Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Albuquerque - petroglyphs, chili and dragon lights

The waitress said "chili?" and stared at me expectantly in response to my taco order. What went through my head was this:

and I just couldn't wrap my brain around how this one word was a question, and what it had to do with my simple order of street tacos. She shifted her weight, adjusted the pen in her hand and continued to stare expectantly at me for a few seconds. I started to get nervous that I'd picked the wrong place for lunch. I wished I'd been paying better attention when our friends placed their orders in Santa Fe as they did it with ease, and I tried to ignore the angry somersaults my stomach was doing over the concept of dumping a can of goopy chili on top of my fresh, light and crunchy tacos.

Eventually the waitress clucked her tongue, and said "tourists?", to which we both smiled sheepishly, and then she finally explained. In New Mexico all the food comes smothered in chili sauce which is really just a very finely blended salsa. There is a choice of red or green, or you can opt for both by saying "Christmas". I do recall my friend adding the word "Christmas" to his order - aha - now that made sense, at the time I thought I had simply misheard him.

Whew. No cans of chili here. As it turns out you can have your chili on the side and enjoy your meal as smothered (or not) as you want. Excellent.

Street tacos @ Garduno's, chili on the side

We've been waiting for all of Loretta's parts to arrive and be installed, and searching diligently for something to love about Albuquerque in the meantime. On one such venture we noticed a sign for petroglyphs, so we veered over to check it out. This land was once Anasazi land, although the natives nowadays prefer to refer to their ancestors as Ancestral Puebloans. These glyphs were made between 1300 and 1700 AD and hold cultural significance, warnings or instructions for the people of the time although much of their true meaning has been lost to time.

Petroglyphs at Albuquerque's Petroglyphs National Monument
The view of the West Albuquerque suburbs, as seen from Petroglyph National Monument

We saw some signage one day for Dragon Lights of Albuquerque, and it turned out to be quite a singular little side trip. The lighted displays are made from silk stretched over wire frames, and took about an hour to walk through them all. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. There were also live performances with a face-changer and a pair of contortionists who somehow fit themselves into an impossibly small barrel. It was painfully cold so we didn't linger at the craft stalls or food lines, if you're in the area I definitely recommend catching this little show.

Dragon Lights of Albuquerque

Once again, it looks like we've overstayed our welcome. Winter has followed us down the mountain from Denver and has taken advantage of our mechanical pause here to catch us. Temps hit 19 in downtown Albuquerque last night. Brrr.

Tinkertown Museum on the hillside behind Albuquerque, just 20 minutes up the hill from us
We hope to get Loretta back later today and will be rolling towards warmer climes as soon as we are reunited.


  1. Glad you found some interesting local things. The dragon lights look intriguing. Glad you figured out the `chili`. Really ,who calls salsa chili anyway!

  2. Oh man... it's some really good stuff, though! One bite and you're hooked!