The Urban Dictionary definition of Albuquerque states: "Not a wasteland, not full of teepees, but rather a city in the center of New Mexico. Many residents spend their whole childhood wanting to get out of here, but the minute they leave they all want to go back." I have never read a more accurate description of a city than what is written here. People in Albuquerque spend their whole adolescence talking about wanting to leave, but when they do, they usually return. That said, many of us do leave for college, a job or just for a couple months, but we stay Burquenos at heart for our entire lives. There are a few very specific things that everyone will miss while they aren’t in the Duke City, and here are some of the most important ones.
1. The big city, small town feel
Albuquerque is a big city. We just hit the half a million population mark! But sometimes, it sure doesn’t feel like it. Albuquerque is one of those towns where you can’t go anywhere without seeing somebody you know. Go to Frontier on a Friday night? You'll see at least three people you know. Go to Smith’s on a weekday? You'll see at least three of your mother’s friends (which does make it impossible to buy anything in peace). Even though our city is so large, there is no escaping the small town feel.. But surprisingly, this is one of the greatest things about living in Albuquerque. You know things like this will never change, no matter how much our city expands.
2. The Sandia Mountains
This is a given on the list; everybody here loves the mountains! They sit on the east side of the city and act as a backdrop for our daily activities (as well as letting us know which direction we are going at all times). In the summer you can hike La Luz, rock climb or take the Tram to the peak to look down even past Albuquerque. In the winter, you can ski, snowboard or just play in fresh, powdered snow. Catch a glimpse of the mountains at sunset to see the beautiful pink color they are known for, and you will never forget it.
3. The acceptability of Zia tattoos
You can’t live in Albuquerque and honestly say that you don’t know anyone with a Zia tattoo. This isn’t a true fact, but if I had to guess, I would say it is the number one tattoo choice of a Burqueno. Go to any swimming pool, and you will see at least two different people with Zia's hidden on their body. Next to the number sequence "505," this is one of the most known symbols to someone in New Mexico and other states just don't get it.
4. Breakfast burritos
Whether it’s from Blake’s, Frontier, Garcia’s or Twister’s, New Mexico has some of the best breakfast burritos in the world. Whenever you travel to other places, it’s hard to find any sort of breakfast burrito and even harder to find one as delicious as the ones we have here in The Land of Enchantment. Side note: If you are in any other state, asking for “Christmas” in your burrito will end in weird looks and confusion.
Pizza, subs, salads, cheese bread... everyone had their favorite meal at Dion’s! Opened in 1978, Dion’s is one of the most treasured restaurants in Albuquerque. Most of us have their number on speed dial, and all of us call them when we need lots of pizzas for any type of function or party. But, we all know the true successes of Dion’s is due to creamy ranch dressing that nobody can get enough of. They even sell it by the bottle so you can take it home and eat it with every meal.
6. The slang
The Burqueno slang is very specific and noticeable. There are many places in the United States that are known for their different accents, but here in New Mexico we have our own language. A couple years ago, a video called “Shit Burquenos Say” went viral and more of America was introduced to the idea of calling any soda by the name of Coke and thinking that Marty Chavez will eternally be the mayor.
7. Green chile
Don’t let Colorado try to convince you that they have better Green Chile than us. That is just not true. New Mexico has some of the greatest Green Chile you will ever have. Mostly thanks to the village of Hatch, New Mexican restaurants are stacked year around with tasty, spicy, Green Chile to put on all of the things you eat. Go anywhere else, and places won’t even know what it is.
8. The sunsets
I had to save this one for last. If you have ever been in Albuquerque as the sun is going down for the night, you know that there is no view that can beat this. Seriously, the colors in a New Mexico sunset are ones that you have never seen before. Especially during the summer, social media is filled with multiple angles of a warm, rainbow sunset. The best viewing places for these is towards the top of Glenwood Hills, but you can pretty much see them from anywhere in the city.
As I leave New Mexico this week for an extended period of time, I know I will miss these and many other special things that Albuquerque has to offer. But as many others who leave, I already can't wait to come back.