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In politics, life and history, people have always made valiant efforts to convert the masses to their ideologies, with religion as one of the core objectives. I already told you about The River Walk in San Antonio, but visitors to the region will also be encouraged to see the San Antonio Missions. The outposts were established by various religious orders, mostly Catholics, to spread Christianity among the local Natives. They also formed part of the colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th - 19th centuries. I've seen so many churches in Russia and all of my travels that they are of little interest to me now, but I took the time to visit one of the Missions during my business trip, and met some interesting locals in the process. These human encounters make any expedition worthwhile.Read more... )
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The pride of San Antonio, Texas is the "River Walk," a charming area filled with a lot of restaurants, cafes and shops. When I first arrived in the city, I kept searching for the "river," and was really confused. Being native to the Washington, DC area, I'm accustomed to huge rivers like the Potomac, which cover larger areas and can be seen from multiple vantage points.

The River Walk is more of a canal, Venetian style, or at least how I imagine Venice to be. I've never been there, or anywhere in Italy. You can float on a boat down the strip of waterway and look at a lot of interesting architecture, quaint bridges, and many diverse people walking along the corridors. People watching - it's a fun way to spend the afternoon in most places, so let's take a look.Read more... )
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I've been on many journeys, but I can't say I've ever gone on an acid trip, or done LSD. In my early 20's, I was a rocker chick, ran with a crowd of musicians, and spent most free nights in clubs and concert halls listening to live music. I was always surrounded by drugs, but absolutely none of them intrigued me, with the exception of pot and ecstasy. The former I smoked for many years, and the latter I tried a few times. So, I can't say I know what it's like to have a mind-altering trip on LSD, but I imagine the visual distortions and altered states of consciousness closely resemble the decor of a Mexican restaurant I visited in San Antonio, Texas. Here, you can have deep conversations with statues of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, fly on the wings of doves, or simply become transfixed by all the twinkling Christmas lights, swirling garland, and butterflies with multi-colored general, it's very easy to mentally and visually transform into another realm. And absolutely no drugs are needed. :)Read more... )
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I'm sorry I've been disconnected recently, but I have no motivation or creative inspiration for the blog the past few weeks. I don't know what's causing this extreme dry spell, or general sense of apathy. Such a dreary, moody disposition is rare for me, and hopefully it will soon pass. In the meantime, here's an example of just one of the beautiful street art scenes I saw in San Antonio, Texas last week. I've always admired birds. I guess it's because they see things from a unique angle, and have the ability to escape at a moment's notice, drifting away to a different landscape or latitude in an instant. I imagine their life as complete freedom, and I'm envious. Because the feeling of being trapped or staying in the same place for eternity is terrifying to me. Or maybe it's because birds dare to break the shell, pushing through until they finally see the light, spread their wings and begin their journey. It seems like a simple formula for success - you dream, you dare, you fly...

The artist signed this painting with the simple hashtag #WhatLiftsYou, so I ask you the same. What lifts you in life? Unfortunately, as humans, we don't have wings. Or, maybe some of you do...:)
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We often create illusions about others, mentally molding them into the person we wish them to be, rather than letting actual words and actions be the guide. In human relations, this can be a dangerous game. I was quite susceptible to it in youth, but now I simply take people at face value. I still get tricked on occasion, and snakes temporarily slither into my realm, if only for a brief moment in time. Soon these slimy creatures are sent back to the dark hole or forest from which they crawled, because people always reveal their true character in small ways, if you're perceptive enough to notice. Too many people prefer to hold on to the mirage, for it's far more beautiful than reality. This is the reason why we have all echoed the words "love is blind" to ourselves, or others. Right? :)

In travels, this game of illusions can be fun. You meet people, often for a fleeting moment. A short smile, a quick exchange of words, a passing glance...however, you know almost nothing about their lives. Sometimes only their name, or a brief fact about their existence. During all trips, I take the time to sit in a local cafe or market and simply watch people go by, snapping photos in the process. These are the results of the experiment in San Antonio, Texas, where I traveled last week for business.

All the photos were taken at the Mexican market, or a local cafe by the Majestic Theatre, where there was a stage production of Cinderella playing during my visit. This appeared to be the biggest event in the city, with princesses of all ages dressed in sparkly heels and fancy dresses, still clinging to the fairy tale dream of a prince and magic kingdom. There's no text with the photos that follow. I didn't speak to any of these people, except the man pictured here - Gilberto. He runs a small stall with hats and boots at the Mexican market. Charming, dashing and distinguished gentleman. :) Usually I'm the one telling you stories, but let's put your imagination to work. Certainly some of my readers must be creative enough to weave imaginary tales about the humans in these photos? So go on, tell me a story...Read more... )
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American bikers, simply legendary! They're the subject of films, urban myths and play an important theme in American cinema and culture. I'm not sure if this news has made its way to Russia, but this week two Texas biker gangs are at battle, and in a very violent way. A major shootout on the streets of Waco, Texas, during which nine people were killed, dozens injured and the locals in shock and awe that a scene from a Hollywood film became reality in their hometown. Now, over 170 bikers are being detained in Texas, with their bonds set high (over $1,000,000)! But, I'm most curious about the name of one of these gangs - COSSACKS. Why did they pick it, or what is the significance to biking culture? About Cossacks, I never understood their role in modern Russia, or its security forces. I wrote about it in my Sochi post, where they stood as guards at various places during the Olympics, as in the following picture.Read more... )
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For the past week I've been in Dallas, Texas for a work conference. I was excited to visit this city, thinking I would be serenaded by handsome cowboys playing acoustic guitar. Big belt buckles, cowboy boots, wide brimmed hats. This was my perception of Dallas. In reality the city is a complete hellhole, filled with many loiters. There's absolutely nothing to do here and I'm very happy to be back in beautiful, green Virginia. I found only one interesting area called "Deep Ellum," which is located in east Dallas.Read more... )


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