The crazy place that is Texas...

Trip Start Nov 17, 2006
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Trip End May 2007


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I arrived in Lubbock, Texas, first thing on Saturday morning, after a night on my own in Dallas (due to a cock up by American Airlines, the worst airline on the planet!)...

I was met there by Rachel, Jen, and Jarrad (who I know from when Rachel studied in London at the beginning of this year). Texas really is quite unbelievably American! Going into the car park at the airport, all you can see is Chevy pick-up trucks as far as the eye can see! Probably three times the size of the average London car... Although you do feel quite powerful and invincible sitting in such a huge car, you're really not since everybody else is also driving one. And everybody wears cowboy hats and speaks like George Bush (which makes it hard to take them seriously!). It really is like a country within a country and is incredibly conservative. No alcohol can be bought on Sundays, and since Lubbock is a "Dry City", you have to leave the city limits to buy alcohol off the shelf... Getting Texans to understand me is also quite difficult. Asking for water at a restaurant normally takes three or four repeats before they get what i'm asking...

Texas is flat. Very flat. Seeing a building more than two stories high is very rare and it is strange being able to see for miles and miles when in the middle of a city. In the city itself (I call it a city, but it's really quite small, you can drive across it in 10 minutes) the most noticeable thing is the fast-food restaurants. It's not the occasional McDonalds you see on the high street in London, driving down main roads you see a fast-food place every other building or so... And they all serve the same thing: Burgers, Tacos, Enchilladas, Barbecue chicken, amongst many other American/Mexican stuff.

The day we got there we went to their uni (Texas Tech) American football game. College football is a whole institution in the States that is taken extremely seriously... We're not talking inter-uni football games that only the players parents go to see and is reported on in the college newspaper, we're talking 50,000 seat stadiums (this was at Texas Tech. Ohio State, at the top of the college league, has a 100,000 person stadium), national sports channels dedicated to it (ESPN College), coverage in national newspapers. And the players are all studying at these unis, and don't get paid for it, while getting national media attention. We went to see the last game of the season (Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State Uni) and it was really quite fun as it was like being transported into an American teen movie.
The stadium was pretty much full, with thousands and thousands of students and supporters all screaming and doing random dancing type cheers. Each team has a marching band of probably of one or two hundred instruments, playing pretty much constantly during the 3 hour game, and when anyone scores. Then there are the cheerleaders, the one thing that English football is lacking in, making for good entertainment when the football gets boring... At half time the band and cheerleaders do a whole procession and somehow there was even a Air Force flyover of a B-52 bomber since the pilots were alumni from Texas Tech. All this for a university football game...


The evenings were spent in Mexican and Barbecue restaurants with Rachel and Jarrad's friends. All the restaurants were not only sooo American, but also so Texan... I'm in meat overload mode from steaks, chicken, buffalo wings, Jalapeno sausages, fajitas, and Dennys. It doesn't really matter what type of restaurant you go to, it being American, Italian, Greek, or anything else, you can't escape from how American they are! In terms of the surroundings and the food.

On Saturday night we went to one of Lubbock's two nightclubs. Called Wild West, it is of course not your typical night club as they play virtually only country music! And of course me being the nice English boy, was generally picked on by the girls wanting me to country dance with them. So we spent the evening two-stepping, waltzing (or attempting to do so), and all sorts of pretty "out-there" dancing that they do in the deep South of the US. Beer and whisky was cheap at $1 a go (although it wasn't exactly the nicest thing to drink). And of course, finishing the night off at 24 hour fast food joint, called Whataburger (very original!).


On Monday we went to Jarrad's parents cotton farm. This was in the middle of nowhere, about 20 miles outside of Lubbock. They have about 200 acres of land, and it was harvest season so there were huge cotton strippers ploughing the fields. I also got to drive a huge tractor round a cotton field which was something I never really expected to do in my life! I think I handled this heavy machinery pretty well though, and without breaking it, running anything over, or killing myself. Out in the fields, I don't think I've ever seen so many stars in my life. Not the individual pin-pricks of light you see in cities, more like a complete covering, or blanket of stars overhead. The sky was so clear you could actually see the strip of light across the sky (the centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way). Was a really amazing sight. We ate lots and lots of steak, and headed back so I could sleep for my early morning flight to New York the next day...
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