Icemaggedon cometh to Dallas

This week was interesting for me weather wise here in Dallas.

We returned from Buenos Aires on Tuesday, where it was warm and sunny (it’s the beginning of summer.) It took us a day to acclimate to a Dallas, although it was mild. Wednesday was warm (27 C – 80 F) and sunny, a gorgeous day. However, the weathermen warned us about ice storms and freezing temps for the following days. Thursday was bleak: overcast, windy and cold, about 4 C (39 F). I had a tennis match which, to my chagrin, was not cancelled. To add insult to injury, I discovered I had a flat tire as I was backing out of the garage (Hubby came to the rescue.) And I lost (but it was good match, at least I enjoyed playing very much.)

This is what I woke up to on Friday
This is what I woke up to on Friday

On Thursday afternoon, we had sleet showers. Never a good sign. It rained the rest of the day and overnight. On Friday, I woke up to a white winterscape. What I thought was rain was in fact ice. We had an ice storm, the much anticipated “Icemaggedon.”

Stalactites hung from our front porch awning, street lamps, cars, tree branches. Plants, trees, and flowers were covered in a layer of ice. I felt sorry for the roses on my front patch of garden. Some neighbourhood kids went out on an adventure around the block and one of them started to trample on frozen plants for fun. My plants. I saw her, knocked on the window and shook my finger at her. She promptly left.

Frozen stiff Pampas grass
Frozen stiff Pampas grass

Today is the second day of Icemaggedon and temps are way below freezing. Most people I know are staying inside -and getting bored to tears. Unlike them, we went out to the mall. Driving on icy streets can be tricky but, luckily, my British husband has experience and drove us to the mall and back in one piece.

My street
My street

This is different from what I’m used to. Winters in Buenos Aires don’t get this cold. It snowed twice, as far as I know, in 1918 and 2007 (incidentally, my maternal grandfather witnessed both occasions) and we get “olas polares,” cold snaps from the South Pole but it hardly ever gets below zero. Weather in Texas is so unpredictable and so variable that I’m sure we’ll be wearing sunglasses and T-shirts in a few days.

I made this snowlady in my parents' backyard in July 2007. I named her Amalia.
I made this snowlady in my parents’ backyard in July 2007. I named her Amalia.

Actually, this is the second ice storm I’ve seen in Dallas. the first one was in February 2010, just in time for the XLV  Superbowl in the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington. Perfect timing, eh.

A neighbour's gas meter
A neighbour’s gas meter

Encounter of the blogger kind

Ever since I started blogging and being active on social media, I’ve met some wonderful people. With most, it’s a virtual friendship: I read and comment on their blog posts, they do the same with mine, we talk via Twitter and Facebook.

A while ago I was on Facebook when I saw that Tita Buds had posted a photo from Dallas. Wait a minute! She lives in the Philippines, is she in Dallas now!? Indeed. She was visiting one of her sisters, who happens to live not fifteen minutes away from my house. Small world, eh?

It was meant to be because I arrived in Dallas the day before and we were both leaving the city the day after! (Tita Buds was still travelling at the time of writing)

We arranged to meet at my local Starbucks. We had a good chat about travel and ourselves. Tita Buds is a lovely woman with a great heart and very open minded. We talked about the places we visited, our families and our cultures. Although we’re from hugely different countries, the Philippines and Argentina, we found some shared values.

Tita said she used my blog to find places to visit in Dallas, some that even her sister hadn’t been to. Glad you found this useful!

It was a rare opportunity to meet in the real world someone I already knew from the virtual world. Talk about worlds colliding!

Tita Buds and I at my local Starbucks in Plano TX.
Tita Buds and I at my local Starbucks in Plano TX.

Head on to Tita Buds blog and have a look. She’ll open the doors to a new world.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

I lived in the same city for the first 32 years of my life. Everything and everybody were familiar to me, we spoke the same language, had more or less the same traditions, ate more or less the same food. Although I visited other countries -my first international trip was at the age of 6-, I never felt foreign, probably because I didn’t have time to immerse myself in the local culture deeply enough to feel different.

I moved to Texas in 2005. Talk about a life-changing experience! That’s when “being foreign” was brought home to me: different language, customs, social mores, traditions and the list goes on. Food is part of what makes you feel at home. Or not. I had a hard time trying to eat this beer can chicken, a local Texan delicacy. The can protruding from the chicken’s rear really put me off.

Not sure I want to eat this. Would you?

Mesquite Pro Rodeo

As soon as I got out of the car at the Resistol Arena in Mesquite (Texas), I was assaulted by the pungent smell of horse urine stewing in the heat. For some reason I thought that was an indication of good things to come.

We bought our tickets and walked around the arena to kill time until the start of the rodeo. There was a merry-go-round with real ponies, a couple of food stands, and a stand where you could have your fingerprints taken (never figured out what for), a cowboy boot and hat stand and a barbeque restaurant. At one end there was a pen holding a few bored steers.

Everybody wears a hat
Everybody wears a hat

Almost everyone was wearing cowboy boots or hats or both. I tried to blend in and put on my beloved boots. I hope I succeeded.

The announcer asks everyone to stand up and bow their heads. I expected to hear the Star Spangled Banner but he started praying. For the members of the military fighting for their country, for those back at home and for the cowboys who were going to compete later. “Ave, Caesar, morituri te salutant1. After the prayer the lights went out and a singer finally sang the national anthem. An amazon trotted into the arena bearing the flag. All very dramatic and patriotic.

By then I was ready for some action and I wasn’t disappointed. The first event was the bareback riding, in which, according to my program, “the cowboy attempts to stay aboard a high jumping horse for an eight second ride with only a leather circingle (surcingle?) around the horse with a built in handhold.” It was mesmerizing to watch.

Bareback riding looks painful
Bareback riding looks painful

The bareback riding was followed by the steer wrestling. Those bored steers were roused from their stupor into the arena, where a highly skilled cowboy riding alongside him dismounts and flips the steer as quickly as possible. This reminded me of a scene from an old film in which a gladiator breaks the neck of a bull.

Two more events involved bovines and ropes, the tie down roping (“allows the calf a head start as the cowboy follows closely and tries to rope and tie the calves three legs in the fastest time possible”, quoted from my program too) and the team roping. Every cowboy showed remarkable skill and great instinctive communication with his horse. Man and beast joined in an act of communion.

Team roping
Team roping

The saddle bronc riding was the second most exciting event of the night. Each cowboy tried to ride a bucking horse for eight seconds and in order to get the most points he had to do it while keeping his toes turned outward. It must have seemed like eight hours, what with all those spins and jolts and bucking. No one got seriously hurt tonight and no one got trampled, although it looked like some cowboys are going to wake up to a bruised body and joint pain.  The star of the night, the event I was looking forward to was the bull riding. I could feel the sheer, unbounded physical strength of those bulls. It was scary and thrilling.

That’s going to leave a mark

1 Hail, Emperor (Caesar), those who are about to die salute you.

Mesquite Arena 
1818 Rodeo Dr.,  Mesquite,  Texas
Mesquite ProRodeo Series
Every Friday & Saturday
June 1 – August 25 at 7:30 pm



I’m back in Buenos Aires!

I’m back in my hometown for a month long visit. I couldn’t be more excited!

It’s been great so far catching up with some friends (still more catching up to do) and seeing my family. My nieces and nephews have grown so much since the last time I saw them! My oldest niece, who’s 15, is taller than I am (and I’m 5′ 8″). And I have to get used to playing tennis on clay courts again – the process has been fun so far.

On the food front, I’ve already eaten some of my favourite food and snacks, like cochinillo (suckling pig – oh man!), tutuca (a corn-based snack), asado, alfajores and milanesas (like schnitzels but made with veal or similar to chicken fried steak if you’re from the US)

The social aspect aside, I’m planning a few visits to museums and parts of the city that I will write about here.

I hope you’ll enjoy my city as much as I do!