Location: Monterrey, in the state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It was very hot at this time of the year (beginning of October). The locals probably thought the weather was mild, but coming from Southern Indiana where it was already post summer/pre fall, I thought daily highs of mid to high 80s (F) was hot. Not only was it hot, it was humid.
I wanted to go out that afternoon to Chipinque. I had been told by Vinicio, a new friend, that it was a must see (along with La Huasteca, La Estanzuela, and the 3 museums in downtown Monterrey). From Chipinque, one can see the whole of Monterrey, if the clouds cooperate. So with my 2 complete sentences of Spanish memorized, I decided I would venture out on my own to see Chipinque for myself. But how to get there? Uber to the rescue! For those who don’t know about uber, it is an app that one uses to hail a cab, pretty much. I like it because it’s got tracking features: you know exactly when the driver arrives, you can figure out an estimate of the fare beforehand, someone can call an uber ride for you and track when you get picked up and when you reach your destination, and so on. You can even split the fare with friends if there are multiple of you on the ride. My favorite part though, is that it could be cheaper than an actual taxi!
I’ve used uber a few times in the US when traveling and I didn’t rent a car and it has been quite useful for me (Random side note: I popped my uber cherry in San Francisco, CA as Nikky’s guest but didn’t actually pay for an uber ride till Chicago, IL a month later). If you don’t have the app yet, do yourself a favor and download it for free and you can use this code for a free ride* – just make sure to download the app close to the time when you want to use it because the code expires after a certain time (code: ot24ue). You’re welcome.
So anyway, while I was in Mexico and I needed to go out on my own and my friend’s driver wasn’t available to take me, uber came to my rescue. My phone didn’t work in Mexico, hence no data, so I would use wifi in the apartment to request a ride, when I saw that the driver was approaching the building, I would go down to wait for him, memorizing his name and car type. When I saw the car, I would walk up and say “Tu es DriverName?”, and they always said “Si”, sometimes adding “Buenos tardes”, “Como estas?”, etc. Then I’d hop into the front passenger seat and off we’d go. And with uber, you can already put in the destination’s address while requesting the ride so the driver knows where to take you. No difficult/awkward spanglish conversation needed. Perfecto!
On this day though, my uber ride was fancier than usual. The driver actually got out to open the door for me and he opened the rear passenger door. I was like ooh fancy, I like! I think he even wore a suit! I was thinking, oh wow I got lucky. So he got in and offered me bottled water, which I politely declined. For a couple of reasons:
- My mother taught me not to collect things (especially food and drinks) from strangers. #africanmumsbelike
- I had heard you had to be careful about drinking water in Mexico. It was bottled water, but still…
So the driver and I get to talking and he asked why I was going to Chipinque. So I told him I was visiting from out of the country and I was told it is a must see. He agreed and said he was glad I was going. He then told me, “if you are going hiking, you had better take this bottle of water”. At that moment, I decided I had better take it for 2 reasons:
- To not offend the very nice man. I didn’t have to drink it, after all, just take it with me.
- I just may end up needing it. The temperature was getting hotter.
We got to Chipinque and he dropped me off right outside the park- apparently you have to pay to get in, whether walking or driving. Driving being more expensive, of course. So he just turned around right there and went off. I paid and got in then asked for a map. They didn’t have one- great! I walked a bit further and saw a sign that had the map of the whole park but map reading isn’t my strongest point. Besides, the one marker that I could see from where I was standing had a huge caution sign by it and was roped off. I decided to just keep walking. It was uphill all the way and did I mention hot?. Barely 10 minutes in, I cracked open that bottle of water. At that point, I didn’t care about poisoning or upset stomach any more. Now, it was a matter of being strategic about water breaks and not finishing it too quickly so it would last me the whole hike!
I hiked for about 2 hours total. With every sip of the water I took, I said a silent prayer of thanks to God that he sent me that nice uber driver, an uber driver who had bottles of water in his car (they don’t all do. some even have candy- I never took the candy), an uber driver who actually offered me the water, twice. I was also thankful I listened to my gut and took the water. If not, it would have been a miserable hike, I would likely have cut it short, I would not have gotten to see the awesome views I got to see, I would likely not have met the angel I met that day, I would likely not have gotten to take the awesome pic below (the bottle of water is in my left hand), and who knows what else?
See below for more (amateur) pictures I took during my hike. As with most beautiful places, pictures rarely do them enough justice and certainly my iphone pictures are not the greatest. Fun fact-the top picture in the header shows what the locals call a horse’s saddle because of the shape. Another fun fact about Monterrey is that from pretty much any where you stand, you can see a mountain. I LOVED it!
So Muchas Gracias, Roberto! You saved me from dehydration and maybe worse that day. I pray God blesses you and that you continue to be a blessing to others- whether in your uber vehicle, or elsewhere 🙂
*up to a certain amount. $15 at time of publication