García Y el TFM – 12 June 2004

by Jim on 2014/06/12

[Jimbaux drags you through his wasted life; are you forever dead?]

On Saturday 12 June 2004, I made two trips out to the mountainous and desert area west of Monterrey, the first with a group and the latter on my own, during which I got my first real train action pictures in Mexico.

The Roommate

However, before we get to the stories and pictures of this day, I need to describe what happened the night before and went into the wee hours of this day.  My roommate Michael – Miguel, which was appropriate as the Texan was of Mexican ancestry – arrived on Friday 11 June.  He was part of a different program than that which I was on; so, he arrived later than I did and would leave earlier than I would.  He was there as part of a program with the National Hispanic Institute, and he was basically a counselor for some high school students along with the program.

Being an introvert and having never had a real roommate in my life (as an introvert, I’m really not roommate material), I had plenty of fears – probably mostly irrational – about having a roommate.  I had not expected to have a roommate, and, as I recall, I did not know until the day that he arrived or maybe the day before he arrived that I would have a roommate; so, I had no time to prepare, and I felt weird when I came home that day and saw stuff that wasn’t mine in our cuarto.  He wasn’t there, but I then met him I believe in the kitchen of our host family.  As it eventuated, my compañero de cuarto Michael and I got along just fine.

That Friday night, his first night in Monterrey, he was supposed to go out on the town with his group.  He invited me to come along, and I was happy to do so.  Then again, I was not (and never have been) any fan of dance places; I might like bars, but I don’t care for clubs.  Not only do I not much care for dancing (slow dancing is good, but that’s usually not what happens at clubs), but I like being able to have a conversation, which is not really possible with plenty of loud noise.  Since I planned to drink alcohol, I decided to not drive my truck, which meant we needed to get a taxi.  Now, here’s the funny part: I had never in my albeit-then-short life hailed a taxi before!  Yes, I would learn to do this more once I moved to New Orleans a year later (well, that usually involves making a telephone call, not “hailing” a taxi), but that had yet to happen, even though the seeds of my decision to move to New Orleans had been planted a few months before.  I was a little bit apprehensive about hailing a taxi, but I quickly realized that it is quite simple, so long as you know a little bit of the language; yes, the first time that I hailed a taxi was in a foreign country.

We arrived via taxi onto campus and went to Residencias where Michael met part of his crew and introduced me to many of them.  Many were college freshmen.  I also met Omar, a teacher from El Paso; naturally, he seemed like someone with whom I could have good conversations, and he was.

There were buses leaving Residencias bound for a club called Manaus in Barrio Antiguo, and some of the guys I knew from my own program were going there too.  I was wearing shorts (which is not nearly as common in Latin America as it is in the United States and, therefore, a passive way of unintentionally advertising to anyone who can see you that you’re a foreigner), and they told me that I wouldn’t be able to get in the club with shorts.  That was actually my perfect excuse to leave early, since, again, clubs ain’t my scene.  I told Michael that I would probably come home before he did; I’m not against staying out late, but if I am tired, I make no effort to stay up just to stay out.

As it eventuated, I was able to enter the club despite wearing shorts.  Some of the other guys simply huddled really close to me as we entered the place, and it worked.  I was just starting to have fun at around 01:30 when Michael, to my surprise, said that he wanted to leave.  So, we caught a taxi to go home.  It was now Saturday, the day that the below pictures were taken.  While I was on the trip to the cave where the first three pictures below were taken, Michael went on a trip with his group to Chipinque, where ITESM had taken me and others the Saturday before.

The Cave

On Saturday, ITESM took us to Las Grutas de García, a neat cave in a sparsely-populated mountain area northwest of Monterrey.  The park’s aforelinked Facebook page shows the inside of the cave better than I can, and I did not take many pictures inside of the cave and will not present any of the few that I did take inside of the cave here.  I will only show you two that I took outside of the cave, one at the bottom of the valley in the parking lot as many of us were waiting to get on the cable car and the other from the entrance to the cave.

At right you see Matt, the Canadian whom you saw two days ago.  At left is Jonas from Sweden; he was in my Spanish class.

There had at one time been a funicular railway up the side of the mountain from the park entrance to the cave entrance, but it had been replaced by a cable car – a teleférico – by the time we get there.

Once we had ridden the cable car to the cave entrance, we got this view back down toward the bottom of the valley.

Yes, you can see the cable at left, and you can see the park entrance with the buildings and parking lot where we were before!  You can also see the roadbed where the funicular railway had been.  I actually enjoyed this view better than the visit inside of the cave.

Here is a picture taken that day by Carlos of the international program.

It was a neat experience.  The bus ride to and from the cave took us through some neat desert or semi-desert area.

The Train

Presumably, as soon as we returned to campus, I got into my truck and headed west.  At 18:45, at an area called Protexa Industrial in the Santa Catarina area, I found this.

This appeared to be the Monterrey-Saltillo Local.  It had 35 cars, including several two-bay APAX hopper cars toward the end.  I was really happy to see that both locomotives were still wearing the two-tone blue of Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico, which was the nationalized railroad right before privatization.  This railroad was still Transportación Ferroviaria Mexicana at the time.  TFM and some other Mexican railroads were created in 1996 upon the privatization of Mexico’s railroad system.  TFM was always a joint venture between the Kansas City Southern Railway and Mexican shipping company Transportación Maritima Mexicana, as Mexican law at the time prohibited more than half of the railroad to be foreign-owned. This changed, and in 2005, KCS, who was obviously more interested than TMM was in running a railroad, purchased the other half of the company and renamed it KCSdeMéxico.

You can barely see Cerro de La Silla in the above picture.

Finally, at 19:00 at some grade crossing west of the PEMEX facility, I grab this concluding shot from the wrong side of the track.

I can’t remember what I did next, if I tried to chase it further and failed to get another shot, or if I just went on back home (I now had a roommate to which to come home), but, photographically, that is how our day ends.

In one week, we will have a very photographically productive visit to the old city of Zacatecas.  There will be no train pictures with it.  So, if you are coming here via seeing this page on a railroad-related forum and want to see the upcoming non-railroad-related posts, please join the Jimbaux’s Journal automated e-mail list, a Yahoo Group in which only the moderator can post; it therefore exists only to alert readers to new content, about once or twice per week.  Your e-mail address will be automatically subscribed to the list if you send an e-mail to, and you can unsubscribe at any time by sending an e-mail to; note, please, that both actions are automated and involve no action or involvement from yours truly.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie Kilbourne June 12, 2014 at 11:08

I especially like that last shot taken at 19:00. Telephoto aspect is especially good here, not to mention the dramatic landscape and the pleasing colors.



2 nancy hudson June 12, 2014 at 16:42

Beautiful, James. What are you doing now?


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