Albuquerque, NM & Chinle, AZ – Days 7 and 8
Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I lived for four years but which I hadn’t clapped eyes on for at least a dozen, has changed. That’s no profound statement because what city hasn’t changed over the course of more than a decade? Still, Albuquerque’s change—or, more specifically, its remorseless, aleatory sprawl—left an impression.
In the evening, I went for a walk with an old friend and her beaux (and the beaux’s grumpy rez dog) along the Rio Grande, where we watched scores of Canada geese flying in honking wedges overhead and heard coyotes singing in the brush at the river’s edge.
Heading back home in the car, driving east, we saw the Sandias, glowing pink at sunset. It wasn’t even one of the most spectacular displays I’ve ever seen the Sandias put on, but it is physically impossible for them not to be beautiful. Looking at the light on the mountains, the beaux said, “No matter how hard they try to make Albuquerque ugly, they can’t entirely do it.”
The morning brought posole and sopapillas at Garcia’s, one of Albuquerque’s Reliably Great Things.
And then I headed west again, ever west, toward Chinle, Arizona, and the Canyon De Chelly National Monument.
An apparently semi-wild horse and I eyeballed each other for a long time at my first overlook on the South Rim drive (horses roam freely in the monument). At the second and the third one, young men sold tacky tourist souvenirs and Indian kitsch out of the beds of pickup trucks and, at the fourth, a different vendor-guy followed me down the trail to the lookout and said something that I can’t get out of my mind.
“I saw there were a lot of crows flying,” he said, “so I came down to see if you wanted to buy some artwork.”
There were, indeed, a lot of crows gliding across the space between us, where we stood at the rim, and the canyon floor. (And looking down on birds flying in open air is a weirdly captivating sensation.) Then there’s the possibility that I didn’t hear him correctly.
Or maybe the crows told him I wanted to buy artwork, and now I’m wondering if maybe I should have done what they said.