Hotel breakfast buffets look the same wherever you are in the world. If you were beamed into the middle of one you could tell instantly that you were in a hotel restaurant at breakfast time. Where you were in the world... that might be harder. You will have to look at the guy cooking the eggs to get some sort of clue. Or for those subtle regional variations that are slipped in amongst the typical English, American and "Continental" breakfast faire.
|Two flags over Texas|
After breakfast, it was time for a tour of Texas attractions especially those related to my girlfriend's family (or as they are now known, my wife’s family). We started with the Elementary School named after her grandfather. The head and some of the staff even took time off their weekend to show us their school. It's a very impressive school with a computer lab full of Macs and an electronic whiteboard which incorporates a projector so teachers never need to get dirty fingers again. It does mean there's nothing to throw at pupils, but I doubt that's allowed any more.
The school services poor areas and even provides breakfast and lunch on non school days for those people whose families who have trouble providing nutritional meals.
|This is not what the tour looked like.|
The grandparents had a firm belief that through education the fortunes of the community could be improved. It led them to become teachers and to make sure their children were well educated.
This is a fascinating story for me as it's very different from my family history. From my understanding, the grandparents of my wife’s grandparents were freed slaves. And at least one of them had been alive when some of Cath's parent's generation were born. For me this always clashes with my European notion that slavery was a sad, but distant part of history. For people I have met to have known someone who had actually been a slave makes me realise how much closer it had been. Plus there are so many people in the US who lived through the segregation era, which really was the son of slavery. The echoes of slavery and segregation still reverberate through America.
Some of these purpose-built schools still exist but are no longer blacks-only, of course, and now part of the regular US education system.
|Six Flags Over Texas|
I shouldn't joke, really. It seems like a long time ago to me, but it still looms large in many people's lives. To me it is a remote historical event, usually brought up to make a conspiracy joke. But in Texas, for people a little older than me, it was and is very real. One of Cath's uncles was actually on the way to see the cavalcade when he people heading the other way told him of the shooting.
In the run up to the Obama election, several people pessimistically hinted at the fact that he might well be shot. I hadn't even thought of it (it's a rarely used political option in Europe), but these were people who grew up at a time when high-profile figures of change WERE shot.