Yehaaaa I'm in Texas!!

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
Trip End Feb 22, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Friday, January 20, 2012

Yeeeehaww!!! Welcome to the USA, y'all have a good day now!! As soon as I entered Fort Lauderdale airport I knew I was in the USA. The woman at immigration quizzed me, as I had expected, on my extended 'vacation’ as they call it (the immigration form asks you to write down the countries visited prior to the USA – with only two lines how I was supposed to write down 23 other countries!?), and at the departure lounge for my connection to Texas I’m faced with fast food and more fast food. I treated myself to fries and a donut and was told ‘you’re welcome, have a nice day now!’

The flight with budget airline Spirit was entertaining ... Spirit were $200 cheaper than the other airlines, but I had to pay a taxi
to get to the out-of-town airport (2 hours away from Mexico City), throw
away a pair of shoes and stuff the rest in hand luggage to get past
their 18kg weight limit and for some reason they even prevent their
seats from reclining. Plus instead of the 3 hours a direct flight would have taken, it took me 10 hours as I had to go via Fort Laudedale, Florida. But $200 is $200!!

I was sat in the emergency exit seats. It turns out that if you don’t speak English then you can’t sit there, presumably so you can understand instructions though surely if the plane's going down it doesn’t matter what language you speak?! Back to the western world of stating the obvious, as we were shown how to fasten our seatbelts. If you don’t know how to faster a seatbelt without instruction then frankly you shouldn’t be on a plane in the first place, in fact you shouldn’t be let out of your house! It then turned out that the couple next to me were French, and, living up to the stereotype, when the (very gay) steward asked if they spoke English they replied ‘non! Francais!’ although later I swear I heard them speaking English. The steward, also living up to stereotype, told them they had to move, which they didn’t understand. He then lost his patience and just shouted ‘You! Out!’ until they got the message. They were swapped with a middle aged Texan man and his 20 something son. The French couple looked very bemused but did as they were told. The steward continued to piss everyone off by refusing to let anyone buy a drink without a credit card – apparently this is their rule and ‘it is what it is, as stated on our website’. Everyone got really annoyed and people were shouting ‘I’m never flying this airline again!!’. I was just sitting there laughing. The men next to me turned out to be romany gypsies, and we chatted for 2 hours! They were fascinated by my life, my trip, and I learned how they live in their own community and have to pay a dowry of $20,000 to marry a girl. Talk about different cultures! But we got along well and it made the 4 hour trip more fun.  I struck a deal with the gypsies that I would pay for their drinks on my credit card if they gave me the cash and in return they would buy me a drink. Result! The camp steward sauntered past and couldn’t resist making a sarky comment to the gypsies, saying ‘so you DO have a credit card after all!’, to which they replied, again, ‘we’re never flying Spirit again!’ and he retorted ‘see you next week then!!’. It was very funny as this steward seemed to go out of his way to be rude to the passengers and he enjoyed it, finishing with a very sarcastic apology 'if I offended you then I am sooo sorry!' Easyjet eat your heart out!!

Eventually I arrived in Dallas, Texas, and Dulce came to meet me at the airport. I said goodbye to the gypsies and we wished each other well, then we drove down to my home for the next 2 weeks, the little town of Cleburne. Dulce is studying a MA here and living with a Texan couple, Gayle and Tom, who have kindly offered to have me stay as well. The first thing to hit me was the size of the houses here. This is really how the other half life!! Nobody walks anywhere in Texas, to the extent that in this neighbourhood they don’t even have pavements (sorry, sidewalks!). I have my own bedroom with a bed big enough for 4 people and ensuite bathroom. In the mornings when Dulce is at college I can lie in, eat anything I like and watch the biggest TV I have ever seen in my life. Public transport here is non existent, you need a car to get anywhere. And if you ask directions, people will tell you oh no its too far to walk!! When actually it's 2 blocks away. Texans generally think I'm insane for backpacking anywhere, and to have gone to Mexico?? Gee I must have a deathwish!! I wasn't prepared for the sheer wealth that is here in Texas. The houses are huge, the cars are huge and the food portions are even bigger ...

On my first day, Gayle too me around Cleburne, which is the tiniest town. Everybody knows everybody, and everybody was extremely friendly and keen to welcome me to Texas. Everybody says "y'all have a good time now!" or "how y'all doing?" which I love! For example we were admiring a cowbow muriel on the wall and who should walk over but the father of the artist, who is about 80 and took us to see his own gallery. We visited a cowboy who is one of the few remaining gun-smiths and he happily posed for a photo  :) Dulce and I went to Fort Worth for the weekend to hit the town, starting with Billy Bobs on Friday night. Billy Bobs claims to be the biggest bar in the world and it is huge with several bar areas and a concert venue, and, a bull ring where you can watch bull riding ... as you do on a night out!! There are lots of cool bars with live country/rock music in Fort Worth.

On Saturday they took me to the Rodeo which happens to be on right now. Well .... I had no idea what to expect from a Rodeo, I guess I expected some horse riding and cattle displays, but it's a big deal out here in Texas. Starting with several glamourous looking blondes galloping around the big arena holding the national flag and singing the athem, I found out the Rodeo is worth big bucks. For some of the contests, the prize money reaches $200,000. These cowboys are rich!! So, the contests ...  starting with bucking bronco - how long can you stay on a bucking horse for? I hated this after I learned that the horses are going crazy and bucking because they have tied their balls up in a garter, for want of a better expression! Same goes for the main event, the bull riding. No wonder the bull is so angry! Next up was a competition for school kids who have to catch a calf and drag it into the a circle and if they do, they win a college scholarship. There were also the roping events where teams of 2 cowboys race out on horseback and lassoo a cow. To be honest, whilst it is interesting to see a traditional Texas event, I found it very cruel, the animals are terrified but the crowd finds it funny, and if I had known what it was about I would not have come.

During the rest of the two weeks here, apart from relaxing and spending a lot of time at Starbucks while Dulce studies, we have visited Dallas. I was a bit disappointed in Dallas, having grown up watching the TV show of the same name. I think I expected to see JR Ewing walking the street or to come across a cowboy shoot out, but it was all shiny new office blocks and deserted streets. We did go to the JRK museum which was very interesting. It's in the actual buiding, on the 6th floor, where they believe JRK was shot from. I learned a lot about Ameican history here. For example I never knew that the guy accused of killing JFK was shot dead a few days later by someone else at point blank range in the middle of a press release and its all caught on film.

We are going to have one last night out in Fort Worth tonight and see if we can spot a few more cowboys. Men just walk around town here in their boots and hats. Then it's time to move on - tomorrow I am taking the train (the idea of taking a bus caused most people here to recoil in horror, 'do you have any idea what the bus is LIKE??' they ask - well it must be a hell of a lot better than the buses in Vietnam and Guatemala!!) down to Austin. After that I'm heading to New Orleans. I am not sure how I'm getting there yet and if I do opt for the bus ride I'm going to have to keep it quiet! I'm off to eat some cookies, see y'all later! :)
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