I had a reservation to stay tonight at Monument Valley’s Firetree Inn, a b & b located in a wifi dead zone about a half-hour’s drive from Goulding’s. The novelty is that visitors sleep in a Navajo Hogan, a kind of dirt igloo that Navajos have been crashing, praying and meditating in over the generations. It’s a sacred thing so the owner-managers want people who “get” the Hogan experience to stay there — they don’t want trashy, fast-food-eating families with loud kids looking to watch American Idol on flatscreens.
I get that. I wanted to do this. I figured I could do without wifi for an eight-hour period. But I’d never seen a real Hogan up close (to me the word “Hogan” means Hogan’s Heroes) and was curious about the Firetree, so early yesterday afternoon a friend and I drove out to pay a visit.
The owner-managers, a couple in their early 40s or late 30s, were — I don’t want to exaggerate — stunned by our visit. Stunned. They pretty much went into apoplectic shock. Their basic response was “whoa, wait a minute…what are you, a person who’s not scheduled to be here until late tomorrow afternoon, doing here now?” They couldn’t wrap their heads around someone just checking the place out, all friendly and no biggie.
The first thing the bald and bleary-eyed guy said was that “we don’t open for guests until 5 pm.” Nice people skills, pal. And then the woman said they’d recently gotten up — it was around 1 pm — and they were having breakfast. Right away I was thinking, “What’s up with these guys? Who treats customers like tax collectors? Who has breakfast at 1 pm?” When I said we’d just driven over from Goulding’s and just wanted to look around, the woman said, “But that’s so far.” No, I said — it’s about a 25-minute drive. (Which it is.)
Then they went into a kind of silent mode. “How do we deal with these people?,” they seemed to be saying. “How do we cope with this?”
The general vibe was “We don’t do this…people don’t just drop by to check our place out and you’re the very first to do this in the history of the Firetree Inn” — the guy actually said this to me in a subsequent e-mail — “and this is a place of tradition and spiritual worship in a sense, but first and foremost the Firetree Inn is about us…about what we want…and we don’t like people just dropping by before 5 pm.”
An hour later I was back at Goulding’s and writing the Firetree guys and asking if they could find it in their hearts to please refund the $200 and change that I’d sent them in advance. “You didn’t like me dropping by,” I wrote, ” and I didn’t like that you didn’t like this. So let’s agree to dislike each other. This happens occasionally. Not everything is a fit. You’re okay, I’m okay, we’re all okay. Peace?” They agreed and sent the refund immediately.
I’ll be staying this evening at the San Juan Inn in Mexican Hat.