Stucco, Skulls, and Skies

“I’d had no particular interest in the Southwest at all as a young girl, and I was completely surprised that the desert stole my heart to the extent it did.” – Terri Windling

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Stucco, skulls, and skies sum up a lot of what the southwest is to me. I picture the sugar skulls that lined the tourist stores and restaurants as decorations, but that are also deeply rooted in the Spanish culture here. I remember the cotton candy skies, the sunsets that rival any on earth. I think of the stucco buildings that first made me fall in love with New Mexico.

New Mexico is not the first place you would think of going for vacation. Arizona probably isn’t high on your list either. In fact, the southwest isn’t somewhere you go unless you have a reason to go there.

I ended up in the southwest desert for college and I hated it for the first six months. By the time I left four years later I had a love for this place that I didn’t know was possible. There is something so beautiful, so distinct, and so special about the southwest that you can only know by living in it. And then it captures your heart and you know that no matter where you live, it could never be anything like it.

After spending a hot, humid summer in the south, surrounded by lakes and rivers and green trees with no mountains in sight, I found myself missing Albuquerque. I found myself missing the purple skies every evening,

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the adobe houses, the stucco everything,

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the mountainous, rocky, and deserted landscape (with a river that sometimes had water in it),

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the transition from summer to fall, into (secretly) the best season the southwest has to offer.

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I missed things that I hadn’t realized I had fallen in love with, but luckily I grabbed a few pictures in those years I was in New Mexico. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make the trip south and west, and stop for awhile before you hit California. It’s worth it.

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