Albu-Quirky and the Pow Wow
Albuquerque (Al-boo-kir-kee) is roughly 165 miles south and slightly east of Farmington. We decided to head down this weekend at the last minute when we learned the biggest Pow Wow in the country was on. It’s called the Gathering of Nations, and more than 140 Native American Nations from the USA and Canada congregate at The Pit (University of New Mexico’s basketball stadium) for a few days of what might be compared to the Ekka or the Royal Show. There’s dancing, drumming, the crowning of Miss India World. The costumes are fantastic, as is the atmosphere with the drums pounding.
Unlike the Ekka and Royal Show, there’s no Sideshow Alley or showbags. There are, however, over 800 vendors selling their wares. The coolest stall by far was Hawkquest, where we got to see this national icon up close:
Her six foot wing span was pretty awe-inspiring. As you’ll notice, she’s not actually bald. This is a classic case of misinterpreting the local language; in this instance we misunderstood the word ‘balde’, which means ‘white’.
We had lots of tips on places to visit, particularly on the food front (thanks Nikolai and Jason!) In my mind, Albuquerque will forever more be the place of the Elvis milkshake – peanut butter and banana – at Route 66 Diner. It was a serving so big I only managed 75% of it, and couldn’t face dinner four hours later. At 11am the next day, I still wasn’t hungry. The diner was a great experience in itself – black and white tiled floor, Pez dispensers everywhere and wait staff in dirty ’50s outfits.
Other dining highlights included El Pinto (New Mexican) and Il Vicino (Italian). We did manage to fit some non-gastronomic events: on Saturday morning we decided to head up the ‘hill’ (a mountain by our standards, 10,378ft) on the Sandia Peak Tramway as we got some good weather. It’s the world’s longest cable car system: one of the spans is 1.5 miles between towers! It was a short but sweet visit – Albuquerque is flat and lacks definition when you’re 4,000 feet above it so there’s not a lot of looking to do. I wasn’t exactly equipped to take advantage of the beautiful hiking trails: went up in my flip-flops, temp was around 27 deg Fahrenheit. Planning fail.
Turned out it was a good think we picked Saturday – Sunday was freezing! The drive home was far more interesting than the drive down: it was snowing for at least half of the journey!
Albu-Quirky: we’ll miss your food. We’ll definitely be back for the Balloon Fiesta in October, and we’ll starve ourselves for the week prior so we can partake of all you have to offer.