There is so much history in San Antonio! “Remember The Alamo,” they say; the 18th-century Spanish mission is preserved as a museum, and marks the 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico. The River Walk is definitely my favorite–the pedestrian promenade along the San Antonio River offers quaint and delicious respites along the way in local cafes and shops. For local artistry, head to historic La Villita, San Antonio’s first neighborhood.
On a late January day in 2019, David and I took our furry kids for a visit of San Antonio. But before we headed downtown, we stopped to see a friend of mine from college, Michelle and her sweet family.
The first time I visited the city was in 2017 when I attended a conference downtown. To my pleasant surprise, my visit coincided with the annual Spring Fiesta, which takes place in April. The festival dates as far back as the 1800s and it honors the heroes of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto with a Battle of Flowers. I watched the boat parade from the rooftop terrace of a nearby hotel. Sipping on a margarita, we watched the beautifully decorated boats, adorned in colorful flowers, slowly snake down the river. The energy was infectious, and after having been indoors for hours of conference sessions, we were thrilled to join in the celebration. We wore multicolored flower crowns which we bought from street vendors nearby and applauded the best boat designs. Incidentally, the Battle of Flowers Parade is the only one in the country to be planned and directed completely by women. It is also the largest parade in the Fiesta, and a major fundraising event, directing millions of dollars toward services to San Antonio citizens throughout the year.
Beyond the River Walk, the city features some other interesting and prominent architectural pieces, including artwork installations throughout the Hemisfair Park, the Tower of the Americas, and the Berlin Iron Bridge built in 1890.
Of course, The Alamo was one of our stops.
The other part of town we enjoyed was La Villita, San Antonio’s first neighborhood. In addition to some of the original buildings, the area showcases local art and cuisine.
I stepped into Casa Manos Alegres attracted by the colorful woodwork beckoning from the windows. As I noticed a sign urging customers to leave the resident cats alone, a nice man walked around the corner and assured me that the cats welcomed the attention. I petted a blue-eyed golden kitty sunning next to the hand-painted chili-motif bowls while talking with the friendly store assistant. Antonio told me the story behind the hand-carved and painted figurines of all sizes displayed along the walls. The two artists come each year from Oaxaca to spend hours of meticulous work creating the beautiful artwork on site. Antonio shared some personal anecdotes and naturally chatted about life without trying to push a sale but creating a connection.
While Antonio was still talking with me about the artwork, the lady mending the checkout mentioned somewhat casually that as soon as I was done, they would be closing the store. It was approaching 4:25 p.m. and the store was supposed to close by 4 p.m. I wasn’t aware of the store hours, so I understood her wish to leave; I apologized for keeping them. She said it was OK but somehow I felt the contrast between her manner and Antonio’s: he wanted to make the sale – even if it wasn’t going to be a big ticket item. I purchased a $20 item, but I appreciated the work put in by the artist and the sales person. As I was checking out, Antonio shook my hand, wished me the best, and invited me to return soon.
I was impressed with Antonio’s salesmanship and I appreciated the work he put toward the sale. He created the interest, presented the ‘why’ for investing in the art piece, made a human connection between me and him and between me and the artist, and created a pleasant experience which created the potential for additional future sales. Well done, Antonio!
On our way back to the campground we stopped to pick up some supplies. As we pulled into the store parking lot, we were shocked at the giant flock of grackles covering everything and chattering out loud!
The evening brought us a wonderful sunset, complete with a bright waning moon.