There were not many people out and about, but these shops were still opened; the proprietors were all Native Americans.
Li Du did not have a good impression of Native Americans. This was not just because Marlin and Harris had given him trouble over at the casino, but also because he had been blackmailed by Native American students when he had first arrived at school.
But over here, the Native American proprietors were welcoming. Upon seeing that they had driven over, a lady walked out and waved at them. "You guys have gone the wrong way, this road is closed."
Hans removed his sunglasses and got out from the car. "Yes Mam, we did not receive the news. But God must have led us here so that we could meet you folks."
The lady laughed, "Come get a drink and some rest. In fact, this road had been closed for a few days alreadydid you not see the notices everywhere? Oh, you guys are tourists?"
"In a way," Hans said. "So, what's up with the bridge?"
The lady said, "Overflowing rainfall in the autumn; the bridge has been damaged by the logs brought by the gushing river. The authorities have yet to repair it."
"D*mn authorities, lazy bums! The Democrats suck, they shouldn't be in power!" Hans started to grumble.
The lady joined him in the grumbling. With a common topic, the two of them started to scold Obama and the Democrats.
Hans built a rapport with her. After that, the whole group went to her shop for some drinks, sliders and other snacks like cream rolls.
Li Du asked, "Why are we hanging around here?"
Hans chuckled, "Be patient, wait and see. There's something we need."
After becoming chummy with them, the lady asked where they were headed.
Hans said, "We want to go to Old Oraibi. We are actually treasure hunters of secondhand goods, and wanted to go there to see if any trade could be made."
The lady smiled. "Oh, I know. But you guys are going to be disappointed, as they may not be willing to trade with you."
Hans pointed Li Du out. "But I think they should be happy to trade with this fella?"
The lady looked at Li Du and smiled. "Maybe. If you guys have good stuff, maybe they would be happy to trade with this fella."
Later they continued to chat casually. Before leaving, when Hans was taking care of the bill, he gave a 50 dollar tip.
In such a rural area, a tip of 50 dollars was quite significant.
After making the payment, Hans reclined casually on the counter and said, "Mam, I think that if we go over there directly, the Hopi would find it difficult to welcome us. Is there any way for you to help us out?"
The lady laughed again. "You are such a clever imp, lad, very clever."
She took out two feathers in red and green from the counter and handed them to him, saying, "With this in hand, I think they will be much friendlier."
Hans thanked her with a wide smile on his face. In the car, he said, "Great, now we're sure to be able to trade with the Hopi."
Li Du asked, "The store owner is a Hopi?"
"All these business owners are," Hans said. "But we're lucky to have encountered the bridge being shut and hence they had no business and were bored."
"During normal days, with so many customers, a small tip would not cause them to give us this." Saying that, Hans showed off the colored feathers in his hands.
Li Du knew that this must have been a token between the Hopi.
From the reaction of the others, Hans had indeed done well this time. Olly and the rest all congratulated him for having done a good job via the radio.
Big Beard Carl asked, "How did you know she detests the Democrats? Just now when you started scolding the Democrats, I was worried that you'd be in trouble should she be with them."
Hans said, "That's simple. Hopis hate Democrats. They also hate the Republicans. They reject doing business with all whites. Did you really think they would join the Democrats?
"Then why not scold the Republicans?"
Hans got angry, "Are you pig-headed?"
Olly became irritated. "Why are you calling us names?"
Li Du laughed, "The Republicans didn't antagonize the Hopi, so why scold them? The Democrats are different; they are in power now. And since the authorities have been delaying the repair of the bridge, of course they would hate the Democrats."
Hans nodded. "Lucky I'm partnered with a smart guy. Otherwise, if I were partnered with these brainless and fatty pigs, I think I'd collapse."
The bridge was closed but they could circle around it. This way, their itinerary would be affected: their first stop would be Horseshoe Bend instead of Lake Powell.
After going around a hill, they were near Horseshoe Bend. Hans said it was less than 25 miles away.
Li Du thought it didn't matter whether they went to Powell or Horseshoe Bend first. Themountainous westward route, while steep, offered beautiful scenery.
Several sections of the road next to the Canyon were straight cliffs; they were extremely dangerous.
They could not drive fast along such roads. Li Du understood why Hans had chosen to go on the west line. Under the cliffs was the fast-moving Colorado River. If the car were to fall over, none of them would have intact corpses.
With the slow progress, they finally arrived at Horseshoe Bend a little before noon.
This was a section of the Colorado River in Arizona with a U-shaped channel, and also a part of the Grand Canyon. As the river was surrounded by giant rocks resembling a horseshoe, it was named "Horseshoe Bend."
When they arrived, they noticed that many tourists were taking photographs.
Li Du saw that there was a small post office and ran over to take a look. He was in luck: there were postcards of Horseshoe Bend at the post office.
He bought four postcards with photos of Horseshoe Bend taken over the four seasons and wrote some romantic verses in Chinese on them. Then he wrote Sophie's address down and mailed them to her.
After slotting the postcards into the mailbox, he was about to leave when he thought about it and decided to send a batch to Luo Qun as a memento.
Some postcards included the map of the area. Li Du took a look and was shocked upon realizing something. "Big Fox, this is not far from Page?"
Hans teased, "Yes, haha, according to my plan, we should be taking this route on our way back, visiting Horseshoe Bend before returning to town."
Ferris nodded. "This plan would be best. When we return it will be evening. The sunset at Horseshoe Bend would have been spectacular."
At this, Li Du could only sigh, "Alright, guess it's not meant to be. It's also nice to see Horseshoe Bend at noon."
The noon sun's rays illuminated the Colorado River flowing through the valley, making it look like a long sparkly crystal: a dazzling scene.
Li Du found a spot where he could have the full view of the Bend, and got Hans to take a few photos for him.
Afterall, we've 'been there and done that,' right?