The incredibly hot, arid air surrounded the abandoned kivas and structures. There was an eerie silence yet you could almost sense the presence of the ancients. It was a bright, sunny day at Chaco Canyon when my best friend and I decided to hike above the complex. We slid in between a very tight cliff rock and slowly made our way up to the mesa top. There was a wash of sorts but we were told that it only holds water periodically. From up there we could clearly see the multi-storied rooms and kivas below. Amidst the orange-coral and copper colored sandstone we found some petroglyphs and rock art. Pueblo Bonito, with its 650 rooms, lay below us.
The amazing thing about this ancient town is its masonry. The wall stones are set in patterns. Within one structure you could see row upon row of open doors. At the very end of these storage room doors a window filtered a sliver of light. Breathtaking in its simplicity and beauty.
Pueblo Bonito and the Chaco Canyon story is closely linked to the fate of all Anasazi from the Four Corners area. It’s assumed that a prolonged drought gripped Chaco Canyon from 1130 and 1180 and lead to its social, political and religious collapse. A culture whose life source was inextricably linked to the cycles of life and nature perishes.
Under the stars that night, you could easily imagine a people moon watching and holding religious ceremonies. A haunting emptiness pervaded the area until coyotes surrounded our tent. Their yelp was that of cackling witches. For me, Pueblo Bonito will always remain a place suffused with ancient meanings and mysteries.
Photo courtesy of www.newmexicoculture.org/historicpreservation