So I’ve made it to Albuquerque, NM. The cat at the home I am staying at hates me, or at least hates my presence. Last night I dreamt that it could speak English and it stretched out and whispered to me “If you stay in this apartment one more night you will die!” to which I replied “how about just a couple of months” (which is all I have planned – and then to head on up to Boulder, CO), but it hissed back “No, now…die!”
So that is uncomfortable. As for the rest, the apartment is nice. I’ve been too tired from the flight to really notice these obvious things yet. It is a decent apartment in a suburban part of Albuquerque (my host informed me that most all of Albuquerque is suburban – “a suburb that just kept going” is how she described it). There is more stucco and stucco-like materials around but it is not very different from New England.
Even though I was bleary-minded from the trip I got driven out after my flight to a rural part of New Mexico where my host keeps her horse. On the drive up, regarding the terrain around the roadways, I noted that I haven’t seen landscape like this before. The mountains (or perhaps I should call them large hills since there is an actual mountain range somewhere around here too) are covered in boulders. If there was an earthquake, they would become a moving sea of boulders, rolling and pinging through the air to flatten the houses below, there are that many of them. Unlike California for instance, where the hills are luscious with rich soil and occasional fissures, this is more like, well, rocks. Many “falling rocks” warning signs too. I realized, on seeing these hills, that the actual threat is probably less “falling rocks” than it is “fallen rocks” that you might collide into if you don’t spot them lying in the road, particularly at night. They should change the signs, because really isn’t the chances of colliding with a fallen rock a lot higher than the chances of your car being hit by a rock that is in the process of falling?
The sunlight is quite strong, due to the altitude. The horse was kept in a high up place, maybe 8,000 feet above sea level, versus the 6,000 where I am staying. I do notice the slight lack of oxygen, but the brighter sunlight is a nice trade-off. Up at 8,000 feet it was a bit windy and cold.
On a related note I am told, via email from my father, that I managed to miss the first real snowfall of the Boston area by leaving Saturday morning as I did. I consider that a success. Take that, New England!
I am not really into the rural life so I just stood by while the horse was attended to (it had cut its leg and needed to be bandaged). There was a “Vive Bush” bumper sticker in the window of the house near the stable. Very poor or poor looking area, and the sparseness of everything really made me feel more strongly that the United States needs to be divided into two countries – one, the blue states, the centers of population – and one, these sparse parts where things that matter to people in populated areas – things like equal rights for instance – really must seem terribly irrelevant. This was only a brief impression so I won’t say more yet.
Are there cowboys here? I am not sure yet. There was one at a feed store we stopped at on the way to the horse, manning the counter, but I think that was probably a person playing up to the extreme of his persona due to it being a feed store.
Actual people, at the local Walgreens for example, appear to be average suburban people. Maybe a bit more leather hides in the choice of fabrics of the homeless people sitting outside, and perhaps more Latino influence in the gene pool in most everyone, but generally so far seems normal.
Not like Texas. Holy shit, Houston International Airport. Make that the “George Bush International Airport”. Many people there were from Texas, they weren’t just passing through. And the level of “y’alls” and women in buffonted, bottle-blonded hairdos was, well, it was frankly disturbing. I even saw a woman in a dress which was clearly a derivation of old fashioned hoop dresses like you might see in Walt Disney’s Song of the South. The men looked smug, and the women were overly made-up.
Being from Boston, birthplace of the country and all (along with the other New England states and Virginia and such) I’ve never appreciated the way politicians from Texas act like they’re superior to everyone from Boston, New York, etc, particularly when Texas has no real reason to be so proud (not if their oh-so ignorant people whom they manage to get elected into national political offices are any way to judge). So Texas was not someplace I wanted to be; I felt like I was in a dangerous country with people who speak English but are otherwise quite foreign. If Washington DC ever goes poof, I expect anyone stuck at Houston International Airport will be stuck in Texas permanently while they throw up the barb wire around their backwards enclave of freaky, regressed culture. (Maybe they’ll do a prisoner exchange with neighboring states, but I doubt it). Yuck.
New Mexico in contrast – ok it had the Bush bumper sticker, and someone put a steel or aluminum cross on one of those boulder-covered hills, and I grant you that there was some kind of screeching female country music playing in the feed store (“whoo hoo, knock us up, put us in the kitchen and have us take care of babies, whoo hooo” – I am paraphrasing the lyrics) but – the feeling is different.
Even Albuquerque’s airport, where my first impressions were formed, felt less judgmental and more interested in culture. I observed at least several lesbians (and saw another one at the co-op store today), and kids who looked pretty much like Avril Lavigne, and there were statues at the airport honoring long-dead Indian/Native American chiefs. And it had a nice clay-colored flooring which I liked more than the white shopping-mall tile of Houston’s airport.
Today was Sunday so there may be fewer people on the road than usual but traffic in the immediate area around this neighborhood is fairly light. My car was here waiting for me and I’ve driven around once – slightly ill at east due to the threat from the cat-dream.