I am sure other New Mexicans will be able to add to this list, but in my humble opinion there are three great myths of New Mexico, (and a few lesser known myths). Here they are in no particular order.
“I’m gonna fix that thing up one of these days.” I never experienced this in my home state, and perhaps I wasn’t visiting the right places, but I have never seen so many back yards with old junk cars or trucks in it as I’ve seen in New Mexico. Even in the city limits on a small lot, many people have an old beater tucked behind a tree or garage. My very dear neighbor is no exception, as he used to have two beaters, one in front and one in back, but only the back yard car has survived the attempts at a sale from passer-bys. It is a 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster. He has really cherried out the interior, but that had to be about 15 years ago. The exterior…who knows, but he’s gonna fix it up someday.
“Taste this, it’s not hot.” If you hear that, beware! If you are in New Mexico, eating chile – it’s going to be hot. From “not really that hot for a New Mexican” to “burning down the house call the fire department” hot, if you’re in New Mexico the chili will be hot. Red – Green – it all comes from the same plant and it packs heat.
When I first moved to New Mexico my friends, who had been living here for four of five years already, took me out to have my first New Mexican cuisine. We went to a place that has become one of my favorites – the downtown Monroe’s on Lomas Blvd. I chose chicken enchiladas, as it seemed like a safe bet. The waitress asked, “Red or green?” (the official New Mexico State question). “Which one isn’t so hot?” I asked. I was told that the green had a bit of heat but the red wasn’t hot at all. Red it is, then. Half way into the meal I had sweat rolling off my brow and down the back of my head. Perspiration beaded up under my eyes and around my neck. I was angry, as I thought my friend and the waitress were in on a joke and I was the brunt of it. They were perplexed. To them the chili wasn’t hot at all, they were just used to it. That’s how it is with me now too. It’s not hot at all. But at our Albuquerque Bed and Breakfast we tell our guests to order their chili on the side when eating out. They can always ask for more.
“My dog’s part wolf.” Yeah, right. You hear this all the time too, and while it does happen, it probably isn’t so. There are a lot of wolf breeders in the United States, and they get upwards of $2500 for a wolf pup. I thought this was illegal, but it turns out only 11 states have the smarts to have put a stop to this. New Mexicans have an affection for the Lobo, (unless you are a rancher), and UNM, (University of NM), has the Lobo as a mascot. With this comes a fascination for all things wolf, and so…there are many people have paid way too much money for a dog that is about as much part wolf as my chihuahuas. It is just another great myth of New Mexico. And if they tell you it’s a Wolf-_____ Hybrid – that ain’t so at all because there is no such thing. Designer dog? Maybe. Hybrid – no way! Wolves and domestic dogs are both the same species of animal – so you can’t call it a hybrid. Besides – true hybrids are sterile, so how did that hybrid just have puppies?
Lesser know myths… Rio Rancho is Little New York – Not so. Some of the first people to settle in Rio Rancho, the “used to be” suburb of Albuquerque came from the greater New Your area because this cheap desert land was marketed pretty heavily in that part of the country the 1960s. A Glengarry Glen Ross type of real estate land deal, in that they did anything and everything to sell land in the desert, has now become the second largest city in New Mexico, and the people came from everywhere, especially back east.
It’s hot as hell in New Mexico in the summer! – not so at all. While the southern part of the state experiences a very warm summer, no where in New Mexico experiences the heat associated with Phoenix. Most of the state sits at a pretty high elevation that keeps things cooler than most of Arizona, which sits on the downside of the Continental Divide. The temperature swings 20º to 30ºF between high and low each day.
It’s doesn’t get cold in New Mexico in the winter! – not so, again. Most of New Mexico, including the south experiences all four seasons and no where is exempt from snow. Heck – it even snows in Northern Mexico, folks, and even Juarez, Mexico had a snowstorm early this February. Come on now – we’re a ski destination!
And last but not least – we speak English AND you won’t need to exchange your currency. We use US Dollars, not pesos!
New Mexico Magazine has a standing article each month called “One of our 50 is Missing”. It is generally a monthly collection of amusing anecdotes that present myths and misconceptions about our wonderful state. You should check them out.
I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!