It was crisp and very cold when I finally reached the Tinaja Restaurant, located on US Highway 53 between Grants and Zuni, NM. Just north of El Morro, the old village of Tinaja lies a couple of miles west of the highway and is now abandoned, owned by a rancher who opens the village up once a year on Memorial Day, when those who remember the old days visit the graves. Stories, ruins and ghosts abound, as I discovered in my conversations with Mary Ann and George. I warmed myself by the old wood stove in the corner and enjoyed a meal which included what were perhaps the best French fries I had ever tasted. The McBeth's say that their restaurant is especially known for its chile cheese fries and is frequented by bilagáana (white) and Diné (Navajo) alike.
George McBeth, Teresa Stoa, Mary Ann McBeth, artist Beth Klotz
From my interview with Jen:
Jen: We're gonna come to a rude awakening, you know, as to what we have to do. I mean, it's the American society as a whole. I think if you traveled around the world and you saw other countries, I bet—I've been to Sweden, I've been to, you know, quite a few other places that recycle, they take care of the earth, and they're all about composting. And, you know, it seems like here, we need a whole rude awakening as to--you know, I'm sure we're not the only country, but America needs to shape up a lot, pooling the resources that we use. We're just super wasteful and it's just something that's gonna have to stop.
AE: I agree. And I'm wondering also if there's any way that we can voluntarily consciously reduce procreation. I'm just wondering. Have you ever thought about that?
J: People are gonna procreate, if you mean by procreate, having children.
AE: We on earth.
AE: I don't know, reducing that rate.
J: I think people are having smaller families.
J: Than what they used to.
AE: It's true, huh? In America.
J: In Colorado, I know a lot of women who don't have children. I work with more women who don't have children than women who do.
AE: Oh, it's more common.
J: It's more common, in Colorado, to have smaller families than not. Or not at all.
AE: Right. That's interesting.
J: But, you know, it's hard to say. I don't think it should become like China, where you're limited to one child.
AE: Yeah, I think that they did away with that policy. People were breaking the rules and stuff.
J: I mean, you can't. There's no way to really control it. People are gonna have the children that they want to have. But, you know, I think people are getting better about birth control and, you know, having safe sex and trying to control, hopefully, that way. But, you know, people don't like abortion, either. You know?
AE: I know.
J: So I mean, if you don't want aborting children--
J: There's already a lot of women who can't have kids.
AE: Oh, really?
J: So I think it's helped, I mean I think it's nature somewhat trying to help itself. I can't have kids. I know probably three or four women off the top of my head who can't have children.
AE: I see. Uh-huh.
J: I think it's something with our diets, it's what we breathe, it's pollution. I have scarring on my fallopian tubes and my ovaries. I mean, I could probably really push it and get pregnant--like go in and get like in vitro or something like that, but, just naturally, I wouldn't be able to get pregnant. But I think a lot more women I talk to really struggle getting pregnant. So I think there's already things in the works that are going to limit families, family life.
AE: Oh, I see what you mean. Well, good to talk to you, Jen.
J: Yeah! I hate to cut it short. My husband's waiting.
AE: It's OK. Thank you so much!
On my way down the mountain, having spent the night camped out in my Jeep beside Mirror Lake in the Snowy Range, I stopped in at the Friendly Store, about 30 miles west of Laramie. Kevin was working the register, and he had a moment between customers. I brought up the subject of our world situation, what was happening and what we could do about it. Declining to be recorded or photographed, Kevin offered his take: he thought that first there would be no water, and that then humanity would die off and that all we would be left with would be little tribes scattered around, with neighbors coming to one another's aid in small communities. "That's why people like it here. People helping each other out."