Is New Mexico a State? Some Americans Don't Know

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New Mexico Magazine has a monthly compilation of stories about Americans who don't know that New Mexico is a U.S. state. The editor, Walter Lopez, talks with Lynn Neary about the bank tellers, cell phone providers and ticketing agents who tell New Mexicans that they reside in another country.


Let's say you really need a vacation. You decide to stay here in the U.S. but when you're making your plane reservations, the booking agent advices you to bring a valid passport to the airport. Not possible, you say?

Well, if you live in New Mexico, it may sound familiar because it turns out some people don't realize that New Mexico is part of the United States. In fact, this happen so often that New Mexico Magazine has a monthly compilation of these stories called "One Of Our 50 Is Missing." Its editor is Walter Lopez. He joins us now from Santa Fe.

Hi, Walter. Good to have you with us.

Mr. WALTER LOPEZ (Editor, New Mexico Magazine): Hi. How are you doing?

NEARY: You know, Walter, when I first heard this, I really couldn't believe it. How often does this really happen that Americans don't know that New Mexico is one of the 50 states?

Mr. LOPEZ: It happens quite often. Normally, I would say in 50 to 100 different submissions a month.

NEARY: Do you have any favorites?

Mr. LOPEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Our favorite story is Phil(ph), who live in Santa Fe and he had a relative who was competing in the Atlanta Olympics so he desperately wanted tickets. So he gave them a call and the lady said, well, you got to have to call the Mexican Consulate in order to order your tickets. And he said, why is that? I'm in the United States. I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The supervisor said, old Mexico, New Mexico it's still the same. You're going to have to call the Consulate.

NEARY: Do you hear a lot of common themes in these stories?

Mr. LOPEZ: Oh, yes. There's several common themes. People who have cell phones and visiting New Mexico and their service goes dead. The first response from the provider said we don't service Mexico. And I just had a person who went to the Post Office who's going to mail birthday present for a granddaughter. I believe it was in Las Cruses, New Mexico and it was an enormous amount of postage. And then she noticed the stamp on the package itself said foreign mail or something of the sort.

And the same thing with banks, you know. The lady who received a $50-birthday check from her parents, and she deposited it in local a credit union in Pennsylvania. And she got a notice from the bank, asking her if she wanted it in dollars or pesos.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: Did this ever happen to you?

Mr. LOPEZ: Yes. I was at the Breeders' Cup in Kentucky at Churchill Downs, taking a cab back to my hotel. The woman cab driver in there and she asked me where I was from and I just simply said Santa Fe. And, you know, she just went off. It's a beautiful country that you live in, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. You know, I just let her talk. I didn't really want to embarrass her in front of the other person.

So we were heading down the freeway, and there was a billboard of Randy Travis, the country Western singer. And I said, there's Randy Travis. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I said. And she says, oh, there you go again. I love that place, Cancun, Mosela. And I said, oh, forget it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: Well, Walter Lopez thanks so much for joining us.

Mr. LOPEZ: Sure, it was a pleasure.

NEARY: Walter Lopez edits the feature "One Of Our 50 Is Missing" for New Mexico Magazine and he spoke with us from Santa Fe, New Mexico in the United States.

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