Friday, October 2, 2009

It's In The Bag

Mexico Design

How Did They Do That?
While researching, it always amazes me when I read how our ancestors traveled, especially by horseback or by foot.  They traveled so far ~ sometimes under the worst of conditions.  How did they do that?

"Honey, I'll Be Right Back"
When I was researching about the beginnings of Texas this was exactly what I was thinking.  Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" had to clear-up some "details" concerning his father's Spanish land grant that he had inherited.  From what I read, he jumped on his horse and rode from his land in what is now Fort Bend County, Texas all the way to Mexico City.  Now, I've never been to Mexico City, but I have traveled some in Mexico.  I know where Mexico City is and, more importantly, I know how far away it is.  I was born and raised on the Texas-Mexico border in an area know as the Rio Grande Valley.  Even from there Mexico City is considered far away.  So, it boggles my mind [which doesn't take much] that he traveled to Mexico City on horseback from just southwest from Houston, Texas, which is a little over 1000 miles.  That's far on horseback.  How did he do that?

View The Monterrey Trip in a larger map

That Reminds Me...
That reminded me of a family story [of course].  One Easter my Gran [my mom's mom] was planning to visit us, and my dad [famous for taking the road less traveled] came up with this brilliant idea to drive to Monterrey, Mexico with Gran and spend Easter there.  He figured Gran, being Catholic and all, would really enjoy celebrating Easter mass at the Monterrey Cathedral [Catedral Metropolitano de Nuestra Senora de Monterrey].  So we all piled into Dad's suburban [Mom, Dad, Gran, my sister, my sister's son, and myself].  It took about 20 minutes to get to the border.  We were going to cross at the bridge between Hidalgo, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico.  I remember it taking "forever" at customs and the seating wasn't very comfortable.  Remember those old seats at airports?  You know, the ones with chrome and black vinyl, and they're all connected?  That's what they were, but instead of black vinyl, they were red.  [It's funny what we remember from when we were younger, isn't it?]

"Are We There Yet?"
Finally we were done at customs and we all piled back into the Suburban for the drive to Monterrey.  Now, driving in Mexico is a little different than driving in the United States.  Basically, it's every man for himself and all the signs are in Spanish.  The car that is the biggest and has the most dents always go first.  Why? Because they're bigger and they have nothing to lose.  [Comforting, huh?]  The road to Monterrey from Reynosa is a "straight shot," for the most part.  However, the scenery leaves something to be desired.  [It has a certain je ne sais quois...]  The area that you drive through is pretty desolate ~ almost desert-like, and there aren't any places to stop along the way [at least back then].  Not a good thing with 4 "chicks" in the car.  I remember being really thirsty, and asking my dad for something to drink.  He said, "No problem.  There's drinks in the cooler."  I opened the cooler only to discover that whomever had packed the cooler, had only packed it with Diet Coke [which I hated at the time].  So, I had to "tough it out" the whole way to Monterrey, and all I could think about was how thirsty I was.  [Isn't that how it always goes?]  Needless to say [but I will anyway], my dad heard "Are we there yet?" quite a bit...

Plaza de Hidalgo

Shopping ~ What Else With 4 Chicks?
We finally arrived in Monterrey and surprisingly I didn't die of thirst.  We actually had a pretty good time there.  We shopped, toured the city, shopped, rode in horse-drawn carriages, shopped, went hunting for landmarks [a favorite of my dad's], shopped, attended Easter Mass at the Monterrey Cathedral [which incidentally is spoken all in Spanish ~ just in case you were wondering], shopped, ate bunches of brunches [all of which were buffet], and, oh yeah, we shopped.

Let's Get Oriented
Just south of Monterrey is  the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountain Range.  To the west is the Cerro de las Mitras, or the Mountain of the Mitres, so named because the mountain is in the shape of the profile of several bishops with mitres on [the head-dress of the bishops].  To the east is my favorite mountain in this area, and it's called the Cerro de la Silla, or Saddle Mountain, which you can probably guess is in the shape of ~ a saddle.

So, Why the Geography Lesson?
Well, my dad must've really loved those mountains because if there was a road going up the mountain, then we were going up the mountain.  In fact, he managed to get us all up a mountain several times during our stay in Monterrey.  Do you realize how disturbing this is to the stomach that is trying to digest the food from yet another huge buffet that the owner of said stomach has just consumed?  I'll tell ya', it's very disturbing.  Especially so, if owner of said stomach is lying down in the back of the Suburban on the third seat.

We Kept Going Down, Down, Down...
That was just where I was the last morning of our stay in Monterrey.  We had just finished a huuuuge buffet for brunch, which for me, consisted of steak [because, hey, that's kinda cool to have steak for brunch] and ceviche [which is raw fish served with lemon juice, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and peppers].  So, as my stomach began to digest everything I ate, my dad started up yet another mountain.  None of us were very excited about it [except for dad, that is].  We really just wanted to go home.  As I was laying on that third seat watching the trees go by, my stomach began to not feel so well.  I started to think that maybe [just maybe] the steak and ceviche hadn't been such a good idea for brunch.  When dad finally got his "fill" of the mountain and we started down , there was a premature collective sigh of relief from all of us.  Then dad got this brilliant idea to do some more driving around.  Well, we ended up in this valley [just not the Valley where our home was] driving down a dirt road.  He continued along even when the road ran out ~ we just kept bouncing down, down, and down into the valley [my ears were popping].  This "excursion" was not helping my stomach "issue", and I had the beginnings of a headache.  So, I sat up and said, "I think I'm car sick."  Now, let me just pause for a moment, and say that I may have done just a wee bit of complaining throughout this trip, and my dad's patience was runnin' a little "thin".  [Plus, don't forget that he's on a trip with his mother-in-law.  Of course, that was of his own making...]

It's All In Your Head
In response, my dad looked at me in the rear view mirror and said, "It's all in your head."  I looked at my sister who was sitting directly in front of me.  I must've looked a little green [or more likely, she was worried about her precarious position in front of me] because she hurriedly emptied and gave me a plastic bag that was from one of our shopping excursions ~ which was just in time.  After my personal "conversation" with the plastic shopping bag, I said, "Dad-" and he replied, "What?"  Holding up the bag, I told him, "It's not in my head anymore.  It's in the bag."  [ should've seen the look on his face ~ priceless.]

It's In The Bag

Somehow, I don't think I would've fared very well, back in the day, traveling such long distances by horseback.  However, they probably weren't eating steak and ceviche for brunch either.  It just fascinates me how far they went with so little.  How did they do that?

The "Mexico" and "It's In The Bag" designs were created by the author.
"Plaza de Hidalgo" design was made with a postcard of Plaza de Hidalgo owned by the author.


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