It never got light before I departed Dallas this morning. The walk from the light-rail stop to the Greyhound Station passed near to the Grassy Knoll and the Texas School Book Depository Building where JFK came a cropper. There was hardly anyone about at 6am, aside from the odd homeless person and a few keen people on their way to work. Getting a decent photo of the X on the road with the alleged crime scene in the background was impossible in this light. I think I mentioned in my last blog about how Dallas has turned this into a tourist attraction a bit creepy and morbid. Coincidentally today was the 53rd anniversary of the fateful day.
Why was I going to El Paso? It’s not exactly on the mainstream tourist trail. A few weeks ago, while researching potential places to visit, I noticed that Morrissey was playing here tomorrow night. Morrissey famously has a large Latino fanbase, so what better place to see him than bang on the Mexico-USA border? I’m a big fan of The Smiths and like quite of lot of Morrissey’s solo stuff. As a person I find him equally endearing and irritating. A few days after booking the ticket, a bus to El Paso and accommodation, I received an email saying that the show had been cancelled due to “scheduling difficulties.” This was supposed to be the last night of the tour. However it appeared that a new leg in the Mid-West had been added. Morrissey was due to play in Detroit tomorrow instead of El Paso. I used play instead of perform because as Morrissey famously said, seals perform. Anyhow, I was genuinely apoplectic. It’s one thing to cancel because of problems with the venue or illness, but it appeared as though El Paso had been simply jibbed off. Looking at some of the Morrissey internet forums there were rumours of alleged poor ticket sales. It seems that nowadays Morrissey isn’t that popular in El Paso. Having also cancelled the previous two concerts before this one, people seem unwilling to be let down again. Since the El Paso show was cancelled, the Mid-West leg of the tour was postponed, rescheduled and eventually also cancelled. The morale to this story is that making plans to see Morrissey that require booking transport or overnight accommodation is somewhat foolhardy.
I had to decide whether to still going to El Paso despite no Morrissey to see. The bus ticket was non-refundable but I still had the option of cancelling the hostel. When I looked into other potential places to visit, with it being the week of Thanksgiving, I found no better affordable options than El Paso. Getting there seemed to take forever, almost 13 hours on the bus. And we never left Texas! Confusingly El Paso is in a time zone one hour behind most of the rest of the state. The last bit of the journey was along a road so close to the Mexican border that at one point my phone thought I was actually in Mexico! Incidentally, and in contrast to a popular belief, there is already a fence along the Mexico-USA border. When I disembarked at El Paso it was 28 hours since I left for Myrtle Beach Airport yesterday. I don’t think it took John Candy and Steve Martin that long to get wherever they were going to at Thanksgiving in Planes, Trains and Automobiles!
The hostel in El Paso was really good. It’s certainly one of the more interesting ones that I’ve stayed in. Part hotel, part hostel, the Gardner Hotel is the oldest lodging in El Paso. Legend has it, in between robbing banks, John Dillinger was a guest there back in the day. The place was refurbished last year following one of those horror hotel television shows. It wasn’t the one with Gordon Ramsey, more like an American version of the Channel 5 counterpart. Obviously I watched it before making the reservation to have a look at what I was getting myself into. It actually wasn’t one of those complete disaster episodes. The main issues were with locks on doors, the interior being a bit tatty and the manager having an attitude. Since then the hostel has been done up and is great. The lobby is grandiose, with stained glass windows and lots on antiques on display, as well as a marble staircase leading upstairs. I think I may have stayed in the room that was refurbished on the television show. The original fixtures and fittings were great, and the bed was one of the comfiest I’ve stayed in, hostel-wise. I had the room of four to myself tonight, although two more guests did turn up tomorrow. The people running the hostel seemed nice so hopefully they can make a success of the business.