Day 35 (Remember the Ala-something)

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“San Antonio is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The people are so beautiful, the layout is so unique, and the colors are so vibrant.”

“We love you too”

That was the first conversation I had in San Antonio’s downtown with a man named Jorge. He was selling ukuleles and telling me all about his love of the Mexican-American culture that flows through the city streets like a robust red wine. This city is outstanding. It seems so small, but every corner you turn leads to an open courtyard or sweeping marketplace. I went straight to the Alamo. I never stop appreciating just how lucky I am to visit such staples of American history. The Alamo’s grounds were infiltrated not only by Mexican soldiers almost 200 years ago, but by the feeling of pride and defiance today. Visiting the Alamo reinforced my prior experiences of Texas. This is a truly independent state. Of all the states I’ve visited Texas has the highest flag per capita. The people here are not afraid to let you know how honored you should feel just to step foot on the grounds of Texas. Sidenote: There is no basement. I asked. People did not take kindly to such a question.

I sat on the ground outside the Alamo and listened to an old man recount the chilling tale of the siege. I was captivated. It didn’t take long for a crowd to form around him. This dude was for realsies. Such energy, such passion. This old man was the real deal. As he finished recanting the epic story that reminded me ever so much of the battle at Helm’s Deep, he roared out “REMEMBER THE ALAMO” My hands hurt from clapping so hard. I grew exhausted in trying to describe these incredible places to you. I know I’m, doing an injustice to the monument, so just go see it for yourself. Seriously.

The river walk travels through the city like a sidewinder. It reminded me of a mini Schuylkill River except like a million times better. I felt like I was in bumpkin Venice and I love it. I soon wandered to the Market Square (El Mercado) which is rich in Mexican Culture. El Mercado is the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. It only took about 5 minutes for me to even forget that I was in America. What an extraordinary escape. I wish I could have entrenched myself more into the atmosphere, but I had to meet Kathryn, my CouchSurfing host.

Kathryn is wicked awesome. She volunteers for an organization comparable to that of AmeriCorps 9I forget the actual name of the one she participates in). She works with children so naturally I barraged her  with questions about her experiences. We chatted for a while and eventually made out way to her mentor’s house for dinner. Kathryn eats dinner with Paul and Patty about once a month. Paul is a Presbyterian minister and Patty is working in her master’s at A&M. She just became a U.S. citizen and is originally from Guatemala. The four of us talked for hours about everything from the Myers-Briggs test to life in South America. Patty told me about her life in Guatemala and how her decision to travel through Mexico by herself in her 20’s was extremely controversial, but one of the best decisions she’s ever made. Red wine and dark chocolate fueled the majority of conversation. I learned incredible amounts of information and life lessons from Patty, Paul, and Kathryn. Pedagogy of the Oppressed is the next book on my list to read and I have to travel to Antigua.

Kathryn and I later explored the nightlife of San Antonio. We met up with her friends Lauren and Alex. Finally I spent a night in the bars engaging in topical conversations with peers. That was the first time I’ve don’t that since leaving L.A. As the alcohol soaked into my bloodstream and the discussion escalated to simple things like television, bicycles and beer, I became relaxed. I love spending time with older people, but I worried I was losing touch with my own generation on this trip, so it was nice to just drink a few beers and be a degenerate young adult again.

We biked home. Climbed through trains. Someone finally yelled “FAGGOT” at me from a pick-up truck. I ate pizza. I slept in a bunk bed with pink sheets. San Antonio was sufficiently sufficient.

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