5 Awesome Things about Being a Tourist in the Desert

Being a tourist can be lame, and as a traveler, that’s pretty much my life. Just when I start to feel like someone who actually lives in this place, knows the ins and outs and where all the good spots are, I move. But hey, it’s all a part of the lifestyle right?

In the desert, however, I think I’d MUCH rather be a tourist! And here’s why:

1. You’re totally fine with 70 degree weather.

Winter in Phoenix Arizona desert

Arriving in Phoenix in the middle of November was the equivalent of Christmas coming early, and by Christmas, I mean summer. It wasn’t until getting a walkthrough of my apartment that the lady showing the place pointed out a very obvious difference between the two of us:

“You see what I’m wearing?” She asked, pointing to her thick sweater with a vest over it and long black pants. “And see what you’re wearing?” she continued. I was wearing jean shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. “I can tell that you’re not from around here, because you won’t find anyone living here walking out in shorts in this cold weather.”

It was 75 degrees. So while being a tourist can be totally lame, I’d rather enjoy a winter of flip flops than spend it bundling up under the sun, while my friends and family back in Cleveland are shoveling their cars out of the snow every morning.

2. You get to watch people from the desert flip out about snow.

Arizona desert Snowman snowglobe

This one is pretty great. Only my second day here I walked past a parking lot that oddly had a mound of snow at the end if it. It was only about 15 feet long and a foot high, so not even enough to build a snowman or do anything too fun with. It sort of looked like the gross bit in the supermarket parking lot that gets left over from the plows in New York when spring is just starting to melt everything. But this mound of snow was COVERED with people.

Old people, children, mothers, and 20 somethings were coming together to trudge all the fuck over this mound of snow. It was hilarious. An old woman was at the end doing a little tap around the snow, while kids were just picking it up with their bare hands and tossing it into the air. One chick even had a snowball scooper! I mean this was not an ice cream scooper, this contraption looked specifically made for snowballs, as though it was stored all year for the one glorious moment with this young woman could bust it out for the good old man-made mound of snow in the parking lot.

3. You get to watch people from the desert flip out about grass.

Keep off the grass Arizona Phoenix desert

Grass is a huge deal here in Phoenix. It makes sense to want some green in your life when everything around you is dry desert, and I actually think to a certain extent that having or not having grass might be indicative of class status. But whatever the reasoning behind it, seeing how precious grass has become to home owners here is definitely worth a chuckle. You’ll pass houses that are all dry in the front with cacti and bushes here and there, and then you’ll see that one little strip of grass, perfectly watered and bright green. It might even have a tiny little fence around it or a sign that says “Please do not step on grass.” I’m not sure that sign would really stop anyone though, considering the patch of grass is so small you basically need a microscope to know where not to step. Just kidding… but seriously.

4. Your personal style is not limited by the weather.

camel desert tourist Phoenix Arizona

Okay, I suppose you can’t rock that fabulous down coat you bought for snow season, but aside from that, pretty much anything goes when it’s winter in Phoenix. As I said before, 70 degree weather is great for a tourist in the desert, and that means never having to put away your loud colors, maxi skirts, and sandals. But in the evening, the temperature gets cool enough to rock your boots and scarves. For me, that’s good news because I do so enjoy sweater weather. For my boyfriend, it’s actually pretty bad news because it means I’ll be taking up the most amount of closet space instead of switching out my wardrobe. The sacrifices we make for love…

5. TEA.

iced jasmine green tea Phoenix Arizona desert

When visiting anyone’s house in Phoenix, my hosts have always offered one thing repeatedly, and almost forcibly, throughout my stay: water. Because the climate is so dry here, drinking A LOT of water is very important, especially to newcomers. People new to Phoenix that don’t hydrate well from the get go are in danger of contracting what is commonly called Valley Fever, as well as other minor dryness or dust-born illnesses.

Phoenicians have figured out a more pleasant way to stay hydrated than just chugging water all the time, and that way is tea. I was never a big fan of tea back on the east coast unless I had a bad head cold, but here it seems that tea is a way of life. You can get iced, unsweetened tea from nearly every restaurant here. Flavors are awesome too, from black tea to jasmine green tea to hibiscus flower tea. Nothing makes my body feel more clear and refreshed than sipping on cold unsweetened tea ALL DAY.

And for the record, I never got Valley Fever, and I’d like to thank all the tea for that.

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