Time to kill in Texas

Trip Start Sep 29, 2008
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Trip End Mar 27, 2009


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Flag of United States  , Texas
Monday, September 29, 2008

I'm gazing out of a window at a sky which has no clouds but is still fuzzy and murky and grimy nonetheless, despite the sunlight burning through right up ahead. Welcome to Texas.
I'm drinking a 12oz iced mocha because I've never had one of those before. And let's face it: it's not going to happen again for the next six months.
I've been walking round and round George Bush airport, Houston, with my mouth wide open. Properly gawping. for the last six months I've been psyching myself up for the South American culture shock... it had slipped my mind that, sometimes, the North American one is just as great. it works both ways - they don't understand me when I speak. Sometimes I don't understand them, either. I'd probably be better off communicating in Spanish. Almost everyone here is Latino or black, mostly the Hispanics work behind the counters, serving fancy coffee and duty free goods. The blacks sit around on little stools, shining the fat white businessmen's shoes. God bless America.
Damn, the iced Mocha's good, though.

* * *

I flew in over the American Dream. Big, quilted squares of fields and ranches and farms, divided into smaller squares in shades of olive and khaki and straw. There are no diagonal lines in Texas, no curves. We're all on the straight and narrow here. White roads cut scars through the big squares, and long drives protrude off at right angles, leading down to large, white, rectangular houses.
For the first time in several weeks I felt excited. THIS is what I came away for, I thought. THIS is why I saved, and planned, and anticipated, and spent ten and a half hours on a plane. Because I open my eyes. Because I write and write and write...

* * *

I'm walking up and down the airport, up and down. In the bookshop there were dozens of books I would never contemplate picking up. I saw six shelves (six!) of Sudoku books. I saw many more than six shelves of self-help books, and had an inkling as to where the South American obsession with self-help books may have come from. Many of them had a Christian twist. Tellingly, they were stacked up high between Mother Teresa's autobiography and special edition Bible boxed sets. The magazine section blew my mind. The covers MOVED. As in, they were ANIMATED. How do they DO that?!

* * *

Let's check out the loos. American toilets are always so sophisticated, especially in comparison to their grim cousins on the Iberian peninsula (bring your own paper. And lock. And light...) They are sparklingly clean, and yet still provide those paper circles to cover the seat, just in case. They have slightly disturbing bottom sensors that cause them to flush automatically when you stand up. But I was suddenly reminded that, for all this advanced technology, American toilet doors leave a lot to be desired in the way of privacy. Your knees are visible underneath, your head at the top, and pretty much all the rest of you is visible through the inch-wide gaps they have incomprehensibly decided to leave down both sides of the door.

* * *

Holey moley - iPods come in vending machines!!!!!!!!

* * *

With another couple of hours to kill, I stupidly decided to search for somewhere to grab a coffee that wasn't too... American. Yeah, right. this is HOUSTON, baby. I shuffle past "Bubba's Bayou Grill", "Texas Spicy Chicken" and "Wendy's Traditional HAMBURGERS!". The drinks come in three sizes: large, bucket or bathtub. Although, having slurped my way down to the bottom of my 12oz iced mocha I can see why - I'm left with a whole paper cup full of brown, frothy ice cubes.

* * *

Right - off for another cultural expedition into the wild, rugged territory of... Houston airport.
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