Sunday, November 11, 2012

Texas, first time back to the USA in almost 2 years!

My co-workers; Wim, Alfredo and I departed for Texas to participate in a four day training with Living Water International attending their well drilling training.  To make the most of our trip, we left 3 days early to see  a bit of Texas, (neither Wim or Alfredo had ever been to the states).
We arrived in Houston, rented a brand new car with 45 miles on it and headed out.  I would like to say we did something dramatic for the very first visit of Wim and Alfredo to the USA, but we did not – we went to Wal-Mart.  As an experience, I am not sure many of you who read this will fully appreciate the experience of going to a Wal-Mart.  The store is larger than nearly any store in Latin America and contains more choices in products than anywhere in Ecuador. Down here we are thrilled  to have 3 choices of cereal, if we buy it at all do to the high cost, but an entire row of cereal is a bit overwhelming.

Next was Wendy’s.  I slowly ate a spicy chicken sandwich and a frosty.  We drove downtown Houston to see the baseball stadium, the buildings and to just plain drive around.  Everything in Texas is huge if not excessive and it is quite the change from our small town in Ecuador.

Wim & Alfredo on the bridge of the Lexington
The next day we drove 3 hours south to Corpus Christi to see the aircraft carrier, The Lexington.  This was a desire of Wim to see and we walked all over the ship.  The vessel is huge, built is 1945 and full of history, planes and relics.  We had a great time. 
Picture of wim and Alfredo

The second to the last stop was San Antonio.  We stayed at the home of Justin and Shara, short term missionaries who visited Shell about 4 months ago.  They were wonderful hosts.  We went shopping, shopping, shopping and more shopping.  Shara helped us navigate our way through the town and helped all us of fashion challenged men pick out things for our families. 
Wim bought cowboy boots, we ate at “the worst BBQ in Texas” named Rudys – Amazing ribs, brisket and baked beans!

Aflredo, Eric, Wim, Justin and Shara at Rudy's Road House
We ate some more – Mexican tacos, Applebees, another stop for Burritos, ice cream, fruit bars, and so much more.  When we were ready to go to the training I was over stuffed.
I want to tell you about two of the highlights of the trip (not including the training).
First – Neither Wim nor Alfredo had ever played golf.  They each wanted to give it a try and stop at a country club.  I knew a little better than this.  We searched on the web for a place and finally stopped at a small out of the way driving range with a junky wood shack as an office.  As soon as we drove in I knew we were in the right place.   $8 worth of golfballs, some borrowed clubs from the left over basket and we headed out.

To add a little comic relief to the process, both Wim and Alfredo are left handed.  The “club house” only had one left handed club, so Wim used a right handed club backwards.  All this to say I am not sure it mattered much.  There was lots of laughter, jokes and light insults as so much effort was put into so little results.  We had a wonderful time and at the end of 100 balls, they were getting the hang of it.  Even got a few past the 150 yard mark.  Great fun.

Wim, Eric and Alfredo after a successful day at the range
Second – this is Texas you know – so I had to take them to a gun range and shoot a pistol.  Wim was all excited about it and Alfredo really did not want to go.  Again we were able to locate a range way outside of town, dumpy little shooting office and lots of kennels for dogs – I knew we were in heaven.  The guy rented us two pistols and we bought our own ammunition at Wal-Mart.  He was kind enough to give us the last place on the end of the range that was not being used – farthest from the people.  I gave an extensive class, showed how each part worked and we test fired a few rounds.
We ended up shooting 200 rounds and everyone had a great time.  Wim loved it, Alfredo was getting addicted and both Justin and Shara (our friends from San Antonio) did really well.  They guys took the targets home to hang in the office.  We all were very thankful that the only thing injured was the target and the back stop.

Finally after playing for several days in Texas we were ready for class.  Living Water International does a great job of hands on class, good book references and practical discussions after dinner.  We were very much anticipating a rural setting with rough conditions as they said it was not near anything…….   Well let’s just say our reference was different from theirs.  We were anticipating the “jungle” and what we got was a church lodge on several hundred acres, our own rooms, hot water, a chef, along with a facility to die for.  Texans sure know how to rough it.

Our drill team - Eric, Matt, Wim, Tom and Alfredo
Even with all the fun and great training in the states (after not having been there in 2 years) it’s good to be home.  I had some culture shock of my own adjusting to the life style of the USA.    I see more clearly as time goes by the pros and cons of the two societies I live in.  I want to support the good in each and shed the bad, I am not sure I will ever achieve it, but it would be nice.

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