phantom menace in all directions

The east and west halves of New Mexico have always been divided by the Rio Grande rift, and now scientists say the fault line is expanding, making the drive across the state that much… slower.

To stretch out our trip to Santa Fe to visit mom even more, we took a drive through the lowlands of southern New Mexico, where the landscape and the affinity for southwestern-style clothing is quite different from Santa Fe, otherwise known as the Center-for-Real-Indian-Stuff.

Down there, “New Mexican” is a geographical location, not a style. The food, often labelled as “Mexican” or “local,” is truly New Mexican (flat enchiladas, non-fried fish tacos, sopapillas, etc.), but it’s not edged in silver tassels and driblets of turquoise.

Also interesting is that in the south, cactus stands in as the token vegetable, and only as you start climbing north does guacamole start making an appearance. Carne adovada *anything*, however, makes its disappearance wherever you are in the state.

At White Sands National Monument we had a rare sighting of the famous Desert Clown,

did some missile testing,

and stopped to visit some Hatch chile farmers. The roasting season is over and what’s left are the dried husks that get sent away to have their color extracted. Apparently the coloring will be used for things like Gatorade, and then the fully denuded remnants used in some other food form. (Plurine anyone?)

Rift or no rift, the idea of scale in New Mexico is always fluctuating and weird. Near and far become two drastically different states of mind.