I like Texas. I knew I would. It's a matter of attitude, really. A picture I saw somewhere of a local Senator posing by the increased speed limit sign on the Interstate. The "don't mess with Texas" anti-litter signs on the roads. The Texan flag flying everywhere or pictured on cars and trucks. The way people drive here. The sense that this is a place whose people are not to be trifled with.
My hotel opened directly onto the access ramp to Interstate 10 and as I joined it, the satnav announced "continue on I-10 for 300 miles". So I did. The speed limit is 80mph and the road was clear the whole way. All in all it was a terrific run through pleasant scenery in beautiful weather . I wish I lived in Texas so that I could regularly use roads like that.
On arrival in San Antonio, however, the heavens opened. I have never seen such rain. It was so fierce that it actually cleaned the car. It made navigating an unfamiliar city center a bit tricky though and I was glad to find a car park behind the Alamo. Water was running an inch deep on its surface as I got out of the car.
My rain gear was in the boot/trunk and took some finding after so many days in shorts and T-shirt. Soaked to the skin; my sneakers and socks squelching, I made my way to the Alamo. The place is officially a "shrine" now and photography is not permitted. The Daughters of the Texan Revolution run the place on behalf of the State of Texas and enforce their rules pretty rigorously. It looks like what it was built as - a Catholic Mission in the Spanish style. It is rather beautiful in its rustic way and certainly holds its own, visually, against the looming modern buildings around it. It has attractive, well-maintained grounds and lots of written information for visitors.
The justness of the cause of Texan independence from Mexico is not as clear to me as it is to the locals. The American and European settlers had, after all, been invited, with attractive incentives, to a Mexican province in return for taking citizenship and becoming Catholics. Still, it's hard not to be moved by the heroism of those who laid down their lives without hesitation, it seems, for the idea of a new, free Republic. It's also heartening to see the reactions of visitors to the story as told on film and by the guides.
I myself was caught up in it all and bought myself a "Victory or Death" t-shirt that will frighten the Guardian readers of Chiswick tremendously whan I get back to London.
After my visit I retreated from the rain into happy hour at a nearby bar. My hotel tonight is in a remote suburb, chosen for its nearness to the Ferrari dealer where Speranza is due tomorrow at 0800, so I ate an early dinner there to avoid venturng out in the rain tonight.