1. You order 5 bottles of Greek dressing to-go from Dion’s Pizza.
Dion’s Pizza is one of your favorite local dynasties. Your childhood sports team had countless team dinners at Dion’s. You know the real gem is not their pizzas but their Greek dressing. You always spot someone stocking up on Greek dressing to put on almost anything — and you snag a few bottles for yourself and pray they never go bad.
2. You land home at Sunport after the bumpiest flight of your life.
Intense thermal currents surround Albuquerque, which makes flights to ABQ rowdy at any time of year. I once asked a flight attendant how she felt about flying into Sunport and she said, ‘I’ve only thrown up in-flight once, and it was flying into ABQ.’
3. You join the entire city for college basketball games at The Pit. And you can make a wolf with your hand.
You take pride in The Pit, a nationally renowned stadium that’s home to the New Mexico Lobos Basketball team. Going for a rivalry game between the Lobos and the Aggies and keeping an eye on the decibel level while covering your ears and screaming is one of your favorite past times. ‘Everyone’s a Lobo, Woof! Woof! Woof!’
4. You constantly school people on the difference between Mexican, New Mexican, and Tex-Mex.
You correct visitors if they call New Mexican food anything other than ‘New Mexican’ or ‘Mex’. You know your native food is not Mexican food, and it’s definitely not Tex-Mex. Down with Tex Mex. You consistently lecture people on how New Mexican food is its own brand of awesomeness focused on red and green chile, enchiladas, and lots of handmade tortillas.
5. You know chili ≠ chile.
You’re tired of people thinking your beloved food product is nothing more than the soup sold at airports with beans, ground beef, tomato paste, and other questionable ingredients. You happily differentiate for the confused foodies that chile is red or green peppers that make your culinary dreams come true.
6. You stockpile green CHILE in the freezer.
Green chile, specifically Hatch green chile, is your staple in the Land of Enchantment. You put it on everything from pizza to bacon to hot dogs. You stock up in the fall and make sure you have enough to last three years, or more, just in case.
7. You walk down luminaria-lined streets at Christmas time.
No one outside the state seems to know what a luminaria is, which shocks you because it’s just dirt, a candle, and a brown bag. You love lining up hundreds of them through your neighborhood of classic adobe houses. The faint flow of the luminarias burning out through the night brings out your inner child and makes you crave biscochitos.
8. You catch yourself staring at the Sandias.
You often catch yourself staring to the east, mesmerized by the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains. Whether it’s sunrise, midday, or sunset you always find the time to cherish the mountains named for their watermelon color at sunset.
9. You know the pro-baseball team is a Simpsons reference.
You don’t know why or how the semi-pro Albuquerque baseball team got the name ‘The Albuquerque Isotopes’, but you do know it’s a Simpsons reference. You also know the mascot, Orbit, has got some fierce dance moves and his costume emphasizes his/her hips.
10. You have to hear AL-bu-kur-key pronounced ten different ways.
Depending on what part of town you’re in, you hear the emphasis put on the Kur’ or the ‘Key’ of Albuquerque. You prefer a Spanish pronunciation over any other and a Texan pronunciation makes you cringe.
11. You order Christmas (red ‘n green) every day.
‘Christmas’ is the most common word spoken at restaurants around ABQ. You can’t get enough of the red and green chile smothered on top of literally everything. Christmas on burritos, Christmas on pancakes, Christmas on eggs, Christmas on pizza, and everything else you eat. For you, this is not a joking matter. Is it edible? Do you want Christmas? Likely, yes.
12.Your heart flutters when you see hot air balloons in the morning.
The city is renowned for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival, which started in 1972 with 13 hot air balloons and has since grown to the largest balloon event in the world. You find time every year to visit the two-week festival for the special shapes rodeo. It’s there that you catch the two bumblebees and their baby, or the Wells Fargo Wagon, or Energizer Bunny. Alas, you’re still sad about Smokey the Bear because he went into a telephone pole a few years back.
13. You lose your breath while hiking to the tops of mountains.
When fire danger isn’t an issue, you’re hitting the ABQ hiking trails. La Luz, Elena Gallegos, Pino, the list goes on and on. You’re losing your breath as you ascend over 2000+ feet on the 10-mile scenic journey. But that’s not all that takes your breath away. The unmatched views of the desert make you think twice about ever leaving the ABQ. With just a mile left on your hike you’re stoked because there’s a glorious tram-ride to the bottom.
14. Your clothes smell of roasted chiles in October.
It’s roasting season and the best smell on the planet is in the air and infused in your clothes, the smell of roasted green chile. Every three miles you see someone roasting chiles with a huge line of people ready to stock up. You hop in line and the first opportunity and grab them while you can, because once they’re gone, they’re gone.
15. You can’t stop eating sweet rolls.
Frontier Restaurant is an institution in your favorite state, and you can’t resist their monstrous sweet rolls (cinnamon rolls). These babies satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you with an epic food coma. They’re about the size of your head, drenched in butter, and topped with glaze. What else could you ask for?
16. People gasp as you’re riding up the Tramway.
Non-natives might not realize that Albuquerque is home to one of the longest tramways in the world, the Sandia Peak Tramway. The marvel ascends 4,000 feet up the Sandia Mountains in just 15 minutes, and for you, the ride never gets old. With a restaurant bar, countless hiking trails, and ski slopes in the winter, hanging out at 10,000 feet is your calling.
17. You shop for turquoise jewelry in Old Town Albuquerque.
A dose of your local history shines at Old Town Albuquerque, where you go to buy authentic New Mexican clothing, jewelry, and pottery. The ten block historic plaza composed of classic adobe structures stays true to classic Albuquerque vibes with frequent art and music festivals that you can’t stay away from. You always run into your cousins, high school friends, and a local newscaster when you visit.
18. Sopapillas keep appearing on your table for dessert.
This fried pastry has you on the hook. Whenever you finish your rellenos, burritos, or enchiladas you find this warm and delectable puffy pillow of wonder waiting for you to drench it in honey and eat it.
19. You watch weather pass in under 10 minutes.
You’re outside enjoying the day and a thunderstorm forces you back indoors. But only for 10 minutes or less because the thunderstorms, unless it’s an epic one, pass in a matter of minutes thanks to some high desert wind currents. So take a water break and eat some El Pinto chips and salsa because you’ll be out there again real soon.
20. Your skin requires lotion three times a day.
Your hometown is located at about 6,000 feet above sea level. Match that with its prime desert climate and you’ve got constant dry skin — especially in the winter. Aquaphor has become your lip’s best friend and gluing cracked skin back together is commonplace.
21. You appreciate the fact that two inches of snow = snow day.
Luckily for the students of ABQ, the city has little to no infrastructure to deal with snow so often two inches that are gone by noon equals the day off from school.
22. You can’t get enough of the classic ABQ sunsets.
Your day is coming to an end. As the dry heat subsides, the sky is illuminated with brilliant shades of orange, purple, blue, and pink. The colors are so fluid you mistake the scene for a watercolor painting. The yucca in your front yard creates a perfect silhouette on the horizon. If only these moments of ABQ magic lasted more than 30 minutes.