Ever since I was little I have really, really wanted to travel. As a kid we went on summer vacations to Colorado and we visited other places when I was much smaller. I always figured that as an adult I’d travel anywhere and everywhere. But as I grew up and did the things grownups do my emphasis was first on my career. And then making ends meet and keeping my home when the bubble burst and my career basically unraveled.
I’d often get irritated with myself. I wanted to travel so much and I didn’t do it and it wasn’t going to happen unless I made it happen. I decided that even if it was just one state over that would be amazing. Or, heck, I’d take something a few hours from home.
Every year my family takes a vacation but they’re typically to either the lake near where I grew up or the Dallas area. These trips are always tons of fun but there isn’t really anything to sight-see and we mostly just swim and hang out together.
But in 2015 I made it a goal to travel more and I have so far stood good on my resolution. Only the second month into the year and I was visiting a new town far, far away! It was so exciting! It was so much fun! It made me want to see more and more!
My first trip was to Brownsville, TX. It’s an awesome little place just a stone’s throw from South Padre Island (SPI).
It may seem a strange destination for a vacation but I was there not only to vacation but for a long overdue visit. I wasn’t sure what to think and I knew that it was really far south, not far from a world class beach (SPI) and near the border. What I didn’t realize is that it is right on the border. Like you can see Mexico while standing in Brownsville RIGHT ON THE BORDER.
Perhaps I am a hillbilly but I was totally impressed with the area to cross over into Mexico. It was so big! There were guards! Tons and tons of people were crossing over!
We didn’t go because I don’t have a passport and the area right across here isn’t the best for American travel. But it was so neat to stand and watch people walk up with the things they just bought and cross the bridge. There seemed to be lots of cakes and cupcakes going over to Mexico on this day.
I kind of know there is a fence along the border from the U.S. to Mexico, and maybe I’m an idiot, but I was so surprised when I actually saw the thing. It’s not as terribly ugly thing as I expected. There is no barbed wire or rusty metal fencing but this thing is tall. Don’t quote me but I believe I read that it is 21 feet tall with a 6 foot drop beyond that on the other side of the fence (the side toward Mexico).
Though we didn’t walk very far it seems to go on forever.
With my camera lens shoved through the bars I was able to take a photo of the bridge to Mexico and Mexico itself! So I may not have been out of the country but I was dang close!
Brownsville is over 93% Hispanic and is very cultured and religion has some strong roots. I hate that I can’t remember who this saint is but this statue greets people not far from where they cross the border into the U.S. Oh, and there are palm trees. Like tons of them. Turns out I freaking love me some palm trees.
On the to do list was a visit to Immaculate Conception Cathedral deep in the downtown area. We visited on a Sunday and had to wait for Mass to let out but it was worth the wait. So many colors, lots of shiny gold and brightly lit, it was a gorgeous place.
I was super excited to see a Before I die board in real life. You can learn more about it here.
The style of things was very different from what I am used to in central Oklahoma. Colors seemed brighter and nobody was afraid of standing out. We saw lots and lots of shops selling fancy dresses but I loved the colors in this hot pink and orange creation, though I would never wear it myself. What can I say, I don’t want to stand out :)
I was stupidly excited that the climate in Brownsville is such that citrus can grow. In the middle of February there was a tree on the campus of Texas Southmost College heavy with bright, little oranges. How neat is that?
And speaking of food this is a place after my heart. I am snow cone obsessed. I think that everybody who grew up in or around Ardmore, Oklahoma is. We love our snow cones. I was excited that there were these little restaurants that sold nothing but snacks, including snow cones, or raspas. I got to enjoy a trolebus raspa. In a big ol’ cup on the bottom was a mango snowcone. On top of that was piled tons of fresh watermelon and mango topped with a thick, sweet milk. It. Was. Amazing. But a bad idea for a gal with a tiny bladder right before getting on a plane :)
Being the animal lover that I am, I was so excited that there was a huge and wonderful zoo. The Gladys Porter Zoo was full of lots of amazing animals with enclosures that made it seem like you were really close to the animals. There I saw my first bearded pig and let me tell you it was something to see!
The zoo itself is quite large. In fact we split the zoo up in halves and it took 2 visits to properly cover it all. I also learned about this thing that locals like to do with Cheetos at a concession stand there… a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos is opened and liquid cheese and some kind of a hot sauce are poured on top. It’s then eaten out of the bag with a spoon much like a Frito Chili Pie. That may be a weird thing to report on but everybody was eating them (even itty bitty kids) and it looked so spicy! (I instead enjoyed a Coke Icee :)
Her name is Allison too :) A photo posted by Dream a Little Bigger (@dreamalittlebiggerblog) on
We also made a visit to South Padre Island to visit to the Sea Turtle Rescue. There were so many beautiful turtles including one that shares my name! Most were injured in some way or another being cared for until they could be released in the wild. There I learned how these guys were hunted almost to the point of extinction for want of tortoiseshell items and how they are trying, and succeeding, in rebuilding the population. I really look forward to going back in warmer weather and reporting again!
My trip to Brownsville was a really great week and I had great company and such a blast. I enjoyed the sites, seeing a place totally different from where I live and meeting some really kind and friendly people. I’m so excited that I am fulfilling my own personal resolutions and living a better and happier life in 2015! And guess what? I have two more trips scheduled for the coming months so you’ll be hearing about my travels again :) New Year Resolutions = #killingitWritten by Allison Murray - Visit Website