On busy roads I made my way south to Monterrey, Mexico’s 3rd largest city. Some things I immediately noticed and reminded me of my last trip to Central/South America are the exhaust fumes. Trucks and busses here do not have the same emissions regulations that exist in the States, so you have to endure vehicles belching out clouds of diesel exhaust. Not great for a cyclist.
Next are the bad roads. Most paved roads are very old, with potholes, bumps, cracks and uneven surfaces. It’s a pain not only because it’s more bumpy but you have to pay attention a lot more. More than once I was not looking and rode into a pothole, with jaw-jarring results.
There is a lot of trash on the roadside. In the US you often see the “Adopt a highway” system which manages to keep a lot of the trash off the roadside. In Mexico I’m afraid all highways are orphans.
But it’s not all negative. Mexico is cheap. A modest hotel that would could $60 in the US costs about $25 here. A lunch of five tacos is $2.50. Same for two big slices of pizza. A beer is 80 cents at a convenience store.
But the best thing is the people. They have been so nice. Very curious about my trip and at times not able to believe I have cycled almost 8000 miles. One woman said to me, “Dios te bendiga“, may God bless you. Twice I was stopped by people who are themselves cyclists and gave me their phone number with the invitation to call if I needed a place to stay or anything. Younger kids love to practice their English with me. Even the police have been friendly, stopping me once to make sure I was OK.
Now this is how you make an entrance sign for your town. Pretty impressive.
There are a number of blind guys in the central park in Monterrey. they will give you a back and neck massage for 15 minutes. Cost? $2.50. Did I mention Mexico was cheap?
I visited the museum of contemporary art in Monterrey. In the gift shop were these funny dolls and figurines.
I stayed five nights in Monterrey. I had a lot of things to do. My laptop died and I took it to the Mac store. They said they needed two weeks to repair it. Well that was not an option so I decided to send it back to the States to my sister’s and just buy a new cheap laptop that I can use in the meantime. That whole process took about a day. Then I had to find a new tire for my bike. I went to a shop. They did not have my size but said they will order it so come back tomorrow at 6:00 pm. Well it happens that the weekend was Bien Fin, sort of like our Black Friday, so there were thousands of shoppers all over downtown. I could not find a taxi or uber so I had to walk over a mile to get to the store, right at 6:00 when they closed. But… of course the tire had not arrived. “Manana a las 5:00”, I was told. So I returned the next day at 5:00 and the tire was there…except that it was the wrong size. Welcome to Mexico.
I hooked up with my friend and work colleague Omar, his wife, and their three children on Sunday. They are home schooled and speak amazingly good English, even the five year old. We had a great lunch and did some sightseeing. Here we are at lunch.
A view of Part of Monterrey from a nearby hill.
The next day was “Revolution Day” a national holiday. This was the day an uprising started in 1910 to overthrow long time dictator Porfirio Diaz. Basically, when Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821 there was a series of political struggles until 1867 when Diaz overthrew the government. He was in charge for 30 years and through an autocratic rule he grew Mexico’s economy significantly. However, as usual the poor and indigenous classes were left out. They began to get restless and this eventually led to the ousting of Diaz in 1910. But it took another 10 years of fighting among the revolutionary factions in order to get stability.
Anyway, there was a big parade held in downtown Monterrey with marching bands, football teams, military, fire trucks, police, folk dancers…just about every group you can image was out. Here are some pix and video.
I think these women represent the peasant women who were also involved in fighting to overthrow Diaz.
Here is a short video collage.
A totally off the wall change of pace, but my last night in Monterrey I saw the film Get Out, a comedy/horror/drama (it defies categorization) written and directed by Jordan Peele. I was skeptical at first and was even a bit disappointed during the film but by the end I was hooked. It is a great film and I highly recommend it. Below is the trailer.
Leaving Monterrey, I rode south to the town of Santiago, where I stayed a night in Omar’s house. Omar is studying for a doctorate degree specializing in cybernetics. He tried to explain cybernetics to me but I have trouble wrapping my head around it. Here is Wikipedia’s definition:
Cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities. Norbert Wiener defined cybernetics in 1948 as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine.” In the 21st century, the term is often used in a rather loose way to imply “control of any system using technology.” In other words, it is the scientific study of how humans, animals and machines control and communicate with each other.
Got it? Good.
In Santiago’s main plaza there were several giant skeleton sculptures playing musical instruments. These are left over from the Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday.
A nice cathedral in central Santiago and one in the town of Montemorelos.
Well that wraps it up for now. The plan is continue headed southeast to the Gulf coast in the state of Veracruz. But to get there I must pass through the state of Tamaulipas. A couple people have said to avoid it due to recent violence but there is no practical way except to go over the mountains way out of my way. I won’t camp though, so just ride from town to town on major roads and stay in hotels for the few days I will be in Tamaulipas. Should not be too dangerous. Below is my current location.
Looks like you have had great experiences in Mexico so far. I love the vivid colors and the people. Stay safe…and be careful.