Ana M. from Spain lives in Robin Walter’s Queens, NY cluster. Ana shares her amazing Spring break adventure with her host family in Arizona:
Coming from a dry, really warm place in Spain, after a few months in the (amazing but) cold and wet New York I was really looking forward to visit Arizona. As soon as we got on the road I started feeling at home. The weather and the mood was more than ready for the adventure.
My host family and I arrived at “Betty and Rusty’s” in the early afternoon, I can say I was expecting something “authentic” but what I found was beyond my expectations. You can really feel something different there, especially coming from such an urban area. Forget about your phone, there’s no service but you won’t miss it and I mean it.
Like an hour after we arrived we were getting our horses ready for a horseback riding tour in the mountains. The view is breathtaking and you totally feel like a part of an old-fashioned Western movie, cactus included! The guides were great matching us with our horses and giving directions, and shortly after we came back to the camp Betty was already working on our dinner, hands down the best steak I’ve tried so far- that tastes even better when you all meet around the bonfire to play games and tell stories.
Camping under the stars and waking up to an amazing sunrise and a delicious, in Betty’s words, “cowboy breakfast” was all I needed to give the next day a great start.
I am a road trip kind of person so I don’t know if everybody would enjoy the roads as much as I did, but driving from Betty’s to Monument Valley was a highlight of the trip. The landscape changes so much in such a few miles it is hard to believe you’re still in the same state. In the morning we were driving around dry mountains full of cactus, by lunchtime red stripes of sand mixed with rocks and mountains. 20 minutes before we were literally in the middle of the most classical, sandy and hot idea of a desert you can picture in your mind.
We met our tour guide in a hotel in the middle of Monument Valley, where we brought our bags to the Jeep and got ready for a late afternoon tour of the place. The red sand meets the intense blue sky in a way I find truly hard to describe. It is this connection with nature, the wind in your face while the guide points at the figures in the rocks and the lights go warmer as sunset comes – you have to be there to understand what I’m talking about.
There were wild horses and live music right before we arrived at our next destination. There we were served a Native American dinner before a dancing and singing performance just for us. I never got in touch with this part of American history before so I really enjoyed it. After dinner we arrived to our hoghan, where we could contemplate the moonrise and so many stars you couldn’t even count them.
Tired but amazed, we went to sleep early and woke up right before the sunrise so we could watch the sun emerge from between the most emblematic spot of this incredible place. The sand mirrors the light as it gets lighter and warmer and we get ready for breakfast and waving goodbye to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever have the luck to be in.
I feel truly thankful I was given the chance of joining this trip. It is a part of the US I never thought of visiting before (most au pairs dream of California rather than Arizona) and it is truly a shame this doesn’t get more attention because they’re missing something beyond words. I’m talking as someone in her twenties who spend three days barely getting any phone service and not missing it at all, if that counts as a proof!
(*TrekAmerica offers tours with stops at both Betty and Rusty’s and Monument Valley.)