We are in a word, enchanted.
We are bowled over with joy at the food, the landscapes, and the gracious people of so many ethnic backgrounds.
We have become Las Cruceans!
We traverse the roadways like veterans, now picking our routes to avoid the heavy traffic areas and learning the local secret hole-in-the-wall eateries that have the best food.
So, here is a list of what I have learned, and then a list of things that I don’t yet get, and want to know. That’s where you come in. If you know the answer, then do tell.
- The state motto is “land of enchantment” and nothing could be truer. From barely ten miles inside the border, the landscape delights with variety and vision. I have visited in Sante Fe which is awe-inspiring from its adobe and old-world churches, to Gallup and its native jewelry sellers at your restaurant table. I have witnessed the continental divide, and traversed the mountains. I have seen the mounds of gypsum at White Sands, and the Rio Grande, the mesas at El Morro and the foot hills of the Doña Anas. I have so much more to see, the balloon races at Albuquerque, the Las Cruces Big Enchilada Festival, the work of the artists at Taos. It is a land of enchantment.
- There are few bugs in the state as far as I can see. If you have ever sat outside and looked down, in most any place, you see a world of its own going on at your feet. Not here. I have seen a couple of flies and a couple of moths, and one minute creature the size of a flea skipping along the sidewalk. Why this is so I have no clue, since bugs are undoubtedly the hardiest of creatures.
- Most Hispanics are bilingual and most Anglos are not. This is a fault of the Anglos. I hope to improve my Spanish skills in the coming weeks and months, and while I’ll never speak as a native, I hope to at least give honor to the folks who make up nearly half of the population here and have had such an important part in the history of this state and region.
- It is incomprehensible given the vast array of eating establishments in this state devoted to Mexican/New Mexican cuisine, but Taco Bell actually has the cahones to have stores here. Why is impossible to know. There are far, far fewer McDonald’s, Burger Kings and no Wendy’s that I’ve seen. They know they can’t compete against the great burger joints that pepper Las Cruces at least. Kudos to Lotaburger and Whataburger for keeping us sated in our motel odyssey.
- Nothing says New Mexico like chiles. We are the capital of hot! Everything tastes better with chiles in it, and every burger joint in town offers sliced jalapeños or green chile sauce as a burger topping. Even egg rolls comes in the “green chile” variety. And the state phrase as I said, is “green or red?” Both are amazing, and one slips back and forth from one to the other. Salsas come in myriad forms, and I can’t wait to get back to the kitchen to duplicate a few new one’s I’ve discovered.
- Nothing is better on Saturday than the Farmer’s Market in old downtown Las Cruces. Filled with fresh veggies from the local farmers to vendors of every artistic bent, you get two long blocks of exciting sights, smells, and conversation. There is everything from farm fresh eggs, to Mesquite honey, to jewelry, to hand-made walking sticks. You can even get a psychic massage whatever that might be.
WHAT I DON’T KNOW
- Why there are no bugs?
- Why almost every neighborhood has houses separated by walls, stone or cement in the more working-class areas. Is this just the ancient way of separation given the lack of wood and before the advent of wire fencing?
- Given that the state is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, why are all the Catholic churches in Las Cruces newer constructions that are mostly dull and uninspiring? I expected to locate beautiful old churches with loads of tradition, and I find almost nothing like that. The diocese of Las Cruces has a “cathedral” that is anything but. Not a vaulted ceiling to be found. No ancient alters, no beloved icons of our Lady of Guadalupe.
- Why anyone would want to live anywhere else? Oh that was just a joke. I only half-way mean it.
Enjoy your day.