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Greetings from San Antonio, TX

There may be a wax museum and a Ripley's Believe It or Not rIght across from the Alamo, but they don't take away from the charm of this city, which I've heard is the seventh largest in the U.S. I'm impressed with how well-run and efficient the tourist industry is here. The River Walk, "Paseo del Río," lined with charming eateries and shops, is patrolled by friendly cops and city workers, ensuring safety and cleanliness. The mariachis stroll from table to table, like in Mexico. Like Granada in Spain, San Antonio is packed with tourists (I'm one of them) and for good reason. I'll tell you what: I'd rather be here than in Orlando, FL.

The Alamo itself is dwarfed by the high-rise hotels all around it, and yet even these are interspersed with older, more quaint buildings. I would have to say the dominant color here is tan, the color of the local stone, yet along the river, once you get away from the heart of the city, there is a lot of green.

There is a lot of Mexico (and Mexicans) here - sometimes it just feels like Mexico - but it is clearly not Mexico. A majority of the people here seem to be Hispanic, yet when they open their mouths, English is more likely to emerge than Spanish (even though often it IS Spanish).

While walking the northern extremes of the Paseo del Rio, we saw this interesting old, decrepit, three-storey, pillared building where some sort of party was happening. We decided to check it out; it turned out to be the VFW hall. We had kielbasa tacos. I washed mine down with a fine local beer, Shiner Bock.

The temperatures have been around 100 in the daytime, but I'll take a dry 100 in San Antonio over a humid 89 in North Carolina.

Perhaps my favorite moment was hanging out at the "Mercado," the artesian market. I enjoyed reading the humorous T-shirts ("Jesus loves you, but the rest of us think you're a pendejo"), but especially sitting in the food court, eating delicious enchiladas, drinking beer, and watching the old Mexican men talk, drink their beer, and play dominos.

I've been eating as much Mexican food as possible.

Unable to resist it, I went to the I-Max propaganda film about the Alamo. Alternately weepy and ultraviolent, its message is that "freedom isn't free." It is historically accurate in portraying the defenders of the Alamo, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the rest, as supremely brave; what rankles is the broader historical inaccuracy or omission: that Texas (and the rest of the Southwest for that matter) was basically stolen from the Mexicans. That's alright though. In a way, little by little, the Mexicans are taking it back!

Anyway, San Antonio seems to be the epicenter of Tex-Mex culture. I've even been tempted to buy a cowboy hat, what in Spanish is called a "Tejano" (Texan). My daughter advises against it. She says I'd look ridiculous, and she's probably right. I'll probably settle for a T-shirt.

Within a few days I'll have some photos of the trip up at Mondo Marco.



May 2018



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