Land of Enchantment
It grabbed hold of me immediately. The colorful license plates read “Land of Enchantment” and, well, I found it enchanting. A month ago, before I moved to New York City and began a life consisting of going to and from the library, I visited my good friend Chloe in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Chloe and I lived in Jakarta, Indonesia at the same time and she’d mention her hometown when we were both craving good Mexican food. I’d never been to the Southwestern part of the United States, so I took her up on an offer made on the other side of the world. It was the vast openness and the way the clouds hung low against the red and orange rock landscape that made me greatly regret that I’d only planned a three-day trip.
Albuquerque is known for its balloon fiesta, which is taking place in early October this year. The morning before I left, we took an early walk and watched the sunrise and a few balloons float over the landscape. Albuquerque has also gained some notoriety as the backdrop of the TV show “Breaking Bad” which airs its finale tonight.
From Albuquerque we drove to Bandelier National Monument. I’d seen photos of Bandelier growing up and I used to associate it with a place the ewoks from Star Wars would have lived.
You are allowed to climb up the ladders and into the cool hollowed out caves. Here’s a link to the history of the ancestral pueblo dwellers who started out as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Some of their painting is still visible:
We hiked around a bit and Chloe told me to smell the bark of the Ponderosa pine. It smelled like a mix of vanilla and maybe some cinnamon. I could have stood there for way too long just smelling the bark of the tree.
The drive back from Bandelier was relaxing. It rained a little bit and the clouds hung low — America can be pretty spectacular.
We also took a day trip to Santa Fe. Santa Fe has a reputation as an arty type of town, so it was only fitting that my trip coincided with the yearly Indian Market when vendors from all over the state and surrounding states come to sell their art.
These beautiful pots were made and painted by a woman with over 25 years of experience, her mother and grandmother taught her. She was from the Acoma Pueblo and she showed us the yucca leaf brush she paints with. Many of the pots had daily life significance. The smaller ones were used as seed holders.
Wandering around Santa Fe was a lot of fun and I’d love to go back. Chloe’s mom treated us to a spa day at Ten Thousand Waves in the hills above Santa Fe so I was completely relaxed.
And of course, the food. No complaints from me here. We stopped at Frontier Restaurant in downtown Albuquerque before I caught my flight to fill up on huevos rancheros and amazing hash browns with lots of cheese and New Mexico green chile.
Chloe’s dad treated us to delicious enchiladas one night:
And her mom made fantastic shrimp tacos another night:
Now my major problem/question/dilemma is when can I go back?