Gallup is more like another country than a town. Strange authority vehicles run around town: Is it the police, the sheriff, the statey, the Indian police, the paddy wagon? Murals line old west walls along streets that traffic moves haphazardly down. Vans drive around picking up drunks and taking them to 48-hour detention centers. We watch a man nearly stumble in front of a semi. Trains roll noisily through town; highway 66 is long gone but the crossroads live on. Rows of igloos hold missiles underneath bomb-proof shelter. Landfills and coal plants surround the town, an environmental justice catastrophe.
The white people in town all work as teachers for Teach of America or as health specialists. They all know each other. Walking through the flea market, my friend Harry is the town ambassador, knowing everyone, laughing, conversating. Living in Gallup teaching or working in the health industry is a little like Peace Corps: a two or three year commitment in the Navajo Nation and then on to the next life segment. It's a revolving door of strangers on a strange land.
The scenery is amazing- Church Rock and Pyramid Rock are gorgeous. Church Rock is appropriately named given its obvious spiritual core. Waves carved reds, greens, white, black in swirling designs on the rocks. Spires reach to the sky like a gothic cathedral or ancient tectonic plate shift.
Gallup- a little wild, a little lost, a little less sunny than I imagined.
I love it.