Upon arrival to our downtown San Antonio hotel, we quickly checked in and needed to make a very important decision…What should we eat? After early flights out of Indy we all had gotten quite hungry –and having hungry graduate students is never good. We decided to take the advice of one of the hotel’s employees and quickly made our way to Moses Rose’s Hideout. They are known for their in-house smoked brisket, fresh burgers, and live music. When we walked up to the restaurant we were greeted by a curious fellow who led us into the restaurants foyer, which appeared to dead end. He then informed us that everyone must perform a trick in order to gain entrance into the restaurant or face a heavy cover charge. He suggested jumping on one foot, hula-hooping, or rubbing your belly while patting your head.
We all took our turns, not all that concerned about being embarrassed in front of each other – it’s definitely not the first time that has happened. He then pressed a button on the wall which opened the secret door to the hideout. As we walked through the saloon doors we were greeted by the other patrons with rounds of applause and soon realized that there was a live video feed into the restaurant of our less than stellar moves.
However the air in the room was full of smoke from the smoking briskets and the amazing smells and thoughts of food quickly replaced our minor embarrassments. All of us knew brisket had to be the food of choice. Jessica and Cheneta went for brisket topped burgers, Justin got a brisket sandwich, and Dr. Latham, Ryan, and I went for the brisket tacos topped with pico de gallo and guacamole, they were fantastic! And so began Dr. Latham and my taco challenge! We are going to eat some sort of taco (defined as anything wrapped in a tortilla) at least once a day.
So stay tuned for future food and exploring posts as we make our way south to Falfurrias!
Besides working in the field, last summer’s Texas trip provided our team many opportunities to get to know the community of Falfurrias. The community was so welcoming to our team and I am excited to return to Fal this summer to reconnect with all of them.
One such community member was Arturo “Art” Garcia; he is one of the four Brooks County Constables and would visit us at the scene everyday to see how everything was going and if he could help. He was such a sweet man and was kind enough to invite all of us hungry students into his home for an authentic Mexican home-cooked meal. Hearing his family’s story of how his mother migrated into the United States brought the entire story into perspective for me. Art and his brother Ovivio work in Brooks County and I look forward to catching up with them again this year.
We were also able to sit in on the Brooks County Border Patrol meeting discussing the stations updates for the past quarter. There we were able to interact with not only the Border Patrol officers but also the local ranchers. It was amazing to hear the many rescue stories led by the Border Patrol and to see a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the challenges the county is facing on immigration issues.
One of my many favorite nights in Falfurrias was when we were invited to the Lasater Ranch. When it was founded it was one of the largest ranches in Texas, consisting of around 350,000 acres of land. The town of Falfurrias was named from this founding ranch called La Mota de Falfurrias. The Lasater’s invited all of us back to the ranch for a home cooked meal and a relaxing evening. We got to see their beautiful property and resident peacocks and flock of turkeys.
The fields surrounding their home were full of beautiful purple Heart’s Delight flowers, which are only found in Southern Texas. It was such an honor to be invited into their home, another example of the gracious attitude seen in the people of Falfurrias.
As far as being in the field, our days would not have been the same without Chief Deputy Urbino “Benny” Martínez and Lionel Muñoz. They work for the Brooks County Sheriff department and would visit the cemetery everyday to check on our daily progress and to see if we needed anything. Lionel even volunteered his trailer to post at the scene for an additional bathroom and a nice cool place to organize paperwork or simply for a quick chill off during a long hot day of digging.
Last, but certainly not least, was our adopted field cat, Sunny. She was a local to the hotel we were staying at and was quickly named and fed by many. Our crew named her Sunny and one of the other students would give her cat treats everyday when we would return from the field.
The community of Falfurrias was beyond generous during our time there; it made the field season somewhat like a second home, and I am more than a little excited to return for another field season.