After our stop in El Paso, TX, we began our long journey to San Antonio, TX… where we would go to sleep and then host a table at the Battle of Flowers Fiesta Parade the next day. The drive was beautiful and the desert scenery continued for miles…
We reached our first rest stop after El Paso… notice the “WATCH FOR SNAKES” sign!
The bathrooms at this rest stop were like none I had ever seen. It was completely open air – this is a shot from inside the stall, LOL!
Here is a closeup of a yucca plant at the rest stop.
We approached our 2nd border patrol stop – the Sierra Blanca Inspection Station, about 80 miles inside the Mexico/Texas Border. Since we did not experience any trouble when we passed through the border patrol in Arizona, we decided to exercise our 5th Amendment right to remain silent when questioned about our citizenship.
When it was our turn, we pulled up and an agent approached the van. Our driver rolled down the window and was immediately asked if he was a US citizen. He replied, “Officer, I am going to exercise my 5th amendment right to remain silent”, as did the person in the passenger seat when questioned. The agent asked once more, and our driver again pled the 5th, as did our passenger. (Our driver was Mexican-American and our passenger Iranian-American). Apparently we were not allowed to exercise our constitutional rights to a federal agent (even after reminding him that it is our constitutional right). He then reminded us again that he is a FEDERAL agent – then we were asked to pull over and everyone was told to exit the vehicle.
We all got out of the van and lined up in a row. Our videographer was taping everything but told he had to leave his camera because apparently it could be used as a weapon. So there we were, all lined up (8 of us), in a row… all wearing the same t-shirts, all people of color (except 1), with our bright orange van. While we waited, more agents came out and suddenly there were about 7 agents all huddled in a pack staring at us with their hands on their hips. Super ironic that all of these guys were LATINO. LOL!!
As we stood there watching this unfold, cars of caucasian people drove by, slowing down to stare at us before they sped off. This was the first time in my life where I honestly felt completely discriminated against because of the color of my skin and the skin of the people I was with. Horrible.
Another agent came out with a dog (a belgian malinois) and circled the van – then telling us that the dog had alerted him to narcotics or a concealed human being… which promoted an immediate search. Our director told the agent immediately that we did not consent to the search but they just went ahead and searched anyway. A few seconds later, the agent with the dog came out with the videographer’s backpack and threw it on the ground. Things came flying out and pockets were being emptied – only to find NOTHING.
We were then allowed to return to the van. Once we all got in and were told we could leave, we were about to drive away when we were stopped again. An agent opened the side sliding door (I was sitting right next to it), and looked at everyone inside. He started from the back row and pointed at each person, asking them if they were a US Citizen. He went around the group, everyone replying accordingly (were were all citizens or legal residents), then closed the door and we were free to drive off. One of the border patrol cars followed us about 2 miles past the inspection station then drove off.
This experience was very eye opening – intimidating and scary.
We reached our hotel very late, around 1am… this night we stayed in a Motel 6. It was AWESOME, a great way to end the day. Wow, I was so impressed at how they redesigned this place – it’s all modern now!
….the following morning was the Fiesta Parade!!
Like they say, everything is bigger in Texas!! I found this children’s entertainer juggling beanbag chairs… LOL!!
Here’s our table. It was conveniently placed right next to a Texas BBQ stand, yeee haw!!
These 3 teens were very willing to support our campaign and even volunteered to help us petition to get signatures… how cool is that?!
…The parade just started, and I got a great spot right up front!
This nice policeman gave a high-5 to all of the kids then threw them candy. The police officers in San Antonio were all really nice – it was great to see how friendly they were with the community and kids.
There were many marching bands in the parade – particularly military marching bands…
Here is the Mayor of San Antonio and his wife, Julian and Erica Castro.
I’m not really sure who these fancy ladies were in sparkly dresses and cowboy boots – anyone have any idea? They came down the parade on their giant floats and all of the kids screamed “Show us your boots!” and the they pulled up their dresses and waved their foot in the air.
Texans are very proud of their state… I definitely felt a very strong sense of state patriotism in Texas more than any other state we visited. This group of boy scouts carrying the Texas flag followed a bunch of girl scouts carrying the American flag.
Here’s another one of those fancy ladies… “Her gracious magesty Kahler Elizabeth Biedenharn, Queen of the Court of the Wondrous Metropolis”. Is this a cult or something?
I loved this float (above). All of these people were SO HAPPY and were all dancing and waving to dance music! After this float passed a small group of us decided to walk down to the Alamo to see if we could gather a few signatures and snap a few photos in front of the historic landmark. I was also extra excited to see the Alamo because that’s where Pee Wee went to find his bike!
OMG, the WEINERMOBILE! It has always been a childhood dream of mine to see the Weinermobile in person – I couldn’t believe it!! When I was about 10 years old, my uncle gave me an Oscar Mayer Weinermobile plastic bank for Christmas (he had to eat about 10 packs of hot dogs to get in the mail).
Here’s Trinity University’s giant tiger balloon… that’s our teammate Daniel (red shirt)’s alma mater!
As we continued on our trek to reach the Alamo, we walked through an apartment parking lot where we met a woman with 2 puppies – Delgado (left) and Dante (right), both dachshund mixes. I definitely couldn’t resist taking a photo!
At last, THE ALAMO, WOW!!
This shot above is one of the buildings inside of the Alamo, behind the main building.
Our teammate’s boyfriend published this book, Inside Pee Wee’s Playhouse, so we couldn’t miss this opportunity to take a shot of the bookcover next to the Alamo sign!
I noticed these rusted baby heads atop an artist’s studio door…
After we finished the tabling event we all walked to Mi Tierra restaurant. This place was freaking HUGE inside and was super colorful and covered in decorations.
This is the display at the back entrance of the restaurant… below is a shot of Dulce inside the lobby!
The sunset was amazing!! Right after dinner we had to get back in the van and drive to Houston, another 3 or so hours away… We made it there at almost midnight. Luckily this night we were guests in real home (not motel)…