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So the weekend before exams (yes, I’m soooooo rebellious :P) I left Albuquerque to fly to Las Vegas and spend the weekend with my mother. I hadn’t seen her since I left Australia in August and was incredibly excited.

Friday 10th December:
I jumped on an airplane to Vegas, transferring at Phoenix, in the afternoon with the intention of landing an hour before my mother at our destination. Upon landing, I turned on my mobile phone to find missed calls from mum, who had arrived only minuted earlier!
It wasn’t easy tracking mum down, she was standing at the wrong luggage carousel waiting for luggage from Seattle, not Los Angeles.
After collecting our luggage we stood in the worlds LONGEST line (seriously, it was one of those snaking lines that doubled over 3 times and each section was well over 100 metres long) for a taxi to the Aria Hotel – our destination for the weekend.
We arrived, mother a little tired from jetlag and me starving hungry as always. I had endless energy and insisted going for a stroll to find dinner. Mum was a little reluctant but after popping a bottle of champagne (drink 1 – explained further down) she agreed on Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant in the MGM Grand. After pizza, some crazy mad salad and a seriously delicious chocolate souffle dessert (plus drinks 2 & 3) we wandered back to our hotel where mum proceeded to pass out and snore hilariously.

Saturday 11th December:
HOORAY! VEGAS! We were probably up before anyone else in Vegas, but hey we had places to be! We started the day with cake at a French patisserie (the breakfast of champions!) before a little shopping to prelude our plan to hit up as many of the strange, quirky and just plain weird hotels along the strip.
Our first stop outside the Aria was the Bellagio hotel, where we admired the amazing Christmas decorations consisted of artic animals made entirely of flowers. We then went outside to watch the water show the Bellagio puts on every half hour.
We then wandered across to Planet Hollywood where I knew I would find an Earl of Sandwich (a magical discovery from my trip to Disney World with Eloise & Eloise). Best. Sandwich. Ever.
As it began to get dark we realised we had only done 3 drinks since arriving in Vegas (a travesty if I ever heard one! and it had been a SHARED drink) and set about doing exactly what we had always planned to do when we finally got to Sin City.
Our aim? To down 21 drinks, or one at each hotel until we hit that magical number. The original plan was to do 21 drinks each, but after my third drink I was so giggly that mum announced maybe it was best to aim for 21 between us. I agreed, but only because drinks in Vegas are bigger than elsewhere and in many cases one could’ve easily counted as two.
So drinks number 4 and 5 took place inside the little restaurant half way up the tiny Eiffel Tower at the Paris hotel, from where we watched the Bellagio water show again (it was dark and is way more spectacular at night with lights added for effect). I was already tipsy by this point and there were a few drunk photos taken of the rather spectacular Eiffel bathroom…
Drinks number 6 & 7 were taken at a rather dodgy pokies bar inside the run down Flamingo hotel. More drunken antics followed when we stumbled across a sex shop with open legs for an entrance and proceeded to pose endlessly beneath them. Mum then spotted a naked male mannequin on a bed inside the shop and forced me up on the bed… More hilarious photos.
Caesar’s Palace was our next stop and by the time I was pretty far gone and was most excited when I stumbled across a giant wall of goldfish for me to make fishy-faces with. We also posed infront of the many recreated statues of David, Caesar, etc.
On our way to find dinner and drinks 8 & 9, we spotted CRIPPLE SANTA! (Santa Claus with a walking frame) at a restaurant and knew this was the place we were supposed to eat.
We were right too, the little restaurant we had chosen had spectacular pasta and we met an amazing couple who landed me the work experience I am currently completing here in ABQ!
After tossing a coin in the fake Trevi Fountain we wandered up the strip to see JERSEY BOYS at the Palazzo hotel. Drink number 10 occurred in the lobby.
Jersey Boys is the story of the Four Seasons and was an incredible show.
Afterwards, exhausted and ready for bed, we began the walk home only to find ourselves outside a champagne bar (the perfect place for drinks 11 & 12!) where mum drank champagne and I drank champagne cocktails.
We then journeyed back to the Aria and passed out, as we had to be up early for our helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon!

Sunday 12th December:
We awoke with enough time to get cake for breakfast again (hooray!), before boarding the little van that would take us allllllllll the way to the helicopter for our mini trip to the Grand Canyon. It was definitely the best way to see the spectacular desert attraction, as were were able to land directly inside one of the ‘rooms’ and explore an area that tourists who drive are not privy to. This was also the location of drinks 13 & 14. Hooray white wine! I wasn’t ready to leave the Grand Canyon when we did, although the flights there and back were just as astonishing, as we also hovered over the Hoover Dam and through the Nevada desert.
We headed for the Venetian, planning to stop for an afternoon snack at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, only to find it CLOSED for renovations! Devastated and still hungry, we ventured into the Mirage hotel (after finding the Treasure Island siren show closed for renovations as well!) to have all-American style nachos and fried pickles alongside drinks 15 & 16.
A quick stop at the Mirage volcano show was in order before drinks 17 & 18 at the Mandarin Oriental (so classy) – our most expensive drinks of the trip at $16 each.
We still had a few hotels to hit: the New York New York, Excalibur (quick stop for a Maccas cheeseburger) and the Luxor. No drinks were drunk at these hotels.
We headed back to the Bellagio – realising we hadn’t had a drink there yet – and drank drinks 19 & 20 at a quirky little bar offerring 2 for 1 drinks. Definitely worth it, those drinks were delish.
Then we did some shopping at Caesar’s palace. Hooray!
I had decided drink number 21 (YAY! we made it!) had to be particularly memorable and insisted on dragging mum back up to the Paris hotel for one of those ridiculous daquiris in a hot airballoon shaped holder. She was reluctant, exhausted after another big day, although it ended up being a great night as we found a show called Duelling Pianos playing at a bar across the way from my drink stand. The show consisted of two grand pianos, placed opposite one another, with a man and a lady playing popular songs and ‘duelling’ for tips. They were incredibly entertaining and come highly recommended by one drunk little me.
Right before we called it quits for the night, we hit up the Blackjack table (21!) and mum sat me down, told them to go easy on me cos it was my first time and I had just turned 21… Well everyone started telling the dealer to give me 21, they were chanting it “21! 21! 21!” AND GUESS WHO GOT 21 ON HER FIRST ROUND? That’s right! MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
We played one more round, I lost that one but didn’t lose all my money… Actually I ended up still walking away with $13 (I’d won about $30 initially) ontop of what I had put down so I was pretty pleased with myself! What a way to end our Vegas adventure!
Afterwards, we stumbled back to our hotel bed as we had an early flight to catch!

Monday 13th December:
Up early, off to the airport, flying back to Albuquerque with mum! So excited to show her the little city that had become my new home. 🙂

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So we’re into our third “snow day” here in Albuquerque and it is driving me insane… Seriously, I just want to go outside and DO SOMETHING instead of sitting inside, with the worlds worst television channels that just keep repeating the cheap version of Fashion Police SAG Awards (not even the E! one!) and making me want to punch a wall in!

For most of the past three days the temperature has sat well below -20C and the wind outside just makes that awful cold feel that much more bitter. We’ve basically just been stuck inside, cramped and living ontop of eachother with little to do and almost no where to go… Unless we want to be turned into icicles.

Don’t get me wrong though, there have certainly been efforts to cheer the mood that has been so dampened by the weather outside… Camille invited Maja, Nick and I (among others) to a crepes and tea afternoon at her house on Tuesday, which was fun although full of smoke as almost everyone was French and they all smoked inside which did nothing for my already awful respitory problems. I ignored it well enough, although when I went to bed that night it all crept up on me and I coughed violently for ages. It was worth it though, the crepes were delicious and the tea warmed our bones that had been frozen stiff in the two block walk (yes thats how bitter it was outside) to Camille’s apartment.

On Wednesday Chris, Tania and I drove up one of the smaller mountains that sit on the edge of Albuquerque to rescue the llama (Lupe) at Chris’ work. We were surprised to find it was actually WARMER ontop of the mountain and frolicked in the snow after forcing (yes forcing, that llama was not a happy llama and had to be dragged) Lupe into the barn to ensure he didn’t freeze to death. It was fun, albiet brief, and I was able to make my first ever snow angel!
Afterwards, we tried snuggling by the fire and watching films, which was successful… until the film decided it didn’t want to play for us anymore and cut out abruptedly, leaving us irritated and curious as to what happened to Julia Roberts’ character at the end of Eat Pray Love (a film I had no desire to see until the snow storm hit).

Today was fractionally warmer and due to a ride from Chris I was able to get to work without risking frostbite. It was so nice to get out of the house and into the office, if only for two hours… Afterwards I made mum’s curry puffs for lunch before we drove around a bit, hitting up the drive through ATM’s for money (a novelty for an Australian like myself) and discovering UNM would be closed on Friday as well!

Although due to the fact that there isn’t alot of walking, and I am relying too heavily on those who have cars, I have an immeasurable amount of pent up energy and am dying to go for a run to work it all off… It’s far too cold outside though (Tania and I walked to the post office and we are pretty sure we were going the way of the mammoth in the ice age) and the gym at UNM is closed along with the rest of the university! Furthermore, I am finding myself eating FAR too much out of sheer boredom (seriously, there is not alot to do when everything is closed and you’re all a bunch of exchange students who are living on the bare basics) and fear for my waist line… I wish there was a decent bookstore or something within walking distance.

Oh oh oh! And I forgot to even mention: did you know there actually isn’t any snow on the ground outside (barre the mountains)? There was the first day… about an inch… but it evaporated because ABQ has a weird climate so it does that. Yes, that’s right people… there has been three snow days and yet NO ACTUAL SNOW TO SPEAK OF! I can’t even go out and play in it!

I can’t wait for this city to get up and start moving again… Fingers crossed the weather jumps above +1C tomorrow so I can atleast go for a walk (probably not a run though, not until it hits +10C next week)…

I always dreamed of a snow day… and here I am, I’ve had three in a row… I don’t much like snow days it turns out.

Snow snow go away, bring the sun so I can play…

x

After having to cancel the trip several times (due to sickness, bad timing, etc), on the 6th of November we finally made our way south of Albuquerque to check out the many wonders in the southern half of New Mexico!

Two cars carried eight people (Brittney, Laura, Nick, Maja, Angelika, Frederic, Virginie and myself) all the way from our temporary homes in Albuquerque, down to the White Sands, which is literally a mass of pure, very fine white sand that spans several hectares. The sand has settled into countless hills and valleys, thus creating slopes perfect for sand-boarding on and frolicking over.

White Sands is located near the missle and nuclear testing ranges about four or five hours south of Albuquerque. Along the way we passed (and stopped in) several towns with quirky names and even quirkier attractions:

Elephant Butte: Pronounced like “beaute” officially (I insisted it was “butt”), Elephant Butte has the largest man-made lake in New Mexico. Yes, a mass of random water in the desert… I guess people like that? It also has the “Church of Butte” and absolutely no where to eat. Epic fail, but atleast it has a fun name! Also, at Elephant Butte, Nicholas managed to bog the car in the sand, because he was being a wank and trying to show off… Guess who got to drive whilst he, Brittney and Laura pushed? Yeah that’s right, I drove on the wrong side of the road, bitches! Up a hill, and pretended to drive off… I eventually stopped, reversed and let them catch up, but only after I had a little fun first!

Truth or Consequences: This town renamed itself after the American game show of the same name, and seemed to consist entirely of fast food restaurants (we saw nothing else), including a McDonalds that somehow managed to taste entirely different from every other McDonalds meal we have ever had before… And I was under the impression McDonalds tasted the exact same everywhere you went! Clearly I have been mistaken… Thank you Truth or Consequences McDonalds for trying to spice things up and be a little different for a change.

Random town with no visible road leading to it: Not sure how to get there, but maybe that’s how they like it?

After passing by all these lovely small towns, we were finally close to White Sands… only to be stopped by very early border control (we were relatively close to the Mexican border) and have our passports checked. At this point, our car (Brittney, Nick, Laura and I) somehow managed to lose the other car (Maja, Angelika, Frederic and Virginie) and after being given the ok, ended up at the White Sands nearly an hour before our fellow road-trippers.

White Sands is amazing, it has magical drop-toilets that don’t stink and aren’t full of flies (I am unsure how they achieve this and may have to investigate, as the drop-toilets in australia make you gag and are swarming with disgusting flies) and even a place to camp if you are insane enough to want to freeze to death over night. It also has the aforementioned miles and miles of BEAUTIFUL SOFT WONDERFUL WHITE SAND! And it’s not long before this beautiful, soft, wonderful white sand is all up in your clothes and has invaded every possible crack and crevice on your body… but who cares? It’s so worth the awkward sandy discoveries later.

We spent several hours playing around in the sand, trying to slide down it on toboggan-style boards (and failing) and then realising that running and rolling down it is much more thrilling (although does result in much more sand finding its way into the aforementioned cracks and crevices). We also made our mark in the sand, writing messages (GEORGIA + BRITTNEY = FOREVER was clearly the best one) and tried making castles… although the sand is so soft and has absolutely no moisture in it so refused to stick!

As the sun began to set, we said our farewells to the magic that was White Sands and headed back for the cars, deciding to drive to the nearest town (Alamagordo) to find some grub and maybe somewhere to crash for the night. We ended up finding a couple of rooms at a motel and a Pizza Hut. This was the second time I was able to drive, when I drove the leg from our hang out at White Sands back to the main road. Driving on the other side of the road is confusing and scary… especially when you see a car coming and you think it’s going to hit you! Also, trying to pull up on the handbrake with the wrong hand is also awkward.

Exhausted after a long day of driving and rolling around in the sand, we ended up in bed relatively early and all fell asleep pretty quickly.

On the Sunday, the other car (Maja, Angelika, Frederic and Virginie) headed back for Albuquerque, with plans to go to a Mexican festival that was being held back in town. Our car, on the other hand, had plans to head for the caves at Carlsbad, which was several hours east of Alamagordo. We set off pretty early, intent on not wasting the day in the car.

On our way to Carlsbad we drove through a little town called Artesia, which not only had yet another great name, it was also the absolute epitome of a small American town and was incredibly cute. We slowed to take photos, pleased that we had managed to stumble across such a gem of a town.

We hit Carlsbad about lunchtime and hit Chilis up for lunch. A sign on the wall proclaimed it to be “like no place else”… sure, except for every other Chilis across America (it’s a chain restaurant that’s not fast food, American’s love them). The service was ridiculously slow so we ate quickly as we still had a cave to explore!

Carlsbad Caverns are amazing, and despite having been in countless caves before, I could not help but be impressed by the insane formations nature seems to come up with inside what is otherwise essentially a black hole below ground. We toured the entire cavern, checking out the stalactites (cos they hang on TIGHT to the ceiling) and stalagmites (because they MIGHT one day grow tall enough to reach the ceiling) and wishing we had visited in October when the bats hang out down there. (Well, not Brittney, she doesn’t much fancy bats.)

Brittney and I were also insistent that we got to visit the UFO museum in Roswell, which was a two hour drive away. We also had two hours before it closed… shit. So Nick put the pedal to the metal and somehow managed to cut nearly half an hour off the drive. We got to the UFO museum 20 minutes before it closed and were allowed to enter for free which we quickly realised was a good thing, as the UFO museum is the biggest hole and so so so very uninteresting… It’s just some newspaper clippings, a few photos of UFO’s, a video copy of Roswell the tv series and a diorama of some wax figure doctors cutting open a wax figure alien. What a disappointment! Oh well, the alien araphernalia that dotted the sidewalks and decorated the shop windows of Roswell sure made up for the bore that was the UFO museum.

One sidewalk had alien “footprints” painted onto it, almost every shopfront had aliens either in the displays or painted onto the glass and one had a giant blow-up alien to greet you at the doorway, even the McDonalds had a UFO-themed playground built into it! But my absolute favourite alien-attraction was the alien-head shaped lamp posts that lined the main strip, which lit up green after dark. They even had little alien eyes painted ontop them! Brilliant!

After about an hour wandering around Roswell, we were quickly bored and decided it was high time we headed back to Albuquerque after a very long, very busy weekend. We stopped at the petrol station along the way to stock up on fuel both for the car and our bodies and then drove at some ridiculously dangerous speed back to our little temporary homes.

The weekend was a funfilled sandy, batty, supernatural weekend and I was absolutely and I was completely ready for bed when I finally got there. Southern New Mexico, I will miss you.

x

The University of New Mexico, as with most universities with student residents, has a dining hall that is open from ridiculously early in the morning to ridiculously late in the evening. It is called La Posada. The trendy kids (like yours truly) call it La Po.

La Po is like most other dining halls across the country: it is a self serve, baine-marie style set up, with a variety of America classics as well as “daily specials” available to you, unlimited-style. That’s right! You can go back for as many rounds of hot chippies as your little heart (and choking arteries) desire!

At every meal you can guarantee there will be toastie cheese sammiches (smothered in melted butter and referred to as “grilled cheese” in the good old US of A), disgusting looking meat-patties for make-your-own-burger, hot chippies (they call them fries, I say they are too fat to be fries), onion rings and chicken nuggets. You don’t ever really know how long they’ve been sitting there, so it’s all a bit hit-and-miss, although I’d never touch those meat patties, they look vom-a-licious.

Then, being New Mexico, there is the obligatory “Mexican” style cuisine (I use the term Mexican loosely as sometimes even I have to question whether or not you’d find these particularly dodge food stuffs in Mexico): corn chips, rice and beans, salsas, chile and sometimes a quesadilla or two with congealy-yellow cheese gluing the soft flour tortillas together. As gross as my description sounds, they are oddly satisfying and I’ve been known to go back for seconds.

The chile is completely tasteless (even if you salt and pepper it!) and seems mild enough, although gives you a nasty bite moments after swallowing. It’s quite the opposite of most dogs: all bite, no bark… I mean flavour. Seriously, I wonder how they managed to extract all possible flavour from the ingredients yet leave a really really spicey aftertaste that shocked even my chilli-loving tastebuds! It seems to be a scientific miracle and perfect if you just want a burning tongue for no apparent reason.

Sometimes they do Asian-inspired dishes, although insist on using Italian-style pasta noodles in place of Asian-style noodles in their noodle dishes, which makes your pad thais and stir fries taste really mediterranean and cause the entire dish to have a slippery-feel about it. It just doesn’t work and surely Asian-style noodles are easier and faster and cheaper to cook? Get with the program, La Po!

Italian-style dishes (aka pasta) that are served up are always under-sauced and the pasta is inedibly undercooked. It has that tough chewiness that requires all your mouth’s strength to break down into swallowable pieces. Yulch.

The Greek and other Mediteranean style dishes they do are either so overly salted (hummous, Greek salad) you can feel your arteries shrivel up and die or are so rock hard (falafel) you risk breaking a tooth on them! Needless to say, I am never taking such risks again and have gone out of my way to protect others from the hazardous food stuffs! I’m like Supergirl, only with dangerous food stuffs.

Of course, not everything about La Po is disgusting or dangerous, and there have been times where I have undoubtedly enjoyed my meals there.

For instance, just this week they had Morroccan Night on Wednesday, which was a nice surprise. The garlic pita bread they were serving was so delicious I went back and piled my plate high with the intent of sharing it, only to eat 90% of the pita bread myself… It was so delicious. There was also an unusually good cucumber salad with a tart lemony dressing and perfectly fluffy couscous that I used to soak up the vegetarian harissa soup they were serving. It was a really good harissa soup, full of flavour and identifiable vegetables (which was a nice change from the usual tasteless mush they try to pass off as soup). The other vegetables on offer also surpassed the usual La Po standard, and the spicy hot chippies they dished up for the evening were down right tasty! Apparently the lemon chicken was also really yummy, although reports on the beef dish (I forgot exactly what it was) were not so kind. I want Morroccan Night every night!

I also discovered these southern fried delights called Hush Puppies, which are kind of like round onion-ring tasting things. Brittney and I ate a whole bowl of them once. So full of deep-fried goodness!

However, on nights when the food stuffs in the baine-maries look positively toxic and you want more than just the salad bar, you can always rely on the pizza man. He is a staple at La Po, standing by his little oven, waiting for the pizzas to cook, whilst preparing the dough for the next pizza. The fact that he makes them infront of you means they are always fresh, always hot and always delicious. Definitely not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but it gets an easy B+ from me, especially because as I said: it is always fresh out the oven so the cheese is still perfectly melted and not the least bit cold or congealy. Also the crust is chewy and delicious.

The other thing you can always count on at La Po is the soft serve ice-cream machine. Next to the little cakes on offer, there is a stack of cheap supermarket-bought cones and a chocolate and vanilla help-yourself soft serve ice-cream machine. It is the highlight of every one of my trips to La Po, despite not being very good at making a perfect swirl… actually I can’t even make a swirl at all, I just end up with mess in a cone. Still tastes good though, and I like to mix the flavours so I get the best of both worlds every time.
To make things even better, sometimes, if you’re really lucky, there will be toppings for the icecream out, and you can sprinkle hundreds&thousands, chocolate chips and Oreo chunks on your soft serve, to make it that much more delicious! Oh I love the soft serve machine!

I have not yet made it to a breakfast at La Po, as I usually go for one of my many museli bars or disgustingly delicious chocolate marshmallow pop-tarts I have stashed around the apartment for that early morning meal. However, it is alleged there is eggs, bacon and most importantly… WAFFLES! I only hope the unlimited-access soft serve ice cream machine is turned on during breakfast time, as waffles smothered with icecream is truly the breakfst of champions!

Of course, if none of the above appeals to you (as most of it does not to me, bar the pizza and icecream), there is always the salad bar and endless variety of cereals on offer… If that’s up your ally.

There is also unlimited soft drink, juices, milk, tea and coffee… Although I have a strict limit of one softie a week, as I can’t bear the idea of getting myself hooked – it’s a far too expensive habit to have when I get back in Australia! (And not good for my teeth either…)

All in all, La Po is a (mostly) pretty mediocre place to get a meal, but it’s always there, it’s always reliable and it always has hot fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza and soft serve icecream. I will definitely miss it when I return to Australia.

La Po, as much as I pay you out for being gross, I think I secretly love you.

x

As you are probably by now aware, I have been disgustingly sick and thus had to cancel my fall break plans to Las Vegas! I was super devo.

However, not to be disheartened entirely, the doctor told me I could go on a mini trip, as long as it wasn’t far and it wasn’t going to be crazy… Like Las Vegas would have been!

So after deciding that we wanted to see more of New Mexico, Brittney and I jumped on a train early Saturday to Santa Fe!

New Mexico is like Australia: barren. You can drive for hours and see absolutely nothing except a few horses/cows and some desert grass. Except for the mountain range in the distance and a couple of trailer parks, I felt pleasantly at home with the familiar deserty sights – funny how I travelled half way around the world to a place that looks almost identical to Australia, isn’t it? I love the desert, don’t know why you’d wanna live any place else!

It wasn’t long before we reached the state capital, Santa Fe, which has to be the tiniest capital I have ever seen! Think Rome, cut it in half, now maybe in half again… It is itsy bitsy teeny weeny, but incredibly picturesque and chock full of things to keep you entertained!

Brittney and I were starving by the time we reached the station, and headed off quickly to the little bakery just outside the Plaza, where we bought some delicious baked goods that we consumed by the fountain in the middle of the little Plaza.

The Plaza is the centre of Santa Fe, it is constantly bustling and hosts markets most weekends. There is a fountain, a gazebo and endless benches made of what I believe to be wrought iron with a distinct Spanish flavour to them for lingering on. Most of these benches were occupied, which was unfortunate, but sitting smack bang in the middle of the square gave us optimum views for people-watching and sorting out exactly what we intended to achieve from our mini trip.

We wandered along the mini-markets that had been set up for the weekend (some weekends they are much larger), browsing for the perfect gift of turquoise jewelry (a specialty of New Mexico), before wandering up and down the tiny tiny tiny mall that snaked off the Plaza, housing mostly shops that did not interest us (see: old ladies clothing).

We found a vintage cowboy boot shop, which I was thrilled by, until seeing the price of a pair of those leather beauties: $500! I’d have to give up food AND booze for the entire rest of my trip if I were to fork out for a pair! With sadness, I left the awesome boots behind, although scored two super cute pairs of turquoise earrings for next-to-nothing which certainly made up for my no-cowboy-boots.

From there, Brittney and I went in search of lunch. Our sandwiches, although absolutely delicious and quite satisfying in size, were expensive – even by my usual rip-off Perth price standards! Santa Fe did not want us to eat cheap, though we were lucky the quality and taste well made up for the big dents left in our wallets.

We stumbled across the cutest little bookstore, which pleased me endlessly, as I have yet to find one that is easily accessible from where I am in Albuquerque, and we spent a substantial amount of time just enjoying the cosiness of the place. The best part of the bookstore, undoubtedly, was finding a GIANT sized copy of Fancy Nancy (my favourite book!) which I insisted on reading aloud to Brittney, who conceded that it was infact an amazing book!

I wanted to go to the Georgia O’Keefe art gallery, having studied her in high school art (also because the two of us happen to share the most awesome name ever!), however the gallery was charging $10 entry, which after our $$$ lunch, we didn’t have!

Instead, Brittney and I hit up the many local churches, which were absolutely stunning and mixed Spanish/American architecture with the more traditional “churchy” French/Italian style you so often see. We were lucky enough to be able to sit and enjoy the choir practising at one of our church-stops. There is nothing quite like the acoustics in an old church, I didn’t really want to leave!

We wandered the streets some more, just generally admiring how pretty Santa Fe was, before heading out to find some quick dinner before the last train back to Albuquerque!

After being told we couldn’t sit in the beer garden and eat $6 food at Del Charro (because it was after 5pm and Brittney wasn’t 21… made no sense, we saw HEAPS of children around!), we ended up at an upstairs burger joint, where I finally had a decent burger in America! (Seriously, for the land of the burger, they just don’t do them very well here…) It didn’t last long – mostly because it was delicious, but also because we were in a little bit of a rush – and we made speed towards the RailRunner train station on the outskirts of the tiny capital.

I swear the ride home was longer than the ride to Santa Fe, but one can never be sure… It was definately a fun day though, and whilst I am still a little disappointed about not being able to go to Vegas, my Santa Fe trip with Brittney certainly cheered up my weekend significantly! Yay Brittney!

x

Albuquerque has around half a million people – or about half the population of Perth.

However, Perth acts like a small town: stupidly short shopping hours, everyone knows everyone, people tell you they live in a small city.

Albuquerque, on the other hand, has the grace to at least ACT like a big city, atleast for the most part. Shopping hours are extended, and many shops are 24 hours. They have lots of big freeways/highways and I can walk to most of the places I want to go.

Having said that, Perth trumps Albuquerque in one area: public transport. Transperth is generally safe and pretty reliable. ABQRide is scary as shit, there is no local train and you have no idea when the next bus is going to drive by cos there is no nifty website or large, legible timetables to be seen.

But enough about the differences in city set up, let’s talk about Albuquerque on a deeper level:

New Mexican’s have the most palatable American accent, coming from an Australian perspective. This is because it isn’t harsh like the New York accent, doesn’t drawl like the Southern accent and doesn’t make you wonder if they are jacked up on speed or high on pot like the Californian accent. This means that my ears aren’t bleeding at the end of the day. Thank you New Mexico. 🙂

Another thing about New Mexico is that it actually looks like Mexico and Spain. The architecture is very VERY Spanish/Mexican and the cuisine is heavily Spanish/Mexican influence – which suits me for the most part, because I love cheese and I love spicy foods.

Albuquerque sits approximately 1.6km above sea level, which means that the high altitude takes some serious getting used to. The flatter parts of Albuquerque are actually not far off being as high up as the highest point of Australia – if that helps at all. The air is a little thinner than my coastline-raised self is used to, and you tend to wear yourself out faster exercising at this height.

However, the dry desert plains remind me of outback Australia, if Australia had lots of mountains in the background. The desert grass is similar to that of the sunburnt country I call home, and there is red dirt and desert flora abound – which is comforting at moments of homesickness.

The sky has been almost consistently blue since I arrived – and like much of Australia, New Mexico experiences much longer summers than most of the rest of the States. Having said that though, it’s summer does not get nearly as hot as what I’m used to, and apparently it actually does snow in January – which is still a relativel foreign concept to me.

The University of New Mexico, located on the old Route 66, epitomises everything the state is. The buildings are Spanish/Mexican adobe architecture, all in various shades of off-white and terracotta, and many of the hall names are in the Spanish language. The plants around campus are generally trees that can survive in the dry heat, and the campus has its fair share of cacti.

However, as unique as the buildings are, the university itself is everything an American university should be: big college football teams, cheerleaders, large student residences, the Greek system (sororities and fraternities) and far too much homework, all set in an area of town that caters specifically towards the student population: cheap food and cheap beer.

Unfortunately, UNM is a DRY campus! WTF! What kind of real uni students put up with this? I want a drink and I want it now! (Honestly, I’ve never drunk so much in my life… Because it’s not allowed on campus, I’m desperate all of a sudden.) I can’t even have wine for cooking, which is detrimental to my food!
Good thing booze is cheap and the taxi fare downtown is even cheaper! Otherwise I think I’d go insane.

Anyways, more on ABQ later!

I have… 1 billion essays to write. Gah! It’s like being in year 12 again!

i leave tomorrow evening.

see you when i’ve settled in!

x

Dear University of New Mexico,

Where is my acceptance letter? I can’t wait to arrive so I can get my head in the game and be all in this together with you. I am fabulous and I want to bop bop bop bop to the top of popularity at your uni!

Oh, enough with the SERIOUSLY poor attempts at making High School Musical references… My lord those are bad, I would delete them but then people can’t laugh at just how tragic I am…

Anyways, UNM, did your postie forget to turn left at Albuquerque? (Bugs Bunny joke) Is that why I’m still waiting!

Do hurry UMN, I am going crazy not knowing if you crave me as muhc as I crave you!

xoxox
Georgia