While we were in Phoenix, we took a day trip to Tucson, to check out the town. Matt had an interview there, and we wanted to get a feel for the place. Tucson is a unique place--- it doesn't try to mask its desert landscape (unlike Phoenix, which feels like an annex of California). It's surrounded by mountains, and with the cactus, and the scrubby landscape- it feels like a Neil Young video or something. I really, really liked it.
We started our day by eating at Mia Nidito, a famous, traditional Mexican food joint. It's been open since the 50's, and President Clinton ate there so many times, they have named a special for him (Presidente Especiale- which must have been created before his bypass, because it's something like a tamale, a burrito, a tostada and 2 enchiladas). George W. Bush felt so left out, he finally paid them a visit and insisted on hanging his picture on the wall- with the inscription "You need a few good Republicans hanging on this wall." Despite it being a local institution, and thus having a 45 minute wait at 3pm in the afternoon- we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Driving through the foothills of Tucson, we were struck by the beauty of the desert. Desert is an acquired taste--- some folks either grow to love it- others think it is terribly ugly. We happen to love it. The light is truly different there- everything seems starkly in focus- and sharper and crisper than anywhere else. On our drive back to Phoenix, we had the sun setting on one side of us- and a full moon romancing us on the other. It looks like you are driving through the bottom of the ocean- with all of the water sucked out of it. When I told this to Matt, he told me that at one time, it was the bottom of the ocean- so there.
It did feel good to see palm trees, bouganvilla and Trader Joes again. No matter where I land next year, the Southwest will always feel like home.