So, it’s ridiculous that it has taken me nearly four months to take a few minutes to update with more about my trip in July… I’ll go ahead and start doing that now:
Thursday night (July 3) I took a final exam and left immediately for Austin… saw some good pre-4th fireworks driving into the city. My flight to Monterrey was scheduled for Friday afternoon, so I met up with a good friend in Austin late Thursday night to hang out and crash at his place.
Friday I drove to the airport, found the Viva Aerobus terminal, and boarded what was, for the incredibly cheap fare, a really nice plane… excited to be spending the weekend in Mexico, despite the fact that my vacation had been shortened by two days. – See July 2’s post for the faulty thought process that led to the scheduling and rescheduling of this trip (I specialize in these sorts of things… faulty thought processes, I mean). If I’m remembering right, I just slept during most of the flight…
Around 5:30p or so the plane landed in Monterrey. It was really rainy there; I’d later find out this was their first rain since I’d last visited in March.
Here’s where the sense of adventure kicked in, since I had just touched down in a country whose language I am excited to be learning but admittedly cannot speak with any confidence – and it wasn’t like I’d been studying up on phrases commonly used to get from one place to another. It was no small feat to get from one terminal to the next, where a particular bus was supposed to take me to Monterrey’s Central de Autobuses for free; I ended up paying a cheap fare to take another bus, actually, because I didn’t quite have a clue what I was doing.
This bus ended up dropping me off somewhere in downtown Monterrey; where, in relation to the central bus station, I had no clue (beginning to feel like a real, live explorer here…)! Downtown Monterrey looks a bit like this:
That last one was taken after I finally found the Central de Autobuses about 30 blocks away from where I was dropped off; I think I spent about three hours wandering around downtown with only a vague sense of which direction I should be headed and how many blocks away the bus station was. All of this in the rain, mind you, and I found out quickly that my shoes were not well-suited for it… worn soles caused many a near-death on the smooth sidewalks of downtown Monterrey. I’m not complaining, though! It seemed like a neat place, and I’d love to go back to spend more time there.
So, boarded the bus to Reynosa, and got there… finally… at about 1 in the morning. Took a taxi (the long way, of course! ha) to the neighborhood where I was to spend the bulk of my weekend, and began to realize just how much later I arrived than I had anticipated I would… from a journal entry that night:
Friday (Saturday), 1:30a
I definitely thought I’d get to Casa Hogar Corazon Grande at some sort of ‘reasonably late’ hour – maybe 10:something… it is 1:40a and I have finally arrived… Gator and Deanna are too kind, and I am incredibly lucky someone was up and near the phone. I think that maybe next time the best thing to do would be to drive – this trip was planned really spontaneously, if you could call it ‘planned’ at all, and I hate that poor planning led to any inconvenience beyond my own. Personally, I’d have no problem sleeping out on the street until morning, when everyone here is up and around, but I have a feeling that’d creep out the neighbors a bit… and considering how limited my Spanish is (such a frustrating thing considering how much opportunity I’ve been given to learn it), I don’t know how I’d be able to explain myself!
Uh, bed – waking up early.
Saturday actually ended up getting off to a lazy start. I didn’t wake up early – Gator and Deanna, who run the orphanage, wanted to let me get rested. Gator and I crossed the border into McAllen to meet his wife and a couple of the other folks who work at the home, ate lunch with them, ran a few errands to get some supplies, stopped off for some coffee, and picked up some flipflops because all the rain had turned my shoes into mush. Also, as I found when I awoke that morning to a near-empty children’s home (save for Guapo, keeper of the peace, of course), the children were all actually on their bi-weekly home visits… in fact, most of the children who live at the home have at least one parent (usually their mother), it’s just that their mothers are unable to really work to provide for their children and make sure that they are in school, out of trouble, etc. The rain, and the kids being gone, both made me really wish I’d been able to come down Wednesday as I’d originally ‘planned’. Mostly-empty Casa Hogar Corazon Grande looks like this:
The rebar sticking through the awning over the walkway in this picture marks where existing columns will be built up to support second-floor apartments that Gator is building for the oldest kids there who will be old enough soon to no longer be under official care of the home; they will be able to live in these apartments while attending college, which Gator and Deanna will be paying for (!!!).
Saturday night Gator and I watched a movie, and then I read for a bit and went to bed. Sunday didn’t start particularly early, either; Gator brought some chicken from a taco stand and we had some really good tacos for a late breakfast/early lunch, and I mostly spent the afternoon either reading or walking around the children’s home… early Sunday evening Gator drove me to Reynosa’s bus station. Just so you know how wet it was:
It was this wet.
I don’t get the impression that Mexico’s infrastructure has been well-maintained; there is no drainage for rainwater run-off (even though there is an irrigation canal barely 100 feet to the right of the road!) – at least not until we got to the more central, downtown area of Reynosa. The result is a bunch of uneven, bumpy roads that can’t be good for the vehicles travelling them.
Anyway, took another bus back to Monterrey, and this time I could see the landscape along the way: it was mostly flat, a few hills here and there, and mostly covered in low-lying scrub. I’m sure most who find excitement in the hills and pines of East Texas, or the incredible green-ness of the Northwest or the Appalachians, would call this ‘ugly’… it felt perfect to me, though… here:
…you get the idea.
I arrived back in Monterrey sometime after dark. Had a few hours to kill before my 6:50a return flight to Austin, so I wandered around the area near the bus station to find a place to sit and enjoy some food, music, drink, whatever. There were plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs around… I found one that looked like just the spot, and decided to drop in there. Had an amusing exchange with the doorman (again, I’m not yet such an expert when it comes to actually communicating in Spanish), and walked inside to find this one-man-band type guy playing keyboards and singing – he and the girl singing with him were great…! Not wanting to look too conspicuous (uh, nice try) I tried sneaking a shot of them, but this was as good as it got:
I wish I could’ve recorded them… anyway… back to the bus station, eventually found the bus to the airport, hung out at the airport forever, boarded plane, landed in Austin, drove back to Denton. A few more pictures to close this out:
This is not what most of the Central de Autobuses looks like… it’s just the underground part that takes you from the ticket counters and shops (someone else’s picture of that part here) to the bus terminals…
– At the airport in Monterrey. Their Doritos have names like Incógnita and Diablo!
This was my view, while napping on the floor (had lots of time to kill before boarding), of Monterrey’s Terminal C…
Landing in Austin.
That’s pretty much it, for now… Of course, I hope to be back in Reynosa at Casa Hogar Corazon Grande as soon as possible… and will add to this when that happens…