In the 30s a film company built a road up the back side of the mesa that is still in use today by residents, utility trucks, and the small tour buses. The streets/roads through out the pueblo, while rough and not paved, are solidly packed dirt. Several cars and trucks were parked at residences the day we visited. Dumpsters, coolers, and portapotties are next to traditional ladders and outdoor ovens. No water or power.
While this is a real community, not all the people live here full time. Many visit their 'family' home for special occasions and festivals. Several families were selling their wares, pottery, some jewelry, and homemade fruit pies.
Our guide, Conrad, took us to visit the church first. It is an amazing building with walls several feet thick. No photos allowed inside. The history is similar to the rest of the southwest, native people dominated by Spanish with some unique twists. ( if you are interested, please check it out on the net).
All of the material (dirt, straw, lumber, water) was CARRIED up the steep and narrow paths to the top of the mesa. (more on the trail in next post!)
These views are from outside the fence. The church has two bell towers, but I think only one bell. Unbelievable as it seems, the priest traded four Acoma children to the Mexicans for the bell!
In the church yard is a very old cemetery. It has FIVE layers of buried people. It's the fifth and last level in this pic. All the dirt again for these layers are carried this location from the valley floor.
A hole was built in the south wall so the spirits of the children traded for the bell could return to their home.
Though out the pueblo is a mixture of old and new construction. This one was being restored with respect to traditional look. Many were not. It was common to see the lower levels repaired with modern finished while the upper levels are still very rustic bricks.
There is very little color in the pueblo. This turquoise is just about the only one used. I wish I had asked Conrad it's significance!
Thanks to R for pointing out this shot for me. It was the closest I came to nothing modern in the pic. But if you look closely behind the ladder on the right you will see a bit of a white car.
These folks were celebrating Halloween!
Every building has at least one and often several ladders. I didn't see many piles of fire wood. Maybe because it wasn't really cold yet.
Two good sized cisterns catch rain water. They had been empty until just recently and clearly are not nearly full even after a good rain. This is the ONLY tree on the mesa!
Traditional outdoor oven and less than traditional 'outhouses'.
This carved and painted beam is one of the most colorful structures in the pueblo.
And here is R at the entrance of one of the oldest structures.
I liked the contrast of the old and new. There was no effort made to pretend it was all authentic. In spite of being a tourist attraction, it is a real town here. I saw a young girl delivering a hot dish to an elderly woman. And I just realized we didn't see inside a single building, other than the church.
These lounge chairs on a roof were facing the west. Can't you just imagine the fabulous sunsets?!?