Texas Influence, Houston
Held annually over a 3 week period in February and March, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is the world's largest rodeo. For over 60 years the rodeo has been held here, and recently began being held in Reliant Stadium after a run of almost 40 years in the Astrodome. Each year over 1 million people attend the rodeo, as well as the Livestock show and Rodeo carnival. Events such as bull riding, calf roping, and chuck wagon races draw cowboys from not just Texas, but all over the world to compete on a grandstage in front of the large & enthusiastic crowds. And with winnings totaling almost $750,000, these cowboys are not just competing for the love of it, there is real money up for grabs! Being not only a "rodeo", the Livestock show benefits young and future ranchers who have put in the hard work to raise these animals, and auctions are held with each animal going to the highest bidder. The Rodeo carnival is also very popular, held right outside the stadium in the parking lot. There are many rides and fun activities, as well as an endless supply of food and refreshments available. In recent years the Astrodome, right next door to Reliant Stadium, has served as a huge nightclub after the end of each show, with free admission to everyone that attended the rodeo that evening. The Rodeo is an absolute must for anyone visiting Houston during this time, if for nothing else than for the tradition that is behind it. But it is a great atmosphere to experience, and hey, you're in Texas! What better place could you imagine seeing a rodeo?!!!
Texas has a type of cow that you find nowhere else in the world, the longhorns. As the name indicates, these cows are famous for their impressive huge horns! They descend from cows brought by spanish conquerors in the XVI-XVII th centuries that went wild for a while (the cows, not the spanish, although that could be debated...) and were domesticated again. They almost went extinct by the end of the XIX th century. They were saved in extremis by a few ranchers seeing in them a symbol of Texas but also their potential for breeding with other types of cows. Longhorns are indeed very tough animals that survive well in the hard and dry western Texas. They are now ubiquitous in all of Texas.
There are other pictures of longhorns in my "Maas nursery" off-the-beaten-path tip and on my "Hurricane Humor" travelogue.
Americans are known to be very proud of their flag and put it everywhere, not only in front of official buildings but also in front of businesses or private dwellings. Well, the Texans, in addition, put the Texas flag too (the flag on the left on the pict, characterized by the "lone star")!! This is the only US state I know of which is so enamoured with their flag. Another example of Texan pride: they love to remind you that Texas was once independant (1835-1845)!
From time to time, but much more rarely, you might find the confederate flag (the one on the right in the pict). That's the flag of the Southern states during the american civil war (1861-1865). This one expresses more belonging to a Southern states spirit I suppose... The confedrate flag remains controversial, however, because for the african-american community it remains the symbol of slavery.
This sprawling city hums with the energy and independent spirit that turned it from swampland into the fourth-largest city in the U.S. Everything is big, from the towering skyscrapers, to the huge sports Astrodome that links with two Six Flags theme parks to create one gargantuan entertainment complex, to the city's prominence in aerospace, oil, shipping and finance. Even the architecture makes big, bold statements, like the medical center towers that resemble two giant syringes. A thriving business center, the city has become increasingly cosmopolitan, with an influx of diverse ethnic groups and a strong emphasis on the arts. Opera, ballet, symphony and theater are all top-notch, and museums abound. The midday heat is easily escaped inside the numerous attractions and shopping areas, particularly in the pedestrian-friendly 6.5-mile underground city. Since you're in the place that broadcast man's first step on the moon, you may want to pay a visit to Space Center Houston, where you'll be whisked into outer space through simulations and films. Once back on earth, you can hop on the tram to the complex's NASA/Johnson Space Center to watch astronauts and engineers at work and in training
There's some difference in slang. Much of it is disturbing. It's all rather useless, but here goes:
1. 'y'all' This is pronounced as one word. From 'you all', like 'What are y'all doing?' In the New York, people say 'you guys' instead.
2. If you order tea in Texas you get iced tea. You have to specify 'hot tea.' Everywhere else in the world, tea is hot tea, but this is Texas.
3. To get money from an ATM (or Bankomat for all you Europeans), you 'Pulse out.'
4. Skiing means waterskiing. The say 'snowskiing' This is utterly wrong. Skiing is on the snow. Period.
Other Texas Tidbits:
1. This is the only place where I've seen billboards and TV commericals for churchs.
These guys were playing outside a local restaurant not too far from downtown Houston. The food was excellent too.