My husband and I were in Texas recently visiting family and took time out for a quick overnight in San Antonio. We stayed at a hotel on the River Walk. It may not be Venice but it's a lot closer and delightful. We bypassed the tour boats ($8.00 for a thirty minute ride packed like sardines) and got a 24 hour pass for the river taxi for $10 instead. We only used them three times but what a delight.
Mostly we were on the boats by ourselves with the drivers who answered all our questions and gave us many of the details from the tour. (The tour boat pilots take a turn every two weeks on the taxis.) The taxis travel more of the river than the tours as well so you see a lot more. The night ride was particularly beautiful with everything lit up and glowing and the reflection of the lights on the water.
We also took an early morning ride when the clean-up boats were out gathering all the debris with their double dragnets. Two mallard families were shooing their babies out of the way of the boats. Mallards, herons, coots, and other water birds along with the pigeons were a constant source of entertainment as were the tourists. The sidewalk cafes offered a great spot for people-watching: sweethearts holding hands, families, little children. I worried about one little boy who was well ahead of his parents and awfully close to the water's edge.
We've visited the Alamo in the past, a really moving experience, so this time we went to the Mission dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The diocese still operates it as a parish but the government maintains it as a park - don't recall whether it's a state or national park.
It's beautifully preserved and what a moving experience to kneel before the tabernacle with the sanctuary light lit and pray the rosary as so many Spanish and Indian families must have done almost 400 years ago.
San Antonio - from its name, to its four missions, to its history - brims over with the Catholic faith. Isn't it ironic that a people whose entire past is rooted in Catholic and Protestant Christianity are allowing a liberal government to systematically strip its heritage with so little protest. If it doesn't make you angry, it should.
My small protest is to take photos of religious places and things, have them made into note cards at Shutterfly, and use them as a subliminal reminder to my family and friends of who we are. We need to remember and nurture our religious roots. They define our identity as a country and a people dedicated to and created by God.