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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

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Just this weekend past was HALLOWEEN!

I could tell you about it, but it is probably best summed up in photographic form:

SATURDAY NIGHT: Halloween Party

I was a Cheerio from Glee! Hooray!

Group1
Group2
Hell yes we had fun!

SUNDAY NIGHT: Trick or Treating (31st October)
Readytogo
We got redressed up and were ready for free lollies!

Brittster
Brittney didn’t want to go, she was so embarrassed by Janeen and I…

SCORE
But we hardly cared… We scored like a kilo each in treats! Success!

Puke
And saw a puking pumpkin!

First All-American Halloweekend Status Report: Complete Success!

I wish it was Halloween every weekend…

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!

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