Well that was what was on the menu in the morning when I left the hotel in Del Rio. I seem to be sleeping longer so keep missing the continental breakfast. Maybe it is that or the thought of something fried does it more then a muffin and a cup of orange juice. This is America for goodness sake! At a diner I had the four-piece fried catfish combo. I balked at other items on the menu. You had the dizzying choice of 1, 2 or 3lbs of "Gizzards”. The main event would set you back a whopping $9.99. Just think of the look on your kiddies faces when you burst in to your house shouting; "look kids - GIZZARDS"!
This is Texas - it is outlaw and hunting country. The radio advertised ‘Bail bonds’ and after filling myself full of fried catfish I drove out of town past the "one-stop deer processing and storage shop". Later I passed the first of several emporia that offered "artistic taxidermy" services.
Weather still stifling and that did give me one of two great stories from the local papers. First from the El Paso Times: "Veteran Palatero Mario Ramirez has been pushing his Frutiki palata cart through downtown streets for almost 35 years says his sales often improve during hot weather". From the look of the picture he sells lollies! So when would you go out if you were in the ice cream business??
However for odd/dumb the Del Rio News Herald in its classifieds had a big picture of a kid in a mortar board and gown clutching a scroll. A proud parent placed the ad as their child graduated from University? Well not quite...:
"Happy Birthday Trace. Trace Davis turns 6 years old today and is having a Tony Hawks skating party (think this is skateboarding) also congratulations on your kindergarten graduation. You are growing up and becoming such a wonderful young man and Mommy and your family are so proud of you and love you very much. Enjoy your day." Way to go, doting parent. If you have not done the same for your child you should feel very very ashamed!
However on the road south west heading sort of in that direction with a toss up : Austin or San Antonio, I carried on down the highway. Over the last few days’ driving I have been through several Border patrol checkpoints. Normally traffic is slowed, the officers clock a lone driver and wave you through. Occasionally a dog sniffs your tyres. However on this occasion it was more hardcore. I was pulled over and asked "You a citizen?" “Er no British”, said I giving them my best foppish Hugh Grant. "Pull over there please" So I did as bidden as another dog sniffed my tyres . Guys with dark glasses, uniforms and guns tend to unnerve me slightly.
He checked my driving licence and passport. He asked what I was doing. They do seem to find the idea of someone in a car driving aimlessly round their countryside a little weird. Come to think of it they may have a point. Particularly when I can't really explain where I am headed apart from New York in 3 weeks.
Making conversation I asked if they were searching for drugs, bombs, fruit or people. "Drugs and illegals" said the Mexican/American border officer. "We like to create a buffer zone of about 100 miles. So by the time they've have been in the woods for three or four days, we can smell ‘em fairly easily". Bearing in mind how whiffy I get just sitting in a car all day without moving much, I can see how personal hygiene would be a problem for people evading the police on a hot day. I have done so little exercise and with an automatic car, my left ankle has swollen slightly as it does nothing apart from envy the effort its right partner does occasionally stabbing the brake pedal every few hundred miles.
It should only have been a trip of about 155 miles but San Antonio doesn't do a very good job of signposting its city centre. Well, to my eyes it didn't. What I failed to realise is that rather like El Paso the urban sprawl is now so vast hence the 30 mile round trip from my hotel to the concert venue to see Tom Waits the other night. When it says "Downtown" it means "The next sign to Downtown will be in 15 to 20 miles. So don't get nervous and turn off the highway after a couple of exits with no further mention of the city centre". I wanted downtown San Antonio as I needed to see....The Alamo.