March 15, 2012, on a Greyhound Bus somewhere in Southern New Mexico
Taken a with my laptop a few weeks after the previous photo, here is yours truly traveling from El Paso, TX to Albuquerque.NM. People in certain parts of the country seemed endlessly fascinated with my laptop, such as the guy looking over my shoulder here. Ooooh a laptop on a bus!
It had been a whirlwind few days of wild times in New Orleans (a story for another day), a long-ass ride through the whole state of Texas, and an enjoyable evening in El Paso hanging out with strange but friendly local characters and some fellow travelers. El Paso is the kind of place that attracts wanderers. Its quite a rarity in West Texas, being a big liberal border city in an otherwise conservative region. And on most lists, El Paso is either the #1 or #2 safest large city in the US which is a bit ironic given that its twin city across the river, Juarez, Mexico, is probably the least safe city in all of North America.
This ride started out pretty mellow. The bus was only about 1/4 full so I was able to have my own two seats to myself, which is always nice. For my first ever Greyhound trip to Florida when I was kid, a fat smelly man sat next to me for the whole 20 hour ride. And he refused to close his legs. Yuck! I really don’t like sitting next to guys - girls tend to be more interesting to chat with & often they like to cuddle or sleep on my shoulder. I’ve become friends for life with more than a few people I’ve met on buses.
A bunch of people did eventually get on in Las Cruces. A quiet Native American girl sat next to me. I moved my stuff from the other seat for her and got busy catching up with friends online. All of a sudden a rather loud dude asked the girl if he could trade seats with her. Yikes. She obliged and he joined me, watching everthing I did on my laptop while drinking whiskey from his flask. We got to talking a bit, his name was Vaughn and he was a Zuni Indian who was headed up to ABQ to stay with his sister for a few days. Apparently some shit went down in Las Cruces and his girlfriend had attempted to attack someone with a knife. I found myself becoming friends with him, and we bonded over looking up pictures of our ex-girlfriends on my computer. Something I had learned from working in warehouses and factories during summer vacation - If you meet some guy with whom you have very little in common, you can always bond over talking about girls.
Vaughn invited me to go out with him and some of his Zuni friends in ABQ. I initially accepted his invitation but then left it as a “maybe” after hearing about some of violent, drunken antics of his male friends. He was pretty drunk by the time we arrived at the bus station in ABQ but he insisted on walking me to my hostel, carrying my backpack while I wheeled my suitcase down Central Avenue, which is part of the old Route 66. My backpack by that point had come to weigh nearly as much as my suitcase.
My hostel, The Route 66 Hostel, was about a mile down Central. We went inside and I began to check in. I turned around and Vaughn was gone - with my backpack, which had my laptop, my camera, vital documents, vitamins, everything. Fuck! I ran out after him and found him stumbling his way back up Central, my backpack still on his shoulders. I pretended to play dumb and called to him “hey Vaughn, come check out the hostel!” He paused for a few moments, then finally turned back and walked back inside with me. He seemed very reluctant to part with my backpack, and when he did he asked me for $2 for bus fare. He seemed embarrassed and ashamed. I happily gave it to him, anything to be rid of this thief. I was stupid for trusting him, and was happy to see him leave. If he hadn’t been so drunk, he would have gotten off with my stuff. Or maybe if he wasn’t drunk, he wouldn’t tried to steal it in the first place. Who knows.
I ended up having a really great time in Albuquerque. The first night I as I was picking up some towels from the front desk, a young lady sitting nearby in the little rec room asked me where I was from and we ended up talking for 6 hours. We’re still good friends to this day, and she stayed with me when she visited NJ last year. Everyone at that hostel was super cool & friendly.
The next day, I visited with an old friend who had moved out there to raise her kids, and we explored the Old Town and later Nob Hill, which is sort of the hipster-ish section of ABQ. After three days in Albuquerque, I moved on to gorgeous Santa Fe, which I really fell in love with & could possibly see myself living there eventually, perhaps sooner than later…