Timbuktu (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, USA)

I can now say I truly understand why the houses in Timbuktu are so far down in the ground – they’re simply buried in sand.

I remember wandering the streets of Timbuktu and marveling at how far down we had to go to get into the houses. The street level (if you can call a few feet of loose sand a street) was a good 3 – 4 feet higher than the houses. Did they dig down to build their houses? Why?

The answer, I was told, was that the houses had originally been built at street level. But over the years, sand blew in and was swept out of the houses – but not from the roads. Slowly, grain by grain, the roads built up, piled higher and higher with sand while the houses stayed up. Steps were built into the ever-riding sand piles in the roads for access to the houses.

I’m sure that, if we stayed put here we would end up in the same position.

I spent the day in Chinle and, when I returned, found the tent filled with sand. I mean – filled with sand. There must have been a good quarter inch of sand inside the tent!

John and I emptied the tent and cleaned out piles of dust before putting it all back together. Already, after only a few hours, there’s plenty more sand inside here, and by morning I’m sure we’ll all be covered with a thick layer.


books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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