My 7 Links Project: older blog posts given a new lease of life

I was nominated by Ruth from Tanama Tales to participate in the “My 7 Links” project. I’ll be honest and say that I’d never heard of that project until Ruth included me in her list, but upon reading her post I got excited to participate. It all began when the folks at TripBase set the ball rolling and created a wonderful chain reaction of travel-related posts.

The rules state that one blogger is nominated to take part, then he or she publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog  and nominates up to five other bloggers.

MOST BEAUTIFUL POST

A photo essay of the Dallas Arboretum in the autumn. The colours are stunning and the atmosphere was magical (even if I say so myself).


MOST POPULAR POST

In terms of page views, this post on fun facts about Argentina seems to be the most popular.

MOST CONTROVERSIAL POST

I’m not sure this post can be called controversial but it did elicit a lot of responses. I’d like to thank everyone for sharing their experiences and thoughts. You’re From Where!? is about how some people’s prejudices affected their perception of my ethnicity and nationality.

MOST HELPFUL POST

I’d like to think that all my travel tips are helpful but since I have to choose one, I’d say that this one about the seaside resort of Mar del Plata, Argentina, provided some useful information for visitors.

Fishermen's wharf

 A POST WHOSE SUCCESS SURPRISED YOU

A while ago, some fellow bloggers and I took part in a group post about weddings in different countries. I was surprised to see that my Argentinean wedding aroused so much interest!

A POST YOU FEEL DIDN’T GET THE ATTENTION IT DESERVED

I really thought that this post on travel tips about Buenos Aires would be more popular than it was. Oh well.



THE POST THAT YOU ARE THE MOST PROUD OF

I’m proud of all my posts but this one about a Texas road trip feels extra special because the countryside reminded me of my home country.

And here are my nominees

Katie from Seashells and Sunflowers

Aledys from From Argentina to the Netherlands for Love

Jenna from Just Doing It

Anu from A Wandering Mind

Only in Paris, Texas

We searched high and low for the elusive Eiffel Tower. We drove around Paris for a good while, navigating unknown streets, scanning the horizon, trying to follow the GPS directions. At long last we saw it in all its 65 foot high glory.

And a red cowboy hat on top.

Welcome to Paris, Texas, the home of the second tallest Eiffel Tower in the world. Or it used to be, as the tower in Paris, Tennessee, is 70 feet high and the Las Vegas reproduction is 540 feet high. Although it proves that not everything is bigger in Texas, it is a display of local creativity and pride.

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas

I’ve said this before, but I’m strangely drawn to old cemeteries. The historic Evergreen cemetery had a special appeal: a statue of Christ wearing cowboy boots. It marks the grave of a Mr. Willett Babcock, who died in 1881. I read somewhere that this statue caused some controversy at the time. I think it represents what Mr. Babcock believed in, but since I’ve never met him, I can’t say for sure.

Statue of Christ wearing cowboy boots

After rummaging in an antiques shop (I did, Sean waited outside) and strolling around the main square, I wanted to go back to the Old Courthouse to see something that had caught my attention earlier.

It was a monument to the Confederate Army. Each side honours someone different: the heroes fallen during the Civil War (1861-5), the women of the South who supported their men, the sons of Texas who fell in battle and, I think, the entire Civil War as the inscriptions reads “From Ft. Sumpter to Appomattox”, the battles which marked the beginning and the end of the war. There are four busts, one of which is General Lee.

Confederate monument

Politics aside, I found the very existence of this monument very interesting. It speaks volumes of who the Texans are and what they believe in. In my opinion, it is not so much about secession now but about asserting their identity and sending a clear message: this is us, we fought, we lost but we are proud and we don’t forget. As far as I can see, this sentiment is very much alive in smaller towns than in big cities.

Road trip to the heart of Texas part II – the heartland

It took us less than six hours to reach Buda, a town south of Austin. Not bad, considering the driving conditions for the first half of the way. We checked into the hotel and drove to Lockhart for a barbeque dinner with our friends.

We woke up to a gloriously sunny morning and hit the road after breakfast. Our plan was to get to Lexington as early as possible to attend a cattle auction and eat lunch. We’d heard of this barbeque place called Snow’s and decided that life was not worth living if we didn’t try their allegedly out-of-this-world barbeque. It was all that and more.

Lexington is such a tiny town that if you so much as sneeze while driving, chances are you’ll miss it. This is the quintessential rural town: rusty silos, a livestock exchange, wide empty streets, easy chairs on the porch, haystacks, barns, and lots of peace and quiet interrupted by the odd bellow or squawk.

Quiet streets

Unfortunately, the cattle auction was cancelled due to inclement weather. I was disappointed because I really wanted to see it, I wanted to touch and see the heart and soul of the Texan heartland.

I walked around the livestock exchange building to try to catch a glimpse of the few heads of cattle I could hear but not see. A very polite employee asked me if I needed help and gave me a strange look when I said I just wanted to have a look and could I take photos too? “Feel free to walk around.” So I did.

I climbed up a ladder to a sort of metal gangway from which one can see the cattle milling around in the pens. There were a dozen cows, calves, and a couple of goats. They all stopped doing whatever it was they were doing to stare at me in absolute silence. It was eerie. So I waved and said “¡Hola, chicas!”

Hello, girls!

The rural smells and sounds reminded me of home. Of traversing the grassy vast pampas sprinkled with brown dots that transformed into cows and horses as the car advanced. Of once thriving small towns whose fortune declined when the railway stopped running. Of abandoned barns and tiny cemeteries at the side of the road that can tell the history of the place. Pickup trucks, tractors, seeders, cattle floats, old clunkers lumbering along. I could have been anywhere in the Argentinean pampas. But I was in the heart of Texas.

In a strange sort of way, I felt at home.

Grazing in the plains

Road trip to the heart of Texas -Part I: A hairy drive to Austin

Maybe the Mayans and Nostradamus are right. Maybe the end of the world is drawing nigh. An ice storm followed by a snow storm in Dallas left the city covered with an inch thick sheet of ice and a foot of snow on Super Bowl weekend -or maybe even thicker. This was the weekend we chose to meet our friends in Austin.

We were hesitant to brave the inclement weather. But what the hell. We decided we would risk going out and drive as far as we could without winter tyres. As a matter of fact, we made it all the way to Austin.

Our street

Our street was a sea of white. Practically the only visible objects were the traffic lights. Sean steered the car deftly towards the Dallas Tollway, which was tolerably drivable. There were more cars than I imagined. Traffic was slow because there were a couple of snow ploughs and gritters clearing the snow. It was a bit boring but at least was safe. What seems like a good idea at the time turned out to be a mistake: exiting the Tollway to overtake the convoy using the slip road was dicey because it was very icy (and it rhymes too.)

Somewhat redundant warning signs...

Sean has experience driving on snow and ice and drove very carefully, never breaking suddenly or making brusque manoeuvres. But the same could not be said about other drivers. Some were texting, taking pictures of the signs that warned about icy roads (it was kind of ironic, though,) chatting on the phone or with their companions as if it were a normal day. Oh yes, and doing the same stupid things people do on a daily basis like not signalling when changing lanes. I’m not sure some people should be allowed behind the wheel.

Chunks of ice flew from the roof of the sixteen wheelers that rumbled past us, their wheels splattering slush all over our windscreen blocking our view. That was the really scary part.

The snow and ice followed (and preceded us) as far as Waco (yes, THAT Waco,) where it began to disappear gradually. In a way, it was a pity because the snow made the countryside and even industrial areas look quite pretty, especially when the sun was out and the ice glistened in the bright light.

Magic light on the road