Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Roadie: Monterrey, Mexico

The view from the overpass connecting my brother's neighborhood with
one of the many commercial areas. (7/30/13)
This summer I travelled with my mother to Monterrey, Mexico, where my brother lives and works. It was her first trip on an airplane in 40 years, and the first time I had been out of the country (other than frequent trips to Canada), so it was something of a "big deal." Like many Americans, much of what I knew about Mexico was limited to the depictions of the country and its people in movies and television. Over the course of the 8 days we were in Mexico, we got to see quite a few "sides," of the country, beginning with our introduction to the city of Monterrey.

The mountains are visible from nearly every point; this is outside my brother's apartment. (7/30/13)
Before we even left the United States, we had been warned. Once we had decided to take the trip in April, and made these attentions know to our government, my mother and I would receive regular updates as to the dangers involved. Currently Monterrey, Mexico, is under a "severe travel warning," and has been for some time. Problems include, ominously, "kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico." Scary stuff, to be sure. But, I am posting this from the comfort of my upstate New York home, so we did make it back unscathed, and if anything, found the people we encountered to be extremely inviting and pleasant. Of course, this is large part to the assistance we gained from the benefit of both my brother's experiences (he's been there six years) and, even more so, from the kind support of his friends who are native Mexicans, as well as being very proficient in English.

Outside the middle-class apartment complex in which my brother sub-leases a unit. (7/30/13)
Monterrey (Spanish pronunciation: [monteˈrei] is the capital city of the northeastern state of Nuevo León in the country of Mexico, and is anchor to the third-largest metropolitan area in Mexico. Our semi-comfort with the city may be the result of the city's status as the most "Americanized" city in the entire country, even above the cities along the U.S-Mexico border.

The view from the terrace of my brother's office in the Instituto Tecnológico y
de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey research building.(7/30/13)
As noticeable in the pictures here, especially below, there always seems to be a perpetual haze around Monterrey. While I suggested to some folks that this may be the result of pollution, they assured me these were low lying clouds. The pictures with the grey skies (as below) were taken during the mid-day, while those with deeper blue hues were the product of some early morning walks. Either way, once you leave Monterrey proper, the area does open into a more "big sky" environment.

The Haze. (7/30/13)
There were some specific locales within Monterrey that we toured, and those pictures would be better shared, I think, in the next few posts. To be fair, some pictures I would have liked to take, such as of the ever-present "federale" and police, with machine guns and armor, I did not do this. Some things are perhaps as they appear on television and the open back cars patrolling certain areas of the city with standing officers in the back are indeed accurate. That being said, there was no time when I felt threatened... not that I didn't avoid eye contact or smiling when we drove through occasional roadside check points...

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