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The Casita, the Lovely Place...and the sick man who trembled

So last time I had us finally arriving at Albuquerque’s airport, the Sunport, after a short flight. I also just barely dodged an attack of altitude sickness. Fortunately, I’m nimble that way. I can sidestep a wheeze with the best of them. Of course then I get winded doing that high-speed sidestep, but you can’t have everything.

We picked up our rental car and headed off to the Airbnb. Actually, it was a place we’d stayed at before -- one of, in fact, our very favorite Airbnb locations. I’ve written about it a couple of times. It is in my 2022 blog, and it is also mentioned in my collection “Shirley’s Last Gift,” which you can see here:

Anyway, it is a gorgeous little Casita (literally, and obviously, a “little casa,” a little house) behind another residence just off Mountain Road. I’ll post some pictures, but, briefly, it is a wonderful tiny place with tan walls and turquoise trim, and with its own little patio areas where you can sit and watch the sun come up or go down, depending on your personal circadian rhythm.

Inside, there’s a living room, a bedroom, a bath, and a small but fully functional kitchen, and there is some quite nice art on the walls. Oh and one more advantage, there’s lots of lamps for those of us who like to read after dark. Lights seem to be surprisingly rare, alas, in vacation properties. I guess we’re not supposed to be literate and on holiday.

We arrived and I schlepped the bags in. We then try to decide what to do about dinner. Martha found a local food court that she thought we could visit. At first I was all for it, but, then, maybe because of the baggage handling, I started feeling a bit ill. (I do hate altitude sickness), so, instead, we trotted off to a local grocery store and got our usual cheese, bread, and wine.

About the photos: Three today. Two of the Casita, one exterior and one interior, and, one of Martha and some flowery friends in Old Town.

An aside, the grocery store we visited was interesting, as is the whole area of Mountain Road. The store had a clientele that ranged from the trendy and affluent, to the decidedly down and out. I saw people who, a generation or so ago would have been called Yuppies (remember them? Young Urban Professionals), in designer clothing and taking their pate and gluten free bread to their Teslas in the parking. AND, in the same stores and in the same aisles, I saw people who were clearly one step removed from being homeless...or, maybe, not even that. More likely they were homeless, but they clutched their pennies and bought what they could.

One man, I remember, was clearly suffering from drug withdrawal symptoms--trembling, sweating, anxiety. Such is life, and death, at the far end of the spectrum, down where the ultraviolet blends into darkness.

And, by the way, this was going to be something we were going to see more of while we were in town. We’d seen the homeless while we’d lived there. Albuquerque has its share of that population, as does every community any more. But we were startled to realize that there seem to be more than formerly. Why, I do not know. Though it appeared to be true.

Anyway, the Mountain Road area is a fascinating section of the city. It is sort of tucked in between Old Town (the original Albuquerque, which is now a tourist attraction) and the freeway. When I was a boy, it was not a good place for a little, pudgy, anglo kid (that would be me) to go. Oh, it wasn’t a bad neighborhood, particularly. I mean, it wasn’t a slum. And there were good people there. But it had its sharp edges, and you had to be a teeny bit careful.

Now, that’s changed. It’s gentrifying. New people are moving in. New businesses are coming. And that’s making serious changes, mostly for the better. But...some of the hard edges remain. And, more important, the people who live there...I mean, the original have to confront those changes. And that is not always pleasant for them, and certainly not easy.

Anyway, we made our purchases and headed back to the Casita. We ate. Watched a sitcom. Martha decided to sit up a bit longer and read. I went to bed.

But, as I tried to go to sleep, I did find myself thinking about those people we saw in the store...particularly the man who had the shakes. And it struck me, as I tried to sleep, that even here, even in this wonderful place, beauty contains within it that all too fatal touch of mortality.

Something that would occur to me again, and again, on our travels.

More to come.

Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker


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