In the land of enchantment, as I know it, exists a level of freedom that I am not yet comfortable with.
There’s something intoxicating about the wide open landscape, the horizon that extends into infinity, the kind soul of every person that crosses my path, and to be more cut off than usual from the outside world. Little did I know that all of that x10 could be found in New Mexico. For 4 days, I tagged along with my friend Paloma (reunited after 3 years) and some of her friends on their adventures where I witnessed them in their natural habitat. Anger, frustration, joy, and all.
To be entranced in their stories and immersed in their light-hearted sense of humor and dreams of the days ahead is one of the best escapes on my record. As much as travel has consumed my entire world, rock climbing has become their everything. We found common ground on going to great lengths to get a fix. They, too, are stricken by the travel bug, but in a much different way. They’re not so much concerned about the travel aspect as they are about finding new climbing environments. To do so, they also recognize the need to sit still to make money and disobeying that intuition because the pull to move is much stronger.
Within them lives a wild child that finds peace and utter bliss in nature, and it was so beautiful to witness. They’ve gone days without showering and human contact before, and an ideal evening at home may include baking, painting, and sleeping outside on rooftops. That is a sense of freedom and spontaneity that is a bit too far out of my comfort zone, but one I truly admire. It was a day of rock climbing in Ponderosa, when all of these observations came to light, except I wasn’t so much rock climbing as napping in the dirt. It’s no excuse not to try something new, but let’s just say that if that day had been my first rock climbing experience, I would’ve come away with more gashes than accomplishments.
My trip kicked off with dinner at Frontier Burritos and cruising around without windows in Paloma’s jeep, hair flying in all different directions. As we stopped at a major intersection, we tossed some quarters to a guy with a shirt that said “I bet you can’t hit me with a quarter.” With a clever shirt like that, how could we not try?
Over the weekend, we took the Rail Runner train up to Santa Fe where we stuffed our faces with omelettes at Tecolote Cafe, cozied up in a couple of book shops and admired the smell of books both new and old, and cooled off at the end of the day with lemonade. Santa Fe is more artsy and swarming with tourists. It’s a cute town, but I found that more raw culture exists further south in Albuquerque, which is more my cup of tea.
Perhaps the most interesting stop of the long weekend was a visit to the vintage knick knack, circus themed Tinkertown Museum. I cannot properly explain to you in words the child like appeal of this place nor the joy that it brought me. All I can tell you is that it is $3.50 to get in, and some of the best money you’ll ever spend.
Of course, as I’m reminded, no trip to New Mexico is complete without a view from the top of the mountain. So that we did. From above, I saw the entire city that I had just spent the last 4 days exploring and maybe even horizons extending into neighboring states. Wherever the view took my gaze, every blink was breathtaking, and the frigid cold air that moved through my lungs as we walked the short trail was a refreshing reset for my insides.
As the sun set on the last night of our reunion, we were tucked away at a window table of Street Food Asian restaurant in Nob Hill that, do I dare say, gives Asia a run for its money. Even though the food didn’t come at street food prices, the quality was superb. Over dumplings and our respective dinners, we reminisced over individual stories from the last three years, and it was a nice way to end my trip. When we walked back to the car, I tripped on the sidewalk for no reason, as I often do, and I felt grateful to have Paloma there to laugh along with me.
Finally, we took a short drive through ABQ’s downtown area which isn’t much to brag about. Similar to Detroit, there is one main avenue that serves as the entertainment and meal ticket for your visit. It was merely one last attempt to see as much of ABQ as I could before calling it a night.
“So why is New Mexico called the Land of Enchantment?” I asked Paloma. “You have to come here and find out for yourself.”
Indeed you do.