Dallas, TX -
We officially had our best meal of the entire trip (restaurants included) with EZ and Jules in Dallas.
EZ made vegetarian tacos - each ingredient was cared for and spiced and perfect. The options for taco insides: applewood smoked zuccini, portabella mushrooms, poblano peppers, bell peppers jalepenos, and chiles; oaxacan cheese; a bean concotion that was full of complex flavors; and homemade guacamole. Jules had warmed blue corn tortillas in a pan on the stove. We had a texas blonde ale as we stood around the kitchen and a yummy white wine with the meal.
Greg and I have had a lot of uninentional vegetarian food. But this was a meal of intention. And it was amazing. I could not stop eating.
Jule and EZ were both super friendly and playful (each in their own way). I loved watching Jules walk on the high ledge of garden planters and touch all of the plants that looked like they had an interesting texture. EZ told great stories and talked so openly about his love for Jules. Jules later told us about the way that EZ wrote - his letters like poetry.
Greg and I had so much fun. We got to see a lot of the parts of Dallas that we wouldnt have discovered on our own. I feel like I could live there - as long as I could still hang out with Jules and EZ.
EZ told many stories about helping strangers and Jules talked about how her family was so much different than EZ's - almost an opposite. They both talked about their pasts as huge contributions to their feelings towards others. And of course this is something we all understand but it is also something very important. Our families help shape us in such huge ways.
I think the people in Paris are the friendliest we've encountered. Everyone we talked to sort of took responsibility for us, they became invested in our safety. Our first experience there (always influential on the outcome of the day) was at the public Library. I had an interview with KNPR and they needed a landline. A couple of days before hand Greg had called to see if they could he us. And the director, Priscilla had very generously offered to lend us her office. When we got there everyone was super nice.
Priscilla was friendly and offered to put us up if had some bad luck. And we met Leigh who
offered the same and had us follow her to a place to get an oild change on her way out because she was worried her directions might be bad. Priscilla called the local newspaper to get someone to do a story on us. Both woman were super energetic and friendly and funny and kind.
We got our oil changed at Paris Express Car Care (The Penzoil place across from Wal-Mart). For everyone in Paris - THESE GUYS ARE AMAZING. We mostly talked to the manager, Matt who was super friendly and did a lot of extra stuff for us for free. He was so nice and gave us safety advice as well as teaching us a few quick fixes for our car. So if you are ever in Paris, TX - go visit these guys. and the Library.
We had lunch and our waiter was super friendly, young and hospitable and funny.
We of course visit the eiffel tower.
Finally we made it to the downtown area to talk to some strangers. First stopping at Paris, Baby. A small baby botique. One of the co-owners was working and she was super friendly, offering to find us a place and (later we discovered) making her facebook status about our project, we got about three text messages later in the afternoon. We went to the wine shop - the only local place to buy alcohol for the last 30 years, because Paris had been a dry town until very recently. The son of the owner was super nice, talking to us for nearly 45 minutes and giving me a glass of very cold, very sweet, white wine. His pregnant wife was super nice too and had some ideas for us.
Eventually we found our way into Spanglers. Where we met John. John was friendly and spoke openly about the fact that he felt like America and Americans had changed - they were no longer true Americans. Usually I can tell when someone is going to take us in. I am almost always right. I wasnt sure about John though, and after some funny miscommunication - with Greg's phrasing and John's only occasionally poor hearing, John did not understand what we were asking. Greg, in our usually follow up question said, "So why didnt you invite us into your home" And John said, "What? Oh, I am sorry. " and then "I think that would be fine."
After a bit of faltering and explaining, we met his wife Stella, who also smiled and agreed right away.
John took us on a small tour of the area - we saw the factories and the other neighboorhoods and the Jesus in cowboy boots in the cemetary.
When we got home we waited for a bit for Stella and she came home with Mark, a friend of theirs who they had sort of adopted into their family.
The five of us went for Mexican food and conversation.
Then we talked inthe parking lot for a long while.
Then we talked over dessert.
It was a lot of interesting conversation.
John is an ex-rancher turned mortician turned local downtown shop owner. We heard about the time he contracted TB from a corpse, a time where he contacted another very painful disease from a corpse. We talked to Mark about his time in Alaska and his family.
Lesson of the day: surprises. The evening just kep suprising us. We kept stumbling into interesting conversation. An even John and Stella were a suprise. Because we thought they'd said no and then they said yes. Two days ago we had the opposite, but this feels much better.