The Hitchhiker Diaries Part III

By Cindy Yurth
Tséyi' Bureau

CHINLE, March 3, 2011

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By popular demand, here are more stories of the folks thumbing their way across the Navajo and Hopi reservations.

The Plant Whisperer

Isn't it a pretty day? Sometimes I wonder, Why did God make the world so pretty?

Especially the plants. If there were two people fighting, and they stopped to look at a flower, they would stop fighting, don't you think so?

I talk to the plants, you know. Every morning I go outside and greet them in my language. I say, "Hello, my sisters! How are you today?"
I bless them, and they bless me back. They tell me which ones can cure diseases.

A while ago I wasn't feeling good, so I went to the IHS. They told me I had the sugar diabetes. They tried to give me medicine. I said, "No, thank you, I know just what to do for this."

Every day since then, I drink a tea made from the Mormon tea plant and mountain mahogany. It tastes terrible, but my sugar is normal.

One morning, I was out talking to the plants and my nephew saw me. He went running to my sister. He said, "Mom, something's wrong with Auntie. She's talking to plants!"
My sister told him, "Never mind, shiyaazh. That is how she prays, ever since she was a girl."

One day I got up and went outside. My nephew was already there. He was talking to the plants, just like I do!

I just smiled and walked in the other direction.

The Linguist

Do you know any foreign languages? Every time I catch a ride with somebody, I ask them to teach me how to say "hello" and "thank you" in a language I don't know.

I can say "hello" and "thank you" in more than 30 languages now, including Chinese and all the Pueblo languages, and of course Navajo.

But one language I refuse to learn is Spanish. Why? I'll tell you.

I used to work construction in Phoenix. I worked with a bunch of Mexicans. Every day, I asked them to teach me a few words in Spanish.

One day a new guy came on the site. He was fresh from Mexico. He didn't know a word of English.

"Ah," I thought, "a good chance to try out my Spanish."

I greeted him the way those Mexicans taught me. He went all red and looked at me strange. Then he punched me in the face!

That Mexican didn't stop there. He kept beating on me.

"Those damn Nakais," I thought, "They taught me nothing but curse words!"

That new guy kept hitting me. I was trying to explain what happened, but he didn't know enough English to understand me.

You think the other Mexicans came to my aid? Not a one. They were falling all over themselves laughing! Finally the guy figured out what had happened and stopped punching me. He just looked at me somehow and walked away.

From that day on, I'll learn any language but Spanish.

The Jailbirds

Thank you for picking us up! It's cold out there.

This is my mother. We just got out of jail.

We had a warrant out for us for PI since New Year's. Finally we got tired of hiding and turned ourselves in.

You don't know what it's like hiding from the police. Every time somebody knocks on the door, you get nervous. You see a cop car driving by, you duck behind something. You're never at ease.

So we turned ourselves in, and spent four days in jail. It was cold in there. They just give you one thin blanket. The food? It wasn't great, but there was enough of it. We've seen times when there wasn't enough food, so we don't complain about food.

The worst part for me was being away from my baby. She's just seven months old. This was the longest I've been away from her.

I left her with her father. I didn't tell anybody where I was going. I hope he knows how to take care of her. She's his first baby. I hope he knows to call his aunties if he doesn't know something. Anyway, I'm on my way over there now, so it's all right.

It's a new year and a chance for a new start. I'm starting over. No more alcohol for me. Not for a long time, anyway.

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