The BIG D!
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Dallas! I've imagined visiting here for a long time, ever since my fascination with the JFK assassination in my teens. I should have gone to Austin, a liberal chilled out city full of young people, I could have gone to Houston, but I wanted to see Dallas. My concern was staying with Republicans, I just find listening to them extremely difficult without banging my head against a brick wall, hopefully there have padded walls. Luckily, my preconceptions about Dallas are completely misguided!
I need to make my own way to my hosts place. The small rail system in downtown Dallas is excellent and easy to navigate. It's not long before I am walking off the train and slowly walking towards their apartment. Laura and Carlos live in a great part of the city, it is safe, well built up and beautiful to walk around. As I walk from the train, my pace is slow, the sun is out, it is hot and I am loving the sun on my face. I lift up my head, smile at the sky and enjoy the moment. The freedom of travelling is a satisfying feeling, especially when you successfully navigate a city!
I find the gate to their apartment area, there is a small community of dozens of buildings and in theory, you are supposed to be buzzed into the complex. My hosts are not in so I squeeze my way through the gate, find their apartment and sit on their stairs and wait. I've got into Peter Bjorn and John in a big way, so continue enjoying the new music I am listening to.
Laura and Carlos return and greet me like an old friend. We enter their apartment and within a few minutes, we tuck into a cooked chicken, some tortillas and dip as well. They were planning on going to a birthday party and had invited me, but after they went to ikea, they could wait no longer and bought a cooked chicken, they sound like my kind of people! They are both from Mexico, they recently spent some time living in Cancun and have both spent a large portion of their lives living in Dallas. They have seen the city transform from a dangerous crime ridden city to a safe and fancy place to dine and entertain! The interesting aspect of their relationship, was that Carlos had already met Laura's family before he met her. Even at their wedding, some of her relatives came that had never seen her fiance but when they met him face to face, had known him for years! Carlos is a sociable beast, incredibly friendly and humble and has an excellent memory. He has 2000 friends on facebook, and I do believe he knows them all!
We chat for a long time, get ready and head out to a restaurant called Glorias. We just grab drinks there and meet many of their friends. I chatted to a Polish woman called Dagmar more than anyone else. She works on high profile business deals for a global company and regularly finds herself all over the world. An interesting character! We head to a dance club and shake our stuff for the next 4 hours. In that time, Dagmar felt so pleased to have been chatted up by the girlfriend of the club owner. We left the club at 2am and all Dagmar was talking about was how she wanted to call her boyfriend (who was flying to Argentina) the good news of getting a new girlfriend! So funny, Carlos says she always talks like this when a little drunk. At 230am we were at a bar that serves food till late in the morning, I enjoyed some grease dripping tacos and plenty of water!
A great night, wonderful company and it is a side of Dallas I was not expecting to see. I'm so lucky that Carlos and Laura are so liberal and so are there friends. They also have a comfy pull out sofa while most hosts have been sleeping on a blow up air mattress that seems to deflate every night!
Miles walked 0.87
Day 132 May 15 - My plan was to get up early, and explore Dallas. My plan didn't quite go to plan when Laura and Carlos made me breakfast, what a treat! Fresh coffee, fresh omlette, perfect. They were on their way to a BBQ, and no matter how strongly I wanted to join them, I had a stronger urge to see downtown Dallas and especially Dealey Plaza.
After breakfast, Carlos and Laura gave me a driven tour, about an hour, around Dallas and surrounding neighbourhoods. The city centre itself has a fascinating sky line, the outer suburbs were interesting and a little dangerous. Carlos almost drives into another car while navigating and playing tour guide, Laura's response 'I really don't want to get shot today!'.
I'm dropped off just outside the 6th floor museum. This is the book depository, where Oswald supposedly took the fatal shots. I find it chilling how it is now a museum, but once I reach the 6th floor, the museum is more about the life of JFK than focusing on his death and from 'where' the shots came from. I listen to the earphone guide, I wander around the museum. I take from it what I want, one interesting fact that I read, in 1963 there was no federal law against assassinating the President of the USA. Therefore, the local Dallas PD undertook the investigation, and so the mess began. It's strange that I feel regret, but it is a period of history I regret for the USA and for all those who served in Vietnam afterwards, some who never came home.
I leave the 6th floor museum and walk towards the grassy knoll. We've all seen the movie JFK, but to be up front and close the where Zapruder filmed the impact and to be where a 2nd gun man was placed, very harrowing!
I stood at the picket fence for some time, I cannot believe how small the plaza is, how normal the road seems, it upsets me that people find it rewarding to stand on the X where the fatal head shot was, and strike a pose for the camera. It's why I didn't go to the killing fields in Cambodia.
Just a couple of blocks away from Dealey plaza, is the JFK memorial. Opposite the memorial is the oldest house in Dallas.
I spent some more time in the afternoon, wandering the streets of Dallas, there is a mix between the outgoing affluent and the struggling poverty line in the city.
As I knew I would be spending this day by myself, I arranged to meet another couchsurfer for coffee. There is only so long I will spend exploring the city. So, I met Alyssa at a Borders book store near my hosts apartment. We discussed politics, books and travels for two hours. It was a pleasure to meet her and share a coffee. She's another person that was prepared to leave the USA if a certain crazy hockey lady got into government.
My phone is no longer making or receiving calls, well it does, I just can't hear anyone on the other end! I'm not sure if my texts are working either? This makes meeting and engaging with couchsurfing hosts extremely difficult.
I end up spending another couple of hours at borders until I was ready to go back to Laura and Carlos.
We spend the night up till 1am discussing all sorts about our views on the world and the places in which we have seen and lived. I thoroughly enjoyed their company and felt very very comfortable and welcome in their home.
Miles walked 1.4
Day 133 May 16 - My bus was due to leave Dallas at midday so I enjoyed another breakfast from Carlos, using the left over chicken into making a Spanish omlette! So tasty.
Carlos was very gracious in dropping me off at the bus station and letting me know I was welcome back anytime!
I had sometime after grabbing my ticket to go see downtown some more and explore a little bit more of the city.
I was very lucky to have spent my time with wonderful hosts and I leave Texas with a better impression that what I hear or see in the media.
Next stop, Oklahoma City.