SMr Road Trip Mississippi to Nicaragua
Day 8 - October 10th - San Antonio, TX to Monterrey, Mexico
We were drearily waiting for a FedEx delivery from the Mississippi State Title Office. They promised an accurate title for Shakira which would enable us to get the car in and out of Mexico. However, after all the mix-ups thus far my confidence was shaken. After all the bumps, hiccups, miscommunications with Fed Ex, miscommunications with the Mississippi Title Office, and miscommunications among the three of us, we were all expecting the worst.
It was a beautiful morning in San Antonio, the temperature was right at the sweet spot, and the stately oak trees in Kirk and Ellen's front yard were swaying in a fragrant Texas breeze. As the FedEx truck pulled up, we were stacking our gear in Shakira's spacious trunk using our Tetris skills garnered from growing up in the 1990s. Eli skipped to meet the delivery man. ALAS! It was an envelope from Mississippi State! Eli took the envelope with a grin and tipped his fedora to the delivery man. He opened the envelope slowly, keeping Amanda and I on the edge of our seats. It was correct, the Mississippi Title Office had pulled through! We wasted no time jumping in the car and leaving the gorgeous city of San Antonio behind. We had rerouted and decided to drive from Texas to Monterrey in the Mexican state of Nuevo León.
This time we were OVER equipped to make it across the border without looking like regular American ex-cons trying to flee their home country. We had a new corrected title (proving Shaky Shakira wasn't stolen), one vehicle (instead of 3), employee IDs to account for the supplies we were carrying (in English AND Spanish) and were more determined and confident than ever.
Employee IDs SMr whipped up for us from headquarters in Nicaragua
We breezed right through the border crossing, ignoring the cat-calls and hand gestures of people who were trying to confuse us and telling us that we needed to stop. We could see that following the advice of the wrong person would cost a pretty penny and could be dangerous. Keeping our original goal in mind, we put the pedal to the metal leaving the border far behind and covered in our dust (literally).
The drive from the border to Monterrey was hot, dry, and filthy. There were few personal vehicles on the road, but plenty of semi-trucks to keep Shakira's diesel exhaust company.
As one of the most industrial cities in Mexico and the biggest industrial trade hub to the USA, we could see and smell the thick cloud of burning petro-chemicals miles before we entered the city. As I felt my lungs fill with thick, staunchy air, I remembered reading somewhere that just breathing in some of the cities in Mexico is said to be the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
However, had I not known what the source of the clouds were, I would have said that they gave the tall mountain peaks surrounding the dry city of Monterrey an extra heir of majesty. We were traveling in the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Stretching from southern Arizona to Honduras, the Sierra Madre mountain range passes through Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These mountains cover a massive range of our world’s culture and affect so many lives with their adventure and beauty. Like a spine running through a body of land, the Sierra Madre range connects North America to Central America. These mountains symbolize Sierra Madre Research’s mantra: advocating adventure, connecting people to people, and bringing hope to the hopeless. Looking to the mountains continues to remind us why we are here on this journey in the first place.
Driving into the city, the cars on the packed streets thickened the haze around us. The bold yellow lines we've been so accustomed to in the states were replaced by horns and worn out drivers who were pushing and merging their way around the loose traffic laws of Monterrey. At the worst possible moment Shakira had to let her opinion of the situation be known. Amanda and I sitting straight up in our seats noticed Eli struggling as we lost 2nd and 4th gear. Not only fighting the hectic stop and go pace of the roads, and Shakira's slipping gears, but also Amanda's squeaks and screams at every unexpected jerk and pothole, Eli got us to there safely. As the colors from the North Mexican sunset swirled in the life choking clouds that engulf the city of Monterrey, we pulled into the hostel.
After we checked in, naturally, there was only one place we were absolutely certain we needed to go. We wiped the soot off our faces and headed out to let off some steam at Sierra Madre Brewing Company, where the beer was delicious, and the locals dressed to the "nines". Made me feel like I needed a long shower and a shopping spree.