Friday, November 13, 2009

Bottom Of The Totum Pole

One thing we learned on our trip is that the economy, at least in the Western U.S., is still in the dumps. While the southwestern United States does not have totum poles, you'll get the drift.

Our second night out was a planned stop in Las Vegas. We don't go to gamble, we go to eat in any one of many great restaurants. Try to find one open! The resorts were nearly deserted as were the gaming tables. Most of the better restaurants were closed, mostly Sunday through Tuesdays. Oops! We arrived on Tuesday!

We chose, on the strength of it's menu, the Chinese restaurant at the Wynn where we were staying. It was beginning to draw a few conventioneers about the time we were finishing - around 9:30. The service was lax, the food less than stellar and we experienced our first taste of discrimination because of our race.

We had ordered soup. We had no spoons. We waited. And waited. We had serving spoons resting next to our chop sticks, but no soup spoons. We finally flagged a busser. The only white working in the place. He told us, as he delivered the spoons, that the waiters figured whites were too dumb to know the serving spoons weren't for the soup and would ultimately use them. Curious way to treat customers!

Our next clue of how things were going was in Sedona where we visited our usual stop for rugs, kachinas and occasional pieces of pottery or baskets. Buying discretely to keep their artists working. The same held true for the sister store up Oak Creek Canyon. A larger problem looms for them. Selling mostly jewelry, they have to be aware of forgeries. The Chinese, Mexicans and others have refined the art of forgery to such heights it can be impossible to tell the difference. If a piece is being purchased because it's pretty and cheap, little matter. If you're a collector, it's crucial!

That's where a bright spot occurred. We met 'Bumper the talking deer'. He's rigged with push button sound that delivers a delightful enticement into the store. You've got to love puns! The sound at the beginning of the clip is fuzzy due to traffic but if you listen carefully you'll get the message.

The message was the same at a trading post on the Second Mesa of the Hopi reservation as we watched as a couple selling baskets was turned away. They weren't buying.

The same again at the Hubbell trading post on the Navajo reservation. The young girl helping us told of the first ever rug auction being planned - so their weavers can keep working. What really hit home was when she told us the only ones that weren't feeling the pinch were people like her grandmother - who didn't have much to begin with.

The same in Santa Fe. More auctions going on. We stayed at a new resort casino just out of town. It was nearly empty on a Friday night. We didn't even need reservations for a Mark Miller, of Coyote Cafe fame, restaurant.

We had dinner with friends Sunday evening. As we noshed on Navajo tacos (oops, that's supposed to be Indian tacos - a tale for another post!), our host and hostess regaled us with tales of how difficult the art market is from their perspective. She is a well known Navajo potter who makes the circuit of the Indian art markets. People aren't buying and therefore it gets more difficult for them to afford to participate. The shows cover the calender and the country.

Last stop of note was Jackson, Wyoming. Deader than a doornail. Yet every highway project we passed, even those we knew to be several years in the making, sported fancy new stimulus package signs!

It's very selective to say the least. We met more people hurting than those we saw standing around while one worked on a highway project! Do I believe what I'm hearing from Washington? After this trip, not on your life!

So enjoy Bumper. Unless the economy starts to turn around, this may be the only place you can come to enjoy him!

1 comment:

Margie's Musings said...

I know what you mean. When we made our trip to Branson last month, we were amazed at all the empty stores in Branson...of all places!