I am so excited to return to Mexico City, my current home. But I had a great time in Texas! We went to Houston mainly for business reasons. My boyfriend spent months preparing for a big job fair hiring English speaking teachers that want to move to Latin America. I shamelessly joined the trip in order to get some new sights in my system. I had also been searching for the right time to visit my friend who lives in the suburbs.
Houston offered a beautiful skyline, and very delicious food. While my boyfriend worked his time away for 3 days, I found myself relaxing and unplugging regularly (thought I still did a bit of online work in the mornings).
We stayed at the Club Quarters hotel in downtown, a perfect place for professionals. Their lobby is a workspace ideal for meetings and online work like writing. I arrived and immediately sat down on a couch by the coffee machine, planning all my online English classes for the next few days. The ambiance was inviting and productivity inducing. The hotel has a wonderful gym, which I definitely spent a couple of hours at daily. The staff were friendly, and our suite was pristine. It was nice to be walking distance from Main Street, which is lined up with bars and restaurants you’ll want to explore at night. A few locals expressed how Houston has changed in the last few years. A younger population in the medical industry is moving in, and choosing to live downtown, which is becoming more hipster.
The highlight of my trip was, of course, meeting up with my friend after a couple of years without seeing each other. The main thing we did was eat, eat, and eat. The food scene is a main attraction in Houston. We had Texas barbecue, crepes, and Vietnamese food. I ate so much I began to miss the feeling of being hungry. I have been eating a mostly plant-based diet, but I decided to bend the rules in order to have a more culturally inclusive experience of Texas. Eating Texas barbecue had to be part of the itinerary.
We went to lunch at The Pit Room, and I was shocked to see the line went all the way out into the street. Every time the door opened, you could get a whiff of that barbecue smell that made me very excited. I had some pork ribs, coleslaw, and spicy corn with white bread on top. Heck, I don’t even eat white bread, but I devoured that tray of food like there was no tomorrow. It would be very hard to avoid meat if I lived in Texas. The Pit Room was packed with people of all ages. While it is not right downtown where it might be more convenient for tourists, I do recommend you take a very easy detour to enjoy its Texas barbecue.
Houston was a city of contrast. We spent some time in the Rice neighborhood where I could not help but feel wealthy myself. Everything looked pristine and perfect. We had lavender flavored coffee and chocolate chip cookies at Milk and Cookies. The waiter’s teeth were as white as the plates and counters. Families brought their children in stylish clothes, and strollers looked like luxury rides. The houses in the area were stunning to the point where it was almost too perfect. Going to Rice, and the walking to the Greyhound bus station the following day showed me the strongest of contrasts.
I have not been in America in 6 months, but I have also not lived here in 3 ½ years. I was excited by the wealth shown in beautiful and big homes, free coffee 24 hours in our hotel, and being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet! But there was also poverty. As we walked to the bus station on Sunday morning, the number of homeless people roaming the streets was larger than the number of not homeless people, whatever we are called. I felt privileged in a way I never have. It was hard to see so much wealth around us, and not enough of it being used to help and support those who need it most. The only way I could bring myself to continue enjoying this trip was by showing deeper gratitude that this is my life.
Houston surprised me. Locals often speak of Houston as a city not meant for tourism. In many ways, I see what they mean. If I compare it to other American and European cities, I would say they are right. Still, I would go again. Exploring new places does not have to be about tourist attractions. It would be wonderful to do a volunteering trip to Houston related to homeless outreach. Many people go overseas to help the poor. You see young Americans traveling to places like Africa and Central America to build houses and schools. That is wonderful, and, keep doing that! But let’s also do our research and see how we can make a difference from where we are. America has so much poverty as well. If you are into volunteering in exotic destinations, try also looking into ways to volunteer at home. After all, it is about humans helping humans.
Once my boyfriend and I arrived at the Greyhound station, we put behind the business mindset and put on our party hats. It was a $40 and 3 hour ride to Austin from Houston. The sky was clear blue, and I was eager to see my brother. Arriving in Austin was momentous for Bradley and I. Not only was Bradley meeting my brother and his husband, but we were also meeting their baby, Julian. As soon as we arrived, we were welcomed by their neighbors, too, as they were having a birthday party. From the beginning, Austin was refreshing, welcoming, inclusive, and happy… Stay tuned as I tell the tale of our Austin trip, and how we cannot wait to travel back to the U.S. for more adventures like this one.
Happy Travels Ya’ll!