I hadn't seen the contact print before. It is a pretty amazing piece of darkroom work, but now I feel more strongly than before that the print is a little bit too "theatrical", with all that drama in the sky.
But I still think it's a very effective photo for conveying spirit of place. As an ol' desert rat myself, I look at the print and get a real sense of presence: how the air felt, the sense of that dark empty sky overhead, and so on. It's interesting to me to see how other people view this print differently. (To my eye, for instance, the crosses aren't that powerful an element; they draw the eye to the village generally, but I don't get them as strong religious symbolism or a memento mori. That's not to say those who do are wrong, it's just an interesting difference.)
It's also an outlier in AA's famous work, in that it *doesn't* have so much of that overt "Ain't Nature Grand!" message for which he's known. Maybe that's why it's sort of polarizing.