I remember when the ads for a new show called Breaking Bad on AMC first appeared on my TV about a chemistry teacher… and with that, I quickly lost interest. Ironically, my sister has a Master’s in Chemistry, however, Chemistry and I do not get along and so I figured I would not be interested in it. Years later, it kept coming up as a hit show and so I decided to look into it.
Wandering through Best Buy one day, I came across a sale bin that contained the first 4 seasons of the show on Blu-Ray. I immediately picked them up and began watching them as soon as I got home. I was hooked before the first episode aired. My girlfriend had gotten hooked as well but we had different schedules and it became agony waiting for the weekend so we could watch it together. By the time we finished all 4 seasons, I knew I had to go to Albuquerque and check out all the locations that had become so familiar at this time. Thus I found myself headed to New Mexico!
Arriving late on the first day, I check into my hotel and decide to explore my surroundings. I end up in Old Town Albuquerque which is a great place to people watch. I get an Indian Taco which is huge and more food than I can finish but oh so good! Retiring for the night, I begin planning the next day which will be a tribute to Breaking Bad as well as wherever the road takes me.
My first stop the next day is the San Felipe de Neri Catholic one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. Even as a non-practicing Catholic, I always seem to stumble upon a Catholic church whenever I travel. Behind the church, carved into a once dying cottonwood tree is la Virgen de Guadalupe. Legend has it that she saved the tree as it still stands today. As the tree continues to heal, there is fear that the virgen will be enclosed in the tree and there is debate as to whether she should be removed or allowed to remain: all I can say is I am glad I got to see her!
Feeling a bit stalkerish, I cruise by the White’s residence and for a second, I truly expect to see Walter’s Pontiac Aztec and Skylar’s 1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in the driveway. Parking down the street I take a couple of hurried photos and rush off before someone calls the cops on me! I have read the owners are gracious about tourists taking pictures as long as you don’t throw pizzas on the roof. I won’t go into how stupid and wasteful that is. My next stop was off the Breaking Bad tour.
As a kid, I remember reading about the culture of the First Nations: the Hopi Indians, the Cherokees, the Navajos etc, but not the brutal history. As a result, I grew up hoping to one day visit one of those cultures but reality set in in adulthood. The Indian Pueblo Center provided the next best thing! I was able to learn about the history of some first nation tribes, watch them sing and dance and eat their food. All from a non-exploitative standpoint. FYI, they are the only place in North America to host traditional Native American dances every weekend year round.
Next was the National Hispanic Cultural Center which contained an exhibit about Los Desaparecidos – thousands of people who “disappeared” in Argentina during the Dirty War between 1976 and 1983. The exhibit contains artwork by families in memory of their loved ones so that they are never forgotten. It is a very somber but poignant exhibit. While talking to one of the docent’s at the Indian Pueblo Center about my reservations on visiting a reservation (no pun intended!), she encouraged me to visit the Sandia Pueblo.
Headed there, I see a sign that says World’s Longest Tram Ride: detour! Even though I don’t care for large bodies of water or heights, my sense of adventure always overrides my fears and I am grateful for that! It is a picturesque ride up, at the top and heading down. A definite must see. At this point, it is getting late and I have still not been to Jesse’s house. By the time I get there it is dark and hard to see clearly but I am still able to check it off my list.
I am heading home when I remember Gustavo Fring and Los Pollos Hermanos. Hoping I am not too late, I race to Twister’s, the location of the restaurant. When I pull up to the restaurant, even though it was twilight and the sign says Twisters, it is apparent I am at Los Pollos Hermanos. However, when I walk inside, a huge wall decal of the logo greets me, and I lose it to fits of excitement.
The cashier must have seen this happen one too many times because she calmly asks me if I want a photo in front of the sign. Do I?!!? Walking out with my Indian Taco, my day felt very complete. I don’t know that any show has captivated me like Breaking Bad has. I can spend hours explaining why Skylar annoys the living daylights out of me or why Marie irritates me but also why I love how well Anna Gunn played Skylar that she was able to elicit such strong emotions from most people. Or why Skylar had to be portrayed so negatively when Walter was the one committing crimes, I mean it goes on and on. All in all, Albuquerque was my first foray into the South West and I sure hope it is not the last!