Our celebration continues!
Monday, December 25th
Christmas mornings have not always been normal for me. I’ve woken up in in a 1976 AMC Pacer in Tucson, Arizona. I’ve woken up on a couch in my office at People’s City Mission. This one found me waking up in a nice hotel room in a foreign country. It would certainly be one to remember.
We took it pretty slow in the morning until it was time to find some grub. We went to a nice restaurant called Sanborn’s which had an all you can eat buffet. Mom got two deserts. Don’t tell anybody.
We ventured out to go see the Bishop’s Palace to the west of where we were staying. It is built on a high hill overlooking the city.
Mom will brave any sort of prickly plant in order to read an informational sign.
From there, we walked up higher to an overlook of the whole city. Parking at the top was a whopping 20 pesos (about $1), so I’m glad we walked. The views were breathtaking in every direction.
There’s a 100 meter tall flagpole up here too:
As the sun was setting we made our way to Luztopia, the attraction that we had missed the previous night.
The atmosphere was so fun and festive. Even though it was really crowded, nobody seemed impatient or bothered. The adults seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as the kids.
This one turned out a little creepier than expected. 🙂
Be careful venturing out at night in Mexico. You may be assaulted by an overwhelming feeling of the holiday spirit.
They got me an ornament to commemorate the year. A bear in the tent?…..Still too soon.
What a Christmas to remember! We’ll see if Christmas in Mexico becomes a tradition.
Tuesday, December 26th
For some reason, we all found ourselves sleeping in pretty late (by Anderson travel standards, at least). We began the day by having another big breakfast at a local restaurant. Going out to eat and staying in a hotel is not our typical method of traveling together, but the reasonable prices made it hard to pass up. Eating sandwiches in the car would not be a part of our Mexican experience.
As much as we were enjoying the Monterrey, we decided to get out of the city and go for a drive to Saltillo. This city is more of a classic colonial one and is about a 90 minute drive from Monterrey. We took the toll road on the way over and enjoyed the drive through the mountains.
We found parking close to the downtown area and had a really nice chat with the attendant of our parking lot.
Some views of the city:
Ice cream time
On our way back to Monterrey we took the free road, which runs nearly parallel to the toll route. We had what was definitely the most harrowing experience of the trip. As my Dad was overtaking a pickup in the right lane, the pickup’s hood latch failed and flipped up, blocking the driver’s view. Compounding matters was that this took place where the lanes shifted a little bit and there were no shoulders, just barricades. Both the pickup driver and my Dad did a great job preventing a collision, but I believe the pickup was rear ended by the car behind it. Phew! A good reminder to always be prepared for anything on the road.
We decided to just grab a “light supper” so we went to a restaurant next door called Tapanco’s and ordered some cheaper things from the menu. The portions were larger than we expected and we all ate our fill. Our waiter was a young man named Mike who was very friendly. As we were finishing up he sat down with us, asked us where we were from and we ended up chatting for about 10 minutes. It was a good opportunity for me to practice talking about my trip in Spanish.
(there was a smudge on my Dad’s lens)
Wednesday, December 27th
My Mother and I both woke up pretty early since we had a mission. I was still lacking a picture of Monterrey with Annie and we intended to rectify this. I knew that there were some good photo-ops on the Plaza. Getting up early would allow us to beat the foot traffic. The weather was not cooperating, dropping some mild drizzle, but we went ahead anyway.
First up was the Monterrey sign.
I pushed Annie all the way back along the Plaza over to the Neptune fountain. A police officer drove right by and didn’t take any interest.
(I tried to keep my arm a little lower than Neptune so it wouldn’t look like a Nazi salute)
My photogenic photographer:
This would be our last day in Monterrey and I would need to use it as a work day. I still had lots to prepare mechanically, digitally and logistically. It felt like quite a waste spending my time in the hotel room and parking garage, but I suppose these types of days are necessary too.
When we first arrived my parents felt much more comfortable having me along when we went out, mostly due to my marginal Spanish skills. At this point of the stay though, they felt just fine walking over to an art museum which had a wonderful Michaelangelo display.
(I’ll add some pictures if they send some)
I spent a few hours with Annie. I was able to track down a frayed wire which had caused my voltage monitor to fail. Given all of the electronic modifications I have made, having this functioning is vital. My fix may not be permanent, but it will at least get me down the road.
I also set about the tedious process of filling my tires with sealant. I had not read the bottle close enough prior to purchasing, so I missed the part that said you were supposed to unmount one side of the bead to allow it to flow in. I did not have tools to do this so I just stabbed a hole in the backside of the bottle, allowing it to flow in freely. Messy but effective.
My parents spent much of the evening visiting shops to get gifts and souveniers. It made me so happy to see how comfortable they now felt. I could tell that they were really enjoying themselves. We even tried corn on a stick.
Thursday, December 28th
We were up at 5:30. I had a long ride in front of me and my parents wanted to make it back to the border fairly early in the day. Getting ready in the morning always takes longer than you would think, especially when you have been stopped for a number of days. Things just seem to spread out.
We were very pleased to see our friend, Saul, working the desk in the morning. We wanted to tell him goodbye and to thank him for all the help that he had given us during our stay. He had worked lots of hours and some crazy schedules, but still remained upbeat and accommodating each time we saw him. He was able to leave the desk for a minute to give Annie a tattoo and take a quick picture.
Our family would not be splitting up just yet. My parents were interested to visit the town of Santiago, which is just about 20 minutes SE of Monterrey. I was wanting to take that route as well, so we traveled together for the last time. It was a cold, rainy morning. I didn’t mind the conditions so much, I was more disappointed that I would not get a final view of the majestic mountains surrounding the city. I guess I’ll just have to come back again.
Santiago is designated a Pueblo Magico (Magical Village) by the Mexican tourism board. We would definitely have a magical experience here.
We found a really nice, but cheap, restaurant right on the square (this blog is becoming quite tedious and repetitive, isn’t it?). As we were perusing the menu, we heard a voice behind us say, “Go big red.” Now let me see if I can fully explain what a shock this was:
For those non-Nebraskans here, “Go big red” is sort of a standard greeting when you see another Cornhusker in the wild. I used the exact same phrase when I saw a guy in a Nebraska hat at Lake Louise in Banff. At this point, I’m sure I had seen thousands of faces since crossing the border. The number of white people I had seen? Probably about 10, maybe 20 at the most. So hearing this phrase in this little town in Mexico was almost inconceivable.
This phrase was how we were introduced to Dana, Carmina and their three kids. Dana is originally from Wisconsin, while Carmina is from Mexico. They met while they were attending college in….you guessed it…Lincoln, Nebraska.
They had been tipped off to our origin by my parents license plate and my Dad’s Husker hat. We had a great time chatting with them both before and after the meal. They also gave me some good tips about things to see on my journey. What a fun connection!
Then came the moment we had all been dreading: The time when my path would diverge from my parents. We walked through the church and spent some time in prayer together. It was really special.
I almost rode away without completing the most important task: Crossing Monterrey off of my sign. This would be the first time my parents would have the honor.
They contributed so much to the beginning of this chapter. Beginning my time in an unfamiliar place being surrounded by familiar people made the initial shock much less intense. If they hadn’t been along, I definitely would not have stayed in Monterrey as long or in as nice of a place. It could not have worked out any better.
After numerous hugs, the time had come. So long, Gringomobile.
Welp….nothing left to do but sing a Whitesnake song.
I still don’t know how best to summarize this whole Monterrey experience. I hope that I’ve written and shown enough that I shouldn’t really need to. Though I am still early into my Mexico experience, it has thus far exceeded all expectations. I believe my parents would say the same.
Stay illuminated, everybody!