Saturday, February 16, 2008

Deep in the heart

The last stop on my two-month odyssey was Houston, a city I had never visited before. I went for a board exam that consists of an entire day of encounters with simulated patients, all for the low, low fee of $1000 to take the test, plus airfare and accommodation. Not a very rewarding experience, I thought, but with luck I will be pronounced competent and pass the test (a requirement for various details that are coming up, such as getting a medical license).

However, I did have some time to take a quick look around Houston. And it was a very pleasant surprise! Everybody I met was unfailingly friendly and helpful. Although I didn't find too much in the way of distinguished architecture (admittedly I didn't have much time to look) I thought the city still has a distinctive character. On my night off I found a Mexican restaurant where I sat on the patio enjoying the tamales compuestos, watching a lightning storm while sprays of warm mist blew under the awning, and drinking bottles of beer that came wrapped in napkins -- it had a satisfying Gulf Coast feel, especially considering the blizzard conditions waiting for me back home. And on my way to the airport the next morning (Hobby Airport, with its charming 1930s-era control tower, not the grandiosely-named George Bush Intercontinental Airport) I even found time to stop off at the Johnson Space Center for some nerd tourism.

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