Albuquerque, New Mexico was to be my home for the next year or so as I immersed myself in American culture, history and society. Welcome to the Wild Wild West. Having waited two hours at Heathrow due to a mix up with my tickets, and running my foot over with the luggage trolley I am finally on the flight.
First stop was Atlanta, Georgia as there are no direct flights to Albuquerque. Atlanta is one of the largest airports in America with one of the highest levels of immigrants passing through its terminals each year. As a result I had to join a snaking line of foreign nationals all waiting for luggage and passport checks.
Armed airport officials with sniffer dogs patrolled the queues sniffing out anyone who might be carrying illegal substances. One – clearly very young, recently trained – sniffer dog became a little over excited about my backpack, resulting in an embarrassing search through all my possessions in front of all other passengers looking on with distaste at this ‘cheeky English gal’ who thought she could get away with it. Very apologetic glances and comments were exchanged when it transpired that it was in fact a half-eaten chicken sandwich that had sparked such excitement and the pup would clearly be sent back to training. I did, however, have to surrender my Marmite after lengthy explanations about what it was, and endure further questioning by immigration officials as to whether this was actually me in my passport (they had a point, I really do look nothing like the picture!)
All this faffing invariably made me late…very late, and nearly miss the connecting flight – the attendant wouldn’t let me board and it was only after saying ‘Is it cos I is English, man!?’ and he got the Ali G joke that he actually let me on!
Touching down in Albuquerque (or the 505 to any locals reading this), I glance out the window and am acutely aware of the large expanse of…sand. New Mexico, also known as the ‘Land of Enchantment’ has stunning scenery and some of the clearest skies in all the US, it is also largely made up of desert and frequently suffers extreme droughts. According to my fellow passenger the state was currently in it’s worst drought ever that had been dragging on for 7 years!
TICKET TO RIDE
Luckily before I left the UK I had made contact with friends in Albuquerque, so a ride from the airport was already waiting for me…along with a wall of dry hot air that hit me like a slap in the face as soon as I walked out of the terminal.
Unfortunately tho, for some inexplicable reason, my luggage has been sent to Arizona – not ideal when all you have is combat trousers and its 43 degrees Celsius out here! Still, it wasn’t long before I was in the cool confines of an adobe-style apartment…with a bottle of…Coors Light in my hand!??! Dang! What was I thinking!