Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-07-16 Entry: "Catching Up 4 - Dallas"

Well, I was all set - barring the visa not having arrived, everything else was set. Then my appendix decides it would rather stay here and I'm stuck in hospital / at home / in the UK for four weeks.

After the first week at home, my Visa finally decided to put in an appearance. And bright and shiny it was too - it's a bit like the last page of the passport where your picture and personal details are, only it's a page sized sticker pasted about halfway through the passport. So, final document in place. Unfortunately, I had another week at home, then two weeks at work before I was given the all clear to fly.

It did however give me a chance to sort out a car before I went. As they gave wholesale prices on the things if you bought before you went, I got suckered in. Looking at the lists, it was amazing how many SUVs there were in the deal. As there's only me, I thought that'd be a bit overkill, so started looking at the smaller vehicles. Discarding the Ford Focus (as I have an irrational hatred for that particular car), and the really dull looking sedan model (which I can't actually remember what they were calling), I decided for a laugh to get a quote on a Mustang Convertible.

Well, that was crazy price, but the Coupe model was just about in my price bracket. It then took two more weeks to finalize which features I was getting and sort out all the documentation for the lease purchase.

So I've got a shiny Mustang to drive when I finally get out there - and yes, it's liable to be smaller than 90% of the cars on the road and totally impractical as far as luggage space is concerned, but it's liable to have a bit more power than the diesel powered tank I currently drive. It's also a manual, so it's only the hire car that I'll have to make a complete pigs ear of driving...

Then I had the temporary accommodation to sort out - being offered Marina front property was a bit of a shock, as I'd pretty much had the picture of Texas being a great big desert with a couple of big cities sticking up out of the middle of it. This, however, sent me scrabbling for a map. Texas is apparently rather green (at least half of it is green / blue in the atlas I used) - it's only the western half that's desert / mountain. And I guess the green-ness explains why they've managed to have horrendous flooding (so horrendous in fact that the news report showed a house floating down stream).

So I've got a comfortable one bed apartment for the first month with pretty much everything included (and there's a gym, half a dozen swimming pools, etc, etc...). It's also only about two miles from the office, so if it wasn't expected to be hideously hot, it'd be pretty much within walking distance! Not that I imagine any Texan would even consider walking it (so there probably aren't any footpaths to get there). I'm pretty much under the assumption that (to Texans) 100 yards down the road is too far to walk and the car is essential - we shall see if my assumptions are correct or not shortly.

The packers are all set to come (allegedly - although they've gone rather quiet so they'd better turn up), work final piss-up has been done (although the turn-out was one friend from uni and two colleagues from work), and I've even started packing... that's four days early! That must be a record!

Now all I need is for the IRS to lose my visa paperwork and not be able to get a social security number for eight weeks (as the last guy to go out there had happen). I have plenty of traveller's cheques, but I'd rather not have to subsist on them for eight weeks before I can get payed...

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