Would you like guacamole with your dim sum? Tortillas with your hotdogs? Apparently, this place has it all.
We laughed when we spotted the shop while waiting for a red light. But it shouldn’t surprise us—everywhere we look in Albuquerque, we find funky things. We find little shops (like the Dhaka Bazaar) and eateries (like the new Moroccan/Tunisian restaurant on Central or the Mexican/Greek spot I’ve passed a hundred times) that reflect a vibrant, if eclectic, mix of cultures in this town.
For myriad reasons, we are still home, still in New Mexico, still finishing obligatory tasks before embarking on our next travels. But that’s OK. It’s life, and we’re rolling with it. We’ll get there.
Meanwhile, we’re thinking of taking a multi-ethnic tour of home: traveling for a day or two or three through this city, stopping at all the funky little places we’ve passed from the roadside that have sparked a curiosity about what’s inside. I’m certain we could eat for days, just up the road from home, and feel as though we’d traveled across the globe.
I’m reminded of an assignment I gave my class last fall in Missoula. One day, I asked the students to spend a few hours in a situation or place that made them feel uncomfortable, out of sorts, off their beaten path. I asked them to watch and listen, think and write. I’d done the same thing with my class in Burma, a few years earlier. Some students ate new food, others sat at a bar whose clientele was not of their usual style. I think what most of them found was the same sensation I find in travel: a jolt to the senses, a heightened awareness of everything around me. As soon as I land in another country, I walk the streets. I visit the markets. And I sit for a long while with my notebook and pen. I see the world in ways I never could, if I always stuck to the same routines.
We can do that sort of exercise 10,000 miles from home. Or we can do it in our own backyards. The trick is to break the patterns we create in everyday life. I believe we see more that way.
How many places can you find in your neighborhood that don’t fit your usual routines? Where can you go and what can you eat?
Perhaps a plate of tacos served with chopsticks?