Flirting in El Paso

Looking out my hotel window at dawn towards Mexico

Looking out my hotel window at dawn towards Mexico

This title is more innocuous than it sounds. I flirt with everything – cats that I meet, old ladies, young men. It must be part of my personality or I have inherited my Dad’s charisma. When I worked in community mental health, I developed a knack of getting people to trust me quickly by gently focusing on them and asking pertinent questions. You can probably imagine that if you are a guy and met me at a bar then you would think your luck was in…and it certainly would be, having the pleasure of my company (so humble, too).

Amazing bank with a bell tower, right under my window

Amazing bank with a bell tower, right under my window

I met a fellow blogger, Lisa on one evening and that was a delightful experience – see this post Kerry in the City. On two consecutive nights, I chatted to a charming Silver Fox at the bar who was in El Paso on business (the other Hispanic Silver Fox (Senor Fox de Plata) was just interested in sex….) Gringo Silver Fox told me all about his wife but clearly enjoyed the ‘flirting’ enhanced with a Scottish accent. We left at the same time and took the elevator upstairs. As we got to his floor, I bid him goodnight and he awkwardly hugged me and then ran away! Is my sexuality so potent that he was afraid I would drag him back to my lair?? He took me by surprise and I had a small concern about meeting him on the third night in case I had to gently turn him down. Actually, I am really tactless so it wouldn’t be gentle 😆

Roof top bar Hotel Indigo

Roof top bar
Hotel Indigo

On the third night, I was chatting to a fascinating guy. He was the lighting guy for Penn and Teller (Non-Americans might like to click on the red link), who were starring in the local theater. I learned a secret…Teller does actually talk, all the time! As we were laughing and talking, Silver Fox came up and said hello to me. I greeted him with a warm smile but as soon as he realized I was chatting to a much younger guy, he made an excuse to make a call and disappeared completely. Awwww – it was like being at high school💋. Lighting guy then had to leave so I just chatted to the bar staff until a very attractive woman came up and sat next to me.

She made a comment about the awkwardness of sitting at a bar – I am never awkward since my blessed tongue won’t stop even when I want it to! By the next drink we were sharing cosmetic secrets, love lives – it was a ‘bromance’ for girls!!! (Some how ‘sismance’ doesn’t do it) She was very well preserved, a couple of years older than me and dressed beautifully. Then we started telling each other how amazing we looked (for our ages). Somehow it was even more fun flirting with a heterosexual woman because you knew she wasn’t just saying it just to get your knickers off! We have since emailed.

I teetered off to bed, relieved but a little sad that I didn’t have to turn down the nice Silver Fox. I wonder if any of the bar staff said, “She could talk the hind legs off a donkey” or whatever the Spanish equivalent is.

PS. I found two Spanish phrases that might apply to me –

• En boca cerrada no entran moscas
Flies don’t enter a closed mouth
Meaning – Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut

• Mucho hablar y poco decir juntos suelen ir
Talking lots and saying little usually go together
Meaning -Someone who talks too much, but actually doesn’t really say anything

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A tour of El Paso

tiffany-dome

Tiffany Dome

El Camino Real Hotel Downtown El Paso

El Camino Real Hotel
Downtown El Paso

Who would have thunk it? An exquisite original Tiffany dome over the bar of El Camino Real Hotel. I was awestruck. Since I was not driving, I booked a well recommended tour Border Sights Tours with tour guide, Rudy, at the wheel. He picked me up first and then a young guy who had just driven his unwilling (to return to base) military friend back to Fort Bliss from the Pacific North West. That is a hell of a drive. Rudy took us all over El Paso, more in future blogs, but this bit of gossip (below) tickled me.

Original Hilton Skyscraper El Paso

Original Hilton Skyscraper
El Paso

If you look at the top of the building you can see an additional smaller section on the roof. This is the penthouse suite where Elizabeth Taylor and her first husband Nicky Hilton spent their honeymoon. How cool is that?? The view from the top must be astonishing.

balcony-kennedy
hotel-cortez

Rudy told us that President John F Kennedy gave a speech from that balcony of the Hotel Cortez. I guess El Paso was the ‘happening’ place back in the day, eh? Wouldn’t it have been fun to see JFK or Elizabeth Taylor – wow? One of my favorite parts of the tour was when we visited a genuine Mexican bakery and could choose a cake or pastry. Rudy told us that they were less sweet than traditional Texan desserts because they used unrefined sugar. My churro was yummy!

Gussie's Bakery

Gussie’s Bakery

I loved this mural outside the bakery. More tales of our tour next week, including Fort Bliss.

How to read maps…in El Paso

Church of the Immaculate Conception, El Paso

Church of the Immaculate Conception

This is the Catholic Church I was looking for, however, if you look at a map upside down you end up at the other end of town… I traipsed across an Interstate, train-tracks and found myself in a pawn shop area. There was a beautiful Anglican church below – which I would have gone into, if it was open. Eventually, I did the sensible thing and went into the pawn shop and asked where the church was. Even with that, I had to go into the police station, closer to the Immaculate Conception to check where I was. Usually, I am a good navigator but I guess God was leading me on a different path.

'Not the Catholic Church' St Clement Anglican Church

‘Not the Catholic Church’
St Clement Anglican Church

Both churches were really beautiful but the sky around the Immaculate Conception church was breathtaking. It was a small church within the downtown area and there were some parishioners praying. Suddenly I was back 40 years because one of the ladies had a long scarf over her head. Back in the day, women couldn’t enter a Catholic church without a head covering. A scarf was sufficient, occasionally a Mantilla, but today I was wearing a $3 Fedora.

This is just the sort of church I love. Small, intimate, beautifully decorated by those who care for it.

stained-glass-el-paso

Station of the Cross Christ consoling the women

Station of the Cross
Christ consoling the women

St Anthony and stained glass

St Anthony and stained glass

One of the comments on my previous church post referred, with astonishment, that there could be intact stained glass windows all over Texas. I am astonished that anyone could break a stained glass church window but perhaps that’s my naivety. My rose tinted illusions about the USA are getting shattered daily. Doesn’t everyone have friends of different ethnicity, religion and color? What’s wrong with the world?

Catholic Masons.

Catholic Masons.

I think I could get smitten for that… For those who don’t know, the Knights of Columbus are not dissimilar to the Masons. At one time Catholics could not join the Masons, so they had their own society. I don’t approve of Masons, Knights or Sororities but I was one of the Drama Group Geeks who always felt on the outside. I was so shocked when I discovered my paternal great grandparents were both Masons. WHAT! I didn’t even know they were Protestant… 👿

Masonic Sphinx

Masonic Sphinx

I loved this Sphinx in front of the Masonic Hall – just trying to balance things. 😇

El Segundo Barrio, El Paso

Sombreros!

Sombreros!

I was so excited after I saw my room, that I immediately changed into one of my shorts outfits. I think they are glamorous and chic; perhaps a little young… Anyway, I particularly wanted to visit the area close to the border with Mexican shops. At one time you would just have crossed the border. An attractive young lady was leaving the hotel at the same time and I asked her if she could tell me how to get there. Not only did she take me there by foot but gave me her telephone number in case I wanted to cross the border with her. Then she emailed me during my visit. This was typical of the friendliness of the residents and she represented both El Paso and her ancestors who were Syrian. A Syrian community had settled there many generations ago. I just have to make a small point – American Arabs have been here for hundreds of years.

Fancy dress shop for weddings and events.

Fancy dress shop for weddings and events.

Mexico or Texas?

Mexico or Texas?

We said goodbye and as you can see from the header photograph, I quickly felt I was in Mexico even though it was Texas. When the violence and cartels came to Cuidad Juarez, many of the residents sought refuge in El Paso and set up similar shops. I had arrived after a cold snap and most people were wearing trousers or leggings. Not only did I stand out with bright blonde hair but I was wearing less than everyone else. Then I noticed a Hispanic Ranchero walking alongside me, crossing at each traffic light. He was about my age, well dressed with white hair and a Stetson. When we stopped at the lights he would very deliberately look me up and down as though I were a prime heifer (at my age, I would made into cat food).

I was getting anxious about whether I was dressed appropriately when he finally went ahead of me but just waited… As I passed him, he whispered something to me in Spanish. It was too low for me to make out with my bad Spanish but I suspect it was –

• An invitation to join him somewhere for love, sweet love
• An inquiry as to how much I charged for the hour
• Or a simple compliment

I dashed off in horror (that my Nana was right about Women who wear outfits so skimpy you ‘can see their breakfast’) and immediately shopped for an appropriate outfit to buy. There was a real mix of Hoochie Mama style and basic stuff. Eventually I choose a long tunic and some leggings and was brave enough to ask the shopkeeper, a lady with ample assets on show, if I was dressed appropriately. She poo-pooed my concerns and said that it was just the cold weather front. Perhaps she wasn’t the right person to ask? Eventually I got the balance right, modest for church and barrio; cougar style at the hotel.

There are murals all over downtown El Segundo Barrio. This is Pancho Villa.

There are murals all over downtown El Segundo Barrio. This is Pancho Villa.

This a link to the history of El Segundo Barrio (The Second Ward)

Despite my encounter, I felt no fear in the shops or the area which was, in parts, a little down at heel. Downtown is so small that you quickly go from Wells Fargo headquarters (hiss, boo), fancy hotels and restaurants to the Barrio. I eventually bought a $3 fedora because the sun was hot on my head. The first shopkeeper went to great lengths to send me to another shop because he didn’t have what I wanted. When I arrived at said shop, I noticed that not everything was new (to me). I am not really very fussy but I would like my hat to be brand new – fortunately, they were. Some of the other shops also had a mix of new and secondhand clothes. Wonderfully fascinating unless you have airs and graces like my Teddy who turned his nose up at the thrift shop shirt I got him (dry-cleaned and in perfect condition). He will wear it (by royal thrift decree)!!

anson-ii-flowers
This an example of a fancy new restaurant with a beautiful flower display, just 2 minutes from the Mexican shops. Below is the sidewalk clock.
sidewalk-clocksidewalk-sign

More adventures to come…

El Paso, Texas

View over El Paso towards the border with Mexico

View over El Paso towards the border with Mexico

After being so sick this year, I was desperate to take a little late summer trip to a quiet town. Houston and surrounds has been blisteringly hot this year, so I wanted to go somewhere cooler but not cold. I swear I have lizard DNA; bask in the heat, hibernate into a death like state in the cold. There were still enough United Airlines points to go somewhere domestically so I decided to head to El Paso.

Y’alls know how big Texas is but El Paso is so far away from Houston (675 miles) that it is in another time zone. As I approached the city, I looked out in fascination at the mountains and river valley wondering whether I was looking at Mexico, New Mexico or El Paso, Texas. It was so beautiful – bright sunshine, arid landscape and mountains. My fellow passenger and I were astonished at how quiet the roads were, even in the middle of the city. Bliss…

My friend Lisa lives in El Paso. This is her blog title with a red link ‘Life of an El Paso Woman’ . I can’t remember when we connected but she kindly asked me if I would participate in her Saturday interview after my book, ‘Letters from Cairo’ was published on Kindle. It is so strange how connected we can become with fellow bloggers, invested not just in their opinions but the lives that they choose to share with us. I am happy to share far too much and then am embarrassed when a local friend reads my personal thoughts – go figure!

I got an UBER at the airport and lickety-split, I was at my new hotel. The Hotel Indigo is in a refurbished building – link to the El Paso Times article on the hotel.  It was built in 1963 and refurbished at various times. Teddy has Intercontinental points so I was given a top floor room on the 12th floor (squeaking in delight). I was awestruck as I gazed out the floor to ceiling windows with a view of Texas and Mexico. It was a hip and groovy room; the architects did a great job. All the little touches added up to a fantastic whole.

Each room was adorned with succulent plants

Each room was adorned with succulent plants

Curiously, on my first evening, I ate at the funky 5th floor roof-top bar where I met two architects. (I know that doesn’t make sense – the building was angled and some of the rooms had a view of the 5th floor bar). It was alongside the cute little pool which was lit up in different colors as darkness fell. The bar was underneath a roof but open on two sides, letting a cool north Texas breeze in. Temperatures were comfortable for me – a dry 95 degrees by midday.

Hotel Indigo rooftop pool

Hotel Indigo rooftop pool

The wonderful Electricity sign glowed with an array of colors at night, as did the pool.  Every little detail was perfect from the pink chairs, to the copper wall detail with wood and glass.

Looking into the bar from rooftop

Looking into the bar from rooftop

Back to the architects; they had the privilege to be working on one of the many older buildings that are being refurbished. Downtown seemed to be reviving but you could see that El Paso was once a very rich city. It is directly across the Rio Grande River from Cuidad Juarez in Mexico. This was once an open, busy crossing until the cartels made Juarez one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. There is a highly guarded fence between countries with a very high presence of border control. El Paso is home to the biggest military base in Texas, Fort Bliss, so there are many reasons to keep El Paso as safe as possible. For many years it was the safest city of its size and, in general, our Texan border towns are safer – see this article in the Texas Tribune

Highly guarded fence between El Paso and Juarez

Highly guarded fence between El Paso and Juarez

One look at El Paso and I was ready to move there. More posts to follow.

Kerry in the City!

Before my sad week, I was traveling again and went to the wonderful city of El Paso, Texas. I met up with Lisa, a friend and fellow blogger, and it was so much fun! Lisa looks lovely in our selfie but I look like I was sniffing some cocaine (just Prosecco). 😄 I have a couple more posts from Salt Lake City and then we are off to El Paso, an amazing place. BTW, Lisa was so sweet, kind and generous. It was such a pleasure to meet in person.

Life of an El Paso Woman

Hi everyone! Happy Saturday! I hope your weekend is off to a great start! One of the best parts of blogging is meeting fellow bloggers, especially in person! I won’t lie, I also enjoy the free stuff and the pocket change that allows me to indulge at times. This past Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting fellow blogger and friend Kerry Duncan from Postcards from Kerry. Please check out/follow her blog if you aren’t already. Kerry blogs about her many travels around the U.S. and worldwide. She recently wrote the Kindle book, “Letters from Cairo.” The book is available for $4.49 on Amazon.com “Letters from Cairo” is about Kerry’s experience living in Egypt a few years ago. In case you missed it, you can check out my Saturday Evening Interview with Kerry here.

Kerry was staying at the beautiful Hotel Indigo in downtown El Paso for a few days…

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