Guys. Everything you’ve heard about Monterrey, Mexico and how dangerous and terrible it is, is a lie. Ok maybe it’s not entirely a lie…it’s still a dangerous city and there are precautions there in place to protect diplomats for a reason. BUT! While officers there do have to deal with the security situation, they have the benefit of dealing with the security situation in a city where there are world class museums, groomed outdoor running trails, gorgeous national parks, and some seriously incredible food options. And believe me, I took full advantage of all of the awesome things about Monterrey on my month-long TDY there back in March.
The whole point of my TDY was to help keep the NIV wait time down, so I did a whole bunch of NIV adjudications while I was there. Actually, I managed to set my all-time-adjudication record there, which felt awesome. The work in Monterrey can be overwhelming in terms of numbers, but they have a great team of officers and in spite of some spacial challenges they function as a truly well-oiled machine. All the officers and the local staff were so welcoming and kind and I really enjoyed my work there. As for the city, I could live there forever. Ok that’s maybe a lie–I don’t think I could live anywhere forever–but it’s a pretty incredible place.
For starters, the mountains there are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I love mountains, especially big, tall, spiky ones and the Sierra Madre did not disappoint. Actually, I have to admit that Mexico in general is a lot more mountainous than I was expecting. I’m not really sure what I thought it’d be like, but every city I’ve been in with the notable exception of Cancun/Playa del Carmen, has had gigantic, spiky, gorgeous mountains in, around, or cutting through it.
One of the best parts about the mountains in Monterrey is that there’s a great big gorgeous national park, Chipinque, that encompasses a large portion of one of the ranges. The entrance fee is subsidized by the government so it’s super cheap ($20 pesos for pedestrians, about $1.65). I spent a gorgeous Sunday there with my fellow TDY-er and we had a great time hiking and taking in the scenery. After we hiked up the mountain about 2 miles, we got to the top of one of the peaks where there’s a visitor center, a small restaurant, and an amphitheater where they program children’s events. That afternoon, apparently what seemed like half of Monterrey was there with their families picnicking and enjoying nature.
Monterrey is also home to a bunch of fantastic museums, including Horno3, a science museum that used to be an old blast furnace back when Monterrey was a steel town. The museum is located in the middle of what used to be a huge foundry but is now a big park full of museums, public art, a great big arena, and a convention center. The main exhibit at Horno3 is definitely more geared toward a younger audience, but being kind of a museum nerd, I LOVED every second of it. The other great part about the museum is that you can take a cable car up the outside slope of one of the walls to a catwalk that covers the whole length of the museum. It was a perfect place to get a 360 degree view of the city and an even better place to watch the sun go down. They actually keep the cable car open after hours so you can walk the catwalk at night. I didn’t get to do the night tour, but it’s on my list for a future trip to Monterrey.
I know bidding is upon us, and Monterrey is on the list. It’s still a no-EFM-under-21 post, but for outdoorsy people who enjoy city life, I think it would be a great post, and someday when I come back to Mexico, Monterrey will be one of my top choices.