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Published: November 15th 2014
Here I am, alive and kicking, writing to my dear readers from the "Hooters" hotel in Las Vegas. We eventually arrived here yesterday evening after another long drive from Albuquerque in New Mexico through the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I remember I left you guys and girlies with the news that I had arrived in the city of El Paso in the extreme South-West of Texas so let me start from there. What to say about El Paso? Well, contrary to common belief El Paso is not a haven for Mexican crime and drug lords but is, on the contrary, one of the safest cities in the USA. With about 700.000 people in the urban area the city actually counts among Texas' largest and its merging with Juarez on the other side of the border transformed it in a kind of cross-border metropolis.
These are at least the facts on the paper. When in the morning we got up for our usual breakfast burritos we drove to downtown El Paso and went for a walk right up to the Mexican border. First, it is interesting to notice that most people in El Paso speak Spanish as a first language, or
Tourists on the outlook
at least so it seems. In this case I am not talking about Mexican immigrants, I am actually talking about Spanish-speaking Americans. I knew that near the Mexican border there would be a lot of spoken Spanish but the amount of the language actually being used in the USA is surprising. Also, this aspect of the States does not really come across in popular culture as most of the mainstream American media reaching Europe are clearly Anglosaxon or African-American.
Back to El Paso, we managed to walk all across the cities quiet and fairly small main strip down to the border. What we have seen (before cops chased us away) was a small river, the Rio Grande (ironically small) I assume. On the river there is a kind of covered bridge where people have a bustling back and forward trade going on. All in all the border seemed quite calm and small, far away from the mobster immigration drug cartel stereotype as its often portrayed by the media. Then again, we have been there at 10 am so maybe we did not see the real deal. Nonetheless I feel to say that most of the things that seem dramatic
at first are much less so when you actually get there (DMZ between the two Koreas is an amazing example for this).
As El Paso seemed much smaller than a city of almost 700.000 is supposed to seem we decided to once again hop on our Chrysler and to head up north: Towards New Mexico. All we new about New Mexico that it was "New" and somehow similar to Mexico. This limited knowledge was destroyed as soon as we stopped for gas and saw t-shirts for sale saying "New Mexico - Its not really new and its not really Mexico". After this heavy blow I decided to look up some things about the landlocked state and found some interesting things. Of course largely Hispanic, New Mexico also has a considerably large Native American population and some Alien residents as the town of Roswell is somewhere in the west of the state. The two major tourist spots seem to be Santa Fe, an artistic city in the highlands and the capital Albuquerque.
As we didn't know what to go for we went for the more easily approachable capital city. But again, in the US the trip is not about
It is a grand canyon indeed
the destination, its about the long way to get there. The west of Texas was considerably dry and arid and crossing over into New Mexico this did not change much. What did change however was the landscape, shifting from one surreal display of All-American emptiness to another. From never ending dry plains to rocky mountains with scarce vegetation and the occasional buffalo staring at you from the fields, New Mexico felt like something out of a 1960's spaghetti Western. Again at some point, our cell phones went blank and internet connection was lost. No gas for miles in sight and no houses (except the occasional trailers parked in the middle of nowhere which always creep me out). The only thing America is always reliable with is its beloved fast food! In the middle of nowhere you would see a McDonald's, Burger Kind, Wendy's, Jack in the box, Subway, Padrino's pizza... you name it. You might go obese but you'll never go hungry 😊
Finally arrived in Albuquerque, literally in the middle of nowhere, we settled down somewhere near downtown. Except the fact that the city is pretty isolated from anything around it I wouldn't really know what to say
Some trees on the rim
about it. There was a nice little walking strip downtown where we went for a night out with pool and plenty of metal: I am very happy that good music is alive in the USA, there hasn't been a place so far without a rock station on our car radio! So thanks America for this one. Back to Albuquerque, the only real attraction of the city are some rocks at the outskirts where Native Americans left some carvings which disturbingly remind of the Nazca lines in Peru, even considering the immense distance between the two places. Interesting and pretty hard to explain.
We left the city after 1 night stay and decided to head further west, crossing into Arizona and stay overnight in Flagstaff, commonly known as the gateway to America's finest, the Grand Canyon National Park. Flagstaff is not a big city, hosting only 140.000 people, but it was the biggest place we crossed in Arizona as the capital Phoenix lies further to the south. Flagstaff is quite nice in this season though as the autumn leafs turn into different shades of brown and orange all along the small roads. As this might imply, Flagstaff and the Grand
Holding the tripod
Canyon actually reach about 2.000 m of height from the sea level and are far from desert, making not only my ears pop but also cooling down the temperature to a chilly 10 Celsius. Next morning we went to see the canyon and well, not much to say. It is amazingly huge and it is a canyon, we all know it from the pictures. Nice to be there though and a little more of surrealism provided by the States.
We left Arizona through its again flatter and dustier west side into Nevada, where Las Vegas is an unavoidable stopover. So here I am, writing from the Hooters hotel and casino and trying to get ready for a night out. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but I am sure I can give you a little insight in my next blog entry 😊 Looking from my window the bright lights of Sin City seem to call me out and I am more than willing to respond. Have a nice day y'all and keep on moving!
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