Welcome to the "Big D" the city where everything is BIG

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July 4th 2011
Published: July 4th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Well... there we are, welcome to the "Big D", the city in Texas where everything is BIG. The city where the thermometers are big to cope with the extremely high temperatures (have been here just over a week and temperature hasn't dropped below 38C or 95F), the city where the fake boobies are REALLY big (excuse my French, but I am a guy and with these high temperatures and resulting skimpy clothes they do stand out... and there are many of them too, so no use in trying not to see them!), the city where cars and portion sizes are of course big, and I can go on like that for a little while... anyway, let me try and give you a quick update on what has happened over the past week.

The flight over to Dallas was ok'ish... of course after being used to Singapore Airlines everythign sucks, but even without SIA this was a pretty average flight. I had to pay for my beer, the food was absolutely horrible (microwave pizza and a pasta with a bunch of cheese on top is not what you are hoping for on a long-haul flight) and the service was crap. Oh well... it was a day flight, so watched a few movies and made the most out of the time to relax. Upon arrival we were expecting an extended interrogation by US customs, but to our surprise we were done in 5 minutes. The lady behind the counter was extremely friendly, welcomed us to Texas and even went as far as to give advice on nice places to live! She was the first in a long line of very friendly Texans... it is true what they see about the Texans being friendly, people you meet on the street, people working in stores, even when driving a car: they are all desperate to ensure that no accidents happen, give you right of way even if they don't have to, and even let pedestrians cross when their traffic light is on red. Compare that to Australia and we felt like sliding into a hot-tub on a cold winter's night.. aahhhh....

So we were in the rental car office within an hour after landing, when the first snag hit us. I realised I had left my Aussie driver license behind in the Netherlands... that's what happens when you need to leave it behind as a deposit and you're playing pool for 4 hours with your best mate and drinking too many Duvel (Ray: if you do get a chance you're more than welcome to check it out with the Breakaway :-)!) Anyway, still had my Dutch license so no harm done. Then off we went... glad we had Miepie with us (our navigation system) coz we would have been lost in 5 minutes. Man, those highways here are BIG, and complex too... we made it to the apartment in about 40 minutes and it was quite nice. Quick run to the supermarket to stock up on healthy stuff (we were craving for veggies, fruit and heaps of water after stuffing ourselves the last weeks in Aus, Italy and NL) and head back home to be in bed by 8pm, yayy for jetlag!

Next morning we were planning on picking up our Texan driver licenses, but unfortunately Jacqx came down with a migraine. She decided to join me to the office anyway. Arrived there at 8:20am with a minor queue so thought it would go ok, we were only there to swap in our overseas license for a Texan license in the end... when it was our turn we were told though we'd have to do the written and road tests again, can you believe it!! Very frustrating, so stood in line to do the tests. Our numbers came up (unfortunately Jacqx had to pass her turn coz she was in the bathroom puking her guts out) so I went to the counter. Did the eye tests, then thought to give the written test a go. Road rules are the same everywhere don't you think?? Slight problem is that they measure things in feet and inches here, so when they ask you how far you can park your car from the kerbstones you needsome guessing... anyway, passed the test with 78% with 70% the lower limit so all good. Expecting to do the road test straight after so we could tick this off our list... told thatno more tests could be done that day (it was 11am) and that I had to come back the next day... VERY early... ok, can do. Went back home and made sure Jacqx went to bed to recover, and I went to the bank to open up an account. Things at the bank went relatively easy I guess... only needed a letter from my employer to verify my current address and things could be organised. So went back, sent the email to have the letter put together and that was it. Went back to check up on Jacqx, and she was doing much better! Didn't do much more that night as we were both exhausted and with the jetlag our bodies gave out again around 7pm or so...

Tuesday we got up early (6am) to ensure we would arrive on time for my road test. Got there by 7am, so plenty of time before they open at 8am.... you'd think. Upon arrival we could see the queue turning 2 corners around the building.. there must have been at least 80 people in front of us! So I was not a happy camper, and was expecting the worst... when they came out at 7:45am to hand out the dockets, the last docket was presented to a person who was standing just in front of us in the queue with only 2 people between us!! Can you believe it... I was absolutely fuming and frustrated, whereas Jacqx could see the fun of it all and couldn't stop laughing... not funny... we used that day to our advantage though, drove around town quite a bit, went to Target (comparable to Hema in NL or Big W in OZ) to check up on a few things, amongst which a new Miepie. We had to pay $13 a day for renting Miepie and I figured we could purchase Miepie for much less. it was our lucky day coz they had a special on, Miepie for $99 so we purchased our own Miepie and brought rental Miepie back to the rental agency. We also started looking for a new water kettle... man, that was hard work! People in the US don't use water kettles that much... they use a microwave to boil water to make a cup of thea (duhh....) or they simply use the stove to boil it. We tried to explain to the guy at Target but he didn't know what we meant and sent us elsewhere. We checked a few more stores but nobody knew what we were after!! Moving overseas can be hard work sometimes, sigh...

That night we decided to go out for dinner to treat ourselves a bit after a long day (we left at 6:30am and didn't come home until 6pm after a full day driving around Dallas doing all kinds of things). We ended up going to West Village, a small mall in the Uptown area (this is the "happening" place in Dallas, comparable to St Kilda in Melbourne or... uhhh.... no place in Rotterdam coz not much happening there ;-)... West Village is like a big square of about 70-100 shops/ restaurants/ cafes and very much alive both day and night. Somebody told us about a Mexican place there, where they supposedly had awicked frozen margarita (need to explain that. Frozen margaritas are the staple drink in Texas. With temperatures hovering between 95-105F/ 35-45C for about 6 months a year, coffee is not as big as in NL or AU. Frozen margaritas are what you need to survive! Combination of tequila, grand marnier, fresh fruit juice in the consistency of a slush puppy (as wel call them in NL) or a slurpie (as we call them in AU) and away you go!). Ok, so this place was famous for its Mambo Taxi, acombination of a raspberry margarita and a lime margarita, mixed together in a swirl in the same glass... ok, we were sold, or at least I was, hahaha!! Of course ordered the mambo taxi (Jacqx being the sensible one and ordering a water) and it was amazing. I understand why they say you shouldn't have more than 2 in a row, hard work... the food was really good too. Portion sizes not too big, good quality chicken and prawns (I had a chicken fajita with spicy tomato sauce and Jacqx ordered a taco with grilled jumbo prawns and guacamole...yummm....) and a great location. Only bummer was the temperature of 38C at 8pm, but we could have decided to eat inside too so no complaints (we are Dutch after all, think our national emblem should be a lizard: find the warmest spot you can find and soak up the heat).

Next morning an even earlier start, 5am, to really beat the queue this time! Upona rrival there were still around 40 people already there queing up...can you believe it? Welcome to the US of A! Everything is convenient and easy as long as you can pay for it (shops/ restaurants/ valet parking/ etc.) but as soon as it's government there is nothing convenient about it, just be lukcy you get served. Thank god the 2 hours waiting were made heaps easier with Gabi calling Jacqx on her mobile (calling internationally to/ from the US is so much cheaper than AU...we can actually call landlines in 40 countries for free once we sign up for our permanent mobile contracts... and calling to the US is only like 1c or something silly) so time passed by fast. When I did receive the docket for the driving test (yayy... felt like a victory in itself) we quickly found the next hurdle.... liability insurance for your car! In the US you need to provide your own car for the road test... and we had a car, but only had it put in Jackie's name coz we would have had to pay $10 extra per day to have it in both our names. As I would be working and Jacqx having the car we decided it was a waste of money to do so..... but this also meant liability insurance was also in her name only!! So we weren;t sure what to do... what our turn in line or hurry to the rental agency and add my name to the contract. We decided to wait in the queue, and luckily we did coz we could make an appointment for the test at 11am, ample time for us to drive to the rental agency and back... sigh.... it even gave us time tostop at Starbuck's for a well-deserved coffee (which btw is cheaper than in AU too... a double espresso for $1.95 whereas I thought the $3 in AU was not too expensive compared to the 3 euros in NL). ANyway, arrived at 11am ready for the test... was expecting the worst and was quite anxious as I heard from a lady she failed after hitting the kerbstone with the parking exercise (parallet parkeren in Dutch, not sure of the English word for it anymore). Jacqx went back in the queue to try and do her written test whilst I was doing the road test... well,5 minutes and 1 one lap around the block later (literally!!! I had to do the parking test, jump on the road, do a left, followed by a right, right and right, and was back again in 5 minutes) I had passed the test and had my Texas driver license, woohoo!! One big victory after all the hassles (not to say that I can finally say that I have passed my driving test in one go, after failing it three times in NL, ssshhhh......) and frustration why this had to be so hard when it only meant 5 minutes and paying $25. Just let me pay the $25 and give me the bloody license...oh well, that's the US for you again I guess...

Then it was to the bank to open our account with all information from my employer, and that went smoothyl too, yaayyy another victory... Jackie & Robin 2 - US of A 0, haha!! During the week we also found our favourite supermarket EVER.... the Wholefoodsmarket... whomever loves fresh, organicand healthy food, will just loveour new supermarket!! We actually found a location on Monday, then came across another one on Tuesday and yet another one on Wednesday. So on Wednesday I said to Jacqx: djeez..these shops all look pretty much alike, don't they?? As we were having a bite to eat there (you can actually order healthy salads, good pizzas, take-away beer and wine and eat it there!) Jacqx realised it had been the same store after all... so it was the third time in the same store, with us thinking it was 3 different stores all this time.... itsn't that a great example of how big and complex Dallas is?? We didn't have a clue where we were all the time, and I am pretty good at finding the way usually, but this time I failed miserably...

Ok, back to the whitegood story... buying a water kettle... luckily we got some outside help (thanks again Gabi!) and realised it's not called a water boiler or water heater, but a water kettle... and Walmart and target do sell them, yayyy!!! JnR 3 - US of A 0... we were finally starting to feel that we were starting to understand Dallas. Until we went shopping for a laundry rack.... pitch horror music.... did anybody realise Americans do not USE DRYING RACKS TO DRY THEIR LAUNDRY???? We drove to Target, then to Walmart, then to Lowe's who told us that another Lowe's store 15 miles away had one... which we found after searching for ages and happened to be gnome size, so went to Home Depot who didn't have one either... so in the end we drove bloody 50 (!!!!!!) miles (approx 80km) to try and look for a drying rack, spent 4 hours driving around, and came to the conclusion that Americans don't use them!! They only use the electric dryer and that's it... back home by 10pm we (well, I was, Jacqx was laughing once again...) were pretty frustrated... Jackie and Robin 3 - US of A 1... so we jumped online, and found that Amazon sells them with a 8 day delivery window... still a nice voctory for the US of A but at least we aren't complete failures. Early Thursday morning we had decided to make it a quiet and easy day as I had to work the day after... but with the hunt for water kettles and laundry racks this meant a full 12-hour shift until we made it home...

We did go for a run on Thursday. There is a great running trail close to where we live (the Katy Trail) a 3.5mile (5.5km) running trail that goes pretty much through the centre of Dallas, buthas so many trees and parks that you feel away from it all. Absolutely perfect, but with the heat it is not a stroll in the park... man, did we die a couple of times...

Friday I had my first day at work. The drive to the office was great, 15 minutes and I was there (thanks again Miepie!. People were extremly friendly, the office is probably the best and most beautiful I have ever worked in so no complaints! Was given a desk which overlooks the lake behind the office, which btw has a jogging trail which I need to try out some time, and I had no problems adjusting at all. One of the guys I will be working with now and again took me to lunch, a true-blue Texan bbq pit.This was more what I was expecting: big portions, lots of meat, a coke from a pitcher glass (the straw made drinkingeasier though) and a tiny bowl of coleslaw... it was tasy though! Great first experience, and happy again to have made the move. Saturday we decided to do one more of those "quiet" days.Started of at Starbuck's where we spent over an hour relaxing, talking and enjoying doing nothing... then we got a call from a lday we had emailed the day before on a website like Marktplaats.nl/ Tradingpost.com.au who could help us in finding a new apartment. Well, she had time that afternoon and we could meet up with her to look at a few places. Well, that took us nearly 3 hours all in all, but we did end up finding an awesome 3-storey townhouse in the center of Uptown close to all cafes, restaurants and shops, with our private garage on the first floor, massive bedroom on third floor with walk-in closet and large ensuite bathroom, well-equipped kitchen with all appliances... and all that for much less than what we paid in AU! Not to forget the small swimming pool and gym that are on-site and we can use too!! All in all another long day, but with finding a new place to live no complaints! We decided to celebrate to go for sushi in Uptown that night... great restaurant, great food, great prices, love it!

On Sunday we met up with a friend from one of Jackie's good friends from NL. He is Dutch, married to an American girl (very familiar to Ange and Marco) with a girl of 7 and another one in the oven. Great couple, and we actually found out that Dennis works across the road from my office!! How funny is that... so we have decided to go for lunch sometime and meet up more often. They live in Frisco, a suburb all the way to the north of Dallas, and about 45 minutes away from Uptown where we will be living. Should be fun, and great to already know a few local people. After lunch with them (another Tex-Mex restaurant, this one not as good as the one in West Village) we jumped in the car and went shooping for a new bed. We had seen an ad in the paper the day before for a high-quality boxspring for less than $1,000 at a place that sells stock from stores that have gone into bankruptcy. So we got ourselves a great bargain, and the bed is by far the best bed we have ever owned, can't wait to have it in our new place and sleep in it!! It was very hot again on Sunday, so I went to the pool as we came homeand had a beer and relaxed a bit in the shade.. I can get used to Dallas lifestyle!!

Today is Monday, July 4th Independence Day celebration. We took it easy today, went for a run, relaxed at home, I'm at the pool writing this story just now, and about to go back home. We'll begoing to a large park in Dallas where there is a big festival on, and major fireworks tonight for the celebration. The festival is going to be very American probably, hotdogs, hamburgers and the like... but when in Rome do as the Romans do,right?!

Well... this was our first week, no idea when the next update will follow. I will update now and again, not as often as when in AU so don't get all upset with me if it takes a while!!

See you all next time :-)
Jackie and Robin


4th July 2011

Hmzz engels
Mooi verhaal maar zou je het willen vertalen Dat leest wat makkelijker ;-) Anyway was really nice to read how you two are doing. I was really curious. I will check for your drivers license maybe tomorrow otherwise later this week. By the way with 38°C..why do you need a drying rack? Just throw your laundry in the air and when you catch it again, its dry. Do you have a perminent internet connection now? Hope to talk to you both very soon. Enjoy Ray
26th August 2011

heej oldie ;-)... Engels is goed voro je, leer je van!!! ben blij voor je hypotheek man, helemaal super!!!! Maak er een mooi feest van :-)

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