Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The New Folks Have Landed

Greetings from Bagdad, Arizona! Not a war zone but according to the sign on the edge of town, "The Best Copper Town Anywhere". It's a nice little town of about 2500 people, in a beautiful setting of smallish mountains, saguaro cacti, prickly pears and rocky desert scenery. We've been warned about the scorpions, tarantulas and such but so far have only seen a few roadrunners, birds and a couple of rabbits.

The people here seem very friendly and keen to help us settle in which is great. I am asked every other day if I come from England - we appear to be the only Antipodeans here. It's a small town and has all those typical small town idiosyncrasies that you'd expect - everyone knows each other's business.

A trip to the supermarket can be both challenging and entertaining as we try to find something that approximates Weetbix or custard powder (nothing yet). I can't believe how sugar-coated, frosted or deep-fried the majority of the food is here. So far, rice bubbles and one variety of Special K are the only breakfast cereals we have found that haven't been multi-coloured and drenched in corn syrup. You can even buy cheese on toast in the freezer section - yep, the freezer.

Americans appear to be coffee-obsessed. You can't buy any such thing as a kettle or electric jug. We either heat water in the coffee maker (if we want it luke warm) or boil it on the stove in a saucepan if we want really hot water for making tea.

2 weeks in it's all good and we are enjoying life here. Our little town only has a small supermarket so if we want to do any other kind of shopping (eg clothes, homewares, furniture etc) then we have to drive to Prescott, about 60 miles (75 minutes away). It's a nice drive although we were initially told that it took about 55 minutes to get there - Arizonans seem to be heavy on the gas pedal. It's a pretty drive, lots of big saguaro cacti, granite boulder fields and open space. Then you hit Prescott, the big smoke! 2 huge Walmarts and no end of other massive retail stores, endless eateries, fast food restaurants - the other American obsession is of course cars. We see a lot of SUV's (read 4WD's) here - Sports Utility Vehicles - mostly I guess because there are a lot of off-road trails and country to explore, but also because both cars and fuel are CHEAP here. Few new 4WD's cost more than about $25-30K on average and fuel is about $3 a gallon - we would be paying the equivalent of $4 a gallon in Australia. They like their driving here and many retailers have come to the party - you can do drive-through banking (the legal kind) at special ATM's, there are drive-through pharmacies and of course no end of drive-through food outlets.

Next week we are going on our first mini road trip, east to Safford where P has a work meeting. It's about a 6-hour drive from here so should be some interesting scenery to see along the way. Photos to come soon.