Monthly Archives: February 2013

From Austin, Texas to Tucson, Arizona

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I thought about including this post in my Journey Through Latin America, but after spending some time in Texas I realized it really is not very Latino.  They have alot of Latinos there , and some great Tex-Mex food, but it really is a place of its own.  After a week with my parents in Victoria, Texas I scooted up to Reedville to stay over with my cousin Luke and his beautiful wife and darling daughter.  I took full advantage of the huge crop of pecans they had all over their yard before heading out towards Austin.  As I left Reedville I spotted this Longhorn grazing nearby.

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Austin, Texas has grown phenomenally since I lived there in the 80’s and early 90’s.  They seem to have raised a skyscraper for each of the 17 years since I left.  It is a fabulous place, with posh restaurants and a funky neo-retro look to all the latest architecture.   They have a great statue of my old buddy Stevie Ray on the shores of Ladybird Lake.

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Despite the urgings of my friends to stay in Austin and re-make my life there, I felt the Sonoran Desert calling me.  I had a long drive from Austin to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico where I stayed with my cousin Jeff.  I enjoyed meeting his kids and viewing his leatherworking shop, but soon I was back on the road to Arizona.  I stopped at my favorite rest area near Texas Canyon, AZ  where the landscape is otherworldly.

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By mid-afternoon I was in Tucson, and I breathed deep the air of the Sonoran Desert.   Stepping out of my car into the yard of my friend Ann Marie, the smell of creosote bush and other subtle fragrances wafted welcomely through my nostrils.  The next day I couldn’t wait to drive a little further west towards the Coyote Wilderness Area where I hope to purchase some land and begin building a Sustainable Desert Community.  This is my latest dream, and I encourage you to follow this new blog to see how it progresses.

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Journey Through Latin America (part 17)

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After a long day on the bus from Oaxaca, I finally arrived at the Hostal Santo Domingo in Puebla, Mexico.  It was chilly here, not only for the season, but also because of the high elevation.  Traffic was heavy, and I did not enjoy the high level of air pollution, but the hostel was nice, the showers were hot, and they provided two warm blankets as well as clean sheets.

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I walked around downtown Puebla a few hours looking for a white jacket or “ropa tipica” but had no luck.  There were several shops selling interesting rustic furniture and antiques.  I searched for several blocks, asking people along the way, for “un buen pozole” which I finally found.  Pozole is a thick spicy soup with hominy corn, meat and cheese and lettuce.  It was just what I needed.

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The hostal provided free internet access, and I spent a long while investigating the different possible routes to get back to Texas.  I had planned on stopping in one more city in Mexico to break up the trip, but either the buses did not arrive there from Puebla, or the expense was prohibitive.  I finally decided to just take an economical 18 hour trip straight to Reynosa on the Texan border.

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This is a shot of the river in Tuxpan, on the gulf coast of Mexico, which is where our bus was after travelling six hours from Puebla through Pachuca and Poza Rica.  We went on to Tampico, where everyone had to get off the bus for twenty minutes while they cleaned up and refueled.  When we took off I noticed the lady who had been sitting next to me was not there.  Fifteen minutes later she got on at a traffic light–she had missed the bus and had to take a taxi to catch up with us.

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By 6:30 AM we had reached Reynosa, and I had a weak club sandwich before boarding a $4 bus to McAllen, Texas.  It took almost 45 minutes to cross the intrenational bridge and get through US immigration, but everything went smoothly.  In McAllen I got straight on a bus to Victoria, with stops in Falfurrias and Corpus Christi along the way.  The weather was balmy, and apparently the winter was mild enough to keep the papaya tree in my parent’s backyard alive.

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The Chick

The Chick

This is the first painting I made in what I coined the Matrix Pointelist style. It is from a newsprint photo of a local singer named Anneke Speller, but the guys around the house always referred to it as “the chick.”


Remake of Johnny Nash Classic


Journey Through Latin America (Part 16)

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It was hot and sweaty in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, where I had to take one of these tricycle taxis from the bus station to the Mexican border.  It was much cheaper to walk across the bridge then to pay $4 to be tricycled across.  Guatemalan and Mexican immigration was smooth enough, although a slow and sweaty process.  From there I took a shuttle to Tapachula, where I had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to Arriaga.  It gave me time to relax and have some good Mexican tacos.  It seems to me that Mexican tortillas are the best.

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I enjoyed a night and a day in Arriaga, Mexico where I had stayed before, at the Hotel Chiapas, although they had raised their rates somewhat since I was here in October.  I had more great Mexican street tacos, then in the morning an incredible breakfast buffet for $4 that set me up through lunch.  I had to wait all day and into the night for my bus to leave for Oaxaca at 9PM.  It was nice to be in a real bus station rather than just a spot on the sidewalk.

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I slept on the bus all night and arrived in Oaxaca around 5AM, so the Hostel Paulina, where I had stayed in October, only charged me for the following night.  Breakfast was included, and the staff recognized me and requested a musical performance.  I gave them a Promo CD of Luis Sabor and the next morning they were playing it for the breakfast service.

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I really like Oaxaca, Mexico.  It is one of the few large state capital cities that still retain a relaxed atmosphere, despite being very busy and offering a great deal of opportunities for shopping and entertainment.  It is similar to Leon, Nicaragua in this regard.  I enjoyed visiting a large mercado, where I tried on a sombrero, since I had accidentally left my leather hat on a bus in Escuintla.

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I also tried a few of these “chapulines”: chili-fried crickets, at the insistence of my friend Porfirio, whom I had met back in October when I was busking in the Plaza.  Porfirio and I talked a great deal and he had an interesting story to tell.  Having grown up on the streets, he had just spent his first entire year dependence-free, after being addicted to heroin for six years.  It was inspiring to hear how he had pulled himself out of the gutter, literally, with the help of God, to escape the living hell he had endured.  He was incredibly optimistic, and I have felt compelled to pray for him, as his trials certainly cannot be over.

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After just two days in Oaxaca, I was ready to board another bus for a long trip to Puebla.  The bus stations were starting to resemble airports now, and the buses were more comfortable, including bathrooms and movies, although much more expensive than in other countries.

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