Phoenix, Arizona

When most people think about heading off to explore America, I don’t imagine Phoenix Arizona sits very high on their ‘must see’ priority list. But that’s exactly where my love affair with this country began. So it seemed only natural to put a big old tick in the ‘will be attending’ box when Mike and I were invited to the wedding of my incredibly amazing high school exchange host sister Kelly, and her equally amazing now husband Eric.
And given it was the decision to tick that box that ultimately lead me to take an even bigger leap towards Europe too, I figured this would be the perfect place to get things started.
I don’t know whether it’s the fact that the middle of the Arizona desert is such a stark contrast to New Zealand, or that it’s the place where I’ve met some of the most incredible people of my life, but to me the canvas of burnt oranges, browns and reds that melt into a blazing sky of sunshine is beauty quite unlike any other. Some might say it’s bland and boring, but when you look a little closer you see it’s a mosaic full of life. Where a desert flower in full bloom opens your eyes to a world of beauty you’d never considered before.
This most recent trip was my third back to Arizona, and like each time before it filled me with a happiness that I can’t quite put into words. There’s something about seeing the expanse of desert stretching further than what seems like forever out of the plane window that always excites me.
And it truly is a treat for all of the senses, given one of the best things about Arizona is without a doubt the food. I love Mexican food so much and even just thinking about what Phoenix has to offer in the way of tacos, burritos, and chimichangas gets my mouth watering.
So when our new friends Dara and Eby suggested we do a midnight post-wedding run for some authentic Mexican food, I knew it would be rude to say no! And I’m so glad we tagged along for the adventure as the stars definitely aligned for us that night. We hailed a cab outside our Hotel and were picked up by Ramon, a Mexican cab driver who’d originally come to the States to play Baseball. When we told him of our late night mission, he called ahead to his favourite local to tell them he had some special guests he was bringing to get some food. When we finally arrived you could’ve been fooled into thinking we’d nipped across the border, not a word of English was spoken, and I had no idea what part of town we were in. Any nerves however of where we were quickly subsided, as Ramon turned off the meter so he could come inside, tell us what was best to order, and wait with us so that he could drive us back again. And if you were wondering, yes, my tacos were beyond delicious.
It might not have the bright lights of New York, or the Hollywood frenzy of LA, but for me Phoenix never fails to deliver, and this trip was no exception. You can’t ask for more from a city than being treated to amazing new friends, delicious margaritas, 6 layer dip, game nights, wedding dance floor anthems, photo booth mayhem, hiking under the desert sun, lazy mornings by the pool, and all topped off with a sprinkling of my new found love Trader Joes Cowboy Bark.
It broke my heart just a little to once again have to say goodbye to my home away from home. It might not be the top of everyone’s American wish list, but I can’t wait to go back again.

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