right, which we drive to. It is hard to tell where to park – it is not marked & we’re the first & only ones there so we pull over by the porta-janes & decide to take the ½ mile walk along the canyon where the river flows & the date palms grow – and where the early people wintered here. I get chills thinking about how these people found this oasis in the middle of hundreds of miles of desert – without maps, without aerial cameras, compasses, anything – yet they found their way every winter & then trudged hundreds of miles up into the mountains every summer. Unbelieveable. Folks today with mapquest & triple a can’t find their way around.
As we complete the mile hike around the canyon, the ranger approaches us again. He wants us to move the truck – it’s not parked correctly. We are going anyway – he recommends another canyon & tells us to follow him – we can only drive so far because of the size of the truck, & then he will drive us the rest of the way. We’re happy to oblige.
In the truck we begin talking about the war. He tells me he was marine corps 10 years or so. He is definitely marine – of color, but marine. Then he was a prison guard for a few years – bad job he says, his face clouding. He has no tolerance for soldiers who have joined the military & then do not want to continue fighting in iraq. I ask him if he thinks a soldier should ever follow his own conscience or if he should always follow orders. He’s a hard line military man, stating blankly everyone knows what they sign up for & they’re obligated to fulfill their duty – he did it, so can they.
I press, even when their duty is to make the president & his oil cartel rich while murdering innocent people?
He shifts to his right foot & visibly changes gear. ‘if they are so very stupid they can’t tell the truth then they deserve whatever the president does.’ He goes on to rant about how ignorant and selfish most of the American public is – I subtly provide the 59 million figure detail – and how they are ruining our lives and that if the rest of us are not out in the street fighting this regime, then we deserve what we get too.
I’m a little taken back, expecting him to continue the pro-soldier, pro-war, pro-bush progression I normally witness. But he is definitely anti-bush. Orit has wandered away – and my ranger needs to get to work, so we end by recommitting our own selves to working to rid the country & world of bush.
Off to l.a. and then HOME – I can’t wait!!! Peace, sam