Thursday, October 19, 2006

Logbook: On To Monterrey

Ontomonterrey2I don’t mean to belabor my first border crossing and foreign destination, but they strike me significant enough to deserve a little more special mention. I have to admit that just about as soon as I woke up this morning and got myself sorted out, I began feeling a bit apprehensive. In some moderately profound sort of way, I had a kind of visceral sense of what my mind wrote just five days ago about moving into the unknown. I took a walk and had a little talk with myself, to remember all that I already know about travel in foreign lands and to remind myself that I’m pretty good at figuring things out. With that exercise behind me, I had some lunch and caught a ride back into Laredo. The bridge crossing was identical to the one I made yesterday, with two small exceptions: I had all my gear with me and I stopped to take the “last look” photo you see above. For the first time in my life, different from all other travel I have ever done, I was leaving the US with no idea of when I would be returning. I had a sense of “expatriation” that I took a few minutes mid-bridge to experience. It is a feeling that is very difficult to describe, so I will just say that I am sure it is one of the moments I will remember for the rest of my life.

In due course, I completed my bridge walk, passed through the Mexican gateway and proceeded to the bus ticket office as instructed yesterday. The nice man who sold me my ticket was there, led me a half block to his car and drove me to the bus station. There, I went inside, checked in at the desk and was told to have a seat and wait for the bus to be called in about half an hour. Just like clockwork, the announcement was made, I walked to the “gate” and stowed my gear under a bus that is comparable to a good Greyhound. About a dozen passengers loaded up and off we went for our three hour ride to Monterrey. As usual, I fired up my iPod and began watching episodes of my favorite TV shows -- The Daily Show and The Colbert Report (which I download from the iTunes Music Store thanks to a thoughtful birthday present from my brother).

Ontomonterrey1Almost before I knew it, we were pulling into the very large, bustling city that is Monterrey. Once off the bus, I bought a taxi ticket -- which is priced based on the zone of your destination and is done, I suspect, to prevent visitors from being ripped off right at the start -- and got a taxi to the Holiday Inn where I had made arrangements to stay for my brief time here. After checking in, I took a walk around the area and found the Macro Plaza -- an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall -- which is shown in the small photo above and where I found a simple, tidy place to have some dinner. And that’s about it! In retrospect, the whole experience was such a no-brainer that I almost can’t believe I had any trepidation about it at all. Then again, I remind myself that being alert is a good thing in the expedition business and give myself a break. My special thanks to all of you who used Skype and iChat to call me this afternoon and evening. It was wonderful to connect with people I know and love in a strange place. I really appreciate the calls and look forward to sharing many, many more in the future. Now, buenos noches from The Voyage!

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