Wednesday, July 30, 2008

leaving austin ....

morning, san antonio, july 29 08
(photo - sunset in the desert)

last night i told an african american man about my journey with the pastors for peace as we walked from the san antonio train station towards town. he'd heard about them, about all the good work they've done. i told him that next year is going to be a big year - it's the fiftieth anniversary of the revolution, and the twentieth year that the pastors have facilitated the caravans. i suggested to the man that he might think about going, told hiim what an incredible experience it is. he went to denny's, and i carried on.

we arrived in san antonio late, around midnight, and weren't scheduled to leave until 5:40 am - destined for los angeles. the train was already late, leaving austin around 9:15. my friends waited around with me for the train. they're good friends - they also took me out to dinner, to the mega-organic alternative food store (fortunately, the wheatsville food coop still survives despite this enormous competition - ostensibly a fundamental component of the free-market system - after 30 years). i love the co-op, and did my own shopping there, but this whole foods place was amazing - an entire city block, i'll bet, definitely american super-sized, full of all sorts of food i might be tempted to purchase (except i already have a ton of food from the co-op to get me to los angeles). they called it the paycheque store, where it'd be very easy to spend an entire one or two or three. aside from all the yummy food and natural health products, there's a beer tasting area and various eating places scattered throughout the place - seafood, bbq, sushi, and my favourite, the vegan cuisine. we three girls shared two yummy salads (one with all manner of foods including blueberries, cucumber, and capers) and some nori, vicente joined us with his crabby patties and we all shared a bottle of vegan wine. vegan wine! they had it listed on their menu. i know a lot of wine isn't vegan so i just avoid it. it was a real treat. i was sad to leave - it's been a good couple of weeks. fifteen years since i've previously been in austin, hopefully it won't be fifteen more until the next visit.

looking outside the train at this moment, i see a huge amount of construction just outside of san antonio heading, i think, south-westish. i see mexican labourers, they look mexican ... i hope they're getting paid a fair wage. there are lots of brand new rail lines, very cool! i love trains.

i love amtrak even though last night i slept curled up on the floor at the back of a very full railcar. my other option was to try to sleep in the seat next to a very nice but rather large african-american man. i was tempted to stay out all night in san antonio - after i walked to the denny's i carried on and found their river walk. i've been there before, but in the daytime when it's full of people. it was a bit spooky at night, i passed an irish pub where i'd have stopped for a beer if i had a penis, or was n't travelling alone. there were lots of drunken men outside, some spitting into the river and making drunken noises - i wonder if anyone ever falls into the river? it's quite beautiful, though a little too corporate, the san antonio river walk. i felt unusually relieved when i saw a police officer on a bike, and a security guy, i didn't really feel scared, but i'm a woman and it was nighttime. eventually i found my way back to the train station and got some sleep amidst the noise of those who didn't sleep and didn't much care that others were trying to.

apparently we're late because american trains, like their canadian cousins, yield to freight trains. isn't that a bit wierd? what's also strange is that ralph nader's visit to austin wasn't mentioned on either npr or in the university daily paper. i didn't check any other media. he's the invisible candidate. we're the invisible paying consumers.

i'm not sure how much longer i can milk this cubajourney blog. i like writing, and maybe someone's interested in reading it. the cuba journey, for this year, is over .... though it lives in my memories. i'm definitely a changed woman. now, in additional to intellectualizing the revolution, i can feel it.

afternoon, july 28, somewhere between san antonio and el paso

very interesting, this desert. 'mexico' on one side of the train, 'texas' on the other. i say if someone can crawl through this desert and emerge alive, they oughta be able to stay wherever they land. apparently it's illegal to help 'illegal aliens' in america - even if they're dehydrated and near dead.

the conductor has been telling us stories about the old west. we just crossed the texas river on a bridge. it was way far below us, a bit scary. i haven't heard many of the stories because, just as he begins to speak, people decide it's time to move from the car ahead of us into this car and the process of the doors opening and closing overrides his voice. people are timing it immaculately - they don't enter the car when he's not speaking, only when he is. if i didn't know better i'd say there are illegal interplanetary aliens taking over their bodies with the intention of driving me crazyl i should get some sleep for my overactive imagination i guess ....