In the evenings downtown Scottsdale has the ambience of the inside of a hummer stretch limo.
It would certainly be a fun place to hang out if your idea of entertainment is dressing up like the latest victim on CSI:Miami and getting plastered in loud and dark restaurants.
For anyone else monontonous becomes a universal adjective, suitable for describing anything from the weather to the pink-beige Pueblo-style architecture and on to the food on the menus. (Not forgetting the follow-me muzak at the FireSky.)
I'm feeling the need to vary (and downsize) my diet. Last night in The Pink Taco we shared some cute little mini-tamales with strawberry sauce as our starter, but then these were followed by a burrito the size of a rolled-up bath towel. The other evening we celebrated the end of Digipalooza at a premium eatery called the City Hall Steak House where our 'petite filets' were accompanied by mashed potatoes and spinach soaked with so much full-fat cream that they reeked like the inside of the dairy at the Finca Carmona.
Today a cab driver (the only one I have came across who wasn't Somali) was telling me how real estate was actually quite affordable in the Valley until around five years ago when prices surged, peaking out in 2005. There's something of a slump right now and another local let on that these days you can get a four-bedroom suburban house with a pool in the area for around $280,000; which may explain why people have so much disposable income to blow on the bizarre mix of terribly tasteful and terribly tasteless goods on sale in the city's strikingly elegant malls. (A special mention here for the Cornelia Park store which today at least best epitomised this strange hit and miss American design juxtaposition for me.)
Luxuries do somehow seem more desirable here however. Today I bought V an iPod Touch at the Biltmore Town and Country shopping centre: a device recently described by Niall as "pointless". I also went to Borders and bought a copy of All the Pretty Horses which seemed like the right thing to be reading on this unexpected extension of my stay in the Wild West.
There are some seriously loaded people around here, but it's not really clear to me whether they made their money in Arizona or in more temperate states. There do seem to be rather a lot of banks in town. Yet in spite of this highly visible affluence there are also plenty of poor folk in Phoenix. The local high schools have a 30% drop-out rate and my world-weary cab driver described his hometown as "one of the speed capitals of the USA."
Noting that this is the hottest place in the country outside of Death Valley, he also told me that the last few months had been the most unbearable during his eight year residence in Phoenix. This was because it went up to 110 degrees and pretty much stayed there all summer. And after only four days here the ever-present aircon has left me with parched lips and bleeding sinuses.
The stress of the last couple of days has been amplified by my knowledge that V hasn't been making an ideal recovery following her accident a couple of weeks ago. She was fortunate not to break any bones (especially her skull considering that she landed head first), but the medics at casualty told her that it looked like she had bust every vein in her right leg, and over the past week the foot attached to that limb has been discolouring.
Worried about the threat of gangrene she went back to a specialist and has been told to self-inject a third generation liquid antibiotic called Ceftriaxone mixed with a local anaesthetic called Lidocain. I'm feeling particularly foolish and helpless to be this much closer to Guatemala and yet fairly well stuck in the US for the time being.
Leaving aside my colleague's trip to the airport, today was fairly relaxing. We'd swapped the relentless chill-out of FireSky for the reverberations of merengue-hip hop and reggeton at the Inn at Pima, for when we checked in last night there was a Fiesta de Quinceañera in full swing there, but luckily the sound of it didn't carry to my block. The corridors might have had that three star smell about them, but the chichi-free comforts of this condo-hotel were refreshing.
I would have had a my first full night's sleep here last night had Christofer not rung me on my mobile at 4am to pass on the news from the Rugby World Cup. This sudden and most unusual interest in sporting activity on his part was largely due to its convergence with his longer-term interest in unfortunate things happening to French people.