Sunday, April 24, 2011

Day Four!

Today's post isn't so much about the conference proper as it is about the city of San Antonio. Having decided that (a) it's a downright shame to come to a city like this and never leave the hotels to actually see the city and (b) since we had convinced Texas-living friends to drive in, we should avail ourselves of their company, we had set aside today to be TOURIST SIGHTSEEING DAY!! So we got ourselves up and moving and met our Texas friends in the lobby for a day of tourist stuff. There's a lot to do in this city and we scarcely scratched the surface, but we managed to do a few things well, rather than many things not-so-well. Among those . . .

1. We hit the "fire sale" of the book room. We were restrained, but come on - when it's 50% off before you start your bargaining, you make room in the suitcase.
2. Yes, we saw the Alamo. I'd been told that it really isn't all that impressive and I guess that's true, sort of. It certainly is just a fraction of the original site, but the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who hold the site for the people of the state, have really put effort into creating presentations that will knock your socks off. Even our Texan guides marveled, saying that they hadn't been to the site since they were schoolkids and wow! had the place changed. Across the street from the actual site is a museum devoted to a scale model of the actual site with narration about how the siege unfolded. Ready for the weirdness? It's narrated by the owner of the world's largest private collection of Alamo memorabilia, Phil Collins. Yes, that Phil Collins - the one from the second incarnation of Genesis. Turns out he's a huge Alamo buff. I get the whole romance of lost causes, fighting for honor, and so on (and the story about Col. Travis drawing the line in the sand is so good it ought to be true, if it isn't), and the defenders of the Alamo did manage to buy time for Sam Houston to build his forces (or so popular versions say; in fact, like much Alamo lore, it isn't exactly true), but it still seems like such a waste of human life. Then again, I learned that one North Carolina defender of the Alamo (NC had seven on the official roster of the dead) had the magnificent name of "Dolphin Floyd," so there's that.
3. We also visited the nearby Emily Morgan Hotel, where we learned a bit about the legend of the woman who (supposedly) is behind the "Yellow Rose of Texas" legend, which (like many legends) loses some shine when you look into it.
After quite a while tramping around the sacred ground of the Alamo, we took a break for Tex-Mex food (with the best guacamole I've ever had!) at The Original Mexican Restaurant.
4. Then we figured out the trolley system and tackled Historic Market Square. Mostly, it's a nearly overwhelming array of tiny storefronts selling kitsch ranging from brightly-colored tin ornaments to Dia de la Muertos figures. Lots of clothing, jewelry, and knick-knacks are also present. (As one of our party exclaimed, "Perfect for all your pinata needs!") My favorite were the displays of full-face lucha libre wrestler masks - you could even buy a model-sized ring and a sleeve of ten costumed wrestlers to stage your own matches! All that, plus a Mexican bakery that was out of this world made for a happy, albeit waddling, group.
5. Finally, it was back to the conference for the final wrap-up. We first stopped for sandwiches and gawked over a vast array of hot sauces. My favorite was "Salvation Sauce" which comes packaged with a tiny little (printed!) Bible. Available in three strengths - I didn't inquire if those were "venial, "mortal," and "you don't want to ask." On the way out, I dropped a dollar in the case of a young busker who had a sweet face, but still looked tired. It's a hard way to earn twenty dollars or so a day. We also saw San Antonio's version of punks, but I didn't stop to ask them to pose for a picture.
6. So the conference wrap-up is a movie followed by a gift raffle. Many of the gifts are donated by conference-goers or booksellers and nearly everyone leaves with something, even if it's something you don't really want (like a pair of "Team Jacob" flip-flops). The film was the 1981 cheese-fest Clash of the Titans and FryDaddy and I snarked our way through it. We fretted at first that other people would mind - but it really is a very bad movie and others were joining in. (In fact, two of our friends seated behind us said, "Next time, you've got to sit in front of us again! They should give you microphones!" Ahh, high praise indeed.)

So with light hearts, we said good-bye to friends we hadn't seen in far too long. And yes, we did snag a few raffle prizes. Tomorrow is a good bit of traveling, then it's back to the workaday world, but I know I'm returning with a lighter step and a sunnier outlook than I have had in many a week.

1 comment:

Eddie Teetree said...

Hi. Enjoyable read.
Great to know that there was a Genises before It met its Alamo at the hands of Phil Collins!
Hari Om Tat Sat