Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mesa Verde - Last Days

Tuesday May 13, 2008

If you feel a shortage of air, they tell you to eat carbs, candy bars, salty snacks, drink lots of water, also / and sleep. So. Our breakfast consisted of carbs. I for one (Buffe here) needed the carbs as I could feel the tiny lack of air. After breakfast, I was A-OK. No lack of air here now.
Our waitress last night and this morning was from Durban, South Africa. Very sweet and pretty. She has a Visa that allows her to travel and work in the U.S. She was recently in Florida and for the summer, she is up here in Mesa Verde. A lot of the help come from all over the world. The barista was from New Zealand, one of the Rangers came from Switzerland (he lives here now).

There is one item I would like mention, the Ranger that took on our tour yesterday has visited 5 pueblos a year for the past 20 years, and is still learning. All these Rangers visit the pueblos; there are 26 left in the U.S. that trace their roots back to the Ancestral Puebloans. The Rangers also said although no one really knows why the Ancestral Puebloans left Mesa Verde, they all have somewhat the same theory, and experts seem to agree with. Overpopulation, drought, food shortage, and the “haves and have nots”. The period before the drought, was a good cycle for these people, the bean was introduced, the corn and squash was growing well, they had invented the bow and the arrow recently, so they were hunting big animals. They over-hunted the area and were reduced to rabbit and small animals like the rabbit. There’s not much meat on a rabbit. So overpopulation, drought, food shortage, and the ‘haves and have nots’ all played their part in the exodus. The people began thinking: how do I live and help my family / clan live? Move.

There was a severe drought lasting from 1276 to 1299 (using tree dating – you can tell whether the tree was suffering from drought and what years that happened). So that would be 23 years of drought. This is very dry country anyways, so the 23 years of drought probably played a very big part. Overpopulation was a big player, and then there also seemed to be a shift of the ‘haves and the have nots’. As crops started to fail due to the drought, the ‘haves’ seemed to have all the stored food, and as one Ranger said, they likely revolted against each other. There were probably many clans in the Mesa Verde area, so they were killing each other. Something that is not widely known, but has been discovered recently in a letter from Richard Wetherill late in his life is when he and the other cowboys that worked for them, found the cliff dwellings and they got down into them, they found hundreds of dead bodies looking like they had been in a war; massacred.

Also, when the Wetherill’s were helping archeologists, they wrote everything down. What stone laid where, ectera. The Smithsonian sent in Jesse Fuchs (spel?) never wrote down anything, but thank goodness the graduate students working for him did. And, one site Jesse went after to dig for pots (shall we say; as his pay was quite minimal) was the Sun House. He removed all the stones down to the ground, then proceeded to build the Sun House the way he wanted. You can’t get into the Sun House, rooms have no doors. So, the Sun House in Mesa Verde does not look anything like the original, except for the very bottom stones. The Rangers know this because of the writings the graduate students left. Jesse went after the Cliff Palace, but the Superintendent of Mesa Verde beat him up (so the Rangers say) and Jesse left Cliff Palace (and other sites) alone. It appears Jesse Fuchs was a loose cannon; and to think he was sent out by the Smithsonian!

Back to current Time: se snaked our way back down the mountain (twisty, turny, steep) about 15 miles, got on the freeway to Durango. Cute town; we stopped there, Ace bought himself a belt, Buffe and Bev bought Rocky Mtn chocolates (mmmm), and Ethan his very own Teddy Bear! It is a black bear and soft and cuddly. He will get used to it we’re thinkin’ even if he doesn’t know what it is right at the moment.

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