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23 Jan 2011

Exploring South Texas; Part 1 - updated Oct 13, 2008

An All-Day Fiesta in San Antonio

Coming up... ocean breezes in Corpus Christie; full moon in Austin

FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS

 map of South Texas map of Austin, San Antonio

Exploring Southern Texas

San Antonio: A Fiesta City

AUSTIN, TX, Oct 13, 2008 - San Antonio was the first stop on our four-day trip to the places in southern Texas where Elizabeth grew up.  Saturday turned out to be an all-day fiesta in this lively city on the San Antonio river.  Fears of recession?  Not here.  This is where fears recede into happiness and melt like lemon drops, spurred by the Latin American rhythms and songs.  Check it out...

Our hotel was right on the river, where the above pictures were taken.  But inside our hotel room we found a most unusual sign - warning about the cricket invasion (right).  Over 160 years after the Mexican General Santa Ana invaded the Alamo, it is the crickets that post the biggest danger.  :-)

The weather was actually overcast, almost gloomy, when we arrived, as you can see from the above picture.  But you would never be able to tell that by the mood of the people in the streets of San Antonio.

The Rivercenter Mall, in the heart of the old city, only steps away from the Alamo, is unique even among the hundreds of malls that this writer has seen in his lifetime.  The river runs through it.  Literally.  You can see that from the rightmost two photos above, as well as from the following two videos...

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October 11, 2008, 08:18 PM; Time: 00:37 mins

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October 11, 2008, 09:21 PM; Time: 01:00 mins

... which also bring you excerpts from a live concert by a Peruvian flute group. As you can see, this included even the Peruvian group's playing of Abba's "Chiquitita" tune, the name I use for Elizabeth that is associated with that piece of music I first played for her when we met in June, and also later on, when I was attending the "shamanic boot camp" in Sacred Valley. It seems that everywhere I turn these days, I run into something or somebody Peruvian.

The Alamo

 

Not to be inundated in just Latin American music, an invisible hand led us from the beautiful mall on the river , through the lush riverside grounds (middle left), right to the nearby Alamo (middle right), in whose gardens we heard some Scottish bagpipe music...

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October 11, 2008, 10:02 PM; Time: 00:39

... even playing a Scottish folk song that I play on my piano.

By the time we emerged from the Alamo, the sun had come out and the temperatures rose quickly into the upper 80s/low 90s.  A young man in his late 20s who took our picture asked me if I would return the favor.  I happily obliged.  After I had taken the shot, I said jokingly, "sorry I'd cut off your shoes." 

"Oh, but my Mom likes to see my shoes," he replied, adding perfectly seriously, "would you mind taking another shot?"

It takes all kinds, I suppose.

Not far from there, we saw this "David Crockett" (left) as well as a mock murder trial that had just started (the other three shots).  Elizabeth took the rightmost picture in which you can see this writer as part of the courtroom gallery.

As I was taking a photo of that interesting "flat iron" building, now a hotel in downtown San Antonio (left two), Elizabeth was taking a picture of me (middle right). The rightmost shot was taken with a local "actor' dressed up in an old Mexican uniform.

Silent Antiwar Protests; River Walk; Street Art Festival

As we walked on through downtown San Antonio, we witnessed a return to the 60s and early 70s.  The war protesters were back, but another generation.  Different war; different villains; different victims... the same sad stories. 

In this "war memorial," there were hundreds of boots on display that belonged to American soldiers who committed suicide AFTER returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  "Silent victims" is what these posters called them, citing numerous statistics about "the war within."

Our river walk was much more lively.  Pulsating life was on display... in river boats (left), on sidewalks (middle right), improvised wedding chapels (middle left), cowboys in saloons (right), as well as in nature that decorated the walk with beautiful flowers, such as that candelabra-like bush on the far right.

 

A couple of blocks in from the river, a street art festival was winding down.  The crayon artists had left their mark on the city until the next rain or traffic jam, whichever came first.

Market Square

Elizabeth has been fasting for days getting ready for a Tex-Mex dinner at the Market Square, a Hispanic fair district 7-8 blocks north of the city center.  Before we settled on which restaurant to dine at, we were treated to a pre-dinner concert by local vocal artists.  Check it out... this one was really, really good...

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October 11, 2008, 10:59 PM; Time: 01:33 mins
 

...and really, really beautiful, too.  That would not be an adjective I would choose to use for this form of dance that Elizabeth filmed...

(Filmed by Elizabeth)

October 11, 2008, 11:15 PM; Time: 01:09 mins
 

... but it takes all kinds, as they say.  We finally settled on "Mi Tierra" restaurant that Elizabeth says is probably the best known in all of San Antonio.

The place was a madhouse, as you can see from the above photos.  While waiting to be seated, we bought some of the delicious desserts from that enormous sweets counter you can see in the middle right shot.  Once we were seated, a mariachi band serenaded the guests at individual tables...

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October 11, 2008, 09:35 PM; Time: 00:37 mins

... including Elizabeth for whom they played "Volver."

Evening Fiesta

After dinner we returned to the river and proceeded to walk seemingly aimlessly.  But the invisible hand guided us again to some enchanting musical experiences.  It was all a part of an International Accordion Festival.

 

On this improvised river bank stage, we listened to a wonderful group from San Francisco, led by an (East) Indian young woman.  They raised the non-existent roof with their original high-energy music.  Check out this clip from their concert...

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October 11, 2008, 11:45 PM; Time: 02:33 mins

 

After a while, we walked on... and once again were led to an even more amazing concert that was just starting up.  It was a group from Panama, this time, that was raising the imaginary roof to unimaginably heights.  There was not a soul among several hundred people who listened to the concert whose body was not swaying in sync with Latin American rhythms, just as Elizabeth and I did in the above shot...

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October 11, 2008, 11:37 PM; Time: 02:10 mins

Well, "not a soul," is a bit of a hyperbole. 

Check out this young man (left) calmly reading a book under a flashlight while his Mom's hips were swiveling overhead (pink skirt).

And that's all she wrote from San Antonio on this Saturday night.

Also check out... Ocean Breezes in Corpus, Full Moon over Austin

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