1. You know what “Christmas” is.
And you know it isn’t a holiday. Can’t make up your mind if you want red or green chile on those huevos? Then you want Christmas.
2. You snicker to yourself when visitors struggle with the altitude.
When visitors struggle to breathe walking around the block you feel a secret superiority. New Mexico is one of the top five states with the highest average elevation in the nation and we range up to over 13,000 feet. Once when we were hiking in another state, a guide warned us that the trail would reach to 7,500 feet and that we should be careful. My daughter piped up “Our house is at 7,500 feet. This will be easy.” And it was.
3. You got a DUI for driving while dodging potholes.
New Mexico weather extremes are enormous. One minute it’s hot. The next it’s cold. One minute it’s wet. Then it’s dry. These conditions tear up asphalt. Couple the intense conditions with local governments forever struggling financially and a notorious tradition of bad roadworks, and you end up with roads that are more like an obstacle course of foot deep potholes running several feet wide…not to mention the treacherous-looking waterways that form during the monsoons.
If you’re not swerving you may not survive.
4. You know what an arroyo is.
And you know not to be in one during the monsoons. In other states they call them a wash or a gulch. In Arabic they call them wadis. But we know them only as an arroyo — creek beds that are dry most of the year and suddenly fill with tremendous amounts of water when it rains hard further up the watershed.
5. You know that the best Christmas decorations are bags of paper bags filled with sand with a candle stuck inside.
And you know that they can be called either ‘farolitos’ or ‘luminarias’. Hardly known outside of New Mexico these days, the tiny lights came to our state by way of China. At the height of the Manila Galleon Trade, convoys of Spanish ships sailed the route from the southern Chinese ports to Acapulco in Mexico by way of the Philippines. The conquistadors carried with them the tradition of the Chinese lantern festivals to North America, where the custom followed the trade routes north into the hinterlands of the empire that would later be known as New Mexico.
6. The tires on your roof have more tread than the ones on your car.
The spring wind in New Mexico is legendary. So is the wind driving those summer thunderstorms. Our road conditions are likewise legendary (see number 3). So your car tires are safer holding down the roof of your double-wide than they are on your car.
7. You have an extra freezer just for green chile.
And the smell of roasting reminds you that summer has come to an end. You’d better stock up. Head down to the roasting barrel outside the store bro and get a couple of bags so you don’t run out in the winter.
8. You’ve driven to an Indian Casino at 3 am because you were hungry.
The casinos dotting pretty much every tribal land generally stay open all night and sport some decent food for the price. After you leave the bar and find out that all the Taco Bells are closed, you know there are only two options. You can either drive to Albuquerque for huevos and a cinnamon roll at the Frontier (eeeeeeeee, like you could eat the whole thing!) or head out to one of the casinos for a $4.99 hamburger with fries.
9. When you’re sick, you make green chile stew.
Chicken noodle soup has nothing on green chile stew for healing power. Vitamin C! You know what your abuelita would tell you.
10. You don’t get out the car, you get down…ese…
“Are you going to get down or are you going sit there and cry about your Blakes while I run across the road for the jerky? Eeeeeeee, don’t be such a big baby ese!” Yes. I had a New Mexican girlfriend actually say that to me once.