San Antonio and The Day of the Dead Parade

Well here we are in San Antonio. It is a huge city and pretty overwhelming but Rudy, like the tour guide he is, has researched the transit system and has our bus trip down to the centre of San Antonio all mapped out. We get to the bus stop and climb aboard. The trip to downtown is through a pretty rough area that has many derelict buildings and businesses and homes that don’t seem very prosperous. It is interesting how a person’s view of a city is based on the small part that they see and then it changes based on the experiences they have there. In the West End of Winnipeg my experience is coloured by the actual look of the neighbourhood but even more perhaps by who I meet, where I can grab stuff to eat and how close I am to the people I love. The large freeways, the garbage on the streets and the run-down buildings say one thing. On the other hand, the bus driver who is super patient with me as I jam the fare machine with coins and equally patient with all the riders on the bus as he answers their questions and helps those with wheelchairs off and on the bus. And so by the time we get downtown I like the place.

First we head to The Alamo. I have some vague idea that it was a place where a huge battle took place. And yes it is. Supposedly Davy Crockett fought and died there. Also it was a fight against the Mexicans lead by Santa Anna(the President of Mexico) who was denying Texas some of the autonomy that had been agreed upon. (Texas was not yet a part of the United States.) Well everyone at Alamo was slaughtered but other Texans from the surrounding area got a company of soldiers together and routed the Mexicans (killed 600 and supposed only lost 9) and they did this all to the rallying cry, “Remember the Alamo.” So there it is. Do I sound ambivalent about this. Well I guess I kinda am. My only comment is that it is always interesting how history is told. It all depends on perspective and usually the perspective is that of the winner. So the Alamo is in Texas and not Mexico so that is how the story is told.

Next we head to the Riverwalk. It is really cool. We take stairs down to the walkway that winds up and down the river on both sides. Each portion of the walkway is varied depending on which business built it. There are restaurants and hotels and loads and loads of people. It feels somewhat European with pedestrian bridges and car bridges criss crossing the water. The downtown is a mixture of historical buildings and new glass and metal buildings. We stop for snacks and  drinks at one establishment along the Riverwalk. It is beautiful what with the curving pathway and plantings and massive trees that line the river. We hear that there will be a Day of the Dead parade with barges on the river tonight if the weather holds. It has been rainy off and on. We decide to go back to the hotel and come out later for the parade.

In the evening we catch the bus again and head to the Riverwalk. It is even more packed out. They have sold tickets for chairs that line the walk but we manage to find a place on one of the bridges. It offers a great view of the river. After about an hour wait we see the first barge. It is dark by now and they are lit up with neon lights and many of the barges have singers and dancers on them. It is a neat idea and we enjoy it although it is not as spectacular as I imagined it would be. But excitement is in the air and people are streaming through the streets, and horse drawn carriages line the pavement so all in all it has been worth it. We buy some street food and sit on an iron bench on a bridge and eat. Then we head back for the bus and back to the hotel.