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Hey guys, so last night I just returned to Mexico, but as some of you know I went to America last month for Thanksgiving, to play music with my dad, and renew my Mexican tourist visa. This time, I went to Arizona, then to New Mexico, and back to Arizona before leaving the States again. I went to Arizona to catch up with my friend from El Paso, and he's getting his masters degree in Tucson. The second time I went to Arizona was to celebrate my friend's birthday in Phoenix. Here's my trip back to the States.
Tapatio dropped me off at the airport, and I caught my flight to Ciudad Juarez from Mexico City. I was supposed to go to Tucson that same day, but there were a couple problems that caused me to miss my bus. One, my flight was late because it was sitting on the tarmac waiting for other planes to take off. Two, crossing into the U.S. via Puente Santa Fe took over an hour. So I booked a night in El Paso and went to Tucson the next morning instead (I could've flown directly into Phoenix but was used to flying into Juarez since it's cheaper and I was also used to it because there aren't any direct flights between Albuquerque and Mexico).
Right off the bat, I recalled how Greyhound was quite horrid compared to the executive and first class buses in Mexico. Much of Greyhound's fleet consists of older buses from the late 90s and early 2000s, and even their newer buses are nowhere near like their Mexican counterparts. Secondly, mostly low income Americans take Greyhound. And some people who take Greyhound are broke. When I was traveling from El Paso to Tucson, there was a broke guy traveling all the way from the Midwest who asked me for money when the bus stopped at the McDonald's in Lordsburg, New Mexico.
My friend picked me up at the Greyhound station in Tucson, and he drove me around the city, showing me around a couple of malls. We then had dinner at In-N-Out, which is the best fast food place in Arizona and California. Not long after, we tried to get me checked into a Motel 6 right off the interstate, but I was told they don't have a reservation for me. Also, it was located in a more ghetto part of Tucson. So we decided that I would stay at his apartment.
Next day we explored Tucson more, and at night we went to a vibrant area near the University of Arizona campus. Mostly loud mouthed stuck up drunk college girls who were pretty much still in their teenage years mentally. All were handcuffed to their boyfriends or with their cliques of other adult-teenage girls.
Saturday, my friend and I went on a day trip to Phoenix. Oh my gosh, the area was very modern and clean compared to most other metropolises in America, which are becoming more like third-world ghettos. First we drove to Chandler, an upper-middle-class suburb, and after that we went to Phoenix proper. The metropolitan area had a strong SoCal influence, especially in Chandler and Gilbert where many houses were built in the early 2000s. And it's continuing to sprawl even more to this day as more freeways are being built. But there are places in Phoenix which are quite vibrant, particularly around Arizona State University, Scottsdale, and downtown.
Sunday, my friend and I went to a small village up in the mountains and in pine forests. It was an interesting drive, especially when the scenery changed from saguaro cactus to pine trees. But before we went up in the mountains, he took me to a large strip mall in South Tucson, which reminded me of the one in Santa Fe except the buildings weren't pueblo-style, but they somewhat looked like cheap replicas of old European buildings.
I then headed to New Mexico for Thanksgiving, and I spent the night in El Paso once again before taking the Greyhound up to Albuquerque before taking the railrunner and the park and ride to Santa Fe and Los Alamos respectively. Right away, I felt like I wanted to get out of Los Alamos so bad because that "town" (it operates like a suburb) always tends to drain my soul. The vibe is very plastic (I posted countless times that Los Alamos should belong in California, not New Mexico), there's no social connection, and almost everyone is business-oriented. And one day I even took a short trip to Santa Fe to see the beautiful architecture in the historic plaza, because I was so tired of seeing bland cookie cutter buildings all the time. I had to stay until early December because my dad and I played in a concert on the 7th. But a few days after the concert, i finally got the f*** out of Los Alamos.
As previously mentioned I went to Arizona a second time to celebrate my friend's birthday. Again I took Greyhound as it was cheaper than flying in America. The trip lasted 8 hours and 40 minutes. And I experienced some of the worst of Greyhound. The bus left only a few minutes late. But it didn't have WiFi on board until we arrived in Phoenix. And on the first leg, the power outlets weren't even working. They began working after we left Gallup, New Mexico. My friend and I had fun in Phoenix as we went to different places. And I even made new friends with one of his friends at Scottdale Fashion Square, one of the biggest malls in the U.S. of Gay.
Next few days he and I just went around Tucson doing stuff, nothing special. But one day when we went grocery shopping and he was purchasing foods that were supposed to help people lose weight, I told him that the fat free stuff actually was processed. He kind of got my point. But I really woke him up when he and I watched the documentary "Fed Up" on Netflix, and then he realized the actual truth about the food in America. I also showed him the video of the guy's 30-year-old wife throwing a tantrum because she wanted to go on the lake; he eventually realized that AW truly are messed up.
Overall, I liked Arizona more than New Mexico because there's more to do in the former and it has more interesting scenery. Much of the scenery in New Mexico is bland, except in some areas like around Santa Fe, Taos, or Los Alamos. And as far as the three medium-sized southwest cities, Tucson was the cleanest and the most modern, and there were more things to see and do there. Albuquerque and El Paso were basically duplicates in many ways. The only difference is that Albuquerque is much more American but has cultural stuff. But if I had to live in America, I would only want to live in El Paso. Even though Tucson is much closer to the border than Albuquerque is, they are both very Americanized.
Another thing I'd like to point out. As we all know, unless you live in a city like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, you need a car to get around in America. But this is especially the case if you live in Phoenix or Southern California. There's definitely less public transportation in those places. Due to SoCal influence, car culture is very big in Phoenix, which is why they're building more freeways instead of further developing the public transportation.
Tucson is a lot less Americanized than it used to be. If you spent any time in those malls you will have noticed far more Spanish being spoken than English. The stores would all go out of business if it weren't for traffic from Sonora.
Of course, "Americanized" was far less of a pejorative term 40 years ago when Tucson was a mostly Anglo community.
Having been in a third world country, and a first world country not America, I can say this. America is certainly not at the bottom for living standards, cleanliness, etc. But we're not at the top, either. It's not so much that America is actually horrible it's just that it's not that good. Go to Taoyun Airport, then go to... Newark Airport in New Jersey. Newark Airport will in fact appear like a third world joke of an airport. Hell, even Vietnam's Airport, besides the lack of strong air conditioning, was better than Newark as far as how it looked and cleanliness. But, it's the delusion of the country. Instead of considering ourselves in the middle of the pack like we should and is a realistic look of ourselves, we still think it's the 1950s-1970s, when that time is over, and other countries have improved while we've stayed behind.
I guess a good America metaphor is we're like the guy in his 30s and 40s who played quarterback in football during high school and college. Still thinks he's really big stuff, but his muscles have turned soft and flabby, he's got diabetes and he's fat now, but damn, in high school he was the most popular and got all the chicks. Meanwhile the other countries who decided to actually pay attention in school and not play football are making more money than him and look better now.
I have to say, too, regarding America, the overall Stockholm Syndrome here is pretty appalling as well. The government has so thoroughly convinced its citizens, almost in a North Korean kind of fashion (oddly enough, North Korea actually shows college students news articles about our 50% divorce rates, free purchase of guns, etc) that the rest of the world lives in squalor, poverty, and has earthquakes and typhoons every few days. So you can get someone with diabetes and heart failure, paying a thousand bucks a month for medicine that costs $5 in the rest of the world, living in a collapsing house with mold and he'll still tell you he's glad he lives in America where it's the freest and most prosperous country in the world. Though even this, I've noticed is changing in the last few years and people are much more open to living in another country or the idea of things being better there now with the economy being so toasted out.
I mostly heard Spanish spoken in South Tucson (the area along I-19), as Mexicans usually live in that area. North of I-10, I only heard English being spoken. So Tucson isn't quite like El Paso yet.
Oh, and one other thing I didn't include in this report. When I was in Los Alamos, there were several occasions where I was forced to drive, may it be due to time constraints or on the weekends when the local bus system wasn't running.
Winston when are you going to get a like button, so we can like posts. Onethousandknives, I liked your post.
Matt I enjoyed your road trip imagery. I'm sorry you didn't have video or still camera and give us a video of everything you saw along with your commentary. Do you have some photos you can show us showing the scenery and people you so vividly described?
I'd love someone to take a Greyhound bus trip across America. That sounds like some real hell. It would make a great story showing the decline and how un-fun America really is. A kind of "On the Road" 60 years later.
That was quite the adventure at the airport, mate, lol. Remember how the stupid cab driver wanted to charge us more and I put the little bitch in his place? That was quite an experience.
I find your experience in the USA interesting, and that is cool that you are back in Mexico. We should meet next month. My wife and I are moving to a new apartment near Zona Rosa. It is bigger, and we have a sofa bed, so you can stay there when you visit Mexico City and it is much more closer to Centro Historico, Polanco, Condesa, Roma, and Central Del Norte. It is half an hour by metro from my new home to Central del Norte.
My wife and I also want to visit you in Guanajuato next month, if it is OK with you.
Meery Christmas, mate