Sunday, June 25, 2006
Memories of America: Arizona
In 1998 I went to a conference in Salt Lake City. My wife travelled with me and after the conference we headed off to tour around Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. We drove hundreds of miles through those otherwordly landscapes of Utah and Arizona. Once we took a wrong turn and after many miles realised that the road was turning into desert. It was like a strange dream. We hadn't seen a car since the wrong turn, but just as we pulled over, we were suddenly overtaken by a flat bed truck. Three Indian men sat up high in the back, hanging on to the top of the cab as if they were on horseback. They seemed to have come from nowhere and were going fast, sending up a cloud of dust and disappearing into the hot, red-brown landscape.
Some days later, still driving through desert, we passed a magnificent grey rock sticking vertically out of the desert. This was Shiprock, called Tse Bi Dahi or 'the rock with wings' by the Navajo indians. It is one of their sacred places. It was difficult to find anywhere to pull the car over and take a photograph as the wire fence was positioned right up against the road. It was as if an attempt was being made to stop people from pulling over and taking pictures. But there was no traffic coming and we just stopped the car in lane. I got out and raised my camera to take a photograph. But when I released the shutter, nothing happened. There was no click. The shutter mechanism had moved slighty and then jammed. Prior to this, the camera had functioned faultlessly for about twenty years. I took away no photograph of Shiprock. My camera never worked again.