Holy Shrimp Boats!

Do you see the name of the boat? It is named after our current Roman Catholic Pope, Francis II – the first Pope to hail from the Americas. Argentina, to be precise. This is the harbor at a magical little fishing port, Palacios about halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas. The majority of the population is Hispanic, some white and minority of Vietnamese who migrated to Palacios for the shrimping. The names of the boats reflected their heritage.

If you zoom in on this boat coming into harbor, you will see that the owner is Vietnamese. He was waving at us very enthusiastically as we snapped images of him. It was the end of a very long shift for him and hopefully a good catch. Palacios is not a tourist trap so perhaps he was intrigued by the Paparazzi. Our respective grandparents were farmers and fishermen, so we are drawn to working harbors and the countryside.

Why does he always walk into my shots???

We stopped at the pretty main drag to get a lovely cup of coffee. I have a theory about why coffee tastes so much better in remote places. The water is better and the milk fresher, perhaps? Some of the cafes we stopped at have a Mission connection to a small coffee farm in Latin America. Coffee that’s good for your soul. In the school vacations I used to see groups of Texan youth going to Missions in remote places of central America – better than playing video games all summer.

The boat’s names were an intriguing mix of Texican, Spanish and Vietnamese. Palacios has been home to the indigenous Karanwaka natives, then the Spanish conquistadors, French and finally the other Europeans. It is satisfying to see that Vietnamese refugees found a new community in the most unlikely of places.

Then I spotted this random dude that I fancied… I am so proud of my Teddy for losing all his excess weight and getting healthy. He is easy on the eyes too. 💗

The Aftermath…

football

You probably think I am writing about the election but I am referring to the Super Bowl Finale in Houston, Texas. I work for a variety of companies who organize events here and occasionally am contracted to meet and greet VIPs at the airport. Well this year there was so much work for everyone and from all accounts visitors loved the welcome they received in Houston.

It is a friendly, if ugly as a bug, city and the weather was damn near perfect. The Bostonians must have thought they were in Mexico! One day I worked a 13 hour shift in every terminal (there are 5) and on the drive home, couldn’t remember which foot worked the brake or accelerator. Muscle memory kicked in… There were so many funny moments. Volunteering is very popular in Houston and everyone was represented by ethnicity, disability, age and gender. After 13 hours of little girls cheer-leading at the terminals, I and my colleagues had nightmares about H O U S T O N!!! The older volunteers were just as enthusiastic. I was meeting a VIP coming from Mexico and the volunteers had lined up to greet them, shouting welcome and giving out free maps (with discounts). Watching the Mexican flight, I was curious about the reaction – head down, no thank you – until I realized that they probably thought they were timeshare vendors! As we all know, football is really soccer or ‘futbol’… The American version is based on a very rough Irish game. Oh, I can hear the boos over the internet!

At another terminal, I nearly got a new husband. A handsome silver fox came in with a Stetson, jeans and a BIG belt buckle. I couldn’t resist asking him, “Are you a genuine cowboy?” “Why, yes ma’am, I am”, he responded while doffing his Stetson. We started talking (he was not my VIP) and I found out that he had a farm in East Texas. “Oh”, I said excitedly, “Do you have Brahmins or Longhorns?” By then he had caught the Scottish accent and you could see that I had become his ideal woman. Blonde, with an accent and loves cattle. Given the argument I had with Teddy this last week, I should have taken his card. I am just jesting – 13 hour shifts make one testy…

Like every major city, immigrants come and join in whatever business their countrymen have gone into. After the WWII in Scotland, many Polish people came and set up as cobblers. Jews became tailors and Italians opened cafes. In Houston, Iranian and Iraqi immigrants often become limo drivers. They had all been chatting with me over the days and one Iraqi driver said hello. His cheeky friend asked why I hadn’t said hello to him, so I responded, “Salam Alaikum”. He then accused me of profiling him and we all fell about laughing. It was a light moment in an otherwise somber week at airports. This week I saw some Patriot fans heading home and asked them if they had enjoyed their visit. Their eyes lit up and they said, “Houston is AWESOME!” I laughed, bid them farewell and thought, ‘so you got laid, too’.

From blush to pink to burgundy

Blush lilies

Blush lilies

We are still at Mercer Arboretum in Houston and every year I wonder who decides on the amazing color palettes. Despite the heavy flooding, (and having to replant) the main theme was magenta and yellow with lots of white.

Hot pink azalea

Hot pink azalea

As you can imagine, every type of family celebration is filmed here. The most recent one is very pregnant ladies proudly showing their bump. I bet they don’t bother for the second baby! When I got married, people like Princess Diana, still wore maternity outfits that universally looked awful. I quite like the trend of showing it off but feel sorry for the poor mothers who just look swollen and miserable with zits all over their face. Not everyone looks like Chrissie Teigen when in bloom…

The celebration I love most is the Quinceneara, which is a fiesta for a fifteen year old girl. They all wear fantastical Princess dresses in hues that only a 15 year old Latino girl could get away with. I can tell that some of the families are from central America and how proud they must be that they can send their relatives photographs from this wonderful new place. Chances are that they live in a run-down apartment but their children might be doctors or lawyers.

Burgundy Coleanthus

Burgundy Coleanthus