According to the slogan on the license plates, New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment and there are certainly parts of the state that are enchanting. The scenery is breathtaking, you can see for miles in every direction, and the people are friendly. For me, New Mexico is the state of contradictions. Coexisting side by side with all that beauty is abject poverty and lots of trash. Signs pointing to Historical Districts are in abundance in New Mexico, but it’s often difficult to discern the truly historical from the tired, run down, and shabby structures that are more prevalent.
There’s a different vibe about the place that both attracts and repels me. I like that most of the places I visit there are laid back. Unfortunately, because it’s laid back you can’t believe the signs on businesses that say “Open”. The hours posted might mean they could be open any of those times or the place just might be closed on that day. Local folks just roll with it. Me, not so much.
The artist in me appreciates the liberal use of murals and wall art throughout the state. I enjoy the widespread practice of people placing items on their window sills for passers by to admire. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of the yards filled with dead cars, old refrigerators, air conditioners, and broken furniture though there can be beauty in decay and oxidation.
For every place that someone is trying to bring back to life there seems to be ten that are slowly returning to the dust. If New Mexico had a state sign, there would be a three way tie between Closed, No Trespassing, and This Property Under Video Surveillance.
New Mexicans appear to be pragmatic when it comes to repairs and functionality far outweighs any artistic considerations. I have never seen so much plywood used to repair broken windows. What was intended as a temporary fix often lasts years. Electrical wiring in some places resembles what I’ve seen in third world countries.
Lest this sound critical, it is not. It’s pretty easy for me to suspend my judgment while I’m there. I always see more beautiful things than I did on the trip before and I’m consistently treated well by the folks I meet. I’m already planning my next trip.