5 Things I Noticed About Moving to Houston
By Kyle Nazario
Houston is a funny town. Really. You don’t think about it, but there are lots of little things that other cities don’t have. Speaking as somebody who moved here from London last week, I keep noticing quirks, oddities that stand out to me.
This city looks different when you’re looking at it through new eyes. Here are five things I’ve noticed after a week in Houston.
Your Road System is Hell
Driving around downtown Houston for the first time was an experience. I was shocked at the crisscrossing interweb of concrete paths and roads. This city stacks highways on top of highways on top of roads on top of what I can only assume are the hundreds of workers needed to build them all.
The worst part is that I can’t even drive on all the roads without a stupid pass. EZPass is a misnomer, because its existence is making my life harder. Google Maps tried to send me down one tollway that was EZPass-only. Trying to find an alternate route around that was fun.
This whole city is a hellish mess of highways and roads that run alongside highways and certain tollways that charge you money just for driving through. How is paying per trip more convenient that raising your taxes? Christ, just pay a $100 extra per year or whatever and be done with it.
Then there’s parking. Don’t get me wrong, parking in any big city sucks. But $10 for an hour is highway robbery. What else can I do, take the bus?
Delicious, Delicious Mexican Food
The worst part about studying in Europe is finding good Mexican food. You try looking for Mexicans who’ve made the trip across the pond and opened a restaurant. It’s almost impossible.
In Houston? Mexican food is everywhere. This city is a wonderful smorgasboard of tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas and quesadillas.
You all better appreciate this city’s Mexican food. Not everybody gets this stuff with the same quantity and quality as Houston.
The Bus System Is Confusing and Unreliable
Maybe I’m spoiled by European bus systems. They leave maps at every bus stop listing which routes stop there and where they’re going. They even list times, right there on the sign. You know, so you actually know when the bus is coming.
That is so much easier than trying to ride Houston buses, which arrive whenever they arrive and offer no information by the sign. Carrying around a little pamphlet of the stops and times for a single route is annoying. Why isn’t this stuff already posted?
Here’s an example of why this is important. At one point, I found myself lost in east London and across the city from where I was staying, with no idea how to get home. I made it back by reading the signs they leave at every stop. You know, the signs that Houston doesn’t have. I’d have never made it if that had happened here.
The People Are Friendly
Houstonians have treated me well so far. Everyone’s been warm, open and welcoming. People who don’t know me greet me on the street. One woman helped me downtown.
Again, maybe it’s the contrast with Europe. The British don’t talk to each other or make eye contact or anything. People here are more than happy to make small talk.
The Politics are Mixed and Fascinating
I’ve been working on stories about Houston’s political scene. The contrast and dynamic between liberal and conservative groups fascinates me.
On one hand, this is Texas. You all get stereotyped as conservative cowboys for electing conservative cowboy types (see Rick Perry). On the other hand, Houston elected a mayor who takes her wife to parades. If that doesn’t say liberal, I don’t know what does.
Houston strikes me as a city of liberals with a significant conservative population, all inside one of the reddest states in the nation.
by Guest Author