Austin Trip, 2012, Day 1: Deanna Tyler (May 31, 2012)

Austin. It’s my state’s capital, and I’ve never been in the actual city. The big city has always just been a sight to drive by for my family when we drive through the state. As one can imagine, my anticipation for this weekend was quite high.

On the way to Austin, Melva Gomez, Annel Gonzales, Christian Bionat and I experienced a few adventures that are quite comical now.  As we approached Austin, we took a few wrong exits, became lost, and ultimately ended up about 30 feet into a corn field.  Add a few problems with a toll road, and you’ve got quite the adventure.

Our first stop was Mount Bonnell, where we hiked up a “path” of our own making.  We had several photo opportunities with breath-taking views of the city and Lake Austin…

…including one in which I held the moon…

Deanna Tyler, Holding the Moon

We also saw a dead tarantula—the only good type of tarantula, in my opinion.

Following our various photo ops, we set out for dinner at an Ethiopian Restaurant.  When I saw the astro-turf floors and words I could not pronounce on the menu, I decided to be brave and just accept the fact that it’s all about the experience.

I ordered Keyi Siga Wott, “tender beef cubes stewed with Berbere Sauce, on onions, garlic, and ginger root.”  The rest of the members ordered different items, allowing us to sample diverse items.  When our waiter, who was Ethiopian, brought our food, we were in awe of the presentation.  The entrees were arranged in circular patterns on large trees, surrounded by some 24 Ethiopian side dishes.

The waiter went on to explain that it is customary in Ethiopia to serve the dishes family style—using your hands and Injera to eat the food.  Injera, incidentally, is made from a grain called “tef”.  By itself, it is not all that tasty.  When dipped in the different entrees from lamb, chicken, beef, and tons of spices, it was quite tasty.  After sampling just about everyone’s entrees, I decided that my favorite was the one that I ordered!

After filling our stomachs with spicy foods, it was time for the Junior Fellows to return to the hotel to have some downtime and to prepare for the next day. My first real day in Austin has been quite eventful and a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend.

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