“I expected more meth heads,” I told Laura as my trip to New Mexico came to a close. Perhaps I’d watched a touch too much Breaking Bad. After all, you know something’s wrong when you’re slightly disillusioned by the lack of druggies, crack houses and drug cartel violence.
Yep, I went to New Mexico while home for the holidays. When my best high-school friend, Laura, offered to fly me out there to visit her, I couldn’t resist. To prep for my journey, I overdosed on Breaking Bad episodes in hopes of acquainting myself with the region a bit. I got all sorts of amped to see the quirky city of Albuquerque and its, um, eclectic citizens. But, not surprisingly, while the TV show weaves in very real problems faced by New Mexico, there are of course other things that make the state noteworthy. Let’s discuss!
Fans of wide open spaces will find just what they’re looking for in New Mexico – that is, a whole lot of nothing, punctuated by bushes, trees and even some peculiar rock formations.
Laura and I set off to Tent Rock to see some of New Mexico’s nothing, and it was something alright. We trekked between phallic rock formations in alleys carpeted with icy snow. Weaving through the slot canyons bordered by ribbons of rock, and up slippery mountainsides, we nearly tumbled to almost certain death more times than I care to remember. But despite the dicey hike, the journey was spectacular. My only suggestion: save it for less snowy months. And Laura says, during summer, avoid the afternoon, or risk getting swept away in flash floods. Basically, it’s a miracle we made it out alive.
If the Southwest were a company, their brand colors would be terracotta orange, turquoise and light purple, with secondary colors chile-pepper red and canary yellow (my ex-colleagues in branding will appreciate the nerdiness that just happened in that sentence). Shops, restaurants and even some houses all blanket themselves in the signature colors, making for a dazzling site distinct to the region.
I got pretty geeked-out on color (and mailboxes, but that’s another story) during our visit to Madrid. Yep, you read that right, but you probably didn’t say it right. Pronounced Mádrid (emphasis on the “a” as opposed to the “i”, as in the Spanish capital), the little city of just a couple hundred people attracts a hippy and artsy set. During a quick walk down the town’s main drag on Route 14, we got our fill of sculptures, wind chimes and fountains, mostly made from recycled materials. I hear that by night the city brightens with Christmas lights, ensuring a colorful visit no matter the time of day.
I’ve done my fair share of church spectating. Stained-glass windows, Gothic stonework, Virgin Mary statues, repeat. They’re nice and often pretty breath-taking, but not necessarily awesome. New Mexico changed that for me. Its Catholic complexes marry Europe’s classic style, the Southwest’s vibrant colors, and the US’s love for a little Christmas decor. Overall, far more impressive than I expected them to be, and certainly the most intriguing churches I’ve come across in the US.
More important than anything else uniquely New Mexican is, of course, the food. But grub – in my world, anyway – is far too precious a subject matter to be squeezed into a blog post like a side of fries. Expect my usual rant on food in next week’s update.
It’s a shame that I didn’t get my fill of crazies in New Mexico – good thing San Francisco never disappoints. And now I’m back in Madrid (Ma-DRID, that is) where I’m dodging pickpockets and street-corner kleenex sellers. I guess I’ve got no shortage of “eclectic” in my life.