Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cultural Curiosities

I’m currently in Santa Fe and will stay here until Monday. Today I met my friend Janet and her husband Bob (from Calgary) for coffee at a neat coffee/news café on Garcia Street. Then Janet and I poked in the art galleries on Canyon Rd. and walked up town to the Plaza while Bob went back to his meetings. Earlier in the day I went to the Farmer’s Market and the State Information Centre where I picked up all kinds of material for Annette and my future explorations around the state.

Santa Fe is gorgeous – narrow downtown streets, lots of one story adobe buildings. In fact, adobe is everywhere. Window and door frames are often painted turquoise or a deep blue and the effect is spectacular.

But on to Cultural Curiousities. On those long desert drives this past week, I’ve been thinking about some of the things I’ve noticed on this part of the trip so here goes:

  • In the “deep south” (Florida, Louisiana, Texas) I was invariably addressed as “honey”, “dear”, “sweetie” or some other term of endearment. This seemed to be the natural greeting of female restaurant servers or sales women. Notice it was women who called me this. Incredibly, these intimate greetings seemed fairly natural when pronounced with a strong southern drawl. Men, both young and old, address me as “ma’am”.
  • Every city or decent-sized town has a Martin Luther King Blvd.
  • There are gun shops and even pawn shops advertise guns.
  • The road kill is very different. Armadillos and wild boar.
  • The ugly billboard is ubiquitous. Then there are signs that must be 200 feet high so you can see them over the tops of the palm trees.
  • There seem to be more adult video stores in Florida than I’ve seen anywhere else.
  • In Texas every other radio station is a religious station or a country and western station – and in parts of the desert there is no radio station at all.
  • In Texas I drove past a small town called Welfare. Just down the road was a town called Comfort. Maybe you really do need a car to get from welfare to comfort.
  • There are fireworks shops everywhere.
  • Seat belts are called Safety Belts. I like that! The signs on the side of the road remind you to “Wear your Safety Belt – it’s the law”.
  • There are crosses along the side of the road where there have been fatal accidents. What is different is that many of them have professionally done signs that say, “Drive Safely” or “Killed by a Drunk Driver”.
  • It was very windy on the desert both in Texas and New Mexico…and I passed several wind farms, interspersed among the pump jacks, turning the wind into power.

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