ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A group of Albuquerque transplants are proving you can take the New Mexican out of New Mexico, but you can’t take the New Mexico out of the New Mexican.
Six hours up I-25, things are pretty different in our neighboring state’s capital. It’s where a community of people who love their new home, but are nostalgic for their 505 roots, has blossomed.
The smell of Hatch green chile, the comfort of the Zia symbol and the breathtaking sights of Balloon Fiesta — they’re things you may not cherish until you leave the Land of Enchantment.
“I think food’s the big thing that everybody misses,” Erica Dang said.
Dang, an Albuquerque native, moved to Denver at 25 years old.
“I think New Mexico is a place that’s really rich in culture when it comes to food and language… a lot of things that New Mexicans connect on,” Dang said. “I ask people what culture is here, and they’re like, ‘It’s outdoor actives and snowboarding,’ and I’m like, ‘Those are things you do and not really like a culture.'”
The move, for Dang, wasn’t shocking but it was still an adjustment. That’s why she and a friend created “505 in the 303.” It started as a fun Facebook page, but expanded to Instagram and has since grown to so much more than social media pages.
It’s a whole transplant community.
“We all come from different jobs, different backgrounds. People that didn’t know each other at all in New Mexico… when we have get-togethers we just already have a common bond,” she said.
The Facebook page has everything from pictures and videos of the new-Denverites honoring their 505 roots, to suggestions of Denver-area restaurants serving up authentic New Mexican cuisine and jokes about Colorado green “chili.”
Justin De La Rosa follows the ‘505 in the 303’ social media pages. He just recently moved back to Albuquerque from Denver after a more than three-year stay.
“Anytime you run into people from Albuquerque, it’s a nice little taste of home and it has that feel like, OK, we know each other,” he explained.
Dang will routinely host gatherings for the members of “505 in the 303,” like when the first Dion’s opened in the Denver area. The group also does an annual potluck and sometimes meets for Rockies baseball games.
The group also has decals of its fused-flag logo for sale, which are printed at a Rio Rancho business.
There’s a split love for both states when it comes to this group, though. They like Denver a lot, which is something some sedentary New Mexicans don’t take lightly.
“When I would be back to visit for like Christmas or Thanksgiving, I’ll just be like, ‘Oh man, I just love Denver,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, why do you come here? Why do you come back? If you don’t like Albuquerque don’t come here!’ I’m like, ‘Well, I didn’t say that,'” he said.
Both De La Rosa and Dang say one state isn’t better than the other, they’re just different.
“I always think of New Mexico as home,” Dang said.
“Every place has its good and its bad. There’s nothing perfect about Denver and there’s nothing perfect about Albuquerque,” De La Rosa said.