Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 4 - San Antonio - The Alamo and more

We arrived at the Alamo around 10am on Tuesday morning. The lilting breeze and visitors strolling through casually landscaped desert gardens, weaving in and out of 19th century adobe architecture, gave the place a sense of serenity. As the historian presented the history of the Alamo as the founding of Texas, the pride in his voice reflected the way a young father might talk about his first son. The crowd's attentive silence during his speech confirmed my impression of the Alamo's status as a shrine for Texans.

We were given some time to explore the Alamo on our own after the short tour. One of my professors was remarking on how shocked she was at how the Alamo's surroundings have changed since she was last there in 1984. It used to be all dirt, nothing but dirt and dust, and it gave the Alamo a very authentic feel. Today, cheap touristy shops selling all the same things line the street opposite the sacred fort. A hotel salesman sets up a stool on the sidewalk, luring in tourists as they make their way towards the Alamo. It's sad to see such contrast between the legacy of the venerable historic site on one side of the street and its commercialized identity sold on everything from shot glasses to boxers to teapots on the other.


Around noon we walked a few blocks down to Casa Rio, an authentic Mexican restaurant. After some chicken fajitas we broke up into small groups and headed out to explore the Riverwalk and talk to some locals. Upscale restaurants and hotels lined the Riverwalk on both sides; as two of the guys and I strolled by I noticed this fa├žade pictured at right. Two tattered flags--the American flag and the Texan flag--hung from the ceiling and tied up as a decorative touch.

Two weeks ago I wouldn't have thought twice about this, but we were just talking about flag desecration (its protocol and limits) last week before we left on the trip. I've kind of been on the lookout for flag situations throughout the first 4 days of the trip, and I've actually been surprised at how many times I see the flag being displayed in a less-than-respectful way. I'll make sure to cite them when I see them!

Regarding the picture at the top left....I just wanted to show something that I found interesting as I walked around the city....even though the Native Americans were there first, they really regard and play up the Spaniards as their founders. So that photo just shows some art we found in one of the beautiful Riverwalk hotels--paintings and sketches of their "forefathers."


And lastly, a candid shot of our home sweet home....our rockin' not-so-humble abode! This bus is great, and my bunk gets more comfortable every night!

I took this picture from the back of the bus, looking towards the front. The "thorax" of the bus is lined with bunks, six on each side. You can only see a corner of my bunk, in the very bottom left corner of this photo.







1 comments:

  1. "It used to be all dirt, nothing but dirt and dust, and it gave the Alamo a very authentic feel. Today, cheap touristy shops selling all the same things line the street opposite the sacred fort...It's sad to see such contrast between the legacy of the venerable historic site on one side of the street and its commercialized identity sold on everything from shot glasses to boxers to teapots on the other."

    Just keep in mind that such 'cheap, touristy shops' are there because capitalism is thriving. There's a demand for those products, however cheap they are!! SOMEONE is buying them, otherwise there would be no supply. It's capitalism. It's the market. It's a good thing; what makes this country great! Just think about all the people that probably make a living off tourism. They might not be able to provide for their families otherwise. So while such cheap trinkets may not be visually appealing, these 'tourist trap' shops serve a greater purpose. 'Buy local,' seems to be a popular catch phrase of late...what a good way to support the local community. Besides, what's the alternative? Have more government regulated sites with red tape strangling local business?

    Capitalism provides a foundation for the American Dream!!

    ReplyDelete

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