Last week’s blog was pretty heavy. Writing it also reminded me of a couple more topics that I want to write about, but my mom reminded me last weekend that I did promise an eventual blog about my Dallas vacation. So here we are – some quick stories and reflections about my four days away during June.
So, Dallas. I knew basically nothing about Dallas when I began planning my trip. I quickly found out that it was the location where JFK was assassinated. (Pardon me, but I’m a Canadian millennial, so that happened long before I was born and I didn’t have to learn the details in high school history classes.) As I began researching and recording ideas of things I could do or needed to do or hoped to do while I was in the US, I focused a lot on outdoor options. I didn’t want to do a whole lot that required indoor spaces, because, you know, Covid. Not to mention that I knew I would need a negative Covid test in order to return to Guatemala. And ending up contracting Covid and having to quarantine in a city where I didn’t live and couldn’t afford to spend an extra 10 to 14 days was a pretty big nightmare hypothetical situation.
Over the course of the half year I have been here, I have figured out where to get a lot of things that are not immediately easy to find in Guatemala. A lot of that has been thanks to the other ex-pats who have been here much longer than me. (Special shout-out to Lexi who included orders for us when she placed an order from the Asian food store/restaurant in town. I got fish sauce and curry paste – hooray for Thai chicken soup!) Very occasionally, we’ll end up visiting Paíz for various reasons – that’s the Guatemalan… Walmart grocery store? (Like, it’s a grocery store that has the Great Value brand stuff.) (And I do mean occasionally, because we have gone twice.) But sometimes a person just wants to be able to shop at Target and a real Walmart, especially if this person can’t shop at Target in Canada any more. So Target and Walmart visits were high up on my list.
And I know I am probably making myself sound like the lamest tourist in the world with an announcement like that, but maybe you have not lived in another country for six months without all the things you take for granted easily accessible. I’m happy to report that I picked up some flip flops (lots available here, but good gravy, not in my impossibly-large-by-Guatemalan-standards foot size), a three-ring binder (Guatemalans LOVE their folders with those metal clip things – like literally the kind of filing system a hospital would use? or used to use before going digital?), dividers (I’m really hoping we get students in school in person, and then I will actually need to have some better organizational systems for papers!), and some Polident tabs (there is no better way to clean a coffee cup!). I know. I am really. Living. It. Up.
The one thing these Target and Walmart visits convinced me of, though, was that I was right in my decision otherwise to avoid indoor spaces at all costs. Texas had never been too keen on their Covid protocols, and by the time I arrived, they were whooping it up maskless everywhere. Seriously – almost every place of business I walked past had signs saying that if you were fully vaccinated, you no longer needed to wear a mask inside. In Target, I was in a serious minority of people wearing a mask. I would estimate somewhere between 10 and 20% of people were wearing masks. 80-90% of people were living their best lives without masks. At the time, Texas’ vaccination rate was around 35%. Recall my worst possible nightmare and understand why I only went into locations after that to pick up to-go food and eat it in my hotel room or in outdoor spaces! (Also because it was Texas, lots of businesses had signs on the front door saying you couldn’t bring a concealed or open-carry weapon inside. Okay then.)
Side story here, but one more Covid tale: Even in the medical clinic where I got my Covid test before returning to Guatemala, no one was wearing a mask. In a medical clinic. The person who took my nasal swab put on gloves before taking the swab and did not put on a mask. He did not know why I was getting a test. My mind is still boggled at that one. Like, to each their own, but really, buddy?
Okay, no more Covid talk!
Dallas has a lot of outdoor art in their historic downtown, and it was cool walking around to see it – enjoying some of it while on my way walking to Target or Walmart, enjoying others while out for runs (how nice to run at such a low elevation after months of living and training in 1600-1700 metres!), and others enjoyed while just walking around to be outside and see the city.
My hotel was right across from Thanks-Giving Square, a very interesting space with a beautiful chapel. Since no one was ever in said chapel, I would often stop in on my way home from wherever and just lie down on the floor, enjoying the stained glass ceiling.
Of course, I walked over to the JFK memorial and assassination site. After reading up on the assassination, I was very tempted by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, but I didn’t have to weigh the risks since it didn’t end up being open on the days I had available post Target and vaccination / test appointments. There’s an X on the street that marks JFK’s location when he was shot, and it’s a pretty busy location for traffic exiting the historic downtown. I wondered about how long the idea could hold significance, knowing you’re driving over the spot where a US president was assassinated, before it just becomes something you don’t even think about as you drive to work every morning.
And I saw homeless people. A lot of homeless people. I have not seen that many homeless people in a downtown core ever. I don’t know if the problem existed before Covid and has just been exacerbated by the pandemic, or what, but it was impossible to ignore or overlook. I have a lot more thoughts about that, but they will have to wait for another day to be more thought out and written down.
Okay, that pretty much hits the highlights, and as I write this I am really reflecting on how lame this trip might sound, but may I remind you again of the limitations of a four day trip from someone on a missionary stipend and not a regular salary, of four days with all important Target trips and vaccination appointments squeezed in, and of the necessity to stay out of contagion zones! Whatever. I enjoyed my trip, and I don’t need your approval of it to still enjoy it in retrospect! 😆😇