From Rio’s Chaos to Austin’s suburbia

My Rio adventure is now over. Now, I’m starting the readjustment process to Austin, TX, a place that has changed so much in the 8 years since I left.
Step 1: stop saying “Oi” (“hey” in Portuguese) to everyone I meet.

Some photos from my city exploration. They are mostly from downtown Austin. Suburbs don’t provide as many photography opportunities.

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A Texan Walmart discovery
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I guess I will have to pick this up next time I go for some shampoo

These are the types of coupons one gets in the mail in Texas. And they wonder about the frequency of shoot-outs..

 

Some More Texanation

With my MBA girls visiting, myself and a recently established Houstonian classmate, had to show them Austin – Texas style. I cannot take much of the credit, since she planned most of the weekend (love planners!!), but I can certainly write about it.

One of the highlights of the weekend was a visit to Red’s Indoor Shooting Range, where we got shoot guns, for the first time for most of us. Imagine this, a gun shop, with stacks of rifles and hunting equipment, and then suddenly come in 6 preppy girls, with make-up, heels and purses and ask to rent some guns. Charlie’s Angels comes to mind.

After bugging the attendant with a multitude of questions, we were somehow given 2 guns, one of them had small bullets and another had 9mm ones (This is the extent of what I gathered from the explanation). One of the guns had a safety button (smart!).

I was having a minor moral dilemma with the idea of using hot weapons as all the recent news around the world kept coming to mind. I asked him what do people use the various guns for, expecting some kind of creative response. He said mostly hunting, and after some pressure elaborated on the obvious things that come to mind.

Since I read Shantaram, I knew all there is to know about fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, and so I asked the guy to show me his Kalashnikovs. To my surprise, pulled out an AK-47, that was just lying there next to the cash register. I asked for an AK-74, but he didn’t have one. He also didn’t know anything about exploding hollow tip bullets that became illegal by international law…

Anyhow, we did pretty well with these guns, and no injuries were reported. Before leaving, one of the older employees was sweet enough to hand us a rifle each and take lean-mean pictures of the six girls going to war.

The shot heard 'round the world..

 

To my great shame, I must admit that in my five years of living in Austin, I never went to see one of its main attractions – the bats under the Congress Bridge. Well, I got an opportunity to finally see them this weekend and I am grateful for it. Definitely, one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. We took a small boat tour and I was expecting to see just a bunch of bats hanging from below the bridge. It was not so. Around 8pm, the bats started flying from the bridge, towards east. There were millions of them, literally millions, all leaving one after another. This looked like the flight of a pack of locusts. It lasted for a good 5-10 minutes, and the guide said that they will continue to fly out until 12 am.

Waiting for the bats, note the bat-cow art installation..
The bats are going east...

 

The other funny point was when the guide described the high real-estate price on the newly built apartments in downtown Austin. He mentioned a $400k price tag for a 1-BD apartment of 1,100 sqft. Our immediate reaction: “wowwwww… so cheap!!!”. So New York.

Texanation

Fun times have passed for this happy cowgirl in the making. A friend from MBA was visiting and so I took this opportunity to show her around A-town and the surroundings. Some of these I haven’t been at before.

Noteworthy spots

Austin capitol building – many wide galleries and high ceilings serve as a reminder of the great Texan past. One could easily imagine wealthy land owners walking around those halls, enacting laws to protect their freedoms of property and bearing arms. It was also cool to visit the legislative assembly room and look a the old photos of the legislators. Many mustaches were spotted. One lady was also reoccurring in the pictures. I think she was the secretary. Or maybe a mistress. Or maybe both.

Georgetown Caverns – despite the cheesy huge Mammoth cadaver at the visitor center, followed by a not less cheesy tour, this is a greattttt place to survive the Texas heat. 72F all year round, what else can one ask for? My friend and I were the only foreigners amidst a bunch of partially obese Texas/Midwestern tourists. This gave us a good opportunity to observe the local traditions and speak patterns. They were also really nice when I was reminiscing about another time when I visited caverns in Tom Sawyer’s town (about 13 years ago). They reminded me of the existence of the state of Missouri, which has long escaped my memory.

San Antonio River Walk – Oh what a great place for a romantic stroll and people watching. I have never been there before and was hugely impressed. We took a long walk to King William historical district and by the time we arrived there, I was almost wishing I were living in SA. Lovely! Unfortunately, some of the cute art galleries we were going to visit were closed by the time we arrived there. Too bad.

River Walk San Antonio
River Walk

Oasis – Amazing view over Lake Travis. Great Margaritas! Things to avoid: The food and speaking to the waiters.

View over Lake Travis from Oasis restaurant

Alamo Draft House/Violet Crown Cinema: Two very different movie watching experiences – Alamo Draft House provides cheesy Hollywood blockbusters with greasy fried food whereas for $5 one could sit among pseudo-intellectuals in a cool atmosphere, sipping martinis and eating hors d’oeuvres. Having said that, I really enjoyed watching both Horrible Bosses and Woody Allan’s Midnight in Paris. So enough with the snobbery.

Update: I  just discovered that the really attractive curator in Midnight in Paris is in fact Carla Bruni. Wife of. Good for Sarcozy! (She is not a bad actress too..)

p.s.  My genius deed of the week: It is amazing how much the spell-checker in Word destroyed my ability to type in human language. I did an ill-favor to my friend and helped her revise a cover letter for a potential  job opportunity. As we hit “send”, she realized that we did not use the spell-checker on this e-mail  and that I had something like 10 different typos that made her look really ignoramus. “Oh well”, said my friend, who has a really good attitude apparently, “now, they will definitely have no doubts with regards to me being an international candidate” (we were previously debating whether to describe her global experience and decided against it).