miércoles, febrero 05, 2014

The Brave Land of Monterrey

According to www.munknee.com and other similar sites, my hometown, Monterrey, isn't by any chance among the best places to retire, as the following list shows:
  1. Lake Chapala, Jalisco
  2. Ensenada, Baja California
  3. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
  4. Guadalajara, Jalisco
  5. Merida, Yucatan
  6. Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
  7. Mazatlan, Sinaloa
  8. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
  9. La Paz, Baja California
  10. San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas
 Now this is nothing new, and perhaps that's why the first human inhabitants were native American nomads. Then came the settlers form Spain, who encountered a fierce resistance from the indigenous people.
The city of Monterrey went through three foundations: the first by Alberto del Canto in 1577, but the small population named Santa Lucia didn't last long because this man was apprehended the next year. A few years later, the expeditioner Luis Carvajal y de la Cueva, following the orders of King Philip II of Spain, brought with him a bunch of outlaws, criminals, and murderers to found the Villa de San Luis Rey de Francia. For about 8 years, there was a town but there were no inhabitants.
Then in 1596 Diego de Montemayor and 12 families from the nearby city of Saltillo came to this land and on September 20th. baptised it with the magnificent name of Ciudad Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de Monterrey.
Ever since the first settlers set foot on this land, life has not been easy in Monterrey: we have to face extremely high temperatures most of the year followed by an inclement weather in wintertime. Because rain is scarce and there are no rivers or lakes, the landscape boasts imposing mountains but very few trees. Because we've managed to survive in such a hostile place, the natives of Monterrey are considered as a brave and tough people.
And truly, our ancestors have succeeded in transforming a desolate desert into a modern, striving city with some of Mexico's most important industries, renowned universities, hospitals, museums, and shopping malls.
I resent that art and culture are not promoted here as much as in other Mexican cities, especially Mexico City. Most people know nothing about the Fine Arts, but they are obsessed with the two local soccer teams and their pathetically mediocre players. Other Mexicans consider us as barbarians, and in many respects they are right, I have to admit. Writer, politician, and philosopher Jose Vasconcelos reportedly said that "civilization ends where grilled meat (carne asada) begins"...
Carne asada is more than Monterrey's second typical dish (the first is cabrito, or grilled baby goat); this terms also refers to the ubiquitous parties where family members and friends gather around a grill set on open fire every single weekend of the year, but also on any other time. There's no special occasion or reason to set up a carne asada with good meat and a lot of ice-cold beer in Monterrey.

As of recently, I can sense a general feeling of discontent, mainly with our local authorities. There is a number of problems that these have failed to solve, such as the recent raise in the local bus fares, which affects the people with the lowest incomes. Protests are now being held in several areas of the city. And this I can understand: we pay perhaps the most expensive bus fare in Mexico, but the service is deplorable and even dangerous.
Maybe I should write about this issue in detail, in a later post. I also would like to address other problems in my city, such as the poor quality of the air, the chaos in streets and avenues, the ghost of the flu, and the drug-related crimes that have decreased a little but not nearly disappeared.
But not everything is grim: I'm going to write about many other good aspects of my city as well. My hometown has become a famous place and some of its most beautiful scenes have been shown in domestic and international media. All in all, there is more good than bad, as many people who have come to live here can testify.

5 comentarios:

  1. Isn't Monterrey Mexico's richest big city? Surely that should bring some good. And isn't Tec de Monterrey better regarded than UNAM?

    And I had to laugh at, "civilization ends where grilled meat (carne asada) begins"... The whole country is full of carne asada! But maybe you all in Monterrey eat more than elsewhere.

    One of these days I'll have to see the city for myself.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where hot and dry sounds pretty nice right about now.

  2. Hello, Kim. You're perfectly right about Tec de Monterrey, you know, huh? A little geography: Monterrey is the capital city of the state of Nuevo Leon, and the Greater Monterrey area is composed of Monterrey and the surrounding municipalities of Guadalupe, Juarez, San Nicolas, Escobedo, Santa Catarina, Apodaca, Garcia, and San Pedro Garza Garcia. San Pedro Garza Garcia really can be considered Mexico's richest big city. When asked, the inhabitants of all of the other municipalities respond that they are from "Monterrey", but not the people from SPGG -- they're from San Pedro. And believe me, though Monterrey is a modern big city, San Pedro Garza Garcia really stands apart with all the expensive nice shops and malls, exclusive neighborhoods, well kept streets and avenues, high-rise buildings and hotels, etc., you'll see it when you come here.

    1. With only 122,000 people, I wouldn't consider San Pedro Garza Garcia to be a big city. But with four million, yes, Monterrey is a big city.(And I knew it was the capital of NL.) So in my comment, I figured there were probably small places that are richer than Monterrey, but as far as big cities go, (population>500,000), I think Monterrey is the richest. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing it for myself.


      Kim G

  3. Tino that was hard, I love Monterrey but I have no objections, I still love it.

  4. As a man who was born, raised, and lived all his life in Monterrey, I love it very much too!


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