Corpus Christi is a city in South Texas. A lot of people wonder why we added it onto our itinerary; there were a few reasons – we had some friends there, we wanted to see where they had grown up, and we wanted to experience a little Texan life away from the main cities. We had no real idea what to expect, so we went in with an open mind.
Fun facts: Corpus Christi means “body of Christ” in Latin, and is the eight most populous city in Texas, with around 320, 434 people. Thanks, Wikipedia. What we hadn’t really realised was that its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico gives it a very warm climate, so we were pretty thrilled to be able to walk around in our summer clothes and look at palm trees (remember, we had just been through a 6-month winter in Prague).
After a beautiful reunion with our friends, Tim and Robin, we all went out to a seafood restaurant called Laguna Reef. As a coastal city, there’s an abundance of seafood there. We were a little dismayed by the use of plastic cups, straws and cutlery, but as we continue to travel around the US it seems that restaurants handing out disposable cups and cutlery seems to be the norm. As somebody who tends to stash plastic forks in my bag for re-use, telling myself I’ll find a use for them until I find crushed up tines hiding under my keys, I (Gwynnie) find this quite stressful. We currently have a stash of these in our car and have been carting around recyclable items in the hope of finding somewhere to take them – sadly, most people we speak to don’t seem to know where one can recycle plastic items.
The seafood was good, although everything was deep-fried so it was a little difficult to truly appreciate the sea flavours! We shared a couple of platters, meaning we got to try crabs, gulf fish, shrimp, and also hushpuppies, which are sort of like falafel made with cornmeal. We also drank iced tea, which I’m told is quite the rage in Corpus. It’s still a ways off from competing with Thai iced tea, but it was good (and very sweet).
They say when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so when our hosts offered to take us to a shooting range we jumped at the chance. Now, I am no big advocate of gun ownership, although I am trying to understand the mentality behind owning them. Being from the UK, I have been brought up to find the idea of carrying a gun around in my handbag totally crazy, and whenever stories about school shootings or toddlers accidentally killing their parents with loaded guns found around the house come out, it confirms the idea that it’s far too easy for people to get their hands on firearms in the US. On the other hand, we are not the kind of people to dismiss people’s views out of hand, so we have been trying to talk to people to get their perspective on gun ownership. I have to say that I can understand the feeling of wanting to own a firearm if you know that everyone around you might also own one, and after hearing stories of the police refusing to come and help somebody whose house was being burgled because of budget cuts, the mentality of needing to be able to defend oneself starts to make more sense.
Anyway, we got to the gun range, got our ear and eye protection, and walked into the shooting range, where I saw a small child firing off several rounds into a target while his admiring father filmed him. I flinched every time I heard a gunshot, and I suddenly found myself getting really shaky and upset. Everything I’d read from my time in peacebuilding came to me, and I started thinking about how easy it is to take a human life, how easily something could go wrong and one of us could end up dead, how it only takes one second to destroy several people’s lives… I don’t know, the long story short is that I felt sick and panicked and couldn’t stay in there for very long. But I did fire a handgun a few times, and my aim sucked.
Anna fired both a handgun and a ridiculously massive shotgun, which kicked back into her shoulder with surprising force. After our afternoon of guns, we headed out to downtown Corpus, which was all jazzed up
for a St Patrick’s Day parade. There were food stands all around, selling everything from smoked turkey legs to fancy tacos and green beer. It seems to be a thing in the States to colour beer or rivers green to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, so we bought a green beer just for the novelty and barely drank it. The food was pretty good, though; we had a kebab and a Korean taco, which had kimchi and some other random stuff on it.
There, we met up with some more of our friend T’s friends and walked around a little. We had some tequila shots before heading back to our hosts’ house, where we played board games and tried Bluebell ice-cream in several flavours, which was really good (especially with hot fudge sauce on it)!
The following morning, our hosts showed us around the seafront a little, near the aquarium. We took a few photos before heading off on our onward journey to Houston!