Friday, 15 May 2015

Day 11 – Friday 24th April

It’s often forgotten that the Native Americans are actually civilised people, and this has been made very clear today. Wupatki National Monument was a very spiritual area, an area where you can clearly see how developed life was for Natives in the area. The key part which stood out for me, is how they lived in buildings. I’ve previously spoken about the romantic view we often have of Native’s, and the idea of them living in mud huts or tepee’s is one which is often quickly conjured, but this is not the case. The buildings here were quite sophisticated, with multiple floors, and promoting a communal way of living. Was this the Native answer to Pipe Spring? Both have a welcoming feel to them, with everyone accepted as long as they work as part of the community.
(Ruins of a building at Wupatki National Monument, where natives would've lived communally.)

Flagstaff is a place I feel I could definitely settle into. Driving through the town, especially in the rain, it feels slightly familiar, European even. The population feels much more familiar, it’s a university town, and there’s evidence of this everywhere. There are students working in all the shops and diners, as well as shops selling college merchandise and supplies. In some ways, I can see this as America’s version of Winchester, which is probably why I feel strangely at home here.
(The view from the hotel room at Flagstaff, I'll confess this is the only picture I have of Flagstaff, but in my defence it was mostly raining or snowing for the duration of our stay here. But as you can see, the landscape of the town seems familiar to home, or at least it does to me - minus the mountains in the background.)
Flagstaff is very spread out, with no city centre unlike English towns. This small American town boasts many middle-class amenities and shops, such as Target. I got to experience Walmart here in Flagstaff, which surprised me. I found there was less of a focus on food, with food being pushed to the far back corner of the store. Instead, Walmart seemed to be selling a lifestyle to their customers, with media, clothes and makeup dominating the store. Another thing which stood out about my Walmart experience was the greeter at the door. This is not something we have in supermarkets in England, but this wasn’t the only thing about this which stood out. The greeter was an elderly lady on a mobility scooter, who had an oxygen tank. I’ll confess, at first I thought she was there on behalf of a charity, but she actually worked there. I was shocked that she had to work, because there is no welfare or safety net in place for people in her situation. It made me feel quite glad to be living in England, and to never take our welfare system for granted ever again.

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