Saturday, August 6, 2022
We met for our second tour at Mesa Verde National Park. Our tour guide, Michael, in the beginning warned us this is a strenuous hike, climbing several ladders with many steps and crawling through a tunnel. “If you can’t make it up these ladders, we may have to stop the whole tour. If we have to call for help, the whole day will be stopped. So if you have ANY thoughts that you can’t make it, please turn around now. Don’t ruin the day for all the others.” At 75 years old, he was beginning to talk me out of going. I felt a few glances in our direction, but we stood our ground.
Climbing the first ladder, I was intimidated by his speech, but took it slowly, concentrating on one step at a time. Once we were all up, he took a different tack than other tours we have been on. He asked a lot of questions, and he had answers for questions that I have frequently asked myself. He may have been right or wrong, but I appreciated his frankness.
“How many people would fit on this courtyard? Why is this window so small? What could have been on the other side? Why is it so difficult to get in here? Look at the spring in the back. How many can drink from that spring? Why did they leave? Where did they go?”
All these thoughts lead to Balcony House being built in a time where resources were getting more scarce. The water was drying up. Crop yields were dwindling on this thin soil, trying to feed many people. Maybe people were fighting over dwindling resources. This was a difficult place to get into and out of. It could be easily defended. Grains could have been stored here and carefully dispensed through the small window. Maybe this was a last stand place. Maybe ranking officials held court in this courtyard with people sitting on the balconies. Maybe it was very hard times when people watched their children dying. They didn’t want to leave, but they had to go.
It was interesting, and I enjoyed his approach. It made us realize the importance of this particular site that was built intermittently between 1180 and 1270. They raised turkeys and grew corn, squash and beans. http://npshistory.com/brochures/meve/balcony-house-2013.pdf