28 December 2006 – Returning To Mexico

by Jim on 2011/12/28

[Jimbaux rots away, lives again, here forever, the spiral never ends.]

I had both the time and the opportunity in late 2006 and early 2007 to return to Mexico – specifically the large city of Monterrey and its surroundings – for the first time since my time there going to school in the summer of 2004.  These pictures were taken on 28 December 2006, the day after The Cajun Porkchop and I took a few pictures of trains and bayous in southeastern Louisiana.

I Will . . . Fly Away Again

(You’re not listening to today’s song?)  With my old truck, which I sold for scrap a few months later, falling apart, I elected to fly and rent a car.  My flight path took me from New Orleans to Houston and then Houston to Monterrey; our first picture comes from that second flight, the path of which took us just east of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, which is appropriate since I drove through here on the way to Monterrey and back in 2004, photographed trains crossing the international bridge then, and would visit here again in 2009.  The below view is looking just a little bit north of due west, and you can see the Rio Grande (or Rio Bravo) flowing from right-to-left with Tamaulipas (Mexico) in the background and Texas (the United States) in the foreground.

Look at the lower right-hand corner of the frame above.  Do you see a line coming into the city from the bottom edge of the frame amidst some trees near the lower-right-hand corner of the picture?  That’s the former Texas-Mexican Railway now owned and operated by the Kansas City Southern Railway, which has seen a surge in traffic since being purchased by KCS in the mid-1990s.  The Tex-Mex yard is just below the bottom edge of the frame, unseen.

Now, do you see that light-grey-colored bridge in the above picture?  That’s the major automobile and pedestrian bridge in the area.  Now, look further behind it upriver about 2/3 of the way to that sharp bend in the river where the riverbed is much wider, and you’ll see a faint line across the river.  (No, not that faint line 1/5 of the way from the major bridge to the curve; that’s why I said 2/3 of the way to the curve!)  That’s the international railroad bridge; it is used by KCS and KCSdeMéxico and Union Pacific.  The Union Pacific tracks go straight to the right (north) from the bridge where the UP has a good-sized yard.  This line’s heritage is Missouri Pacific.


I had actually been to the Monterrey airport once, but only to drop off a friend in 2004, but even then, I took the time to look around.  Anyway, here’s a shot just after I got out of the aircraft that you see in the picture.

The weather was sunny and cool, but we got stuck inside of a bus to the terminal with sealed up windows, and with the sunlight hitting it and with no air circulation, I actually got sweaty inside of it.

I’m not staying in the airport long enough for it, but apparently according to the sign below, wireless internet is available in the Monterrey airport.

On my way to Reclamo de Equipaje, I stopped to look at this photography display.

Well, below is a sign that’s not only not in Spanish but also doesn’t seem to cater to the average consumer!

It’s a testament to this region’s industrial might.  We’re far enough into Mexico to be away from the maquiladora plants which, by law, produce only stuff for the export (USA and Canada) market, but the factories in this area still produce plenty of stuff bound for the USA and Canada as well as domestic production for Mexican consumption.

Back To Campus

Immediately upon leaving the airport after grabbing my rental car, I drove to the home of the host family with whom I lived in the summer of 2004, and on my way there, I stopped to visit the ITESM campus.

I did plenty of both driving on that street and walking along its sidewalks in the summer of 2004.  Yes, due to the fences, you can see that it’s a secure campus.

Las Noticias

I won’t show pictures of the family themselves, but I’ll show you a few things I was shown in the house.  Particularly, I show you a few things out of El Norte, the major newspaper of Monterrey.

Presidential Coincidences

When I was there in 2004, Ronald Reagan died.  Here I was going there in late 2006, and Gerald Ford had just died (and look at the picture of another head of state at the top of the newspaper, one who would be put to death two days later.)

When I returned to Monterrey, to Mexico, in late 2009, I wondered which US President was about to die!  However, the streak ended then.

You Can’t Escape New Orleans No Matter Where You Go

My host family made it a point to show me some unsettling article that they had just read about New Orleans, with a pull-out at the very top of the front page of the newspaper.

Yeah, I don’t really want to think much about it, did not back then, at least, but 2006 was a difficult year for many of us.

Día De Los Inocentes

Apparently, I got there right at about the time of the Mexican equivalent to April Fool’s Day, and the newspaper had intentionally fake and foolish stories.

Interesting, eh?

Mi Cuarto

The stairs that you see in the below picture lead to a door whose opening you can barely see at the top, and that right there was my home for a couple of months in 2004.

The window that you can see through the top of the stairs is part of the bathroom that my roommate and I shared that summer.

Mi Coche Rental Y El Calle

This is not only my rental car, but this is also the street that I’d drive down – and, yes, I mean down – every morning when I was living there.  This is an upper-middle-class neighborhood.  The father in my host family owns a small local business.  There are plenty of much bigger houses not all that far away.

Leaving the house every morning to go to class or to go foaming or whatever, I’d just simply put the car in a low gear, sometimes before I even put the engine on, and would just glide down the hill!

The below picture shows what a Nuevo León license plate – placa – looks like.

Looking at this now, I only now realize that maybe the registration on this thing had expired a year before, but it’s a rental car; so, that’s not my problem!

Friends And Food!

My railroad enthusiast – ferroaficionado – friend Arnulfo met with me and took me to his favorite restaurant, and introduced me to his friend Armando.  Here’s the restaurant, Martin’s.

The food there is great, and we ate there again in 2009!

Food, Friends, Photography, and the KCS . . . . and KCSM

Arnulfo was indeed excited to see me, but he was also excited that he had somehow, just that day or the day before, secured a copy of the 2007 KCS company calendar (which is much harder to do in Mexico than it is in the United States), and he was eager to show it to me.

I had a fun time pointing out to him that not only did I have a copy of the calendar myself, but I told him (actually, Armando is holding the calendar in the below picture as Arnulfo looks) to open to the January – Enero – picture and see the reason why I was given a complimentary copy.

In the brief time that he had the calendar, he had not noticed that one of the images was taken by the American friend to whom he was showing the calendar.

That’s a picture (in the calendar) of the pushers on a KCS coal train parked in the yard in Heavener, Oklahoma.  I really don’t like the way that the image was cropped and presented in the calendar – the shot I sent shows about 1,000′ of train (rather than just a few cars) curving off into the distance – but I don’t have control over that once I sell the image.

Man, I can still taste those chips and salsa, not like anything I can get around here.

What a great time we had!  And so ended a great first day (though not full day) back in Mexico, and to think that just a day before, I was taking bayou and swamp train pictures with The Cajun Porkchop in southern Louisiana!  For every reason we have to complain, life is good.

Stay tuned for some Mexican train pictures tomorrow!

All for now . . . .


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MAURICIO January 28, 2012 at 06:22

That rental car has lots of tickets!


2 Marcelo Benoit April 12, 2012 at 23:51

It´s “El auto rentado” or “El auto de alquiler” and “la calle” ; ).


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