Once again I extend a gesture of apology. The truth is my trip has ended, I am home in North Carolina, tired but in one piece. I will not however use this as an excuse to give up on the blog. Because you all, my dear friends, do not know the whole story! And what a journey it was. I will keep going from where I left off and fill you in on the great south west, the west coast, and the trip home. The next stop on the trip was one of great emotional turmoil for me. An important speed bump which caused me to slow down and reevaluate the way I was going about my travels.
We left from Austin fairly early. Saying goodbyes and our deepest gratitude for the friends who had allowed us a break from the road. Our next stop was San Antonio, Texas. It was out of our way a bit but after we had done some research and seen pictures we really couldn't resist. Plus words like "out of our way" were rapidly becoming irrelevant. Because really, what was our way? And who or what was to say what was out of it or not?
My mom had an old college friend who lived there and who had offered us a place to stay for the night. She and my mother had gone on a European trip when they were around the age of Annie and I, so in a serendipitous way it made since to meet her. Lynn and John had moved to San Antonio from Chapel Hill over twenty years ago. They were both well versed on the culture of the city and ended up being full of great recommendations for things to see, do and eat during our visit.
We helped Lynn make a delicious shrimp risotto upon arrival. Her daughter Adrian was in town, on break from working helping cleaning up the oil spill in New Orleans. I got to hear some stories about my mom's European trip which excited me cause I'd never heard much about it from her. The phrase, "you think you know someone..." flickered in my mind.
Lynn and John didn't have much room at their house for us so they recommended we stay with their good friends around the corner. They had two empty bedrooms which was quite luxurious compared to what Annie and I had been used to. However, the quiet solitude of an empty foreign bedroom allowed my mind to wonder freely for the first time in weeks. I have a tendency to beat myself up if I don't go above and beyond my own expectations. I began to critique myself, annoyed my blogging was behind, wondering if I was getting anything done the way I had wanted it to be done. Was I absorbing enough? Was I just going through the steps? Had I taken enough notes? Would I remember? Would I write? Would I do anything I had promised I would do? It wasn't until I made a phone call to the one person who I knew would lovingly kick my ass and tell me to keep going and to stop being so dramatic. She calmed me down and sent me in to one of the most restful nights of sleep I had had on the trip so far. I was out there in the world, if I was scared I should be scared. If I wasn't scared I wasn't doing my job. Somehow the fear was a comfort.
The next day we went out to see the Missions of San Antonio: San Juan, San Jose, Concepcion, Espada. San Jose was the best, if you're definition of best is biggest and well intact. It's an unusual feeling standing somewhere once used and populated and now empty and useless other than to be seen and appreciated. History runs rich in the south west, a bloody history which is somehow magnified by the sprawling desert it is surrounded by. The great Alamo, most likely the most famous mission of them all was located in the middle of downtown San Antonio, across the street from a Hard Rock Cafe and a Starbucks. I don't know if it is necessary to explain why this was hard for me to appreciate. We didn't even go in.
That night Lynn had plans with her friends so John and Adrian decided to join us for dinner. San Antonio, of course, is well known for it's fabulous "tex-mex cuisine." Though our two locals had been to many places around town and had lots to recommend we decided on a place new to us all. Now I feel guilty for waiting too long for this blog because now I cannot remember the name of the place. But perhaps Annie does and I will be able to comment on it later. Anyways, if I ever do recover the name of it I would highly recommend it. It was actually much more authentic mexican rather than tex-mex. I had a dish with Nopalitos which is a pickled cactus. Delicious! After dinner we went down to the river walk. This was my favorite part of San Antonio. It felt like being in Europe. The walk was along the river, below the city. Gondolas riding up and down, people out drinking and eating along the banks. It was gorgeous. I stood on a bridge with Annie, feeling a kinship with her over being lost in a strange land. Feeling constantly ungrounded yet a comfort in her company. We sat with John and Adrian at a bar listening to a local jazz band and drinking a cocktail. John was quite knowledgeable about the music scene in San Antonio and he knew the group playing. We went back to the neighbors house that night, ready to head out the next morning. John and Lynn were kind enough to dig up their old tent of the garage so that Annie and I wouldn't have to use our junior size orange Walmart contraption again. Our next stop would be Marfa, TX. It came highly recommended.