Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The City of the Mountains

Ah, Monterrey, the "City of the Mountains", you have captured my heart.

I've just returned from a week-long excursion to central Mexico. What an adventure! What an adventure and what a blessing! I have a million things to show you: chandeliers in caves... the sunset in Saltillo... a volcanic mountain hike... and so forth. But for now, let me drag out my pictures and show you my favorite part of the trip: Monterrey, Mexico. The City of the Mountains. Here she is, the way I saw her.

The Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de Monterrey. Began in 1770, this cathedral serves as the seat for the local archdiocese. As I laced my fingers through its ornate iron gate and gazed up to the tip-top, I realized I was hardly breathing. It's that spectacular in person.

Even from across the street.

On now to La Macroplaza, one of the world's largest plazas and the seat of cultural (and shopping!) goings-on in Monterrey.

Monterrey is second in size only to Mexico City. It's a capital city... the capital of Nuevo Leon. The city bustles, but in a siesta/it's-too-humid-to-move kind of way.

(Don't be fooled by the mountains in the distance. This place was not cool. And don't be fooled -as I was - by claims of "air conditioning". Two things, I learned, mean very different things in our separate cultures: "tacos" and "air conditioning". In Mexico, "air conditioning" is a one-bladed, wobbly ceiling fan or a rolled-down car window. And don't even get me started on the tacos.)

The shops and vendors along the plaza, however, are wonderful... lively and colorful and unlike anything I've seen this side of the Rio Grande. I browsed the market an entire morning, stopping finally at the candy booth for coffee-flavored nuggets. The atmosphere here tickled me... the candy booths look nothing like those in our malls. No plastic-filled bins of neon-colored balls or blobs here. In La Macroplaza, sweets seemed to revolve around sugar, nuts, grains and chocolate... although the chocolate isn't as tooth-bending sweet as we're accustomed to. But hey, chocolate is chocolate. I bought a piece, wandered out into the sun and squinted up at this - the Fuente de La Vida.

You don't see this in your town square every day.

By now it's early afternoon and we're tired and hot... too tired and hot to walk anymore. We descended to the depths of Monterrey and found ourselves in a cavernous monorail station. It was unbelievably well kept. I was shocked, to tell you the truth, having ridden the trains in New York City, Boston, and Dallas, to find a subway system this clean in Mexico. This clean and deserted.

Silly Americans. As it turned out, our destination was only two blocks from where we were. No matter the rail was deserted. Our guide laughed at us as we boarded the empty train and asked why no one was aboard. "Because," he grinned, "no one in Mexico would pay 460 pesos (about 45 cents) to ride two blocks."

Of course they wouldn't.

Back on the street, I took my time taking in the sights and sounds of Monterrey. After tasting some authentic Monterrey cheese from a sidewalk cart, my wanderings took me by this man, whom I've since affectionately come to call the Monterrey Man. Locals say he sits against this tree every day, feeding the pigeons.


Whenever I close my eyes and think of Monterrey, I'll always remember him... sitting there tossing out pieces of tortillas to flocks of strutting, multi-speckled birds. I'll remember him and I'll remember the mountains. Always the mountains....

Ah, Monterrey... you and your people have stolen my heart.

19 comments:

betty r said...

I have not been in Monterrey but in many different places in Mexico...I love the people too!
Wow.. spectacular architecture...looking forward to seeing more of your fabulous pics. I can almost imagine that I am there...

Linda said...

What beautiful pictures. Thanks for the tour.
Blessings

Jen @ The Cottage Nest said...

Those are incredibly beautiful pictures. That sky is so vibrant it looks like it can't possibly be real. I love the picture of the old man and the pigeons.

Jen @ The Cottage Nest said...

Brin- I've been knocking around your blog this morning and wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed. I had stopped by a few weeks ago and found your chump chicken recipe and had to try it. Loved it! I was wondering if you could share the paint color in your entry. It's wonderful! Jen

Sue said...

WOW!! I can see why it was a blessing to be there, such history and wonderful old buildings! My favorite photo is the last one of the old man, it does capture the whole trip! I'm so glad you had a nice time, such memories for you!

jimr75 said...

Too cool. Americans tend to have so many misconceptions about Mexico. Some of the most amazing people I've had the pleasure of knowing came from Neuvo Leon. Coincidence? Doubtful.

Terri and Bob said...

These are wonderful photos. I loved how you captured that man's wistfulness. He looks like he wants to fly away with the birds. The architecture is beautiful, isn't it? I saw your post on Robyn's site and thought I would check you out and I am glad I did!

Tip Junkie said...

Those are gorgeous photos! Looks like a city that could easily steal ones heart. I'm so glad you had a good time.

cammyk said...

Brin - Such beautiful photos, as always! Thank you so much for featuring me as your blog of the week...what an honor. You have no idea what a blessing and inspiration your blog is to me.
Best,
Cammy

Anonymous said...

love all your pics and your explanations too, and enjoyed the tour!! connie

Lindy said...

Brin, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these beautiful pics with us! I'm glad you had such a great time. I love the pics of the Monterey Man. And the church is gorgeous! It reminds me of white chocolate...a beautiful cathedral carved out of white chocolate! Of course, that would melt in the Mexican heat. hehe

Lindy :)

Felicia said...

What a beautiful city.

bellacolle said...

Oh how you describe it...I can almost picture it! folks would be surprised of the wonderful places across our boarders if they would only take the time to 'really' visit. My faves are Italy and France!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

That sounds like a delightful trip, Brin! Very pretty pictures, we felt like we were there with you. I'm wondering if you were there on a missions trip. I've been to Mexico, but only to the beachy spots.

Rhoda

Robyn Haas said...

Breathtaking! That is all I can form in words...there really is nothing else to say. Your photos speak VOLUMES!

Alice said...

I loved the tour and look forward to more of your photos.

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

I found that post really fascinating! By the way, have you been on your trip to the U.K. yet?

Paloma said...

My family is from Monterrey. I'm so glad you liked it. It truly is a city of contrasts, modern and historic blending together beautifully. My husband and I were married in that cathedral two years ago.

I love your blog. :)

gàאçãô said...

Great picture of the man feeding the pidgeons.
I was born in MTY and lived there for a few years. Going back every year makes me feel like I'm at home. Though I've lived in Houston most of my life, Monterrey has this "welcome-home" feeling to it that is only understood if you visit it.
Monterrey is a unique city in that it is very modern, safe, and industrialized. Compared to other parts in Mexico, Monterrey just tops them all.
The "City of Mountains" indeed, man!! I love the mountains!! They're such a great contrast compared to flat-Houston. Great blog and HAPPY TRAVELS!!
:D:D:D