Moving to a new city and state provides numerous challenges and lessons to learn. Because I hadn’t completed that type of relocation for many years, I forgot how many pieces were involved in assembling the moving jigsaw puzzle.
The New Mexico culture in which I find myself is a combination of Hispanic, Native American and southwestern US history. Sometimes, and appropriately, all of those entities are inextricably intertwined.
While Colorado is defined and bordered by the Rocky Mountains, we have the southern end of the Rockies here. But it appears that mountains are less important here unless you live in one of the ski areas such as Taos or Santa Fe. Our geography typically features adobe, pueblos, cacti and succulents, casinos, breweries and New Mexican restaurants.
Every one of these restaurants I’ve visited takes great steps to distinguish itself from Mexican restaurants. What’s different? The local iconic food is the green chili cheeseburger, something you can find at traditional sit-down places as well as some fast food stops. To make things more fun, you always have a choice of chilis – red, green or Christmas (both red and green).
Weather is also a source of amusement and gratification. Albuquerque brags about 330 days of sunshine per year. As of this moment, I have no reason to dispute that number. This past winter, we experienced three snowfalls, the worst of which consisted of four inches. That blizzard closed the schools and many businesses.
For the most part, neighbors take great pride in their properties. It’s unusual to see grass unless you’re on a golf course. Instead, we have gravel and rock, with patches of astro-turf and in the worst cases, just dirt. Many homes can be accessed only from gravel roads.
Most surprisingly, this is a place that is decidedly southern in character. Locals love country music, anything Texan (including the Dallas Cowboys) and ranches for everything from llamas to donkeys to horses.
New Mexicans love our home, proudly displaying the Zia symbol on our flag and everywhere else. That’s a good thing for all concerned, making for a strong community and many true neighbors. Shalom.