Houston, Part 3 (Finally)

Let your memory be your travel bag.
— Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Ok here’s the final rundown:

Saturday, we went down to the Houston Galleria, a HUGE mall downtown. When I googled for that link, I discovered the Galleria is so famous, it has its own Wikipedia page. Awesome. You’re probably wondering why I had to fly 1500 miles to go to a mall, aren’t you? Well, this is why:

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I don’t know if this picture does it justice, but this water wall is huge and water falls down both sides. It’s really something, and it’s next to the Galleria, so that’s why Aimee wanted to take me there. It was raining that day, so we didn’t get out and walk around, but I would love to go back and see it on a nice day.

The only other newsworthy thing that happened at the Galleria was this: gaggles of teen girls and boys dressed in what was, essentially, prom attire. You know, if your prom required white tie attire and multiple tiaras. And a court of girls in matching dresses. All with escorts in matching tuxes. There were no fewer than 4 sets of teenagers hanging around the food court, waiting to celebrate someone’s Quinceañera. I guess there’s a hotel attached to the mall, and I suppose the ballrooms were where the actual parties were, but they just wanted to walk around in public all dressed up to show off. At 15, who doesn’t?

A Quinceañera is a kind of coming out or coming of age for hispanic girls, and there’s always a big party to celebrate. Apparently in the wealthier part of Houston (and I assume other places in the U.S.), the girls get to dress up like princesses, make their friends all wear matching (but less pretty) dresses, and make the boys wear ties that match the birthday girl’s dress. I wish I had pictures of this, because it was UNreal.

The first group we saw was a set of twins in matching pink princess dresses and tiaras. Their “court” had on deep purple spaghetti strap dresses with pink ribbons around their waists. The boys wore black suits with pink neckties. In the next group, the birthday girl had on an even pinker, more princessy dress than the twins, but her court was in teal halter dresses, and the boys wore white (after Labor Day even!) with teal vests. You should have seen the way the girls in these two groups were sizing each other up. I was sure there was going to be a Sharks vs. Jets-style rumble in front of Chik-Fil-A.

The next group’s birthday girl wore deep red; it was really pretty. Her court had our favorite dresses – black strapless with white patterns. But the most outrageous, in my opinion, was the last group. If you didn’t know what was going on, and you couldn’t tell that the birthday girl was 15, you would have thought she’d just come from her wedding. She had on a strapless white dress with a big skirt, with a bustle in the back, a tiara, and a veil! It was crazy. Her escort was in all white as well, but her court was in wine red. Madness.

Sunday was my birthday, so Aimee took me out to lunch. We went to a place called Pappasito’s for Mexican. They make their own tortillas there, right in the middle of the dining room. Wanna see?

Here’s the whole thing:

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And here’s the process. First, dough balls:

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Then, SMASH:

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Then, hang out on the spiral-y thing and cook a little:

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Then, fall off the spiral-y thing and join your friends at the bottom:

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Then, get in my belly! (No pictures available; we were too busy stuffing our faces)

As we were finishing lunch, the waitress came up and asked me, “Do you want us to sing to you for your birthday?” My response was, “Um, yeah!” I guess Aimee had told her when we ordered that it was my birthday (taking full advantage of my small hearing problem – I had no idea she’d done it, and I was right there when she did). So they brought over the purple (!) birthday sombrero for me to wear, and clapped to get everyone’s attention. The waitress announced that it was my 21st birthday, and Aimee captured my reaction to that bit of information:

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Then we got to eat a brownie sundae, and it was good!

I flew home Monday, and I have to give Continental a shout out because not only did my flights to and from Houston leave on time, but they both arrived early! And the pre-flight video (the one that tells you where the emergency exits are) was subtitled – the first I’ve seen – which was a really nice thing to have. The movies were not, however, so you can’t win ’em all, I guess.

I had a lovely time in Houston, and it was so good to see Aimee and Tim and meet Ben, and just relax and hang out for 5 days. When can I go back?

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