Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 14. Monterrey, Ciudad de las Montañas

Since there is not much to do in Monclova, Maya and I borrowed a car and drove a couple of hours to Monterrey, the City of Mountains. The title comes from the tall mountains that rim the basin, which are formed by enormous folds of a Cretaceous limestone sequence. My idea is that we could hike around in the mountains, glimpsing at the city below. Unfortunately Monterrey suffered quite a bit during hurricane Alex, which brought unusually heavy precipitation to the area, causing the dry washes to turn into roaring rivers. This happens from time to time in desert environments, but the times in between are so large that people become complacent and start using the washes for sports fields, temporary markets, and even camping areas. Well, all that is gone!

Our first stop was in a place called La Huasteca, a favorite pic-nic place for the people of Monterrey. Here a canyon cuts through steeply dipping limestone beds that have been eroded into obelisks that jut for a few hundred meters into the air. Normally one walks through the wash, but there was still a good size river running through it, so we had to limit ourselves to contemplate the cliffs from the distance. The two bridges that normally cross the dry creek bed had been washed away, but the road crews had already built two temporary berms to cross, so we got pretty far into the canyon.

Our next stop was the trendy neighborhood called San Pedro, where I treated Maya to a piece of heaven by taking her to lunch at Wendy´s. She has been an absolute trooper at eating all sorts of Mexican food, but she had a yearning for American food and was happy as a clam eating a chicken sandwich and fries drowned in ketchup :)

My Plan B was to go walking in Chipinque, a relatively cool forest high up one of the mountains that overlook Monterrey. The road up is steep, and had all sorts of small landslides and potholes eroded by running water, but was still passable. Unfortunately once we got to the entrance station of the park we had to turn around. Sorry, but storm damage was intense, and they were in the process of removing debris and making repairs. Rats!

So we went to downtown, stared at the damage done by the Santa Catarina river to the two freeways that run along its banks, and settled for a walk around the macroplaza and the shopping district. Maya chided me for having her dress for hiking when the most strenuous thing we did was go up a flight of stairs. How was I supposed to know?

So, it was a lot of driving for very little excitement. Oh well, in every life a little rain shall fall (or in the case of Monterrey, a lot of rain shall fall).

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