Thursday, April 23, 2015

South Texas - Bugs, Bad Food, Bikers

We arrived back from San Antonio 2 days ago, covered in hundreds of chigger bites - apparently when it rains down there, the chiggers multiply and dine, voraciously, on any warm blooded ankle, leg, midsection etc. that gets close. I have never itched like this before, even when I had poison ivy as a kid, which was often.
     Visited the Alamo, something I've wanted to do since watching Davy Crockett on TV all those years ago. Discovered that Alamo means cottonwood, and that the poor souls who were trying to defend the Alamo from Santa Ana sent for help but never got any. At that time, this was actually part of Mexico, but they had offered land at a cheap price to Americans in order to settle the area. Once the Americans bought land, they decided they really didn't want to be Mexican, and revolted, hence the attack by the Mexican military.
     The birds in south Texas are great, especially on South Padre Island, a big stopping off point for migrants. Even saw a couple of lifers.
     S. Texas food, however, was a huge disappointment. If you don't like Tex Mex or fast food, there aren't many other choices. In San Antonio, on the River Walk, we found a passable seafood restaurant, but the shrimp tasted metallic, like it had been chemically treated. We ordered shrimp several places, and it was generally over cooked as well.
     On South Padre Island, we arrived at the same time as the start of a huge biker convention, fairly noisy for birding. We ate at a local restaurant called Parrot Eyes, and had mahi mahi sandwiches - the mahi was fresh and properly cooked, but the presentation was uninspired. Served on a poor quality white hamburger bun, there was one limp piece of lettuce, a small cup of plain mayonnaise, 4 dill pickle slices and a slice of hard tomato. Didn't eat the bun or anything else, but the fish was good on it's own.
     In the town of Alamo, near Brownsville, we ended up going to the local super market, HEB, buying some fresh salad ingredients and eating dinner in our room, which had a small efficiency kitchen, two out of four nights. Our last night in the south, we went to a place called Trevino's, where we were literally expected to speak fluent Spanish, as our waitress spoke no English at all. (Maybe Santa Ana won after all!) We finally got someone else to wait on us who spoke passable English, and managed to order a meal. In several of the places we ate that had fish on the menu, including Trevino's, when we asked what kind of fish it was, the response was "fish."
     So our Gulf Coast dining experience was a bust for us, a treat for the chiggers. Go for the birds, but definitely not the food.

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