8/09/2009

on swimming, by moonlight


Moon Hiding, originally uploaded by vajra.

During my recent trip to Albuquerque I took very few pictures. I think I needed to just experience the trip rather than document it visually. So here are a few verbal 'snapshots' of my travels to share with you:

--Desert rain as I arrived in town. The shuttle driver telling me that I should have brought an umbrella. The smell of the wet hot breeze wafting across adobe plazas.

--Swimming by moonlight in a courtyard pool (this very moon that vajra captured in her photo), after sweet-talking a security guard into letting me (& friends) stay past closing time. Then the tolling of bells ringing out over the city, marking the late hour.

--the characters of Albuquerque including the eccentric Ben Michael whose rustic restaurant and anti-corporate rants charmed me, the baker who admitted that he liked processed bread better than the flaky handmade pastries of his that I enjoyed, the waitress at Julia's who was so hospitable that I couldn't help but adore her quirky cafe (and oh, those watermelon napkins, the hot green chile sauce that liquified my sinuses and the honey & frybread that reminded me so much of mom's sopapillas that I was a child again), and the random strangers, including the hardened-looking man smoking with his buddy who was so eager to give me directions thru Old Town.

--agave tea at the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) cafe, that made my throat feel so much better

--my colleagues: who are brilliant and witty. I loved sitting around the table & hearing about their research and their dreams for the future. There's such comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in my passion for the past, and that there are others who share my quirkiness. I especially appreciated their tolerance for my complete lack of direction, so when I said "I think that cafe is somewhere over there," they were willing to follow (and gently nudge me in the correct direction along the way).

--the salty-looking shuttle driver as I left town, who had a PhD in Philosophy and who helped me remember that anyone might be so terrifically interesting and well-spoken that I need to be 'present' even at 5 am after a night of fitful sleep.

PS: pic above taken by Vajra, who I met up with (in person!) while in Albuquerque. What fun it was to get a text message saying "I'm wearing a large blue hat and sitting in the plaza on the west side of the San Felipe church." The wandering around that ensued as I asked locals "which way is west?," "Where is the church?," etc, was the best possible treasure hunt!

4 comments:

journeygal said...

Sounds like a fun trip - were you there working or just for fun? I can't say I've ever known anyone who has been to Albuquerque

jana said...

It was work (though very fun)! I presented a paper at the PCB-AHA history conference.

Megan said...

Glad you enjoyed yourself - hope you didn't sizzle away in our horrible heat! Also, all Albuquerqians (I invented it, I can spell it as I choose!) assume the whole world knows 3 things: when the Balloon Fiesta is, what time of year you can get roasted green chile, and East is where the Great Big Mountains are.

Also - journeygal, most people I know say, dubiously, "well, I've been THROUGH Albuquerque..."

Vajra said...

There are parts of the North and South valleys that are still wonderful: adobe houses, acequias, quiet. Even Old Town, which sells a lot of schlock, still has its beautiful bones. As for the rest, it's like any uncontrolled Western city. As for Rio Rancho...don't get me started.